Published: Feb. 22, 2016 By

Humanist Blog

Time flies when you are having fun, the saying goes… or when you work as a dean. I cannot believe how much time has passed since my last post, and I am somewhat embarrassed by the delay. Admittedly, the feeling I am experiencing is that of the student who misses a couple of classes, then starts missing them altogether because she is embarrassed that she has missed a few and the teacher might not like her anymore.

Speaking of students, I am back in the classroom. I am teaching the course on Boccaccio’s Decameron that has been a staple in my teaching for many years. This year, about 65 students enrolled. It is a quick-paced class, and the students have already written a draft of a paper, the final version of that same paper, and have taken the first of three exams. I also renamed the course (“Tales of Sex and Death in the Decameron”), which somehow fits the themes of the course better than the old one (“Boccaccio and the Age of Realism”), especially since there is nothing very realistic in Boccaccio’s storytelling (as my students know, he opens the first day of the narration with a story which is all about the power of fiction to overturn and transform reality, an ability that can serve us very well if we knew how to harness the power of words).

With regards to my “deaning,” it has been intense. After a honeymoon period of a few months, the challenges have certainly been coming fast and furious: the Program Review for all units in my division, the interviews with candidates for jobs in a number of units, the hiring processes, the retention negotiations, the snow days, the sun days, organizing a number of events, etc., etc. The thoughtfulness that emanated from my first entries in this blog has been lost in exchange for the frenzy of keeping one foot in front of the other, and trying to fulfill the obligations that my daily routine brings to me.

There’s hope yet! We are organizing a Spring event (“Arts on the Green,” April 6, 2016) with all the arts departments and the collaboration of the Conference on World Affairs. The second round of the Outreach and Inclusivity grants is on its way, with enough entries to suggest that the concept is catching on. And I have finally completed a lengthy article on John Fante, the native Denver-Boulder writer of Wait until Spring, Bandini, the first ever novel about Boulder to hit the American national market in 1938 to great acclaim (and Patty Limerick, the Colorado Historian and director of the Center of the American West has made the reading of his book of short stories the centerpiece for one of her breakfasts in the Spring to which I will gladly participate).


Valerio Ferme
Feb. 22, 2016