Sunday, March 26, 2006

Illuminated Texts


Remember our conversation of a few weeks ago, in which I told you tired motherfuckas to get in line and start acting right, in the hopes of being added to the list of luminaries in my dissertation acknowledgments?! Well, check this out: I just peeped my own name in someone's list of "these worthie folke tryed and true." Can you believe that? Ha! In your faces! In! Your! Faces!

FYI, the project I'm being credited with helping shepherd to completion belongs to the amazing ass Marcela Kostihova, whose thesis, entitled Political Bardolatries: Shakespeare Appropriations in the Post-socialist Czech Republic, benefited in no discernable way from my tired, trite, and trivial comments. But bless her heart: I bet sweet old Marcela included me because she didn't want my name to be the only one left out (we were in a dissertation seminar together in the spring of '03. That's right. I said '03).

In other news, I see that some shysters and hucksters are still employing the ol' Courier New Gambit, in which you [exponentially] increase your page count by printing your work in some version of the Courier font, rather than the more traditional Times New Roman. If this is not making any sense to you, you have either never been the sort of student who cheated in this way (and bravo to your overachieving ass, Tracey Flick) or you have been out of school for so long you didn't know that the Microsoft Office suite has more than one publishable font. To wit: my dissertation is currently about 154 pages in TNR; in Courier New I'm cracking two volumes with a weighty 220. That's a tome, losers. That's a magnum opus. That's cheating like whoa.

Guess who's seriously thinking about it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Blaxploitation... As In, My Blax Ass is Getting 'Xploitated.

When you see me coming,
Better step aside.
A lot of men didn't.
A lot of men died.'s looking like a May defense, kids. May! I ask you!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Ger Ur Freak [Out] On


I am going to be spending a little time at The Let Down.. Join me, won't you?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

La La La, I Can't Hear You

I ran into my friend, Dan, in the grad student computer lab today. I've been skittish about going to certain places on campus, because the monkey people are so very, very young these days. I feel as if everyone is looking at me and wondering why my old ass is carting around that beat down backpack and pretending to be a student. I'm also more than a little nervous that I will run into a former student, who will stop me and ask why I'm still here. As I was talking to Dan, I broke down how it had just occurred to me that a freshman student who took my Intro to Modern Fiction class in 1997 could very well have finished their B.A. and be finishing their own Ph.D in the very near future. I am coming up on the national average, kids: 10 years. Jeeeeeeez.

Anyway, talking to Dan (who defended and walked in December) was like talking to the little devil that sits on your shoulder and tells you to go ahead and run over those damn pedestrians because those punks need to be taught a lesson.

Dan: If you had to turn in your dissertation this weekend, how long would the draft be?
Ebony: I don't know. Around 150 pages, I guess?
Dan: Dude, you're done. Quit writing.

Ebony: do you feel? Do you feel that kind of huge relief a-
Dan: I don't feel any different. At all. Seriously. I thought I would. But I.Feel.No.Different.

Dan: So, I know you're busy writing and everything, but you and me and Melanie should hang out, socialize...
Ebony: Yeah, let's go get a beer.

As I said, Dan walked in December. What I mean is, he attended commencement and was hooded (presumably by his advisor). I've gone back and forth over the past few years. I vacillate between wanting to walk to revel in the pomp and circumstance and acknowledge the end of all this drama. But an increasingly larger part of me just doesn't care about that particular waymarker anymore. If I can just finish and get out of here, that should be enough. Plus, doctoral robes are expensive, yo.

But I think that, yeah -- I'll probably walk.

Explanation of doctoral hooding here (from MSU):Ok, I'm starting to get excited again.
And a picture of the U of M's Centenary Ph.D Gown here: pretty...and 629$

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

That's Why

I just spent the better part of the afternoon in Wilson library, on the lovely West Bank part of campus. I've taken to doing my work on the 3rd floor, stationed in close proximity to and in direct line of sight of the M.A. and Ph.D theses. This has been both disheartening and galvanizing. When I worry that I will never find anything else to say on this subject, that I've belabored my points over and over again, I slide over to those dissertations -- and there's more than I ever imagined -- that are, shall we say, a little on the slim side. Seriously, folks. There are some glorified pamphlets over there, and if those motherfuckers got out, then I can, too.

At the same time, I'll often pull down one of the more impressive of the recent crop (I'm trying to limit myself to people I know; and for the most part, my friends were a little tardy in getting these things together. The class of '96 was not the most...ambitious of scholars. We were/are, however, the best looking. There are some real monkey people on campus these days) and flip through a chapter or two and think to myself: I could produce something like this. I just need to apply myself. If I am going to have some collection of pages tightly bound in black and with my name stamped on the spine sitting on these shelves for the next several years (at least until they run out of space upstairs and the 2006 theses get rotated down into sub-basement storage) then that shit better be worth some future hypothetical loser thumbing through it.

At any rate, the best thing about looking through old theses is the acknowledgment section. I'm sure that there are others like me out there, who read books from the outside in -- acknowledgments and index first, then textmeat second -- right? Because it often reveals quite a lot about the approach or biases or unseen connections that you will find in the text proper. I began doing this not long after coming to graduate school, when I realized that the professors I came into contact with every day were people with reputations/interests/work outside of ENGL 8011: Introduction to Literary Theory. At some point, I developed this ludicrous parochialism in re: professors I knew. For instance: having done work in whiteness studies, I knew how important someone like David Roediger was, so I unconsciously but immediately dismissed any book on white [American] masculinity that didn't list him in the index. I became more aware of the scope of certain fields but at the same time became very territorial. I still look for my advisor's name in the acknowledgements section of books produced by academics I know studied under him. This is the bougie girl's version of "I don't eat everybody's potato salad." In academe, as in life, you got to come correct. In the words of JT Money, you better tell me who you wit'.

Hell, I even do this with fiction. After Oisin and I started hanging, I started scanning recent sf (primarily UK imprints, I'll admit) for expressions of gratitude for his superb editing skills. When I found one (in Salt, I believe, by Adam Roberts), I almost felt like I was getting a shout out.

I'm excited to pen my own acknowledgments page(s). Having skimmed others, I can now say with some certainty that you need to think long and hard about who you allude to obliquely, and who you call out by name. I can tell you right now, if I had finished this thing on time, some punk asses who don't deserve the breath they are breathing right now might have been immortalized in black and white. As it is, the only person I know that I'll include is Orlando.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Who's That Making That Nasty Noise?

the committee

Y'all, I am hot like fi-yuh lately. Taking meetings, making meetings. Selling and telling. I'm up in your a$$ like whoa, and you know it.

This dissertation shit...when you get down to the wire? It's nothing. The drama evaporates. Because you know that you have to finish. Because you know that you will finish.

I am not going to be another sad non-matriculating Negro Ph.D! I can't have Jermaine and Tai show me up. And I have a feeling John Wright might seek me out and put a bullet in me for bringing down the race if I didn't get this thing done and dusted. So anyway, I'm looking to have a completed draft by 15 March. I know that's way later than I had planned. Hell, there were periods when I thought that, if I didn't defend by February 28, I was just going to call it quits. But my committee is good, my writing is good, I am good.

L.A., can you hear me? I'm coming for ya, baby.