Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Hazards of Academia Part 249

Just a heads up to draw whatever attention I can to a couple essays recently posted on my website: Sculptingintime.net.

One of them is the result of a commission of sorts gone haywire. I was asked by a scholarly journal to write a review for Black Dog Press's Tarkovsky Anthology. No easy task for me to tackle a collection so disparate and voluminous and treat all the contributions fairly and equally. I gave it a shot, but in the end my ideas of fairness and equality did not match those of the editors. I believe the phrase "conclusionary screed" was used. Moreover, and this was the irresolvable conflict, the essay I submitted was too damn long. The version that appears at my site, which I cut several pages from, comes in just over eight thousand words. Apparently I was to shoot for something closer to 4500 maximum. I was given the chance to trim it down to 5500, and they even gave me a headstart by slashing the first three or four pages which constitute the entire aesthetic foundation as far as I am concerned. In the end I was unable to hack it up to fewer than six thousand, and I found that version to be a semi-cohernet rant at best, an author by author denunciation of each essay in the Anthology. I had hoped to publish that hatchet-work version then post a link to it so that readers could compare the two essays side by side, and perhaps learn something about academic freedom. Unfortunately, it was not to be and I can offer only the "original" review.

The other essay is something I wrote years ago about Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter I suppose that I am primarily a film scholar insomuch as I usually write about films. On occasion I do write about books. I have some training in that discipline after all. Recently I unearthed this essay which I had submitted as partial completion of my Master's degree in English. Surprised at how good it was (I had not considered anything in it for six or seven years), I punched it up and sent it to a major American literary journal that shall remain nameless. Upon rejection I decided to post the entire text at the website. Some might say I should have tried another journal, but the old song and dance that accompanies nearly every rejection I receive i.e. "lack of critical engagement with recent scholarship" has won the day. I cannot fight for everything, and besides Sculptingintime.net needs some fresh content. So I'll let you be the judge. Does the piece need "a better sense of the contemporary and ongoing debates" over the novel in question? Would it benefit from a more up to date bibliography; the editor used the phrase "since the 1980's"? (I should note that all quoted passages above are cut and paste from the email I received from the editor.)

Please check out the essays. Perhaps you will find them amusing.

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