Wednesday, 9 May 2007


I am not well. I went to stay with J's brother and his gf in their stately home near Horsham last weekend, which was interesting - it's a Victorian Gothic homestead dating from 1862; I'm just starting to get a feel for how much longer-ago that is here - but clearly leaving the house was not good for me and I have been in bed for most of the last three days, alternately reading Prosthesis and school stories from the 20s and 30s.

I'm sure I remember J telling me that boys' school stories were just as soppy as girls', but so far this is Not True (and in fact she denies saying it now, so maybe I made it up): Tony Hits Out!, despite a promising title, turned out to be mostly about football, pirates and spies, while Pat's Third Term, despite sounding about as generic as it's possible to get, was entirely about Pat and Rhoda's love for each other. The best one, though, was Evelyn Finds Herself, which is pretty much a diagram of why I love school stories: I like books about people being sensible about their feelings. It's the same reason as why I love Diana Wynne Jones (and Dennis Cooper, come to think of it). By 'sensible' I mean... um, something like: turning the same attention to their feelings as they do to their work (and Evelyn Finds Herself is one of my favourite kinds of school stories in that regard, too, in that it's about work, not just sport. Also it has lesbians, so it is pretty much perfect).

Hmm, and Ruby Ferguson's Jill books have a lot of sensible feelings in them, too. Sensible feelings plus a passion for something outward-turned: magic in DWJ, violence in Dennis Cooper, botany in Evelyn Finds Herself, ponies for Jill...

But no, luckily the fact that it's too late to get anything out in time for the RAE publication deadline in December 2007 means that my lightest thought is no longer making me go Hmm, could I write an article about that? Who'd publish it? Which is lucky because I've just realized I have quite a daunting schedule for the next umyear: I'm scheduled to write three new conference papers (one on Daniel Deronda and Melissa Lukashenko's Hard Yards; one on archive fever in Lucan's De Bello Civili; and one on Agamben's Homo Sacer and the end of Vergil's Aeneid); and a book chapter (on intergenerational desire and the relationship to antiquity in Derrida's The Post Card); to write up my Queer Space paper into a book chapter (on slash, queer reading and utopia); to teach two (completely) new MA units, one new (to me) undergraduate course and a few old ones; and to organize a workshop on Teh Novel, Ancient and Modern.

Oh, and finish this book, of course.


glitterboy1 said...

Wow. You don't have much to do, do you? I'm glad, at least, that the RAE deadline is definitively beyond reach - that's one treadmill you can ignore for a while.

Take care of yourself, and I hope you're feeling better soon.

Az said...

Sorry to hear you've been ill. Hope you're feeling better by now...

And wow, what a schedule. I have a question, though -- how do you schedule yourself in for things? Do you sit down at some point, the start of the year, say, and decide what you want to submit where, how long to work on each article, and which conferences you're going to aim for? These are the planning strategies that evidently result in actual bodies of published work. Lately I've noticed I have little grasp of how to perform such tasks.

Ika said...


Az - no, no I don't. I mean, I mean to, but I don't. This particular schedule sort of took me over: insofar as I had a plan (which I did/do: it's a requirement in my job that I submit a five-year research plan every year; these are about as fictional as those yearly reports/plans for PhD dissertations, though) it was thus:

(1) Do an edited collection or special journal issue on queer children's literature (hopefully I'll do that at some point, though);

(2) write a couple of articles targeting prestigious journals (Ramus for Classics, Angelaki and Critical Inquiry for theory).

BUT IT WAS NOT TO BE. This actual schedule came about because:

(1) I had some vague thoughts about writing on Melissa Lukashenko because (a) she is a genius; (b) it would be an in to the world of chlit scholarship and (c) it might get me read/known a bit in Australia, as I don't think she's published anywhere else. And then my splendid friends Jo Carruthers and Tom Sperlinger (of Project: Dress More Like Tom Sperlinger) organized a Daniel Deronda conference and I thought Ooh, Daniel Deronda is a bit like Hard Yards! and said I'd do a paper for it.

(2) The outrageously brilliant Miriam Leonard forwarded me a CfP for a session at the MLA called 'Archive Trouble', after she'd been to a paper I gave on civil war and archive fever.

(3) the AHRC (main funding body for arts/humanities in the UK) is currently crazy to fund networks, so the triffic Phiroze Vasunia, who I met at a couple of small classics/theory conferences, set one up ('Ancient and Modern Imperialisms') and invited me to its second workshop at Stanford. (Actually he invited me to the first one, in London, but I couldn't come because I was here. My life suddenly looks extremely glamorous. I wonder how I got here?)

4. Miriam again (she's doing the Derrida and Antiquity book).

Um... yes. So it's not so much an advance plan as the moment where I look at what I've already said yes to and go oops, I'd better call a halt till next year. By which time I'm sure various people will have told me about six more conferences/ volumes for the year after that. I think your work starts situating itself/getting situated quite quickly after you start putting it out through conferences.

So... I don't know if I'd have been any better off if I'd planned it out: I may well suddenly start going 'D'oh!' as I find out about further brilliant conferences that I'm going to miss or not have time for. And just saying yes to everything interesting that trails past isn't necessarily the best strategy: in a way, I already regret publishing the 'Keeping Promises to Queer Children' article in a fanfiction/ fandom collection, because now only fan studies people are going to read it, and I'd really rather have placed it somewhere where textual critics/theory people are more likely to see it.

So, in conclusion, hmm.