Some Thoughts on My Future

February 3, 2007 at 5:03 pm (Dissertation, Education, Languages)

While doing laundry and cleaning today, I spent some time thinking about where I might like to end up, career-wise, and I started thinking about my dream professorship, at LMU, of course. I’d be teaching both Mesopotamian languages and archaeology. There would be a couple of intro courses, and I would give a talk on the Archaeology major and minor at the end of each semester, for anyone who was interested. The major would require them to learn two languages, one dead and one living (French or German), plus write a certain number of papers that could be added to the CDLI wiki on various archaeological sites or topics. If I had funding, then I would have a team of undergrads, each of whom would be responsible for becoming an expert in a particular area of the ancient Mediterranean, and they would write overviews with bibliographies for the wiki, gradually populating it with information and making it easier for future students to get informed. Ultimately, they’d also have to write a senior thesis which would/could be a publishable article.

During the summer, I’d take a small group of students with me to Syria to excavate. This would be a class for them; in addition to regular excavating duties, we’d meet twice a week in the evening and once on the weekend and discuss some topic or other. I’ll still have to come up with a curriculum. In order to come along, they’d first have to complete an archaeological methods course that would teach them how to survey, how to draw a section and make a Harris matrix, etc. Maybe I could get Jim Walker to help me teach it, and he could take some of the students at the dig, too. They could also take an Arabic course there; I’d arrange for an Arabic teacher to come every evening or a few evenings a week for an hour. We’d find a way that they would be able to get a publication credit at the end of the summer, as well. If I went to Egypt in the Fall, then I would teach part of my class by video-link, with the students doing their work online. In Syria and Egypt, we’d also spend a week traveling around, looking at important archaeological sites.

As for the language students, I’d get them to work transliterating documents for the CDLI and/or feeding literary texts into analysis programs, so that they would also be producing scholarly content. I need to work out exactly what they’d be doing, it’s just a crazy idea right now. We’d have class two or three days a week, and they’d have to take online vocab and grammar quizzes as part of each homework assignment. In the end, I’d have a small army of highly-trained, well-educated students who would go on to either grad school or good jobs. I’d also give a talk each semester on “Jobs for Liberal Arts Majors,” about how to use their skills to get a job.

We’d use videos, etc. while digging to produce documentaries that would then go on the web. We’d bring a student along from Film and Television to do a lot of that, and the stuff would make me famous. Plus, I’d set up a program where I’d go around to retirement communities here in LA and teach everyone who wants to learn how to read Ur III Sumerian, so that they could spend their time transliterating documents and checking for errors.

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