Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Kia ora koutou

Hello everyone.

I'm known as harvestbird on-line. I work at the pseudonymous Concrete University, one of New Zealand's eight universities, where I teach in Bridging Programmes, pre-undergraduate courses that prepare local and international students for university study.

I'm also a New Zealander by birth (hence the Maori greeting; the standard signal by which kiwis of many ethnicities make ourselves known internationally).

I teach New Zealand Literature and Film Studies in the programme for local students, and a general arts elective. My doctoral research was in the poetics of the New Zealand writer Robin Hyde (from whose writing I take my on-line moniker).

My current position is a continuing contract, while many of my colleagues remain in fixed-term employment. Tenure as such doesn't exist in New Zealand. Having said that, many local universities now employ new academic staff on a trial fixed-term period followed by a review, usually after three or five years, so we are starting to resemble the American system.

My own weblog (at diaryland, not linked to from my blogger profile) is reflective and anecdotal in content, rather than dealing with issues of scholarship and life in the academic system (other than as narrative). I suspect this is because my professional position within the academy is low in status.

A large part of developing my professional identity has been separating the strands of what I do (teaching and accompanying administration) from who I am: a thinker, a writer, a critic.

So I welcome a discussion of the kind Hall's volume seeks to initiate. I'm aware that the cultural context (including some aspects of academic culture) out of which I write differs from other participants--my location, for starters--but I hope to be able to make some contribution beyond attempting to speak on behalf of New Zealand!