Archive for March, 2013

Beyond the Digital: Pattern Recognition and Interpretation. A CFP for MLA 2014 from ACH

Cross-posted from

Recent MLA Conventions have featured many sessions about the digital humanities, considering their impact on methodology, pedagogy, bibliography, race, and the profession itself. What is sometimes forgotten, however, is that the output of digital analysis is not itself the goal; rather, it is a means to an end, and that end is the interpretation of a text or corpus (understood widely). This session—organized by the Association for Computers and Humanities (ACH)—seeks to re-establish this understanding and conversation, defamiliarizing the conversation about the digital and making it re-familiar to the larger body of MLA participants.

This panel will feature presentations that offer interpretations of texts, language, literature and/or literary history that definitely began with a digital approach. Crucially, however, we will ask presenters to speak not about their methods but instead about their interpretation, results, and conclusions.

Speakers will give brief talks (5-7 minutes, depending on number of participants). Speakers will also be invited to write brief blog posts to be shared on their own websites as well as that of the ACH about their methods and approaches. These posts will be shared at the session but will not form the subject of the conversation.

Send 300-word abstracts and bio to brian [dot] croxall [at] emory [dot] edu by 27 March 2013 at 12pm EST. N.B. All panelists will need to be MLA members (or have their membership waived) by April 7th.

I am organizing this session on behalf of the ACH. Since the ACH is an allied organization of the MLA, this session is guaranteed for the 2014 MLA.

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10 Things Academe Won’t Tell You

Last week, I had the opportunity to give a talk with Jason Jones at Emory, where we are both alums and where one of us still works. The English Department had invited Jason and his wife to campus to speak on different topics. When they asked Jason to give a ProfHacker-oriented talk, he suggested that he and I tag-team. (Never let it be said that the man is not gracious.) In kicking around ideas for how we could structure the talk, my mind went—as it often does—to that adaptation of adaptations, the 1999 Heath Ledger and Julia Stiles joint, 10 Things I Hate About You. Given the general ProfHacker vibe of positivity, as well as the goal of making public the unexplained assumptions of working in and around universities, Jason and I opted instead to call the talk “10 Things Academe Won’t Tell You.”

I had ambitions of writing up my portion of the talk or recording it, but I didn’t get the time to set up the latter. And knowing how busy I am at the moment, I’m pretty sure that I won’t be getting around to the former any time soon. Still, we wanted to share the slides. And, y’know, if you wanted to hear the full talk—an hour-plus of ProfHacky goodness—Jason and I are open to invitations. (You might also think about inviting Jason’s wife, Aimee Pozorski, as well. She spoke about maintaining research productivity while working at a regional institution. That’s about as ProfHacker as it gets.)

Just to whet your appetite, here’s the promotional blurb:

Higher education is like the backdoor to Moria that Gandalf can’t quite remember how to open in The Lord of the Rings: It’s set up to give you access, but only on the condition that you already know how to get in. (The implicit suggestion that academe can resemble an abandoned deathtrap now filled with orcs, trolls, and balrogs is left as an exercise for the reader.) But what happens when you don’t know the secret word, or misconstrue the ancient writing? In this entertaining, provocative talk, Brian Croxall and Jason B. Jones will unpack some of the hidden knowledge of higher education–the things that everyone assumes you know and so will never bother to teach you. Delivered in the plainspoken style associated with the ProfHacker blog, and covering topics such as research productivity, well-designed syllabuses, work-life balance, faculty governance, gaps in mentoring, and the truths of the job market, Brian and Jason will guide you on the quest for a degree, job, and/or tenure.

For the record, then, here are the 10 Things Academe Won’t Tell You:

  • how to get your writing done
  • how to break the faculty/student mutual non-aggression pact (and why you should want to)
  • how to design new assignments thoughtfully
  • how to survive daily work as a faculty member
  • how to get people to notice you
  • how to survive meetings
  • how to get a job that isn’t a tenure-track professorship
  • how to mentor and be mentored
  • if you want to get something done, you can
  • no one will ever tell you, “Enough!”

Title slide

Screenshot of

LEGO minifigs in wrestling costumes

A pen on a piece of paper with handwriting. Slide text: How to Get Your Writing Done

A woman sleeping on a desk. Caption: How to break the faculty/student mutual nonagression pact (and why you should want to)

Graffiti on sidewalk that reads

Old photograph of a teacher writing on a chalkboard. Caption: How to Design New Assignments Thoughtfully

Image of a tweet from Merlin Mann. Caption: How to Survive Daily Work as a Faculty Member

Pictures of Robot Chicken costumes. Caption: How to get people to notice you

Screenshot of a tweet discussing need to have online profile

Storm Trooper standing on copy of Robert's Rules of Order. Caption: How to Survive Meetings

Street sign that reads

Picture of Coca-Cola and Mentos. Caption: How to Mentor and Be Mentored

A child writing a sign for a lemonade stand. Caption: If you want to get something done, you can

Picture of a goalie giving instructions to his team. Caption: No one will ever tell you,

Picture of Craig Finn raising his hands in fists at the end of a Hold Steady concert. Caption: contact information and

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