New Issue of Excavatio: Emile Zola and Naturalism now available online

Lindsay AbandonedThe new issue of Excavatio, The International Review for Multidisciplinary Approaches and Comparative Studies Related to Émile Zola and Naturalism Around the World is now available here: http://www.ualberta.ca/~aizen/excavatio/journal.html

It contains “Bitter Tastes: Recognizing American Women’s Naturalism,” a version of the keynote talk I gave at AIZEN last March in New Orleans.  The keynote is drawn from my book manuscript Bitter Tastes: Early Film, Naturalism, and American Women’s Writing. 

The image is from Batterman Lindsay’s “Abandoned: A Tale of the Plains.” Lindsay and her collection of stories Derelicts of Destiny was the subject of my MLA 2015 talk.

A Modest Proposal for MLA 2016: Endorse Skype Interviews

Question: On what issue do ChronicleVitae/Slate blogger and frequent MLA critic Rebecca Schuman and MLA Executive Director Rosemary Feal agree?

Answer: Skype (or videoconference) videos instead of, or at the very least as a valid alternative to, the MLA conference interview.

Schuman reports that some potential candidates had their interview invitations withdrawn when they requested a Skype interview instead.  I can’t speak for all institutions, but that ought to be against the rules.

Should not having $1000 to spend on travel preclude a first-round interview? (And it’s really more like $1500 than $1000, which is a lot of money.) No, it shouldn’t. This is a first-round interview, with campus interviews still to come. The members of the department will still get to meet the second-round candidates as usual.

One angle not yet addressed in various articles about this is the perspective of the search committee.  Maybe some schools send the entire committee, but many more send 1-2 members to do the interviews, partially funding them, with possible assistance from whatever department members are available at MLA.

With a Skype interview, the entire search committee could arrange to be present to interview candidates, thereby giving more members exposure to the candidates and allowing for more input from the entire committee. Those not at MLA wouldn’t have to rely on the reports and notes of those who went, as now happens.

This is the sort of issue that the MLA should put its weight behind, at least to the point of having a discussion or resolution about it in the Delegate Assembly. It may not be as weighty or contentious as some of the issues debated over the past few years, but it will have a direct impact on the organization’s most financially vulnerable members.

Brief notes on MLA 2015

IMG_0747If I were Rosemary Feal, I’d declare MLA 2015 a victory: great venue, terrific papers, and a seemingly more relaxed set of conference attendees than the last two.

First, the amenities: MLA 2015 was held in a great place (Vancouver, BC), with easy access between the hotels and the convention center. The wifi was free and plentiful, and both the beautiful surroundings and the absence of slush made the physical experience of the conference really pleasant.

The papers were excellent, too, at least those I heard. Our session s#8 on Pacific Northwest Regionalism: Acts of Recovery, went very well, with lots of good discussion from the audience, and I would be remiss not to mention the great panel on “Edith Wharton and Sex” that provided new ways of looking at Wharton’s work on this topic.

Another outstanding panel was this morning’s “Antebellum Print Culture and the Digital Archive” (link is to the Storify collection of tweets) and the panel on Retrofuturism.

This was my last year on the Delegate Assembly, so while I will miss seeing the deliberative processes next year (if I go), I’ll be able to get to more panels.

American Naturalism at the MLA

If you’re heading to MLA this week, here are some panels about some American realist/naturalist authors. The “Animal Studies in Evolution” panel is at the same time I’m presenting, so I won’t be able to attend that one.

Stephen Crane, Ellen Glasgow, Ann Petry, W. D. Howells, Edith Summers Kelley, Kate Chopin — none

Theodore Dreiser — 337. The Genesis and Development of the Chicago Renaissance
Friday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 112, VCC West https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=337&year=2015

Frank Norris and Jack London:
13. Animal Studies in the Age of Evolution Thursday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 115, VCC West https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=13&year=2015

Edith Wharton
185. Edith Wharton and Sex Friday, 9 January, 8:30–9:45 a.m., 207, VCC West https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=185&year=2015

295. Narratives of Reproductive Rights in American Literature
Friday, 9 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 223, VCC West
https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=295&year=2015

Paul Laurence Dunbar: 
699. Black Optimism and Afro-Pessimism: The Politics of Pleasure and Pain in the African American Canon
Sunday, 11 January, 10:15–11:30 a.m., 222, VCC West
https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=699&year=2015

John Dos Passos
339. Twentieth-Century American Literature and Sound Recording
Friday, 9 January, 3:30–4:45 p.m., 217, VCC West https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=339&year=2015

306. Queer Capital: Transgressive Economies of Value in American Fiction
Friday, 9 January, 1:45–3:00 p.m., 216, VCC West https://www.mla.org/program_details?prog_id=306&year=2015

MLA Panel 8. Pacific Northwest Literary Regionalism: Acts of Recovery (January 8, 12-1:15)

I’ll be presenting a paper based on a section of my book manuscript Bitter Tastes: Naturalism, Early Film, and American Women’s Writing  at the Modern Language Association Convention in Vancouver, BC, on Thursday. It’s drawn from Chapter 2: “The Darwinists: Borderlands, Environment, and Evolution,”

8. Pacific Northwest Literary Regionalism: Acts of Recovery

Thursday, 8 January, 12:00 noon–1:15 p.m., 205, VCC West

A special session

Presiding: Laura Laffrado, Western Washington Univ.

1. “Carol Ryrie Brink and Moving Memory: A Novel Family History, from Caddie Woodlawn‘s Wisconsin to Buffalo Coat‘s Idaho,” Jana L. Argersinger, Washington State Univ., Pullman

2. “Batterman Lindsay’s Derelicts of Destiny and Pacific Northwest Native American Culture,” Donna M. Campbell, Washington State Univ., Pullman

3. “Besides the Bureau of American Ethnology: Recovering the Alaska Native Brotherhood/Sisterhood as a Community of Native Writers,” Michael Taylor, Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver