Decompressing, the Bends, and MLA

The more I think about it, the more I like “decompressing” as the term for what has to happen during winter break before we get up, dust ourselves off, and do it again. I’ve found that if I don’t take time to do something frivolous that I lack energy for even the things I want to do during the next semester. So… decompressing prevents the bends, which may be why I have yet to send a proposal to MLA. At the same time, I respect what Cheryl Ball is doing by trying to strengthen ties between what we do and the broader view of the discipline found at MLA though, and this post from Mark Sample shows how those ties have strengthened. There are many more presentations than in the past that I would think fall into either the category of rhetoric, composition studies, or new media, but MLA (and others) seems to find our polyphonic disciplines far more palatable with the new name digital humanities, a category that can ignore the fact that we have scholarship that goes back at least as far as the founding of Computers and Composition, which turns thirty in 2013, and actually goes back to oh, Plato? Gorgias? It’s all new to them, but I’m going to sidestep that fight and continue to do my thing citing the rich history I know. I’m hoping everybody decides to act like grownups and the whole thing shakes out into semantics with the chosen name being what most people use.

I have an idea that is not in the talking-about stage yet that I may propose for MLA next year if it pans out. I’m not even sure how you go about proposing an individual presentation  for MLA. I can find information on how to propose a CFP, but not how to find CFPs or what a division is or how to find a list of divisions. The website is very confusing in that straightforward way that professional websites can be. In other words, it is easy to find information as long as you want the information that is there. What seems to me fairly fundamental questions are not addressed. Blank space. I’m going to talk to other faculty who have presented at MLA once the university reopens and hope I haven’t missed a vital deadline.

if I end up at MLA in 2013, I better come up with something massively frivolous to compensate, like taking a vacation where I go somewhere not-work and not-family related.   This time I’m going for the old standby, frivolous reading. I’m rereading Harry Potter and I will inevitably reread the books for next semester, which shouldn’t count, but they are all pretty fun. This particular frivolity is augmented by a newer obsession, English Premier League Soccer. I’ve been following Tottenham Hotspur, and they have been doing pretty well at this halfway point in the season, ranking third behind perennial leaders of the pack, Manchester City and Manchester United. Women’s basketball is starting up now too, and I did catch the Bradley vs. Missouri State Lady Bears game on TV. I try to get to as many home games as I can for the Lady Bears, who play fast-paced, superlative basketball. Decompressing is important, and I may almost be there.

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Author of the poetry collection The Tethered Ground and Professor of English at Missouri State University. Contact me for readings or for workshops on writing/publishing and on teaching writing online.

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