Archive for October, 2011
Howdy, friends! It’s lovely, sunny, and warm, so I’m off on a run. Here are some interesting tidbits I found elsewhere on the world-wide timewasting web for those of you not enjoying perfect autumn weather today:
- Via RealClearBooks, Eleanor Barkhorn on “What Jeffrey Eugenidies Doesn’t Understand About Women,” after reading his new book, The Marriage Plot: “There’s one way, however, in which [the protagonist] Madeleine defies believability: She has no true female friends. Yes, she has roommates and a sister with whom she once had ‘heavy’ emotional conversations, but these relationships are characterized more by spite than affection. And, sadly, The Marriage Plot is just the latest story to forget to give its heroine friends. There are countless other Madeleines in modern-day literature and film: smart, self-assured women who have all the trappings of contemporary womanhood except a group of friends to confide in.” Have you noticed this about recent books and films? I have to say that I hadn’t until Barkhorn pointed it out. She concludes, “The great irony, of course, is that the old-fashioned, marriage-plot-bound books that Eugenides attempts to modernize in his new novel actually do a better job of portraying female friendship than The Marriage Plot.” I think I may read this anyway–a library codex copy of the book, of course–because I’m a huge fan of “marriage plot” authors like Jane Austen and the many Brontes, but Barkhorn makes an interesting argument here.
- Isn’t it cute when right-wing religious nuts start condemning each other to hell? Robert Jeffress vs. Bill Donahue, plus all Catholics, Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, and Muslims, of course. Taking victimology to new heights, Anita Perry cries that her handsome husband Rick has been “brutalized . . . because of his faith.” Mark my words: the majority of Americans will not reward this kind of religious pride, which just stinks of hubris and un-neighborliness. Even if they privately agree with him, Americans are fundamentally uncomfortable with the Jeffress style of public religious condemnation.
- 1970s flashback: Do any of you remember the sensational book Sybil, about the girl with multiple personality disorder? Continue Reading »
Lee Skallerup Bessette offers some good advice for people on the academic job market in “Dressing for Success” without blowing a lot of dough. Her advice: make sure that whatever you wear fits well and is in good condition, and she offers a lot of ideas and resources for building a professional wardrobe without a lot of money. However, she focuses a lot on “suits” for some reason, when I personally don’t think I’ve worn anything that can be called a “suit” for at least 6-7 years, and most men in my field don’t wear suits either. Beyond the conference, as some commenters note, we almost never teach in suits. The men in my department tend to wear long-sleeved shirts and ties when they teach, but most of the men professors in other departments wear jeans or khaki pants with a fleecy vest and hiking boots. (That’s the preferred look around here, anyway, but it’s probably more casual on average than other parts of the country might be.)
My advice to job candidates is to dress to fit in with the best-dressed folks at the professional conference where they’ll be interviewed. After all, you’ll be spending more time on average hanging out in the book exhibit and lobby and attending sessions than you will be spending in interviews, and you’ll want to look and feel reasonably comfortable all day long. And fitting in is what you want to convince your potential future colleagues you can do. Continue Reading »
Alexandra Horowitz blames e-books, but footnote-killing is a longstanding trend among non-virtual academic book publishers for at least twenty years. Most university presses and tradey U-press lines use endnotes, period. (And who other than university presses make such generous use of notes, anyway? Nonfiction trade books usually offer the clumsy and much more paper-consumptive apparatus of citing sources by quoting the beginning of a sentence, followed by ellipses, and then listing the relevant sources. Are tiny numbers on the page really all that distracting to the average reader? Srsly?)
My understanding was that the increase in paper costs nearly 20 years ago led most academic publishers to switch from footnotes (at the bottom of each page) to endnotes (at the back of the book.) Somehow, I was informed, this saves paper. I can remember the last time I read a book with footnotes–ironically, it was Anthony Grafton’s The Footnote: A Curious History (1997), which I re-read with my graduate seminar a few weeks ago, and which for obvious reasons offers footnotes rather than endnotes. (Horowitz’s exploration on the life and death of the footnote uses and cites Grafton generously, too.) But I think when it was published 14 years ago, it was already exotic for having resisted a publisher’s insistence on endnotes.
My foremost concern about e-books–or perhaps more specifically with the Kindle, although I hope those of you in the know will inform me if this is true of other e-readers–is that it makes citations by students unnecessarily annoying. Continue Reading »