Friday, December 22, 2006

An imaginary history of the MLA convention

Time: December 26th, some time in the twentieth century. Place: A wood-paneled faculty club, somewhere on the eastern seaboard. Three male faculty members are sipping sherry and smoking pipes. We catch them in mid-conversation.

Professor A: "I had a devil of a time getting out of the house too, Fred. Why, the children wanted me to play with them again today! What is it with this time of the year?"

Professor B: "My wife wanted me to stay at home, too--something about a holiday being family time. Don't they know I need to Think Deep Thoughts?"

Professor C: "And I'm even worse off. My wife hasn't had time to fact-check the citations for my latest article, and she hasn't typed a scrap of manuscript for me since this whole thing began!"*

Silence. Puffing of pipes and sipping of sherry.

Professor A: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if we could get away and talk to each other about something that mattered, like scholarship, instead of being at home with the family?"

Professor B: "That's a great idea! We could stay away until all the mess was cleaned up and return just in time for New Year's Eve."

Professor C: "We could meet in New York, or maybe sometimes in Chicago, for those on the West Coast. We're already in the Modern Language Association; how about holding that meeting right after Christmas? We're all free then."

Professor A: "It would get us out of the house."

Professor B: "No more messy family time!"

Professor C: "It's a good thing that no women would be going to this convention. Why, their heads would explode, if they had to get ready for Christmas AND get ready for MLA."**

All: "A woman at the convention? Hahahahahahaha!"

And that, dear friends, explains why many of us will be getting up at the crack of dawn to fly to distant cities in about a week.

Updated from the comments:
(from Anonymous)

Sally: Now WTF am I going to do with my kids on Jan 4 when they should be in school and I have to go to the New Improved Women Friendly MLA??


*Seriously. I heard a grad director say once that it was good for grad students and faculty members to be married, so their wives could type their papers for them.
**Seriously. Why do you think I'm writing this at 4:30 a.m.?


Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

The American Philosophy Association does their big meeting the same time as the MLA... and I think it sucks.

I can see exactly the same conversation happening.

undine said...

I thought philosophers had more sense than English folk! Seriously, I hate the timing, too. There's probably an official reason, but this one certainly seems plausible.

Anonymous said...

This is Totally Unbelievable! This would NEVER HAPPEN! Get real, Undine!

They would so totally be drinking cognac, not sherry. Jeez.

undine said...

Totally right, Dr. Lisa! (This made me laugh.)

Anonymous said...

Newsflash: the MLA moved into the 21st century.

new conversation:

Sally: Now WTF am I going to do with my kids on Jan 4 when they should be in school and I have to go to the New Improved Women Friendly MLA??

Anonymous said...

Damn straight.

undine said...

I hadn't thought of that, Anonymous!