[415/441] Engage!

I specifically did not use the past participle of this word, because I know that a title of “engaged!” might get people here with a certain expectation of what the post is about. Indeed, I am NOT engaged to be married, given that I am still single! I wanted to consider the different forms of “engage” and how they relate to me right now… as well as how I have used or seen them previously!

There are several different definitions of the word “engage” or its derivative “engagement.”  I’ll go through the salient ones here and describe how they are salient to me.

  • ENGAGE: To induce participation of, or to hold the attention of…

In a sentence here, I would say that “My teaching style engages my students.”  Interestingly, I learned that “engaged lecturing” doesn’t necessarily refer to the enthusiasm of the instructor, but rather the activities that the instructor uses to encourage students to participate.

  • ENGAGE: To take part in something, or to give attention to something.

This was important in one of the slogan phrases during my first year at the University of Nebraska: the slogan “Engage. Connect. Balance.”  It was, in some sense, a mission statement provided by New Student Enrollment. I feel that I did the triad well during my years at UNL. In terms of engagement, I participated in a lot of different scholarly activities and took challenging courses. Connect, I maybe didn’t do so well. Balance, I did, as I never drove myself completely off the cliff!  There was an article about how Mid-Semester Check at UNL was partially designed to remind students of  these concepts.

  • ENGAGE: To enter into battle, conflict, or to fight.

This was salient in a few different ways. One of my favorite video games during my late high school years was Final Fantasy Tactics Advance. All of the missions in that game were also called engagements, since the missions were battle-based. A cartoon bubble with the word “Engage!” appears above your character’s head when you begin a battle or a mission.

And “engage” is also used in terms of fighting in wars.  As I followed Operation Protective Edge over the summer, several times the descriptions by the Israel Defense Forces said something to the effect of, “The IDF engaged and killed the insurgents.”  Shifting to non-lethal battle, you can also use the word “engage” to describe fencers squaring off.

Hardly seems like a fair engagement!

Hardly seems like a fair engagement!

  • ENGAGEMENT: A job as a performer.

Not exactly as a performer, but I recall from a while ago when there commercials for Fantasia 2000. At the end of the ad, it said, “This is a very limited engagement.” Therefore, “engagement” in this case doesn’t refer to a performer, but a movie. It was still salient to me for some reason, as I had never before heard “engagement” used in that sense.

  • ENGAGE: To bind (as oneself) to do something, esp. to pledge to marry.

Binding oneself to do something. It’s not marriage for me, but it is a “binding” contract with three other people.  Those three people: my dissertation committee. I have confirmed my three committee members, and am now in the process of writing my dissertation. In some sense, I feel that the stage of the dissertation is a strong engagement indeed. And when all is said and done, it ends in a ceremony: the doctoral hooding! There’s a lot of work ahead, but I am gaining confidence!

The previous definitions all relate in some way to my next four months. The first definition requires that I engage both myself and my audience when it comes time to defend my dissertation… which is an engagement–I am a performer in this case given that I will be under the hottest spotlights that I have yet encountered!  (Sorry about that horrible run-on sentence).  Now, it is time for me to engage in writing (i.e. take part in something).

I’m framing this as a battle or a sporting event as I finish, much like I did with Finals Week when I was at UNL. So, it is time for me to engage!


Today is the four-hundred and fifteenth day of Mission 441. Twenty-six days remain.

Sources: Merriam-Webster.com, UNL Announce (September 22, 2011)


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