Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My new gig

One of the perks involved in being a graduate student is the variety of interesting, low-paying part-time jobs one is offered (or applies for, but that tends to be unnecessary--they will find you.) Often these are TAing, or adjunct/sessional lecturing. I've done some of both, and they have their charms. The downside (aside from the whole working hard for peanuts thing) is that both operate according to a kind of super-charged Parkinson's law--not only do they fill the time allotted, but they also fill a lot of the time NOT allotted.

One thing I haven't done in a long time is work as an RA, or research assistant. Looking back these have been my favourite academic mcjobs, though I suspect it may depend on who you are working for. In my first RA-ship, many years ago, I did a little of the photocopying/find books in the library sort of thing one expects. But most of it was editing--I got to help select the articles for two books of collected essays, edit them, and deal with the fallout from the authors. I was introduced to anyone who was anyone in my field, and to many who weren't anyone then but are now. Still reaping the dividends of that one (thanks, Professor David Flaherty.)

A few weeks ago I was approached out of the blue by Dean Lorne Sossin of Osgoode Hall Law School to take on a RA thing to support a really promising public history project, the Osgoode History and Archives Project. ( I alluded to this project in an earlier post, in referring to the awesomeness and historical proclivities of R. Roy McMurtry.) The initial phase is planned to be an integral part of the renovation of the school, which will be re-opening this September. This looks like it will be tremendous, and the Dean and Louis Mirando, the Chief Librarian, both of whom I report to, seem like the best kind of supervisors; helpful, supportive, respectful and appreciative of the value of history (the latter is rare in legal-academic captivity, and definitely to be celebrated). But it's a little scary: after all this time criticizing other public history exhibits, I have to put up or shut up.

We had a meeting yesterday with the company which is doing the design and installation, Lord Cultural Concepts (students not knowing what to do with their public history or museology degrees should check them out, they look like a great company.) I am so excited by the plans, but I won't talk about them, because we want them to be a surprise. You can check out our currently minimal but effective interactive web presence here.
Here's what the space looks like now, more or less (that's Dean Sossin on the phone.) But trust me, it will be amazing.

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