Might as well light it on fire.

The Birmingham Fellowships are outlandishly great. I’d commit a couple of felonies if it meant that I could win a five year fellowship that, with four or five A-list journal articles, would turn into a permanent appointment. Even though everyone adds the punchline, “but you have to live in Birmingham“, you’d be a doofus not to take it. Birmingham was good enough for Stuart Hall, and that means it’s good enough for someone of my calibre.

Of course, the applications hinge on a question that asks, “what are your four best recent publications?” I decided to take a chance and pre-apply with an “alternate metrics” approach. I provided my research proposal for the World Atlas of American Cinema, and even threw in some “I live in a fucking disaster zone” for flavour. At the heart of my fool’s errand was this bit of anecdata about the tendency for journals and fellowships to operate as if my time had no value:

I have spent the greater part of the last three years waiting on editors. For example, I spent more than twelve months on the revise-and-resubmit treadmill for [Important Journal in My Field]. [The editor], to his credit, told me after the second set of revisions that, while he was in favour of publication, it was unlikely that the “no” voter would change his/her mind, and that I would be well-served to seek to place my article elsewhere. Taking his advice, I sent the piece to [A Journal I Have Previously Talked Shit On] on 1 September 2011. On 11 June 2012, a group email promised a decision would arrive in September of 2012. I have had similarly frustrating experiences with the grant and fellowship proposals I send out. While they are more timely in their rejections, grant and fellowship institutions now include an apology in their rejection notices that states that the large number of applicants means that it is impossible to provide any feedback.

I was promised a response within seven days. Fourteen days ago. It’s two pages. I have a hard time imagining that the Expert in the Field is sweating over the exactly perfect wording to a kind but well thought out let-em-down-easy rejection letter. Click to open the attachment, read it, go back to the email, click reply, and then type, “You’re right. You don’t have a chance. Best, X.”

 

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