New Faculty Orientation was all very well in its way, but necessarily somewhat repetitive for those of us who are only new in our titles. I wasn't sure what to suggest when we had to fill out evaluation forms, but it has since occurred to me that there could have been some attention to things like the mysteries of the Peoplesoft system (something that was implemented while I was in Prague and still have no concept of other than that people keep asking for my "Peoplesoft number" but will accept the number on my ID card instead). There could also have been some brief reference to our health insurance options. Still, I was glad to run into an old friend who's also Visiting this year and even has a book contract (although I would not like to have to turn in a book manuscript pretty much at the same time as the dissertation it was based on), and we brilliantly managed to sit next to a new member of the History dept whose work on Hungarian pop culture relates to both of our interests.
As for the New Faculty Reception, well, that's the kind of thing that either proves to be thoroughly worthwhile or thoroughly dull, depending on who you end up talking to. The setup was excellent--the Chancellor has a house with a very suitable garden, the weather cooperated, and there was very good food and enjoyable baroque guitar music. Fortunately I hit it lucky on the conversation and enjoyed talking further with my acquaintance from History and his wife, and met another Visiting person, this time from English, who had done his undergraduate work at the same place I had, so we immediately began to compare recollections. I am sure it would have been a fine thing to have met a few more people, but at least the four of us had plenty to say and barely managed to eat anything as a result.
I have taught one session of each of my classes, and am optimistic about both of them. The Intro to Modern class is mostly people who claim to know nothing about art, but they did a good job of starting to discuss the formal analyses I had them write. The American Art class has mostly people with more experience taking art history classes, and they are (or some of them) are now in the throes of trying to discuss their reading online. We are having some technical issues, but not impossible ones, as some people have got it all figured out and perhaps they can pass on their expertise to the rest of the class while I try to improve how it works from my end (on Blackboard, known in Pittsburgh as Courseweb).
The gamelan class is distressingly small this semester, but is enthusiastic and includes two of my friends from last year. I suppose it will burgeon in the spring; I gather it always does.
And that is enough for the moment.