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Director weekly highlights 26 Nov

Jane Simpson, Outreach

Date: 26 November 2021

Yayyy, woohoo, wowie-zowie… - pick your favourite interjection/emoji of delight, and check out the News section. Among the twenty-five new Fellows of the Australian Academy of the Humanities are three CoEDL members: CI Nick Thieberger, CI Catherine Travis and affiliate James Walker. Wonderful recognition for their work, and wonderful for the Academy to have such stars in it.

Then, CoEDL Advisory Committee member Clint Bracknell is joining UQ’s constellation of Indigenous language and music researchers, appointed as professor in the School of Languages and Cultures. Clint has been involved in some powerfully imaginative projects using Noongar language and music, including Fist of Fury. In other stellar news, lovely to see international recognition of Inge Kral and Lizzie Marrkilyi Ellis’ pioneering collaboration as realised in their book In the Time of Their Lives: Wangka Kutjupa-kutjuparringu: How Talk Has Changed in the Western Desert (Honorable Mention in the 2021 Edward Sapir Book Prize competition (Society for Linguistic Anthropology). And also lovely to celebrate a CoEDL PhD student, Elena Sheard, winning the Association for Laboratory Phonology Best Student Presentation Award at New Ways of Analyzing Variation 49 (2021)

November-December is a time for getting together in groups to soak up new ideas. Pick your synonym: conferences (ALSDigital Humanities Australasia 2021Languages in a multicultural worldDescriptive grammars and typology), colloquium (LCNAUsymposia (ASSALanguages), forum (ALTAANZ), CoEDL masterclassesroundtable (Globalized language education). It’s all happening now, many CoEDL members have/will give(n) talks in many of these, and I’m already soaking…. Just highlighting one because of its interesting model: Emerging topics in typology workshop series was held on Zoom over a month, organised by a large team of graduate students, including several CoEDL members (Ellison Luk, Maria Vollmer) and advisers including CoEDL member Stef Spronck. It showcased graduate student projects. Each abstract received several reviews from more senior researchers. One reviewer became the chair of the actual presentation. Instead of the usual 5 minutes for questions, there were 20 minutes, and the discussion was all the richer for the time and for having a chair who’d thought deeply about the topic.

And, to feel good about lifelong learning and universities, check out the Canberra Times story on an out-of-session graduation

Deputy Director


Teaching and research and life, oh my! - a view from east and west


Amanda Hamilton-Hollaway is working on a PhD through the University of Queensland and serving as an Associate Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Western Australia. Many CoEDL members will be familiar with the feeling of wearing many hats across one or more institutions—and Amanda would like to take a moment to acknowledge all you do. And Jane would like to acknowledge some great things that Amanda has done - a stalwart member of the CoEDL Education and ECR subcommittees, a faithful archiver (check out her Mudburra recordings listing on PARADISEC), co-author of the Mudburra Dictionary, and co-producer of other community-oriented works such as ‘Birrka marnini: making things Mudburra’. On top of all this, she’s recently co-authored “Lend me your verbs: Verb borrowing between Jingulu and Mudburra with Felicity Meakins, Rob Pensalfini and Caitlin Zipf.

The end of the teaching year seems like as good a time as any (or perhaps just the only time I’ve had) to reflect on the types of work I’ve done, or partially done, or just thought about doing this year. Many of you will have had similar lists of responsibilities, so I think it’s nice to acknowledge where we’ve been and what we’ve shared.

While continuing my University of Queensland PhD studies, I also had the absolute honour this year of taking on an Associate Lecturer contract with the University of Western Australia. This involved a teaching and coordination load that was, for me at least, very significant (far more than full-time, in terms of real hours spent), raising all kinds of questions about how to balance PhD progress with teaching, and how to balance the two of them, in turn, with…well, anything else I might want or need to do. I’m not sure that I succeeded, but I did survive—and that surely counts for something, right? If your boat is similar, then let’s take this moment to reflect and to encourage each other.

I suspect that a drive to get it right has led many of us into academia; a profession based on knowing lots of things seems a natural attractor for people intent on getting all the numbers correct, the theory fully supported, and the approach decidedly not messed up. For some of us (and while I am projecting here, I feel confident I’m in good company), this determination extends into the classroom too: how can we be trusted to teach others, we reason, if we haven’t done our absolute best to make sure our material is at the top of its game? And how could we even trust ourselves, for that matter, if we didn’t do this?

Like most hang-ups, this sort of thinking starts from a helpful place but becomes exhausting when overapplied. For those of you who are able to get on with your work thoughtfully and without falling into the tries-too-hard trap, I salute you. Keep going; you’re an inspiration. For those who haven’t gotten there yet, I empathise. And while I rarely follow my own advice, I can tell you something that I truly believe: being open-hearted and open-minded, while calmly doing what you can do, is enough. It really is.

Near the end of a busy year, then, let’s collectively send out a big well done to all of us—for reading, for writing, for teaching, for helping someone out, for watching a sunset and taking the weekend off, and for making it through. It’s enough. We’re all enough. We really, really are.

  • Australian Government
  • The University of Queensland
  • Australian National University
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Western Sydney University