Tuesday, January 19, 2010

CFFP*: MLA 2010

*CFFP=Call For Fake Papers,
for the Conference That Time Forgot

(Image Credit: Those clever kids over at MLA 2010)

Roxie's World has officially joined forces with the intrepid if mysterious wits behind MLA 2010, the best conference that never was nor will be (because the next convention of the Modern Language Association will be held not in some frigid Midwestern city in December, 2010, as the lord clearly intended it to be, but in January, 2011, in Los Angeles, where no one will be able to bitch about blizzards preventing them from getting to early morning sessions). For those who simply cannot bear such an egregious violation of the order of things, we offer this virtual conference as a way of bidding a fond farewell to all those holidays brutally or fortuitously interrupted by the inflexibility of the MLA calendar. Never again will you be able to say, "No, Mom, I am terribly sorry that I cannot attend Uncle Harry's post-Christmas Vienna sausage and eggnog party, but I must iron my black jeans and get to the airport. It's time for MLA!" C'mon, admit it. Won't you miss having an excuse to escape from familial dysfunction into career dysfunction? We sure as heck will!

We invite your participation in MLA 2010, the conference that time forgot. The mystery kids are working on the book exhibit and have already come up with several titles and covers that we are certain will have Duke UP's super cool Ken Wissoker quaking in his black boots. A couple of those titles riff on a comment left here the other day by a new reader and blog pal, Bardiac, so we figure we might as well drag the rest of you into this monumental effort at faux-organization. We've agreed to take fake proposals for non-existent sessions at the conference that will never be, and so we invite you to leave your proposals in comments. We tossed out a few diabolically clever suggestions at the end of Friday's post, but we have a hunch that most of you spent the MLK holiday doing the actual work of syllabus design and pencil sharpening in preparation for the new semester and may not have had time left over for fake work. (And yet, my still-on-leave typist wonders, aren't there days on campus when it's hard to tell the difference between the actual work and the fake work? Alas.)

All of you are tagged to submit proposals, from the most oppressed grad student to the most furloughed faculty member, from the feminazi Shakespearian to the queer as pink ink poetry geek, but we're putting super-powered tags on our English prof blogging pals, Bardiac, Dr. Crazy, Kate, and Undine. Heck, since it's a fake conference, we figure there's room on the program for a few historians, so we'll tag Clio Bluestocking and Historiann, too. They both read books, closely even. All you have to do is dream up the name for a session you know you will never see in a conference program -- like, you know, "To Hell With PowerPoint: Singing, Dancing, and Success in the Literature Classroom." And/or, come up with a title for a paper that some ridiculously famous academic will never give -- Um, how about, "Oh, Crap, I Really Am a Natural Woman" by Judith Butler?

Leave your ideas in comments, and with any luck we will all spend several happy moments laughing our a$$es off while not worrying about Haiti, health care, or the Massachusetts senate race. Doesn't that sound like a good idea to you, lovelies? Get cracking. You've got some fake work to do! Peace out.


  1. Paper Presentations:

    Bourbon or Cognac? What liquor makes reading Gertrude Stein sweeter?

    Ten Books Never Read but Talked about Incessantly* An analysis of smart talking without reading
    *including one taught but never actually read by the professor.

    Stein was fine, but Djuna came soonah: and exploration of the s/textuality of Modernist Women Writers

    And in light of all of the sessions on life balance at the 2009 MLA, I propose the following:

    How to become a lesbian (since only lesbians get tenure anyway)

    This intensive workshop for graduate students, by nomination only from a minimum of two tenured lesbian professors and three fellow graduate students at least two of whom present as male and have dated the candidate, is designed to help fledgling lit critters with the capacity for being a lesbian develop the full lesbian identity in just 2.5 hours.

    Ten Tips for Avoiding Death in the Library Basement

    The recent death of prominent literary scholar, Ida Read Morethanu, who was crushed while retrieving obscure feminist novels in the basement of an unnamed major research library has raised concerns about the safety of literary scholars in the bowels of libraries. This workshop will cover important safety tips for all literary scholars working in today's modern libraries. All participants will receive a special survival kits including a series of small mirrors, a handsize blow horn, wax covered matches and other tools of the contemporary trade.

    Treating Archival Wounds

    Recent cutbacks at state universities have resulted in a lack of medical services for scholars. The impact of these cutbacks were seen in the recent injury of noted literary scholar "Eye" Nomore which resulted in gangrene and the loss of his left hand. This seminar will cover treating paper cuts, eye strain, allergies to mold and mildew as well as some of the more dangerous situations in archival work including aggressive graduate students lost in the archive for ten or more years.

  2. Oh, I forgot the fake keynote addresses given by famous scholars, so I must amend (and really, what else do I have to do with my time?)

    How I Learned to Laugh and Love with Lesbians - Camille Paglia

    My Dog Died and Became a Cyborg - Donna Haraway

    I Was Wrong: We Should Include Women and People of Color in the Canon - Harold Bloom

    I'm Really Hot and All I Want to Do Is Sleep with Julie R. Enszer - [name redacted]

  3. Dear sir or madam,

    Please consider the following proposal for inclusion on your fascinating panel at next year's MLA. In addition to delivering papers at thousands of conferences*, I have published* at least fifty articles, including one entitled, "Queering the Pooh: Polymorphous Perversity in the Oeuvre of A. A. Milne." Another article I recently published* is called "From Revelation to Defecation: Putting the Scatology in Eschatology."

    Please let me know if you have any questions.

    Prof. Manson Mingott, JD, PhD, LLC

    * By "conferences" I mean reading my papers aloud in subway stations.

    * By "published" I mean loaded on to my Web site.

    Proposal: "Adaleen's Lament or That Dangerous Supplement: The Semiotics of Bacon in _Big Love._

    In this paper, I assert that central to the premise of _Big Love_, an HBO television show about a polygamous family who is not so creepy-loony-tunes crazy to live a "compound," even though that's where most of their family resides, is a transgressive metanarrative about Oedipalized desire and the way it re-sutures the family structure through this familial romance. In a recent episode, Adaleen Grant, first wife to the prophet Roman Grant, beseeches her daughter Nicki to retrieve a slab of bacon from her cellar. "I need bacon," Adaleen squeals, "Won't you let me make you a B - L - T?" Nicki eventually capitulates and goes into the cellar freezer, only to find her recently freeze-dried father. As I posit, such a sequence of events re-incites an Oedipal process in both Adaleen and Nicki, exacerbating the acrimony between the two while connecting them in a kind of polygamous marriage given their shared desire for Roman.

  4. How about a roundtable for current grad students called "Forecast: Awesome! Your Employment Prospects As Soon as all of those Tenured Lesbian Baby-Boomers Retire?"

    Julie's and Geoffrey's suggestions are too funny--I certainly can't compete. Love the Gertrude Stein contributions. Why can't you put this conference on at QTU?

  5. Oh, we are off to a fine, fine start here, my pretties. So fine that the real MLA convention has caught wind of us and seems to be all a-Twitter about it! In any case, I am pleased to see that the proposals so far, in addition to including some creative alternatives to the deadly format of the 3-paper session, manage to bring in booze, poo, sex, and BACON.

    You're right, Historiann -- Perhaps we should stage this sucker at QTU. See you all on 27 December! Keep the brilliant ideas coming!

  6. The Department: A Drama

    Building on the popular and critical success of the British and American television program, The Office, a group of enterprising Associate Professors at [name redacted] State University has created a series of 20 minute live "episodes" that bring to live daily life in The Department, a large English Language and Literature department at [name redacted] State University. This presentation will feature three episodes and be followed by a panel of distinguished Transatlantic scholars who will critically situation The Department in relationship to the predecessor texts.

    N.B. The proposers of this session would like to request the 9 p.m. until 10:50 time slot when all of the really cool people are out to dinner with other really cool people. In addition, we will bring popcorn for the two attendees of the session, even if we have to sneak it in the hotel in our luggage.

  7. Oooooooh, popcorn! Moose will come. Smuggle in some beer, and Goose will join her. Who knows? You might have 3 or 4 people in the audience!

    Brilliant concept, too. I'd say you are definitely in the running for some of that MLA 2010 swag being dreamed up even as we speak. Er, type.

  8. On the same panel as Julie's paper

    "Ten Books Never Read but Talked about Incessantly* An analysis of smart talking without reading
    *including one taught but never actually read by the professor."

    I would like to propose:

    "Corrupting the Text: Reading Is Fundamental, If You Mean Fundamental VIOLENCE to Literary Criticism."

    Other possibilities for papers:

    "Queering the Strai(gh)t: Trans-Bering (Baring) Narrative and Heteronormative Homosociality"

    "What You Talkin' 'Bout, Willis? _Different Strokes_ As Metaphor for the Continuing Interest in Pursuing Graduate School in English"

    " 'I Don't Care If I Ever Teach Graduate Students' and Other Statements You Should Never Make to Your Dissertation Adviser"*

    *Other statements that will be explored are, "I don't care if I turn my dissertation into a book or even if I produce more than one article out of it," as well as, "I read your book(s) and I think you're actually really boring."

    Roundtable: I Came for the Drinks

    This panel would include everyone from graduate students to Eminent Scholars in the field who have attended one or more MLA conventions without a) interviewing (whether for a job for themselves or interviewing candidates), b)presenting a paper, or c) attending panels. Where are the free drinks to be had? What cash bars are not to be missed? Is there something wrong with enjoying crappy cheese and crackers and rotgut wine in a hotel room if you are over the age of 18? What do you do if you run into colleagues from your field or institution who ask you what you thought of a panel that you should have attended? These questions and more will be answered by our esteemed panelists.

    I could go on for days, but I think the above is a start :)

  9. Love it, Dr. C., especially the roundtable. We all know the (actual) MLA is all about the booze and the schmooze.

    Meanwhile, MLA 2010 has taken Julie's idea of a Harold Bloom keynote and run with it. Check out the crazy-cool new visual: http://mla2010.net/?p=66. Oh, how I envy their Photoshopping skills!

  10. Dr Crazy, Julie R. Enszer and you other authors of wise wit, you've had us laughing in puddles of appreciation here at MLA 2010. Our design department is flattered by Roxies' envy and like diligent TAs they are working hard on new titles... all for the promise of wonderful schmoozing and a free drink.


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