Monday, June 8, 2009

How do you cover your assets if you're hiding your detriments?

Hee! Go over to Acadamnit's place ---- mofo's got a hilarious metaphor for how starting and senior academics have very different perceptions of what's the right amount to cite prior scholarship (and see how I skirted the delicate question of pronouns and gender identity by using a term that theoretically could be applied to anyone in how it is the ultimate insult to everyone? Good times!)

As Acadamnit helpfully points out:
I know you are new to the research publication party, but don’t you want to show up dressed appropriately? It’s like a pool party and bathing suits are required. You simply cannot arrive in Arctic expedition attire. It’s uncomfortable I know. And no, an 1800s style “bathing suit” doesn’t work either. You just have to put yourself out there. You are obligated to cover the most sensitive parts, the delicate parts of your argument that would hurt most to get burned, but the rest is just going to have to be left exposed and open to scrutiny. It’s OK, it just takes some getting used to.
Wonderful! Except.

I'm standing here in the dressing room as a scholar just starting out, wanting to ask for help but also not wanting to come across like a complete dork or idiot from outer space --- what if I don't know which parts to cover and which to let hang out? Which are the naughty parts that you just don't expose and which are the merely risque? If you don't know that by now, I hear academics in my head saying, you don't deserve to be here...


What if I --- ulp --- leave the wrong thing exposed? Or end up looking ridiculous?

And after that long winter of ice cream and self-doubt, I don't think I can handle having my argument hanging by a thread out in public.

(She's saying: You'd have a constipated expression too if you were dealing with floss up your butt, asshole!)

If it's okay with you-all, you go on ahead to the pool ... I think I'll just stay here in the dressing room and contemplate that dead fly stuck in the fluorescent light...

9 comments:

Horace said...

When I was a kid, we went to the community pool a lot, even though we were newly baptised citizens of a a local evangelical church. One morning, on a day when my mom was wearing her zebra stripe 2-piece, a woman from the church arrived with her two kids. The kids were dressed like kids, but the mom, was wearing a full skirt, with petticoats and a high-necked long-sleeve blouse. Dammit if she didn't hop right in the pool, petticoats and all. I think a fair number of people looked googly eyed at her, but she was, after all, in the pool, and she was, after all, quite refreshed.

Just sayin'.

Belle said...

Oh Mighty Cog, you have again voiced my own thoughts. I remember very well my committee telling me that I'd need to lose the 'dissertation-y' bits of my diss to get it published (which it is still not). And once I learned what one was, and read what Acadammit said... I long for my burka. I can't even use my own hard-earned regalia to cover myself???

Susan said...

Sis and Belle, I think it's a matter of where you want to publish, and what you want to publish. This is sometimes a hard question to answer, but the question I try to ask is "Is this really relevant to what I'm saying, or is it a matter of ensuring that everyone knows I've read KEY TEXT ON THIS SUBJECT (and author of said text doesn't screw me for not citing it.)

And I think it's not so bad when you do that in footnotes -- i.e. "If you're really interested in this side issue, KEY TEXT is a good place to start" -- rather than in the text itself. I assumed Acadamnit was referring to CYA in the text, not the notes. CYA is appropriate in the notes, but not the text, after the diss. You'll notice that relatively few readable books have long sections that discuss "while X argues whatever, and Y this, blah blah blah. They make it a content sentence "Scholars have debated whether this is happening. My case suggests that it is/not (long footnote for the debate). Natalie Davis, one of our great historians, is famous for footnotes that are longer than her text...

Of course, Sis, it's a whole lot easier for historians, because we still use footnotes, instead of MLA style which is only one step up from APA, which is the worst think in the world.

Dr. No said...

Would a nice cold beer help lure you out of the dressing room?

I think you DO KNOW which parts need to be covered...it took me some time to realize this myself- but once you do, the horror of "finishing" a piece of writing is replaced by actual excitement.

I'll stop dispensing advice now!

Sisyphus said...

Dr. No you owe me several beers, cause I _still_ can't figure out how to comment on your blog! Argh!

I think you DO KNOW which parts need to be covered...

So, yes to the crocheted nose-warmer? ;)

(the last time I submitted an article I went overboard the opposite way, having been told to "cut the dissertationese" and ended up doing the equivalent of walking out naked. :) My R&R was largely about learning how to cite just enough sources and explain how my stuff was new. At least I hope I did it right.)

Belle, I like the idea of swimming in my regalia... it doesn't get much use otherwise! Too bad the poofy hat doesn't provide much shade.

pocha23 said...

I'm sorry, but that dental floss bathing suit thing is absolutely ridiculous. Still, I'd kill to look that good in it.

Great link -- and commentary. Thanks!

Flavia said...

Huh. I was wondering where all the rest of y'all's nose-warmers were at MLA. I can only conclude that the really high-quality ones are invisible.

Academic, Hopeful said...

I feel like the fat kid with googles, 7 flotation devices, a wet suit and flippers. I am waiting for my parents to shame me into jumping in. Chapter for a book due by end of weekend so I will have to take off a few pieces and show them my doggy paddle.

Sisyphus said...

funny you say that, pocha, cause I did an image search for "ridiculous bikini" to get it! I was originally going to go for funny over skanky, but this one is just mesmerising in a weird way. (I think it was sexysuits dot com? There's some great American flag ones, if you want to go the big hair and cowboyboot wearing skank direction!)

Flavia, with the right amount of alcohol you could probably dare me to wear one of those around the MLA...

Hopeful would it help if someone came up behind you and pushed you in the pool?