Lecturer on the Study of Religion Tamsin Jones juggles three things this morning. Madly clicking away at her computer, she sends a flurry of emails while wielding a pen in one hand, editing a lecture, and looking over a philosophy paper: “Theses are coming in today!”
Jones looks out the door of her office every 10 minutes or so, expectantly awaiting the heavy, black-bound books that contain the culmination of her seniors’ extensive studies.
A colleague enters, jestingly warning Jones that a disaster looms—printer problems are about to happen.
Jones laughs, “I heard that our [theses] are really good ... There’s something there!”
Back to her computer, Jones checks the twitter responses for her Existentialism and Religion class and plays a remix of “Last Walk Around Mirror Lake” by Boom Bip on YouTube that a student with an interest in dance has sent her. Jones watches the video, which films skydivers sweeping through mountain ranges. “I’ve got to do this before I’m 30,” she says.
At a weekly pre-lecture meeting with her teaching fellows, Jones discusses the previous week’s class readings. Reactions in the room range from surprise to curiosity at student reception.
Jones interjects at points in the discussion, joking “any non-angry feminists [among them]?”
Her lecture is less than a half hour away. Chuckling, she threatens to cancel it.
Later, an amused TF begins to speak of Jones’ artistic adolescence. Jones sends a friendly warning glance.
Ending the meeting, Jones offers to take her TFs out for drinks “It would totally break my bank but ...”
In a packed room in Emerson Hall, Jones begins her lecture for Religion 56: Existentialism and Religion.
She frequently pauses to ask questions concerning her students: had they trouble accessing the files? How did they find the reading?
Unlike some of the undergraduate students in her class, Jones herself had a rather “monkish” experience in her own studies at McGill University, living alone and spending lengths of time dwelling on thinkers and ideas.
Her reclusive college years were in part a response to her even more unusual adolescence as a child-actress with long term commitments to a Canadian television series “Northwood” and later the movie “Sleeping with Strangers.”
Jones describes this period of her life as involving “Cameras, money, and a certain degree of fame.”
Theses are beginning to fill Jones’ office. At one point Jones sprints to the corridor to hug one of her seniors handing in a thesis. “It’s done!” She grins.
Shortly after, Jones’ husband and two small children (a three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter) arrive followed by a visiting graduate student. The office is filled with a flurry of excitement as Jones’ son explores the furniture and Jones explains to him the importance of eating vegetables.
After her family leaves, Jones stays in her office, madly clicking away.