Clarissa's Blog

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


This conference is surprisingly well-organized. For one, in the exhibit hall (a place where everybody ends up) there are tables dedicated to different research interests (Spanish Literature, 21st-century Literature, Caribbean Studies, etc). People can sit down at “their” table in an unobtrusive, non-embarrassing way of meeting colleagues. 

There is also a CV clinic where tenured professors help graduate students and adjuncts to improve their CVs before going on the job market. I’m mentoring at the CV clinic this morning because job seekers deserve as much help as they can get. 

And unlike the big MLA, this smaller chapter does give out paper programs at the conference instead of mailing them to people months in advance. (It’s a ploy to make money, and what a shitty one!)


Trumpcare Bites It

Wow, the Trumpcare bill failed. Really, wow. I was putting a brave face on it but now I have discovered that it failed, I’m almost crying. I will probably even have an uncharacteristic alcoholic beverage to celebrate. 

Defining the Conversation 

There is a bunch of people here speaking about literature of the crisis.

“I’m just getting into this subject,” they tell me.

“I have a book on it coming out this year,” I reply.

I’m very happy that I did what I wanted and got the book out before everybody else. I want to define this conversation because otherwise it will go in a wrong direction and will fail to engage with the nation-state. 

It’s also very pleasing that a few people came up to me and mentioned my first book. 

The Risks of Being Obvious in Quebec 

McGill professor was kicked out from his job for publishing an opinion article that stated something painfully obvious:

Quebec is an almost pathologically alienated and low-trust society, deficient in many of the most basic forms of social capital that other Canadians take for granted.

I love Quebec a lot more than any other part of the country that I’ve been to, but the fellow is 100% right. And even if he weren’t, what does an opinion piece in MacLean’s have to do with his capacity to do his job? If you are fortunate enough to have a professor who is capable of speaking to a larger audience than a dozen of narrowly specialized colleagues, then you have got to cherish such a person.

The culture of Quebec is a great, beautiful culture that needs to be preserved. As all cultures, it has its dark side, so what? Since when is it a crime to point that out? 

The fired prof is absolutely right when he says that Quebecois society is atomized and many people are extremely lonely. This is a culture that is open to accepting immigrants but stinks at connecting to us on a human level. These are all consequences of a beleaguered mentality of a culture that is afraid of being ingested by the enormously powerful Anglophone world that surrounds it. The result, however, is self-defeating. Immigrants who arrive with a great interest in the Francophone culture of Quebec realize that if they are to have any friends, they have to speak English.

Instead of silencing these discussions in such a nasty way, the administration of McGill should encourage them and stay strong against fake outrage of the perennially offended.

Academic Shadow 

There is a Hispanist who is my academic shadow. Whenever I go to a conference, I find her at the same panel. If I publish a chapter in an edited volume, she’s going to be one of the contributors. 

My research interests change dramatically every once in a while. And hers do, too, at the same moment in time. It’s eerie. We both did Spanish Civil War, then masculinity, then spaces, and now crisis literature. 

Unfeminist Feminism

And from the very first session, female academics start with the same exhausted spectacle of self-deprecation.

“I apologize in advance for making a comment that has probably no value.”

“I don’t even know why I’m saying this.”

“I’m probably making no sense.”

The panel, by the way, is on feminism. FEMINISM. We ask our students to moderate their speech patterns every day in foreign language classrooms. How hard can it be to pay some attention to how we speak and end the self-defeating talk? 

Nobody is going to do this for us. No prince is coming to rescue distressed damsels with kindly reassurances. Tell yourself every day in front of a mirror, “I’m an intellectual, my work matters, I won’t apologize for existing. And fuck the loser parents who didn’t teach me this decades ago.”

Are Rainbow Laces Liberating?

Everybody at the panel I’m listening to agrees that marketing sneakers with rainbow laces to kids is a gesture of a great social value because it somehow combats homophobia.

And I believe that homophobia is not about who buys what but about putting an end to job discrimination and housing / healthcare discrimination. 

You can’t buy freedom from homophobia. You’ve got to fight for it.


Some people shouldn’t post selfies because their personality, voice and gestures make up 90% of their beauty.

And some people shouldn’t post selfies because their photography skills stink.

An academic who’s my Facebook friend but whom I’d never met in person until today posts a selfie a day. And today I finally saw her in RL and discovered that she’s not an ancient hag but a very beautiful woman who’s clearly younger than me. I’d kept wondering how it’s possible for her to have such small kids when she’s almost 70, and now the mystery has been solved.

I Meet the Other Woman

The descent into Baltimore was long, and my ears were completely plugged. When I arrived at my hotel, I could barely hear anything. In order to avoid accidentally screaming at the receptionist, I silently handed him the paper with the reservation N had gotten for me. (He’s the hotel and flight specialist in the family.)

“Oh, hello, Mrs. N,” the receptionist said, looking at the paper. “Let’s me pull up your reservation.” 

He clicked a few keys, stared at the screen, and his face fell. He looked at me, at my paper, at the screen, clicked some more, stared some more, and started shifting uncomfortably.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. N,” he mumbled finally. “There’s something. . . erm. . . something that will possibly be upsetting that I need to communicate to you.”

“Ah, they must have given my room to somebody else because I came in late,” I thought.

But I was wrong. 

“Mrs. N, your husband seems to have placed another woman in your room,” the receptionist said, his voice trembling. “Her name is Professor Bulochkina.”

“It’s OK,” I reassured the poor receptionist who probably feared a huge scandal. “I’m Bulochkina.”

And hey, these are the Eastcoasters who think we are flyover podunksters while they can’t imagine the situation where married people have different last names. 

This is a funnier story than even my notorious one-night stand story.

Unbroken Promises

All news channels and sources in my newsfeed are obsessively condemning the ACA repeal. . . and I have no idea why I’m supposed to care.

It wasn’t a secret that this would happen. Trump said he’d repeal the ACA at every rally. In fact, he often led with this statement. And people voted for him. Or they didn’t care enough to organize (or organize more actively) for somebody else, which is the same thing.

And it wasn’t just Trump. Republicans started saying they wanted the ACA repealed 7 years ago. This is, arguably, a single most unifying issue for the party. They’ve been talking about the need to repeal Obamacare at every opportunity. And in the 7 years they’ve been doing it, they kept winning every election.

There was no duplicity here, no lie. The resolve to repeal the ACA was blared from every news outlet for years. Unless you are yesterday’s immigrant from the Moon, you had to know that Republicans wanted to repeal the ACA. And still, people voted for them every time they elected a Republican for Senate, Congress, or the White House. 

So here’s what we have: people voted, voted, voted and voted for a certain party, giving it majorities everywhere. And the party in question proceeded to give the people exactly what it had been promising for the better part of a decade. That’s democracy for you. 

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