by J J Cohen
Larry Swain at the Ruminate posted some post-Kzoo advice to graduate students and (to a lesser degree) to professors that has me thinking. His intentions seem good. He gives advice on how to be professional at a major conference in the field. But reading through the post in its entirety, I can't help thinking that its long list of caveats must be terrifying to its intended audience. Implicit within the lessons is that as a graduate student you are under constant surveillance while attending the event: you will be judged, your future is at stake. Wear a tight dress to the dance and you will never get a job. Many of the lessons are similarly focused on sexuality, and I'll admit on this topic that I am profoundly indifferent to whatever acts nondeceiving consenting adults choose.
I put a great deal of energy into good relations with those who are the future of the humanities. You know from reading this blog that the infantilization of graduate students presses my buttons. Our profession is difficult and uncertain enough without treating those whom we train as anything less than adults and colleagues. That is why Slap a Medievalist made no concessions to academic hierarchy.
Am I taking these lessons the wrong way? Should graduate students worry more than I am inclined to tell them to about judgments while they dance, flirt, speak of their work, and otherwise do the conference?