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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Academic Publishing

Is there a new trend where academic publishers seek out academics and offer to discuss possible publication of the books they are working on? And I don’t mean vanity presses, obviously. I mean very respectable publishing houses.

The way it seems to work is that authors speak at the MLA as a way of announcing what they are working on, and then publishers contact them offering to consider the publication of the book that the talk is part of.*

Since my MLA talk, I already got contacted by 3 very good publishing houses who want to publish the book that the talk came from. I always feel bad having to tell them that the book already has come out. On the positive side, all these inquiries encouraged me to start writing a prospectus for the new book**, so that’s good. I never contact publishers until I have the complete manuscript but hey, maybe it’s time to change my process and start pitching while I’m still writing. Or still thinking about writing.

*One is supposed to be working on a book at all times. All of the people in my field to whom I mentioned my recently published book immediately asked when the new one was coming out and what it was about. Even the analyst was like, “OK, so when is the new book coming out? Do you have a date of completion?” It’s like the women who bring a newborn from the hospital and everybody goes, “So? When are you going to have the next one?” I personally find it extremely invigorating when this happens (a propos the book and not the next pregnancy, obviously. At my age, nobody asks about the next pregnancy. Which makes me want to go, “And why do you keep silent, huh? Am I too old? Do I look old, huh, huh? I still have 15 years left before menopause, for your information.”)

** Good news: the book will be about nationalism. N is reading my crisis book and asks, “So what is liquid capital?” Which goes to show that I haven’t been bugging him with fluidity and the nation-state. When I explained the concept, his reaction was, “OK, so why did we support Hillary, then?”

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Sexual Ignorance

What the author of the previous (and shockingly ridiculous) post mistook for sexual harassment is the environment of joy and excitement that accompanies the sharing and discovery of knowledge.

When, for instance, I come into my History of Latin America class, the 29 students look at me like they are in love. It’s not love of me as an individual and there’s definitely nothing whatsoever erotic about it. What the students are in love with is all of the fascinating knowledge we are discovering in class and the joy of learning and thinking.

In grad school, it’s even more intense because aside from the love of learning, students also feel love for the profession and for their future professional selves that they see in their teachers. If learning is organized correctly, the air crackles with the high voltage of ideas getting generated.

Either wilfully or out of sheer ignorance, the linked author confused this kind of intellectual excitement with erotic arousal. She isn’t totally to blame, of course, given that the degree of puritanism in our supposedly sexually liberated world is such that people seriously proclaim that “the brain is the sexiest organ of all.”

Like in the story of a comic’s failed date, people who see (or offer) such narratives as evidence of sexual harassment are grievously ignorant. And everybody seems too embarrassed to tell them how ridiculous they sound.

Lunatic or Opportunist?

Is this person a lunatic or simply an opportunist? I’d love to think she’s cynically surfing the suddenly popular wave and doesn’t actually believe any of this ludicrousness. The alternative is too sad.

Better Late

Hey, Rachel Maddow talked about Ukrainian politics today, and did it in a way that gladdens any Ukrainian’s heart. The screen was bursting with Ukrainian flags. I was very happy.

Of course, if this had been reported on when it was happening, many of the current problems would have been avoided.

The left’s narrative on Ukraine has made a 180° turnaround from what it was 4, 3, 2 and even 1 year ago. Thank you, President Trump for this, at least.

Welcome

When students heard I’m going to become a citizen soon, they gave me a box of chocolates and signed a beautiful card. I feel very welcome.

Identity Lists

The reason why I hate all these identity lists in politics is that they purposefully engage the emotional attachments at the core of each identity in the hopes that an emotional explosion will drown out an intellectual response to what is being said. Of course, all politics is manipulative but this kind of tired old manipulation is so transparent and so stupid that it’s time to let go of it.

Same Old

I want online to look for materials on the Mexican American War to recommend to my students. One website looked promising, so I went there and started reading. And then all of a sudden I hear Pritzker’s voice booming at me from the top of the page where ads are placed. I turned the sound off because I’m at work and we can’t do political propaganda in the workplace. But I did hear most of the ad. In it, Pritzker makes it very clear that his only angle is identity politics. He goes on and on enumerating the identity categories he will help: “I will defend undocumented immigrants. . .African Americans. . . LGBT. . . women. . .” It’s a very clear and unapologetic way of saying, “If, in the light of recent developments, you expect any turnaround away from strictly identitarian talking points, then screw you.”

There is also a weird part in the ad about “Rauner says he’s not in control but I am in control.” Which is quite a tone-deaf line in view of the existing fears (as unjustified as they may be) of authoritarianism in the US.

In short, I support the party of stubborn idiots. Yippee for me.

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Funny and Cute

Who schedules a dance class for two-year-olds from 6:15 to 6:45 pm? When do they think two-year-olds go to bed?

Klara is in the 3-4-year-old group from 4 to 4:30 because she starts her bath time at 7 and simply wouldn’t enjoy such a late class. Especially since it’s a 24-minute drive.

In the funny and cute news, I explained to Klara that Mamma is Ukrainian and Papa is Russian. We practiced the words, and she liked them.

“So Klara, are you Ukrainian or Russian?” I asked.

Klara gave me a look I usually reserve for the particularly hopeless students.

“I baby,” she said. “Klara is baby, Mommy.”

Today’s Muselmänner

A very good quote from The Burnout Society that is very representative of what the book is about (if not of the low quality of the translation overall):

In this society of compulsion, everyone carries a work camp inside. This labor camp is defined by the fact that one is simultaneously prisoner and guard, victim and perpetrator. One exploits oneself. It means that exploitation is possible even without domination. People who suffer from depression, bipolar disorder, or burnout syndrome develop the symptoms displayed by the Muselmänner in concentration camps. Muselmänner are emaciated prisoners lacking all vigor who, like people with acute depression, have become entirely apathetic and can no longer even recognize physical cold or the orders given by guards. One cannot help but suspect that the late-modern animal laborans with neuronal disturbances would have been a Muselmann, too—albeit well fed and probably obese.

As I said before, none of this is particularly new. These ideas have been worked and reworked by many people for over two decades. But it’s all about finding convincing and pithy ways of delivering the ideas, and The Burnout Society definitely does that. I’ve seen people who don’t even tangentially belong to the academia quote this book on Facebook, and that’s a very good sign because it means the book is getting read by people who are not conducting research.

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