Soon I will be boarding a plane for Seattle, and the 2012 meeting of the Modern Language Association.
Unlike Ulrike Ottinger’s film Ticket of No Return / Bildnis einer Trinkerin (pictured above), however, I will eventually return.
Those of you who know the academic job search will also know more or less what my MLA experience will be like: a professional conference where the interviews for tenure-track and (increasingly) non-tenure-track jobs take place. Where the weight of individuals and institutions in the humanities is hefted, tested, critiqued and measured. As opposed to my regular haunts, the German Studies Association conference, Film and History, or the Northeast Modern Language Association conference, the MLA is supposed to be a fairly stiff-necked affair. Faculty have confided in me about it being a kind of “meat market” or a “desperate” place. One need only look at the various paltry statistics about employment in the academic humanities in this country since the 1970s to know this (and I have deliberately refrained from linking to said statistics, dear reader, to keep your optimism intact).
That being said, the only way out of the abyss is straight through it. That has been my dissertation solution and, as I seek new scholarly venues beyond my dissertation, a way out of the familiar.
2012 is a time for change, whether it stems from the movements of the masses or the movements within ourselves.