Monday, February 24, 2014

Recent Publications

A few things published recently. #2 is the only "academic" publication, but they are all related to stuff I do academically, namely: "Chinglish" / English in China, transnational higher education, joint-venture universities in China, religion in applied linguistics, and world Englishes.

1. NYU Shanghai and the Future of International Higher Education in China
at Asia Pacific Memo

2. Chinglish Triumphant? The Unusual Case of Long time No See
in Asian Englishes

3. On Encouraging Religion-Related Research in TESOL
in the CELEA newsletter

4. On Not 'Being an ESL Teacher' All the Time
in the BCTEAL newsletter

Monday, February 03, 2014


I need to remind myself that January has gone really, really well.

What happened in January? Well, a lot of pretty great things.

First, I won an award from the American Association of Applied Linguistics, which means something like I had one of the best proposals among all the grad students who submitted this year for their conference.

Then, I had a book proposal accepted by the TESOL association (the other big professional association in my field, other than AAAL), on a topic I've been wanting to do a book on for 5+ years. (I'll be co-writing it with a colleague -- more information is coming this summer.)

Then, on the last day of the month, I had a manuscript (that I've been working on with a professor for over a year and a half) accepted by the Journal of Second Language Writing. I don't want to sound like a star-struck bumpkin, but I never dreamed I would get a publication in the JSLW. I have honestly always seen it as a journal that is only for really well-known people in our field, like, say, professors at Purdue.

I'm not (I hope) one for horn-tooting, but I need to remember that these things have happened. My "career" is going well.

But every time I open my dissertation document, my heart sinks and I feel like I am a total failure, that my advisor will not be pleased with what I've done, that my committee will not let me pass, that the external examiner will be unimpressed, and that I will never finish my Ph.D.

This is in spite of what appears to be evidence (above) that I am good at what I do. Again, I'm not saying this to big-up myself. It's just really hard for me to square all the non-dissertation good stuff with the sheer uncertainty of the dissertation process. When I was writing my first book, I knew that when I finished it I wasn't going to be totally happy with it, but I also felt like the stakes were low -- the editor was a good friend, the publisher was small and not marketing the book much, I had no advance I needed to earn royalties against, and most of all, I felt like all I was responsible for in the writing was to make up stuff off the top of my head.

Writing my dissertation feels nothing like this. The stakes feel incredibly high -- my ability to get a job I've trained for for nearly a decade to support my family is on the line,  I'm losing money every semester I stay in school, and I have this nagging doubt that the way I'm going about it is all wrong.

This is probably what they call "impostor syndrome" -- the idea that you don't deserve your success, that you are fooling anybody who thinks you're doing a good job. It is alarmingly frequent in academia. It's said to affect women and minorities disproportionately, though I guess I am an exception. I'm as male and WASPy as they come (though a professor last term did make a reference to 'everyone in the room being a member of an underrepresented/disenfranchised group,' and since I was the only person in the room who was not either a woman or an ethnic minority or gay or transgender, I can only assume she was, quite charitably, referring to my allusions to being an Evangelical, which is actually something of a marginalized position in academia) and I would estimate that I spent 50% of my workdays just sort of sitting at my desk and fretting about not being good enough at what I am supposed to be doing.

So remember: January has gone really, really well.

And February is going to be tough.

But (I tell myself, even though I don't totally believe it) February is going to go well, too, because I am good at what I do.