Monday, October 18, 2010

Housekeeping and stuff

OK, I've been away from the blog for a while now, principally because—as I mentioned briefly in my previous post—this is the year I go up for tenure, and so most of September was given over to preparing my file, which was submitted on the first of October. Then I had to play catch-up with all the stuff (marking, mostly) that had had to be put off while the P/T file consumed my soul; then I had to write the conference paper I was presenting this past weekend at the annual CAAS conference in Windsor (and true to form, the paper was only satisfactorily completed about an hour before my panel in my hotel room).

So the long and the short of it is that the past month or so has essentially disappeared in a sleepless haze of grading and writing, and only now do I feel like I'm emerging—though that feeling, I fear, is illusory, as there is more grading in my immediate future and a glut of committee work. To say nothing of the fact that I am writing this blog post in minutes stolen between the solid raft of meetings with my first-year students I have today and tomorrow.

But I will take what I can get. I figure that before I get back to posting with quasi-regularity, I should do a bit of housekeeping here, cover some business that got missed in the past month.

1. Promotion and Tenure. Yes, I mentioned I'm up for promotion and tenure this year. But really, it's worth noting again. The compilation and assembly of my application and file represents one of the most tedious and yet anxiety-inducing—and not to say byzantine—things I have yet done in my academic career. To paraphrase Josh Lyman, the number of hoops I have to jump through before I can do whatever the hell I want is truly appalling.

2. Vampires Redux. I have been gently (and not so gently) prodded by some people about the unfinished vampire cage matches, which I have let hanging at the semifinals. We will return to them—this I promise.

3. Zombies, Redux. Perhaps I have drifted from my speculative battles between the undead because of my increasing preoccupation with the walking dead—way back in April I posted on the interesting upsurge in zombie films made since 9/11, apropos of working up a paper proposal for this year's CAAS (Canadian Association of American Studies) conference. I was very happy with that post, especially in terms of the discussion it generated. Well, as mentioned, the conference just happened this past weekend and I was very pleased with the paper's reception. I took a slightly different tangent than outlined in that post—or rather, I added a tangent, speaking first about zombies as the epitome of abjection, but also developing an argument suggesting that they also represent a creeping horror of mass culture.

4. Zombies, Redux redux. The end of October will see two banner events for fans of the zombie apocalypse. IFC will recast on North American television the brilliant British series Dead Set, in which the sole survivors of the zombie apocalypse are the contestants on Big Brother, barricaded as they are in their hermetically sealed set (Davina McCall, the British Big Brother host, guest stars as herself, and gets zombified right at the start). Though the set-up sounds comical, the series is actually quite terrifying, and very smart. Next, premiering on Halloween is the television adaptation of Robert Kirkman's graphic novel series The Walking Dead. As I mentioned in my paper this weekend, this is actually a very interesting development in the saga of the zombie genre: the network producing the series is AMC, which has also given us such critically acclaimed Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and Rubicon, and which has been assiduously setting itself up to rival HBO as the premier purveyor of quality television. That the zombie apocalypse is now valid subject matter for such a network suggests that, having achieved market saturation, the walking dead now move toward artistic respectability. Expect to see my reactions to The Walking Dead as they air ...

5. FlowTV. Speaking of respectability ... at the start of September, I was invited to become a regular columnist for an online media studies journal published out of the University of Texas at Austin called FlowTV. As it happens, one of the things that got the editors' attention was this blog—and so my first column, which went up on October 15, is a retread of one of my reality-TV posts. The journal likes lively discussion of its articles, so please go check it out and leave a comment.


Emily said...

My name is Emily Roche...I'm in your english 1080 class. I thought I had an appointment made with you Monday, the 18th. I probably had the time wrong, but you weren't there... Do you have time for walk ins on Tuesdays at some point after 3:15 or before 12? (Though the odds of you checking this before then are probably low... ) Let me know, thanks!

Bruce said...

Ha, ha, ha.

I love that the only comment on your thoughtful and interesting post was a student trying to get an appointment.

Now if that does not sum up the frustration and futility of blog writing, I do not know what does.

You are spot-on with the tenure file thing; there was a mini-revolt in the Education Dept., where seven younger profs are all going at the same time. They went to a seminar where the head of the committee said do not flood them with everything; on the other hand, all the evidence and precedence said the opposite. So three months were drained away while these academics neglected research and teaching in order to dredge up reams of CEQs, emails, flattering letters and everything else they could think of.

Huge waste of time.

Shaun Coady said...

Hey Chris,

First, congrats on the CAAS conference, seems like you were the brain to eat.. umm pick with your paper. Kudos on the new venture as a columnist. I will definitely check it out with enthusiasm. I was wondering if you could chuck my way a copy of your paper, or send a link if it is online. I would very much like to read your tangent on the zombification of mass culture.

Don said...

Zombies and Vampires. Perhaps time to move to other subject material?? We have mounting empirical evidence of societal saturation, given that the Walmarts and Shoppers Drug Marts of the world now having entire sections on these subjects. Just saying!

Chris in NF said...

See, Don, it's when such things *reach* societal saturation that I get interested, because I have to ask the question why? Why have these figures hit critical mass? why now?

Alice said...

Ha, love the comment from Emily. Tee hee. As for "The Walking Dead," I know what I'm doing for Hallowe'en night. (yes I know, I'm lame. I'm okay with that.)