Looking back at 2017

2017 was a big year in many ways. My partner and I bought our first home, my new book was published, and I started on a new project.

So here’s a run-down of some of the things that made me happiest over the past year, divided roughly into categories:


In addition to buying the house, I’m also proud of consistently making time for things that make me feel good (and keep me sane, frankly). I meditate daily (using this app), and consistently make time to take walks (I aim for 10k steps 5x a week and use a Fitbit to keep track).

Work & teaching:

My biggest achievement is explicitly setting clearer boundaries. I want to be someone that my colleagues can count on, and do good work. Over the past year I’ve worked on combining that with setting clearer boundaries and saying no. Since the beginning of the academic year I’ve been practicing letting things go and letting other people do some of the work. I’ve also worked on communicating my boundaries more clearly. I won’t let myself being pressured into doing things last minute, or quickly, or at a moment that doesn’t work for me. For instance, I know that after a day of meetings and teaching, supervision meetings at 16:30 don’t work for me.

Professional development:

I struggled for a while with finding ways to develop myself professionally within my job’s formal professional development structure. Last year I learned that I can also come up with my own professional development plan, and I have. My focus is on two areas: general didactics and the specific didactics of teaching literature, both in higher education where I work, and secondary education, where my students work. I work on these skills through podcasts (the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast is my favourite), by reading books (some of my recent favourites include Small Teaching and Minds Online) and then, by trying things out. My teaching continues to improve – I try out different activities, different strategies and different forms of assessments and I’ve been getting good and useful feedback from my students.

Coaching & career orientation:

Ever since being home from work with a burn-out in the Spring of 2016, I’ve been thinking more explicitly about myself in relation to my job. First mainly in terms of why I got ill in the first place, but since then also about finding different strategies to work in such a way that I feel happy (rather than overwhelmed). I’m fortunate enough to being able to see a coach through my job (although she doesn’t work for my institution) once every six weeks or so. Recently I’ve also starting on career orientation: not necessarily because I want to leave, but because I want to reflect a bit more on my skills and options.


  • I finally got an article accepted (on Graham Swift’s Waterland) that had been in the revise-and-resubmit stage for way too long;
  • I wrote a number of new articles: one on Jim Crace, one on ethics and climate crisis literature (due for revision in late Feb 2018) and am currently finishing one on Ian McEwan, science and ecology;
  • I attended one conference this year, the ASLE-UKI conference in Sheffield, where I presented a paper;
  • The book: this year I submitted the revised version (beginning of the year), made the index, checked the proofs and then it was published (yay!);
  • I really got started on my new project at the end of the year. It is on 21st-century climate crisis flood novels, and will result in a series of conference papers (like this one from 2016 and this one in 2017), articles and a monograph. This project will be my primary focus in terms of research in 2018.

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