My pre-tenure review was completed last month, and the ratings from the tenure committee were “very good” on all three categories of teaching, research, and service.  Apparently the highest rating is “outstanding,” which means for my case that there is room for improvement but I am on the right track.  Now comes the hard part: keeping them there for the next two years.  Wish me luck because I’ll need it.

On the category “service to the community,” the review letter from the Dean of Seaver College includes the following sentences: “The community service provided to St. Columban’s church, to Việt Tide, and to the community through your blog is important” (emphasis mine); and “I simply encourage you to continue these various forms of service.”  It has been my intention all along to continue them.  For most of this spring and summer, however, I am taking a break from this blog in order to focus on other tasks, especially completing a pair of articles and starting another pair.  I serve as editor of this year’s volume of ACTC’s selected conference papers, so there will be some work on that front too.  There is a little travel to vary the usual rhythm. But for the most part I shall be ensconced in the familiar setting of the home office.

In comparison to last year, when the presidential election campaign and my mother’s illness and death combined for a hyper-eventful summer, I expect this summer to be pretty low-key.  “We persist in believing,” wrote T. S. Eliot almost a hundred years ago, “that a poet ought to know as much as will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary laziness.”  To get their work done, researchers also need at least some of that necessary receptivity and laziness.  For Eliot doesn’t mean “laziness” as doing nothing, but abandonment of present concerns and even the self for immersion into the past. “The progress of an artist,” goes one rather non-modernist statement from the modernist master, “is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.”  This paradoxical statement actually applies well enough to a historian like myself.

At Notre Dame, I was TA for Jon Coleman during my reading year for graduate exams, and he once said that it is sort of a luxury to be paid to read all these different books.  I understood his point perfectly.  There are many demands on the tenure track.  But one of the luxuries, at least for me, is the freedom to abandon, at least for some time, various concerns and issues from the present (especially politics but they could come from elsewhere too) for reading, writing, rewriting, and submitting a manuscript to a journal or publisher (or to another journal/publisher in case the submission is rejected the first time).  I submitted an article last week, and here’s hoping for a few more submissions in the next three months.

I look forward to resume blogging in August. Till then, a great summer to us all!