Archives for the month of: May, 2012

Here’s how my job-searching day went:

3:19 pm – I’m offered a position in the College of Engineering – techincal writing stuff

3:57 pm – I accept the position in principle, pending a quick talk with the supervising instructor

4:57 pm – the supervising instructor sets a time to meet tomorrow

5:52 pm – College of Engineering sends me a pdf of the contract to have while we talk about the gig

In other words, I’ll start the semester with a contract already signed.

In four years that’s never happened in the College of Arts. My home department has without fail been on top of matters, and I’ve had every chance to prepare well in advance. English, cinema studies and digital humanities does all their work and I love working with them. Where, then, might one locate the source of these always-tardy contracts for work everyone in the department knows I’ll be doing? It certainly couldn’t be in the HR people.



At this year’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute at University of Victoria, there’s going to be a colloquim on “Mapping and Visualization”, featuring the following presentations (all of which look pretty great):
Mary Borgo, “Voyeur-istically Viewing Middlemarch: Visualization Tools and Traditional Literary Scholarship”; Paul Faber, “‘A Thousand Tawngling Instruments’: Digital Humanities and the Study of Song”; Mary Galvin, “The Materiality of the Digital”; Gabriel Hankins, “Mapping the Modern Republic of Letters: Modeling Correspondence Networks with Omeka/Neatline”; Tim Hawkins, “Developing a Google Earth Finding Aid for Archival Materials About the Southern Colorado Coal Fields”; Alison Hedley, “Visualizing Subjectivity: A Failed Map of Victorian Maternal Mobility”; Rob Imes, “Mapping Early Modern Travel Compilations: Merging Cartography, Travelogues, and GIS”; Sarah Koning, “Historical Gentrification?: The Example of 19th-Century Mexico City”; Ross Woods, “Mapping Madrid: Digital Humanities as Literary Criticism”

None of them resemble the proposal I send out into the world. That should be good news – I have my little corner to investigate. Perhaps I need to enrol in the DHWI session on Project Development, because I have yet to meet with any success. Consider this rejection form letter:

Dear Dr Christian Long,

The Selection Committee of the [Southern hemisphere research centre], met recently to consider applications for its 2012 Visiting Fellowships Program. We appreciate the time and effort you put into submitting an application on this occasion.

On behalf of the Committee, however, I regret to inform you that your application was not successful.  We received many outstanding ones and could only fund a few of them. Due to the very  large number of applications received, we are unable to provide any feedback on unsuccessful applications.

I would like to thank you for your interest in the work of our Centre and do hope you can participate in our programs in the future

Yours sincerely, [etc., etc.]

If they’re inundated by masses of applications, which I know they are, no doubt they’ve streamlined their review process. That would mean there would be a checklist that the review panel applies to every application- what to look for in an ideal application. You would be likely to save this evaluation document – perhaps in electronic form, ending in .doc/.docx – so that after the mountain of applications has been summitted, you can review and decide accordingly. I am certain this is what happens. So why can’t I see my checklist? This is one part pissiness, ninety-nine parts genuinely wanting to know where my proposal goes awry so that I can finally win a god damn fucking fellowship.

I have vast experience in failed fellowship applications, and the industry standard is “we’re so swamped we can’t tell you why we said no.” Kill that noise. Why should I have to fly to Maryland in January to hear, in the abstract, what a fellowship rejection – even in checklist form – could tell me much quicker about my own proposal? Outside of weeding out the less-flush, of course.

There’s a lot to like in Global Hollywood 2, and I would sum that up as its content. There’s something not to like as well, and that’s the tone of smug virtue that sometimes undercuts the book’s larger argument. For example, at one point the five authors write,

In 1960, Charlton Heston, one of the delightful people that SAG from time to time elects as its head prior to Presidency of either the country or the National Rifle Association, blamed fellow-workers for the runaways, asserting that the shift was due to the Screen Extras Guild calling for decent pay. (Miller et al 133)

I will admit to using the South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut approach to my journal submissions: I put in jokes and asides that I will gladly sacrifice to make the editors/outside readers feel like I’ve given in to their demands. So I know whereof I speak when I say there’s no reason to include the gag about SAG presidents. The main job of the sentence as it appears, I think it’s fair to argue, is to hit the massive bullseye made of Chuck Heston and Ronald Reagan. In terms of rhetoric, putting the emphasis on eye-rolling over NRA-Republican (read: totally shitty, obvs) stuff prevents the real matter of the sentence from shining through. The reason for this is the sentence’s construction: by putting so much distance between the subject and the verb, the authors cloud the key piece of information in the sentence – Heston was a shitty union man. I find this extremely curious, since the book’s thesis is that film studies does way too much abstract discursive business when it should be into praxis. Not that this moment in the book does anything to advance something quite simple and powerful – worker solidarity – in the world of praxis.

A second and minor point has to do with the authors’ characterization of SAG presidents. The majority of the SAG presidents between its founding and let’s say the early 1970s can fairly be described as “pretty damn conservative” – Edward Arnold, Senator-to-be George Murphy, future Ambassador to Mexico John Gavin. However, after the Reagan-Heston-HUAC friendly generation had their run, presidents like Dennis Weaver, Ed Asner, Barry Gordon, and Richard Masur all pull the SAG president spot on the partisan continuum to the left. James Cagney presents an interesting case, in that he was certainly a man of the left when he was SAG president and only later became quite conservative. Cagney may have been a Reagan booster, but he also had a concern for working conditions that shouldn’t get tossed aside because it’s easy to make a cold dead hands joke about the dude who played Moses.