Thursday, December 18, 2003


the Madness of "Literary" studies in Academia

Time for another look at some MLA panels and papers. I received an email from a reader who says he never even looks at the program anymore, because he has borderline high blood pressure. Well, so do I, actually, and I'm drinking a five shot latte right now, so if all of a sudden I pull a Castle Arrrgghh, you'll know why.

Here's a nice one to start with:

Session 600: The Labor Theory of Culture

1. "Merely Reading: Cultural Criticism as Erasure of Labor," Robert Faivre, Adirondack Community College
2. "Family Labor: Caring for Capitalism," Julie P. Torrant, SUNY Albany
3. "Eating Empire: Labor and New Maps of Consumption," Amrohini J. Sahay, SUNY Stony Brook
4. "'Ground Zero' and the Geography of Labor," Kimberly DeFazio, SUNY Stony Brook

There's really only one thing I can say about this panel--what does this have to do with the study of language and literature? Are these people in literature departments? Why is this a panel at the MLA?

Here's a nice one, boiling over with anti-American sentiment:

Session 618: The New Patriotism: What's Literature Got to Do With It? (My answer: not much)

1. "Patriot Games: Globilization, the Transnational, and Cultural Citizenship," Ramon Saldivar, Stanford University
2. "Writing the Self: Reading United States Imperialism," Cynthia Ann Young, University of Southern California
3. "Patriot entre acts," Alisa Solomon, Baruch College, CUNY
4. "Patriotism, Inc.," David C. Lloyd, Scripps College

Sigh. The imperial, war-mongering United States, forcing people around the world to watch our movies and television programs and wear Levis. I seemed to have missed the panel on the imperialism of fundamentalist Islam. Can someone direct me to the session number?

I remember driving home once from a mini-conference with three other academics in the car. We passed a house that was flying the American flag and had some red, white, and blue streamers hanging from the window sills. On the drive in, one of my fellow academics said, "Oh my God, will you look at that?" On the way back, she snorted and said "Can you believe that?" or something to that effect. I was finally compelled to remind her that the day before had been Memorial Day. You could hear her mind backpedalling. But her response was something like "Still . . ." (This was Memorial Day of 2002, by the way.)

I'd like to drop kick some of these people into the heart of Saudi Arabia. I'm sure they'd be very, very happy to return to the United States.

Oh, and again, what does this have to do with language and literature? Hmm. I'm going to have to set up a macro for that question.

Ah, here's one that's just blatantly political. Nothing to do with literature or language at all.

Session 704: From the Rosenburgs to Mumia Abu Jamal: Writing Against the Death Penalty

1. "Race, Rape and the Death Penality," Lillian S. Robinson, Concordia University
2. "Not in My Name," Helen Margaret Cooper, SUNY Stony Brook
3. "Mumia Re(de)constructed: On Derrida and the Death Penality," David Brenner, Kent State University

First of all, here's a nice link for the friends of Mumia: Read and understand the lies you have foolishly swallowed for two decades now. As for the Rosenburgs, these panelists might want to look into the Venona Documents. Not everyone sentenced to death is innocent of the charges brought against them, kiddies. Oh, and once again, what does this have to do with language and literature (to be asked in a tired voice)?

Too much of this program reads like a political rally. Isn't there some other venue for this sort of thing?

Anyway, that's it for the MLA program. This has just made me tired and sad.

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