On Sabbatical: William Egginton, KSAS

The Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Humanities leads a writer's life in Vienna

Image caption: William Egginton’s dog, Sissi, settles into her master’s chair when he takes a break from the book projects on which he’s working while in Vienna.


It's been almost a decade since my last sabbatical, and there are too many tasks and projects that I, too ambitiously, hope to tackle this time, while we're living in Vienna.

I came into this year with a book due out soon and another manuscript with a looming deadline. You would think that having a book already in press would mean less work to do on it, but you'd be wrong. Now everything from working on getting pre-publication reviews and endorsements to planning lectures, readings, and interviews is on my plate.

At the same time, the deadline for my next book wasn't going away. And then there are those parts of university work that are always there even when you are on sabbatical, chief among those your graduate students' dissertations. Now that the second manuscript is off my desk, I have a backlist of dissertation chapters to read and comment on before I get to some articles that I promised to write but have had to wait.

But I don't want to sound like I'm complaining. Being in Vienna for the year is an incredible privilege. In addition to almost unbridled time to focus on my writing, I'm traveling to give lectures in Germany, Canada, Spain, and the UK as well.

I had a hard time deciding what photo to send to illustrate what my life is like here in Vienna. One I particularly like is of the statue of the great German writer Lessing that stands in the middle of Judenplatz, which I get to see several times a week when picking up or dropping off our youngest son at his school. But probably more representative is the shot of the corner of our living room where I have been working. My coffee cup is still there, but our dog, Sissi, has taken advantage of a writing break to jump up and keep my seat warm for me.

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