Monday, 12 December 2016

Coming towards the end of term...

...and what a term it has been! November came and went without a blog post. And here we are in December with the weather turning colder, the decorations coming out of dusty boxes, the festive music accompaniment in shops. Here at DMU we seem to finish later than everyone else (I'm sure, in reality, this isn't true!), and faculty and students alike seem to be rather crawling towards the finish line at the end of this week.

So, what have we been up to since we last checked in? Well, D and I can't remember a busier time really. For both of us work has been full, challenging and (mostly) fun. We've also been doing a lot of travelling. First up: California for the 2016 Modernist Studies Association Conference.

As the lead up to this conference landed in our reading week, we decided to take a few extra days in one of our favourite parts of the world. We explored a few new places for us, including Palm Springs (where D fell a bit in love with the pancakes at Elmers) where we spent out time in a wonderful Air BnB with four gorgeous dogs. We then headed off to Joshua Tree and into the Mojave Desert where we spent a couple of nights in a beautiful desert retreat. Sitting in the hot tub watching a timid coyote pad about and hummingbirds zooming over our heads was really pretty special. Then we headed back into the city, to Pasadena, a lovely area on the outskirts of the sprawling Los Angeles. MSA was brilliant this year. I co-organised a great seminar on Modernist Performance and Global Transmission, and spoke on British interpretations of Russian constructivism on a panel on Modernist Borders. Lovely to catch up with old friends and meet new folks. D and I even had time to go to the Rose Bowl for USC v UCLA, enjoy an orchestral concert at CalTech and see the space shuttle Endeavour at the Science Museum. It was a terrific trip and I headed back into term feeling really energised.

Riding a lovely horse through the desert. Really the best way to experience any place is on horseback, I think!

Since then we have enjoyed weekends with both sides of the family in Stockport and Loch Lomond. This meant fun and games with our nieces and nephew. We love them to bits! Other highlights from the past month include: watching the sensational 'Arrival' at the cinema (honestly in my top 5 films ever), reading the amazing 'Do Not Say We Have Nothing' (a Man Booker nominee) and the New Work in Modernist Studies Conference at Queen Mary last Saturday which included a game changing plenary from Sascha Bru.

In all this, new writing has rather fallen by the wayside. 'Migrating Modernist Performance: British Theatrical Travels through Russia' is now out (available just in time for Christmas, friends!). I'm pleased with its look and with the response from folks so far. I've also been working on a bunch of ongoing publications, including an edited journal collection, and a couple of book chapters. Hoping to spend a bit of time over Christmas reworking a new article out of a paper on Butlins and wrestling that I've already presented at a couple of conferences.

This week is a collection of Christmas parties, training days, and marking. I've been thinking a good deal about two typical Christmas ideas this week: joy and peace. I think at this time (and with everything going on in the world right now - don't get me started!) we could do worse then trying to share them with those we meet.

Happy Christmas/Holiday celebrations one and all.

Monday, 3 October 2016

And with that, term begins...

It's been a super summer of travel and projects. I (actually mostly 'we' - always lovely to travel with D!) have visited Australia, Qatar, Norway, Rennes, Moscow, St Petersburg, Edinburgh (naturally), Lake Garda, and the Algarve. Phew! Lots of great travel adventures; met some super people and realised, once again, that wherever you go in the world you find nice folks who will go out of their way to help you out. As well as an impressive travel schedule, this summer has been about writing projects...and lots of them. Mostly, deadlines have been met and words have been written.

So, what is there to look forward to for the rest of 2016 (only three months left, friends...where did this year go?)? Well, term starts this week and I'm looking forward to meeting the new students and reconnecting with our second and third years. I'm also taking on a few new roles at DMU, including PhD supervisor, MA Arts supervisor and heading up our new Drama Research Group. Research-wise, mostly the next few weeks will be focused on getting funding applications in (groan!) and finishing off a few projects, including this large chapter on Russian emigre director Theodore Komisarjevsky. Once all that is done, my thoughts can turn to new projects. I have two new articles I want to write (or finish writing) in the next six months, and a cool new collaborative project on the go which will hopefully lead to a big grant application in the Spring. But I am also working hard at pacing myself and trying not to take on too much. There is just so much fun stuff to do!

Then comes a (hopefully) joyous trip to California for the Modernist Studies Association conference (and a few days jolly holiday with D in the desert) before a few more weeks of teaching, a load of expected proofs to sort through and then...Christmas! Hoping to also find lots of time to hang out with friends (I realised the importance of this last Wednesday after a slightly frustrating day - man, I am glad for my buddies!) and family, see a bit more of Nottinghamshire and surrounding countryside (we visited Byron's house Newstead Abbey for the first time on Saturday - an Autumn walk makes me very happy), and do a lot more swimming which is my current favourite sporting pastime.

While the world continues to feel rather upside down (perhaps you are feeling it too?) I am grateful for lots of little joys.

Happy Autumn one and all - here's to woolly jumpers, soup, bonfires, hot chocolate and frosty walks! It is just my favourite time of the year!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Festivals, mountains and writing

Summer continues apace chez Warden. So far it has been largely taken up with a trip north and lots of proofing. We spent a week in Scotland, seeing family, enjoying the mountains of the Cairngorms (mostly in the rain it must be said) and doing a bit of Festivalling. Good time had by all! Saw some funky stuff at the Fringe including the truly hilarious Police Cops by The Pretend Men and a brilliant magical cabaret by Ada Campe (aka my friend Naomi Paxton). I felt as if there was a lot more free stuff this year. I remember back a few years when the Festival seemed to have rather outpriced itself. Now you can see a lot of great shows for free, supporting the artists with (hopefully generous!) tipping. Apart from locking our keys in the car in the most remote part of the Highlands (and relying on a magician mechanic who managed to open our car using cushions and a long piece of wire) the whole trip was rather lovely. We even got to eat at the incredible Kitchin. I've wanted to try the food here for ages and it totally lived up to the hype!

Apart from that I have been watching a lot of Olympics. I get rather obsessed every four years. I am not a big Team GB fan (apart from in dressage, hockey and women's boxing) but the whole sporting event is just terrific. My highlight, inevitably, was the Women's Hockey Team winning gold. It was an incredible performance. As a former hockey player it totally made my Olympics and, as a former Keeper, I can tell you that Maddie Hinch is a genius! When not watching Olympic sport I have been staring at a computer screen reading and annotating proofs. It has been a slightly frustrating summer work-wise so far. I have two brand new projects to start but it feels as if I have spent hours and hours reading and editing old stuff. I'm nearly there now. Started the new book chapter yesterday and felt much better about everything.

The next few weeks up to the start of term are going to be taken up with two wee European trips (to Italy and Portugal), a couple of cool events (we are launching our new interdisciplinary dance research group and I'm leading a table at Curve's theatre and higher education conference). Then it is back into teaching and writing. Looking forward to meeting our new cohort of students!

And, perhaps the most exciting news of the summer, I became Reader in Drama at DMU! I am pretty chuffed about this promotion, and looking forward to all the new challenges and opportunities that will appear in the new academic year.

Hope you are doing well wherever you are

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Summer so far...

...goodness what a summer is has been so far! Like so many of you I imagine, I have found the past few months have rather confusing and upsetting. The world feels a bit topsy-turvy. But here in the Warden household we've tried to crack on, and use each day for adventures and spreading joy.

Firstly, travel stuff...

D and I took an amazing trip to Australia in May. Highlights included the Sydney Opera House, beautiful beaches, fantastic food (especially the avocados), swimming in the Great Barrier Reef (astonishing!), exploring the east coast from Bondi Beach, and visiting rainforests. We travelled via Qatar and Oslo (rather weirdly) so we were able to explore two more new places for us, both of which were very interesting in very different ways.

We arrived back and I headed off to France for the European Avant-Garde and Modernist Studies conference in lovely Rennes. It was a great event, if a bit of a challenge for my dodgy French! I made a number of new connections, and ate the best buffet ever! The medieval streets and beautiful gardens of Rennes are well worth a visit. It is a pretty exciting travel experience too, as you can now fly from the tiny London Southend airport.

Back to it again, and a few weeks of events (including a fabulous wrestling conference in Aberystwyth), networking and book proofs. I ended up completing the proofs for both 'Performance and Professional Wrestling' and 'Migrating Modernist Performance: British theatrical travels to Russia' in the same week, which was a little bit mad! Trying to complete marking and end-of-term admin at the same time meant that life was extremely busy!

And then, finally, we travelled to Russia for a research trip that has taken a full year to plan. We returned last weekend. So, Russia... I am still rather digesting all that we saw and did in Moscow and St Petersburg. Suffice to say, the whole trip challenged all my preconceptions. We found a very open, welcoming country. Everyone we met was helpful and kind. They put up with my basic Russian, and were always ready to assist. I didn't once feel unsafe or concerned. The theatre company I worked with, the Electrotheatre Stanislavsky, was fabulous - super lovely people doing great work! Sixty people attended my talk (sixty!) which was astonishing really. It took a fair amount of planning but, ultimately, proved to be a life-changing, inspiring trip. I will write something more comprehensive about our journey at some point soon.

And so, now I really feel as though summer has arrived. I'm looking forward to embarking on two new book chapter projects. I haven't really done any brand new research for about a year, and feel very excited to get cracking on these projects. The first is a chapter on Alexander Tairov for a book on Russian Directors, and the second is a collaborative chapter on Theodore Komisarjevsky for Bloomsbury's Great Directors Series. There are plenty of other things going on, but I'm going to try to focus on just a couple of projects for the next month or so.

As well as work, we have lots of lovely things to look forward to: a beautiful wedding this weekend, the arrival of the Scottish side of the family in Nottingham, a weekend in Verona, a week in Edinburgh (and hopefully further north) for meetings/research/festival-going, and a relaxing week in Portugal where I plan on doing nothing except read, snooze, and swim about.

I leave you with a picture of me in front of St Basils in Moscow. Have a great summer friends!

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Into Spring

Finally, I emerged from illness and found that Spring was upon us! It's been a relatively quiet and peaceful month. I've been working on two specific projects: an article on Raymond Williams and performance, and a chapter on thirties' British drama for a Cambridge Companion book. Normally I have a dozen projects on the go at any one time, so it has been rather nice to focus on just two projects. I've also taken some time out over the past few days to think about future plans - there are so many projects I want to begin. I just have to clear the decks first.

Speaking of taking time out, the past three weeks we've been on Easter holiday break. It's been rather wonderful to plan my own schedules and fill my days with concentrated writing. We spent the first weekend with my folks celebrating my dad's 65th birthday. We had a proper party and ate a lot of cake. Our wonderful nephew wandered about entertaining everyone! The Easter weekend was spent in Edinburgh with the other side of the family, and we had a great few days celebrating, playing football in the park and laughing with our nieces. I am pleased to report that D won the brother-v-brother FIFA PS4 competition. There was a lot of pride at stake! We travelled up to Edinburgh in the new car - the heated seats are a bonus when you reach Berwick!

Term starts back up on Monday and we have three and a bit weeks of teaching left before the summer break arrives. It is always an odd term as it is mostly about assessments, performances and essay writing. Hoping to be able to support the students through this rather anxious period. There is lots to look forward to after that, including holiday (Australia-bound - we've booked everything now), Springsteen gig, work trips (to France, Russia and...Aberystwyth), new writing projects and marking...lots and lots of marking.

Spent lunchtime today outside with Dostoevsky overlooking the Trent and the fields of horse and dogs. The sun was really quite warm. I love this time of year - it feels exciting, new and full of potential.

Have a great weekend friends!

Friday, 26 February 2016

Getting Ill

It is a well-known fact that I am almost never ill. The Wardens tend to sail through winter without so much as a sniffle. But this week has thrown all that. I've spent a not so jolly week fighting a rather yucky virus and am still snuggled under my blanket as I type. It means that everything has been rather knocked off course which is somewhat frustrating for me - I am a schedule/planner type person.

So, what else have we been up to? Well, D started his new job which involves a lot more commuting too and from London. But so far, so good. I headed up to Edinburgh to give a talk at my alma mater. It was a rather peculiar experience actually (being back at a research series I used to attend), but the talk went well and I had a super chat with a really sparky bunch of PhD students. The whole weekend was rather derailed as the Edinburgh clan was all sick. But it did mean I stayed over with Granny which was just lovely. And I got to potter around the city, eat at Valvona and Crolla, have coffee with one of the world's most wonderful ladies and work along the seafront.

After a rather chaotic January, the aim has been a quiet February of taking stock and re-energising. As it happens my body appears to have forced me to stop for a while! All the January projects are now signed off (so expect many pages of proofs to arrive in my inbox soon!) and the new Spring projects have begun. Unusually for me I am really just focusing on two main projects until we head off to Australia - an article for a journal that I am editing (don't worry, I promise to get someone to properly peer review it!) and a book chapter on Drama in the 1930s. Both involve me going back to the theatre of the between-wars period, and I'm really enjoying getting reacquainted with Auden/Isherwood and the vibrant energies of the Workers' Theatre Movement. On top of these, I seem to have rather a backlog of administrative bits and pieces - hundreds of forms to fill in etc. It is one of the perils of starting at a new institution - you have to catch up first!

We are about half way through the Spring term now, but we have a short break next week for Enhancement Week (reading week by any other name), then two more teaching weeks before a three week Easter break. It is rather nice to be entering this fragmented phase.

Apart from work things (and getting ill) I have largely been spending time watching the Six Nations, reading Dostoevsky (which I am really into now!) and spring cleaning. At this time of year I like to have a proper clear out and I'm about halfway through this task now. I've been reading a lot about the benefits of minimalism (something that is very close to my heart) and systems (something I am just exploring) and have been inspired by both.

Anyways, Friday evening has arrived and I'm looking forward to a peaceful evening of cheering on Wales and eating hummus. Hoping that the next time I write a post I won't have a cough anymore.

Wishing you a beautiful, fun-filled weekend

Friday, 29 January 2016

Australia-bound but working first

I was buying my coffee from my friendly local independent cafe yesterday and we both reflected on January as a month that has just flown by! So, what have the Wardens been up to?

Well, to be honest, from my perspective, it has been a pretty work-oriented month. After submitting the Book on the 5th, I went on to submit the next project on the 18th. This is an co-edited collection entitled Performance and Professional Wrestling. Even though it has only just been submitted, it already has its own Amazon page! According to Amazon we are looking at a mid-July release date...Amazon is the fount of all knowledge about this sort of stuff, right? And then just this week I submitted a book chapter for a collection called Literature: an introduction to theory and analysis. The chapter is simply called 'Performance' and tries to explain this very tricky concept in 4500 words. Phew! And today I've been working on my paper for my talk in Edinburgh next week and I've returned to a journal article on Raymond Williams that I need to write by April. So, there is a lot going on. I knew these few months were going to be busy with work and I have June in my head as a month which will be quieter and give me a chance to catch my breath and think about the next steps.

So, anything else? Well, D has been looking at cars as our lease is up. If you know D then you'll know that he takes things like this very seriously. And (the big news) we booked a wonderful holiday to Australia. Ever since I was a Neighbours-obsessed teenager I've wanted to go to Australia. We have an amazing trip planned involving diving, horses and koalas. Cannot wait! Other than that our January has been pretty quiet with just books, swimming, yoga and the occasional film (including the really super Star Wars) to interrupt. This means I am getting a lot done right now and, when I'm not teaching, days are really pretty focused and full.

Anyways, a peaceful weekend ahead and then a big trip up north next week. Looking forward to going back to my alma mater - only hope I can be half as entertaining and sparky as most of the visiting speakers I enjoyed during my time in Edinburgh!


Friday, 8 January 2016

Welcome to 2016

The end of 2015 came and went and I can't believe it is actually 2016. So what has happened since my last post?

Well, I taught my first term at De Montfort and all went well. It's all taken a bit of getting used to but I've enjoyed getting to know the new students and spending time with my new colleagues. The commute to Leicester is easier than the commute to Lincoln! I've found a local indie coffee shop and a terrific veggie Indian restaurant. So all is well.

I had a great trip to the Modernist Studies Association Conference in Boston. At the last minute D realised he could get the time off to come with me. It was lovely to explore a new city with him, as well as spend time at an amazing conference. We went to see the Bruins play hockey and the Celtics play basketball, walked the Freedom Trail and visited some beautiful Revolutionary battlefields. On our final day we had a rather wonderful experience of listening to the Boston Phil play a concert of Wagner's music at Harvard University. All in all, it was a pretty special time and I managed to eat lobster every day which made this fish fan very happy indeed. If you want to see exactly what we got up to then click on the photos tab above.

We've enjoyed gigs (Steve Hackett at De Montfort Hall, and Whitesnake/Def Leppard in Nottingham), films and books. The cultural highlight of these months has been 'Breaking Bad'. So, I had decided not to watch join D in watching this series the first time round. I was a little worried about the ethics of a show that, I thought, would celebrate the drug industry. Actually I was entirely wrong about it and, once I'd got past the bath tub scene in series 1 (you know the one!), I really enjoyed it. I have become a bit of a Bryan Cranston fan - he is astonishing in this series! And I have done lots of swimming, HIIT and yoga. I've also been exploring new ways of eating which has been really fun - lots of veggies!

I didn't finish at university until the 21st which is very late by university standards. Then off we went to Cardiff, Edinburgh and Aberdeen for Christmas and New Year. A good time had by all. We spent some lovely days with the family, including our fab nieces and nephews. On the 5th January, after some final faffing about with citation admin, I finally submitted the new book to Palgrave MacMillan. 'Migrating Modernist Performance: British theatrical travels through Russia' will be out later this year.

The next few months see a lot of new deadlines coming my way - chapters, articles and projects. Teaching will carry on apace too. I also have talks booked in Nottingham and Edinburgh and, come May, Rennes. We are already starting to think about our summer adventures which, for me, will include a trip to Russia. Life is pretty busy and full until June when things slow down a bit. I have booked a couple of weeks of deep thinking so I can decide on new research directions and potential future projects. I've realise that for the past few years I have just rattled on without really taking any time out to think about things. I'm planning on changing that this summer.

Anyways, I hope that 2016 treats you all well wherever you are in this beautiful world.