Don's Diary

February 12, 1999

Sunday

New year's resolution: work less, relax more. But what else do you do if you wake at 7.00am on a winter Sunday and V is still asleep? I'm reading Nightwood by Djuna Barnes, which I have never got on with before and may want to use on a new course next year. Later, watch video of new TV sitcom featuring a gay man, then listen to Radio 4 discussion about it. Relaxing is not easy when queerness in popular culture is part of your field.

Monday

To the library for a biography of Djuna Barnes. I announce schedule for colleagues to meet applicants for our chair. This is an important appointment - some influential people have left Sussex lately and we need to show that we are still in the game. Also two colleagues have been asked to put their names forward for a chair in London. Pity there is no transfer fee. Watch new TV comedy about a northern town inhabited by menacing transsexuals. Perhaps relaxation is over-valued.

Tuesday

First meeting of new MA group. I'm anxious, but it seems to go well, except that one student has a clash, so I change the time of the class. Rearrangements take about 75 minutes to organise, I note - a point for Don's Diary. But isn't it a bit trivial?

Wednesday

Play host to visiting speaker at Queory (lesbian and gay studies) seminar. He is one of the good people I met in Chicago last year, but I have to commute between this and a subject-group meeting, having foolishly double-booked myself. The paper is excellent, as is the discussion.

Thursday

Faber confirms its refusal to allow a contributor to the journal Textual Practice, which I edit, to quote from Ted Hughes's Birthday Letters. We'll run the article anyway, but without the quotes. I tinker with the idea of an editorial and become quite indignant, but it is too easy just to reassert a case for free speech. Reimmerse myself in the published struggles of Jacqueline Rose and Janet Malcolm with the Hughes family: I can see a more structural argument about the role of cultural myth.

Friday

I get hold of Ted Hughes material in the library, miraculously in the few minutes between two reservation holds on the book. Finish draft editorial and send out copies for comment. Lunch with the coordinator of an exchange programme with Wesleyan. The US students complain if they do not meet here the people whose work they've heard of. I remark that we hardly have time to meet each other.

Saturday

Read the biography of Djuna. One reviewer said he never knew anyone with so much genius and so little talent. It has been a good week: forgot only one appointment, lost only one important piece of paper, remembered students' names.

Alan Sinfield Professor of English, University of Sussex Hughes feature, page 19

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