And now let’s discuss something really fascinating. That would be me, of course. (Kidding, I’m kidding, let’s all relax.) Jonathan Mayhew had the following to say about me:
Not coincidentally, Clarissa’s dissertation was on the Bildungroman. Not a surprising topic for someone with her own Bildung to work on. How did a Ukrainian autistic woman knowing no Spanish get where she is today, a Professor of Spanish in the American mid-west? You couldn’t invent a novel with that plot.
In a very rare (hee hee) moment of self-congratulation, I want to say that what pleases me the most about my life is that every aspect of it was carefully constructed by me. I didn’t let things just happen to me but created a vision of how I wanted to live and then set out to turn that vision into reality. By the fact of my birth, I was supposed to lead a very, very different life and be a very, very different person. But there is nothing better than purposefully fashioning your own existence.
Of course, in his post Jonathan talks about a different kind of Bildung. He discusses a consistent project of creating oneself as a scholar. I believe that the reason why academics so often get depressed is that they allow their identities to be molded by forces outside of themselves. They accept the milestones of the PhD dissertation defense, the first tenure-track job, the tenure, the first monograph as the focal points of their existence that, once reached, should fill them with joy. When achieving those milestones doesn’t result in any intense happiness, they feel lost and begin to doubt everything about their lives.
This is why, I believe, it is so important to engage in a constant analysis of one’s intellectual journey. I’m not saying that the tenure, the monograph, the promotions, etc. are not important. Of course, they are. But they will never make one entirely happy unless they are a part of a narrative of the self that one creates consciously and consistently.
OK, I’m over the need to celebrate myself for today and can now proceed to grade the exams.