In Production

I sat down this afternoon to force myself to write a blog post, as I haven’t been doing much in the way of writing of late, and am feeling a bit cramped because of it.

Or perhaps it’s more fair to say that I haven’t been doing much in the way of writing of the new-project kind of late, because I have in fact been writing non-stop: grant proposals, letters of recommendation, and email email email. None of that ever actually feels as though it counts, though, and I feel not-so-vaguely guilty whenever I check off the daily writing item in my to-do app and the writing has been of a predominantly administrative nature.

But what I have been working on is the wrap-up of my last project, which never feels quite like it ought to count, either, and yet requires revisiting the manuscript with just as much intensity as the actual writing of it demanded. I spent a week with the copy edits, wrestling through what I’d actually meant to say and how it got read (very generously, I’m happy to say) and making sure that I was happy with where things wound up.

The next stage of my involvement with the project will be the final proofread, and then… the anxious awaiting of this gorgeous thing, whose 2-dimensional version landed in my inbox just as I was pondering what to write about.

I’m beyond happy about this, and hope you will be too. Coming to a bookstore near you in 2019.

2 September 2018, 11:48

I have just finished reviewing the copy edits on a forthcoming project and am moved to send a shout-out to the awesome copy editors of the world. It can be painful at moments to see the flaws in what you wrote laid bare, but the process inevitably makes the work better.

That having been said: I tried mightily to submit to house style, but I will never be a Chicago convert. One guess which style they’ll have to pry out of my cold, dead hands…


Two things that have me thinking this morning: First, the thread from Timothy Burke beginning here:

And second, the thread from low end theory beginning here:

Putting these things together: The academic star system into which my corner of the humanities fell at some point a few decades back has not only done inordinate institutional damage through the kinds of privilege it has created and upheld, and thus the kinds of labor that it has allowed to roll off of some shoulders and to land on others. It has not only done grievous political damage both within our institutions and to the relationship between the university and the public by undermining the solidarity that we should have been working toward and replacing it with a destructive form of competition. It has done both of these things, and it has done substantial intellectual damage to our fields, concentrating resources on established and rising stars and so preventing others — and most especially, those who as a result of that concentration of resources could not find secure work within our institutions and thus were squeezed off of the platforms that might have given them voice — from producing the work that might have led all of us in new directions.

The particular situation that prompts these thoughts, whatever it may in actuality be (and I do not at all think I have a picture that is either complete or accurate), is symptomatic of something fundamentally broken at the heart of our institutional structures. Changing that is going to require entirely new ways of understanding who and why we are together, and what it is our institutions of higher education are for.

Right now, they are in very large part for the creation and maintenance of stars. And that orientation, if we do not change it, could well be the end of us.