Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Tomorrow, my beautiful and most beloved wife and I flee The City for the hinterlands of Arkansas, there to chair panels (and, in my case, present a paper) at the 2011 South Central Modern Language Association conference in Hot Springs.  It will be my fifth appearance at the conference and the second time I will have put together and chaired a panel; with luck, it will not be my last time doing either.

One of the things that happens at the conference is the beginnings of setting up for the next one.  To that end, I already have another idea for a panel.  There has been an upswing in, well, bullshit studies.  It seems interesting to me, and so I think I will be submitting a panel proposal for one.  The call for papers will go out later, once I find out whether or not the propsal has been accepted.  I am not sure whether it will be; I can easily ground the panel in ongoing research in major journals, but it does smack of the silly, and silly does not always go over well--even for Monty Python.

Even so, if you are interested in heading down to San Antonio right around Halloween next year, keep me in mind.  I might just have a ready-made excuse for you to go, particularly those of you who are in academia (and I know you are out there).

Right now, though, I am proctoring a midterm exam in one of my remedial English classes; thankfully, the room has a working computer.  I have caught up on the grading that I had from yesterday's teaching, which is good, and I have been able to enter midterm grades for three of my seven classes, which is better.  The other four have to wait for their midterm exams to be graded; I should be able to knock out today's today, but the other two, on Thursday and Friday, will have to wait until I return from the conference.  It is the only drawback to going, that I have a pile of grading and concomitant administrative paperwork to tend to as soon as I return.  It takes the shine off of what would otherwise be a shining example of what is good about the academic life.

There really is quite a bit good about it, actually, when it works out.  Even though I am teaching at a very junior college and am completely off of the tenure system, I enjoy quite a bit of job security here, and I get a number of benefits.  It is cold comfort, I know, to the great majority of those who enter into the academic humanities, who are on the adjunct circuit and struggling even then.  I feel for my colleagues, certainly, and I do what lobbying I can for them at this institution and in my professional organizations--of which there are several.  How much good it does, I do not know, but I can at the very least hope that I am doing no harm.

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