Wednesday, May 16, 2012

A Wee PLEA on Behalf of the BABEL Working Group

Dear Friends,

while we are all trying to recuperate from the Kalamazoo Congress and continuing to ruminate on what actually happened there [see HERE and HERE and HERE for initial impressions from Jeffrey, Jonathan Hsy, and Alan Montroso, respectively, and STAY TUNED for the audiofile from GW MEMSI's Ecologies session, to be posted here later today!], I hope you might consider giving a small donation to the BABEL Working Group. You might think, and some days it's true, that BABEL runs on martinis, WD-40, ramen, loose change, the kindness of strangers, old Talking Heads albums, matches, a glitter ball, chewing gum, and a few guitars. But if you're also wondering, "who pays for those amazing parties?" and "how is Eileen always on an airplane?" and "how can they bring such amazing people to their conferences?" and "who keeps Tiny Shriner in the style to which he has become accustomed?", then I have to tell you that it's because a very small handful of people have been extraordinarily generous and that some of us -- I'm looking at you, Myra Seaman, Robert Grant [Myra's husband, but more important, one of the brains behind plasq], Jeffrey, Michael Johnson, Anna Klosowska, and others, and yes, me -- have been writing a lot of personal checks and throwing $20 bills around. We don't like to talk about money -- we'd rather talk about SEX than money, right? -- but this is the bare truth: BABEL has raised some money here and there, but mainly, we're running on the heroic financial efforts of a few persons committed to our projects, and some of us [okay, I'm talking about me now] have even missed paying the utility and other bills to keep BABEL and its projects afloat instead. This causes problems at home. Do you like honesty? Yeah, it's a little uncomfortable ... but, still.

Here is what I am hoping: that everyone and anyone who has any interest in the future projects of BABEL might be willing to donate something [as little as $5, as much as $20 or more] to help us do the following:
  • fund symposia and conferences that foster creative alliances across disciplinary, institutional, and para-institutional divides;
  • bring scholars and cultural theorists who normally would not come to medieval studies conferences to our events [such as the Kalamazoo Congress] in order to dialogue with medievalists on a wide variety of disciplinary and institutional and cultural concerns;
  • support the work of punctum books, and thereby also support authors and their individual work that might not otherwise get published, as well as help punctum to cultivate new collaborative publishing projects across a "whimsical para-humanities assemblage," and to also hopefully provide some alt-ac careers for humanities scholars, cultural workers, and artists;
  • help to defray the travel costs, dinners, and drinks [the drinks! -- don't underestimate the power of these to lubricate a daringly creative and convivial medieval studies] of graduate students at the biennial BABEL meeting, but also at other conferences in medieval studies, such as the Kalamazoo Congress, the biennial meeting of the New Chaucer Society, the biennial meeting of the International Society of Anglo-Saxonists, and so on;
  • cultivate more spaces [whether in print or otherwise] for the pursuit and fostering in medieval studies of what the newly-formed Material Collective calls "a lyrical and experimental style of writing along with a more humane, collaborative and supportive process of scholarship" [we couldn't have put that better ourselves];
  • further develop the politics of friendship and modes of playfulness as institutional and disciplinary necessities;
  • better internationalize medieval studies;
  • infect/contaminate the post-1500 humanities so thoroughly that no one can any longer THINK about anything without sensing and taking into account the chill downtempo strains of the medieval cultural studies soundtrack in the background;
  • establish the medievalists as the humanists of the future;
  • throw great parties wherever we happen to be;
  • pay for the private rooms in late-night karaoke bars haunted by medievalist graduate students; and
  • [this is the future-oriented plan] found a new Institute/School.
If any of this means anything to you, or you want to be a part of this [or already are], send us some money and, no matter what you can give, you'll be helping us to continue this work. We'll continue it, anyway, because we're just crazy that way [and our partners might yell at us], but we'd love to continue our vagabond journey with the sound of your coins jingling in our pockets and in our hearts. To donate, go HERE. Also, if you purchase a print copy of Jeffrey Cohen et alia's Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Ethics and Objects, we'll consider that a donation as well!

Love and Cheers, BABEL

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