Saturday, January 10th, 2015...10:45 pm

Blogging #MLA15: Day Three

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It’s easy to be cynical about the annual convention of the Modern Language Association. Its session and paper titles are fodder for usually news-starved media during the winter break. (Unfortunately, there is other global news to preoccupy us.) Its spectacle of posturing and pretentiousness is legendary. More snark than the love child of Lewis Carroll and Michael Musto. A pastiche of Ship of Fools, Grand Illusion, and Masque of the Red Death.

Nonetheless, there is something both endearing and insanely noble about an organization whose members simultaneously revere a tradition while attempting currency and relevance. Still spending most of today at the booth of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals, I took a break only to fill in for a last minute absence in the CELJ Chat with an Editor service, very ably coordinated by Graham MacPhee (West Chester University). Volunteering for this I have spent the most rewarding hours of any time at MLA’s convention. Some impressions . . .

Long’s Axiom demonstrated again: Graduate school prepares you for . . . graduate school. QED.

Where do you want to be and what do you want to be doing ten years from now? How you answer that question should shape what and where you publish starting now. Decisions you make now will open or close doors ten years from now.

In the best of all possible worlds, it wouldn’t matter where you publish or who publishes your work. However, we live in the postlapsarian world. It matters.

Recent PhDs and early-career professors should all have agents who seek bidders on their mss.

Scholars are knowledge entrepreneurs; we do not know with any certainty if there will be a market for our ideas. The line between faith in yourself and delusion is thin and wavering.

A recent PhD now unaffiliated has discovered a heretofore untranslated piece by Andre Gide, which she has translated. One woman’s defiance of cultural and intellectual torpor.

Another has a dissertation in which she examines ways that Spanish drama from the Golden Age has been revived in the Occupy movement. Resistance.

A doctoral student has done extensive archival research on manuscripts of Marguerite Duras and affirms that the time this research took was worth the effort.

A multidisciplinary early-career scholar has surmounted personal medical challenges in order to restart her career.

The academic job market is more like dating than anything else. Search committees should be seeking a husband or wife; but they end up picking an exciting boyfriend or girlfriend. Kewl kids often don’t make good spouses.

 

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