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Any APA gurus available?

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On a more serious note, I have a question for anyone who has better knowledge of APA style than I (this is a very large category of people, I suspect).

For reasons that will remain mysterious, my book was copyedited into APA style, and rather than have it turned back into MLA, I just went with it. But I'm coming across occasional issues in my MS, given my unfamiliarity with APA. For example, there are several points in the manuscript where I mention someone's reference of other work. For example, I might say that Scholar X builds on Scholar Y's idea of Z, where Z is a perspective or term that has been elaborated over a series of publications. I'm quoting Scholar X, and thus I need to include her in my bibliography and include the pub date in the text itself. I understand that.

But when it's a secondhand reference not to a specific text in the case of Scholar Y, but to one of their ideas that is being applied, adopted, transformed, or whatever in Scholar X's text, do I also need to include the inline parenthetical date for Scholar Y, and include their work in my bib as well?

I have to admit that this feels counter-intuitive to me, and yet, my copyeditor has entered the dreaded (xxxx) after each time I reference a proper name, without (it seems to me, at least) much sensitivity to the context of that proper name. But I'm hesitant to reject it out of hand, given the fact that I don't really know APA style at all, and my forays into the Publication Manual haven't yielded an answer.

Bottom line is that I can suck it up, and just track down the handful of citations that I'd need and include them in my bib--I may just do that anyway to reduce friction. But I am curious, because it's an element of my writing style that I don't think about often--I'm used to casually citing "common knowledge" sorts of ideas without imagining that I need to detail them formally.

Thanks ahead of time if you have an answer.

Jenny already stole most of my thunder, so take what thunder I express in this post, and multiply it by most to get some sense of my frustration. Imagine my surprise yesterday, learning for the first time at Clancy's blog, that CCCC is shopping around for a web editor.

Why might this be insulting? Well, for the last 4 years or so, I've been working on the CCC Online Archive as the Associate/Online Editor for the journal. A few weeks ago, I was informed that my title, without any consultation from me, was now the CCC Online Archivist. I don't really care much about the title, but I do care about being treated like a peon by people (the Executive Committee) who are my colleagues, and for whom I am essentially performing volunteer work. So yes, having my title unilaterally turned from something that sounds official to something that sounds made-up, without even the courtesy of being consulted, is something I construe as insulting.

I presume now that the change was to minimize confusion between my own position and that of the new CCCC Web Editor, which makes a great deal of sense, since this person will be responsible for editing the Web. Oh wait. Never mind.

What is most insulting, though, is that my title was changed as part of a conversation to which I might have had something to contribute, and to which I almost certainly should have been invited. As I said, I first saw the ad yesterday, the day before the deadline.

Why should I be involved? Well, one thing that set back my ongoing redesign and restructuring of the site was the small matter of CCCC changing their link formats, which invalidated hundreds of permalinks on my site. I was never informed of this--I got to find out that my site was broken by testing it. I answer dozens of email inquiries per year on behalf of NCTE related to functions of the journal outside of the purview of my site. I made what I felt at the time were very strong arguments about what CCC and NCTE should be doing with their web presence--a vision that I'm implementing and that our "leadership" seems (at least from the text of their ad) to be ignoring. So yes, even though I host the site externally, my site is impacted by the various decisions that NCTE makes, even when they don't see fit to inform me of them.

I am mildly encouraged by the fact that, some ten or so years into the existence of their website, that CCCC has finally seen fit to consider the site a worthy area of development. I am less encouraged by the fact that no experience appears to be necessary to actually contribute. I am less encouraged by the fact that they ask for a writing sample (?!) as part of the application process. And I am less encouraged by the prospect of a whole new set of CCCCreepy treehouses springing up on the web.

So, since my work on CCCOA hasn't seemed to have made any lasting impact on our "leadership" beyond that of the journal (with whom I've always worked well and happily), allow me to forgo the application process, and offer my vision of what the CCCC website almost certainly will not look accomplish in the near future:

1. The strength of a central, organizational website is directly proportional to its ability to aggregate the interests and contributions of its members.

2. Those interests and contributions are not going to be in the form of legislated community.

The attempts at legislated community on CCC Online failed. The attempts at legislated community on the CCCC blog failed. We are already a community, and we already are full to the brim with locations where we engage in community. There is no nascent community activity waiting breathlessly for a CCCC Facebook page.

3. CCCC is in a position to provide centralized, aggregated content, unavailable anywhere else on the web.

This content could include a great deal more valuable information about the conference, job postings, syllabi, program information, teaching resources, etc. We don't need CCCC to blog, email, tweet, post Facebook pages, host wikis, or anything else like that. All that stuff is already being done by us, for us, better than our organization could ever handle.

4. If CCCC wants a professional web presence, one which does things and offers content that no one else can, and which no individual or group can, I am all for it. And I have no shortage of ideas as to how that can be accomplished. I am currently engaged in the process of accomplishing it.

5. Asking a volunteer to do this is deeply offensive to me, when the expectations that we should have of this position are professional. I am embarrassed for my organization, and I am embarrassed for those on the EC who should know better than this. To imagine that anything worth doing can be done in 5-10 hours a month is to misunderstand the potential value of bringing our organization out of the late 90s.


Like Jenny, I am increasingly frustrated with our organization. I believe that the organization itself is broken in several ways, and this is only the most immediate and recent example, unfortunately.

That is all.

1 step forward?

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Lindsay Waters has a piece in yesterday's IHE about how we evaluate what we do in the academy, "A Call for Slow Writing." Now, you might recall that my own feelings about Waters are, shall we say, less than glowingly positive. But I will say that my feelings about this essay are mixed, and not in the worst way.

First, it's a well-wrought piece, showing off Waters' own skills at prose, and it is replete with erudition. I don't usually write like that, but there you have it. And second, I'm actually in complete agreement with the major point of the essay:

I have claimed elsewhere that the book-for-tenure system is coming to an end, that it is unsustainable, that its growth has been an obscenity, because it was mindless, because it sought to make something automatic and machine-like play the role that should only be played by the soul....There is no good reason why the essay should not replace the book, and a lot of good reasons why it should. I am tempted to say -- in order to be maximally provocative -- that anyone who publishes a book within six years of earning a Ph.D. should be denied tenure. The chances a person at that stage can have published something worth chopping that many trees down is unlikely.

Waters' argument is that we need to start unlearning the system that prompts us to push out writing as quickly as we do, in the interests of bumping up our pre-tenure numbers. I don't know that he'll have many takers for denying tenure to those who do publish books, but I will say that I very consciously reset my tenure clock when I moved from ODU to SU. And my book was better for it, I believe.

So far, so good. It's a little curmudgeonly of me, but I am willing to grant that most of our writing would be improved by shaking it free of the shadow of tenure. But then...

What I'm saying is that the first step to re-establishing the essay as the standard in humanistic writing is to reinvigorate the sentences we write, so that, when one reads an essay, one feels it. One feels it the way one tastes -- and here I'm going global -- a good curry. It really sets you back. Or maybe forward. Style, maniera, modo is what we readers demand.

It's hard for me not to react negatively--and here I'm going local--to the modo for modo's sake here. But the larger point is where I'm set back. To imagine that an entire profession sits around thinking, "hmmm, how can I write a really crappy sentence here?" is beyond laughable to me. Is there writing in the humanities that is largely indefensible from a stylistic point of view? Almost certainly. Are there writers in the humanities who consciously set out to produce inelegant prose? I seriously doubt it. So the notion that an entire tenure system is going to be changed by our conviction about the quality of our prose just sounds cranky to me, to be honest, and not serious at all.

Now, Waters goes on to talk about the editorial changes going on at boundary 2, and they sound great. I'm even willing to grant as part of a thought experiment that other journals follow suit. Not all, I'd imagine, but some. Let's even suppose that some of the essays written in this renaissance of clarity trickle upwards into book form. How long will that take? And where does the system tip?

Most importantly, though, what will any of this have to do with the demands placed upon us by our institutions? Who will be the first top-flight university to say that their tenure expectations are aberrant, and should be scaled back to allow more quality work? Which administrator, content with a system that translates qualitative work into quantities, is going to admit the "obscenity" when most university and college budgets already build into their calculations the retirements and tenure denials, and the budget line resets that they bring?


I've never been all that adept at the kind of nominal-dense, code-wordy prose that Waters and others decry, so I don't really take this stuff that personally. What I do take personally is the transfer of value judgments from the work (this work is difficult, obscure, and personally offensive) to the folk who write such works, in some kind of weird moral algebra. Honestly, I find that a little sloppy.

There are things that we can do. That much I agree with. We can strive to write as well as we can, certainly, and we can try to hold each other accountable as we read manuscripts, offer advice, direct projects, etc. But to imagine that we are the ones who have driven this system within which we toil is a little facile.

And this is from someone who's been fortunate enough to receive tenure. I'm not one of those who believes that the current system was good enough for me, so it's good enough for anyone else. But I don't see this essay offering anything like a solution for the problem it poses.

That is all, except to note that I'm not the CB who left a comment on the original post...

Another head shaker from the land of old media:

If you're on Facebook, there's a good chance that you've come across Scrabulous, which is a Facebook module that allows you effectively to play Scrabble with other Facebook users. According to the Motley Fool, Scrabulous has upwards of 600,000 users a day. This popularity has unfortunately attracted the attention of Mattel and Hasbro, who own the rights to Scrabble. Their response? Cease and desist, of course.

What should happen? The two guys (count em: one...two) who created this insanely popular version of the game should be rewarded, licensed, franchised, and lauded for doing what the dinosaurs who own Scrabble haven't: produce a high-quality, online version.

What will happen? Scrabulous will probably get retired, and there will be tens of thousands of new, brand-hostile customers.

But it's less about avoiding hostility and more about understanding that "in an edgeconomy, people sharing/hacking/using/etc your goods can actually create massive amounts of value for you." That's from Umair Haque, writing about something else entirely and yet the exact same thing. Company after company walks down this path, and it seems like, to a person, all of the stiffs in charge make the wrong decision. Maybe this will go down differently, given that all the public clamor, from individuals to techonomics blogs, weighs in on the side of "opportunity." But somehow, I doubt it.

That's all.

A December to Dismember

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I've got some college hoops on in the background while I work and play Scrabulous, and it's occurred to me that visitors from another planet would honestly believe that Christmas is the holiday where we meat popsicles buy each other Lexuses (or is that Lexi?). Seriously. I've seen 5 or 6 commercials reference the holidays in the past hour or so, and 4 of them were for Lexus.

If I had that much disposable income for gifts, I could think of only about 8 gajillion better things to spend it on. So, just so we're clear, if you're expecting a gift from me this year, chances are it won't have an oversized, four-foot bow on it.

That's all.

Reading Reimagined

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Matthew Kirschenbaum blogged about it when his CHE piece ("How Reading is Being Reimagined") came out online, but given the choice between plunking down money or relying upon the "free" copy in the department, well, I'll take the two week delay.

But I got around to reading his piece today, and I did want to express appreciation for a couple of points in particular. It's an essay that balances nicely the critique of the NEA report with the promise of new media. A couple of things jumped out at me:

First, I think this point is easy to overlook:

The structure of To Read or Not to Read presents itself as tacit acknowledgment that not all of its own text will likely be read by any one reader, since it is clearly designed to be "not read" in at least some of the ways that accord with Bayard's observations. The report is accompanied by an Executive Summary, a condensed version of the major findings. Its internal organization is carefully laid out, with summary points at the head of each chapter, topic sentences, extensive notes, sidebars, and sections labeled as conclusions.

I mention this passage not for its critique, but because it connects with some of the stuff that Derek is working on with respect to abstraction, and it points to something I'm increasingly conscious of: the range of scales through we approach texts. It's rapidly becoming one of the key ideas that I'm working through in my own writing. And at CCC Online, for that matter. It's not an issue of reading/not-reading for me, but of negotiated distances.

A second quote that poked at me:

Reading your friend's blog is not likely a replacement for reading Proust, but some blogs have been a venue for extraordinary writing, and we are not going to talk responsibly or well about what it means to read online until we stop conflating genre with value.

Again, my point is a little less obvious. I'd add that we need to stop misunderstanding genre itself, in terms of a set of language-objects like books, blogs, magazines, etc. Which is not to say that MK is wrong here. The problem is that thinking about reading in terms of consuming objects (a book, a blog, a newspaper) is always going to lead to the substitution he's arguing against. And this is something I hope my book gets at a bit. The problem isn't the range of acceptable objects so much as it is our acceptance of "objects" themselves as the measure of the practice, if that makes sense.

(I've arrived at that position in large part as I've been converted by the work of genre studies folk in our field, btw. When I taught a course on genre a couple of summers ago, I entered the course highly skeptical of the material we were reading--it's the only time I've taught a course whose subject I was "against" to start with...)

Anywho, one last observation, which itself has nothing to do with MK's article. It's title is "How Reading is Being Reimagined," but on the cover of the Chronic Review, it's listed as "The New Metrics of Reading," which strikes me as somewhat different. On the front page of the Chronic site, it's called "," and includes the tease

All you need to do is skim the NEA reading report online and you'll have some questions. And that's the point, writes Matthew Kirschenbaum.

I've never really noticed how fast and loose they seem to play with their descriptions of content. I know that Becky has run afoul of the CHE headline writers before, but I guess I haven't paid much attention otherwise...

Anyways, it's a good article. Go read it. That's all.

Words and Pictures

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There's a nice entry up over at if:book by Nancy Kaplan, on the topic of the recent NEA report about reading. I can't say much about it (the report, that is), as I have many better things to read with my own time. Kaplan does a nice job of taking on the NEA's graphic "representations" of their findings, which don't support their conclusions. For example, the decline in reading? It's actually at the same level it was in 1971. The NEA report starts from a later date, so as to make it look like more of a decline than it actually is. And so on.

It's a nice, contemporary example of the kind of analysis that Edward Tufte has been doing for years with respect to information design--too bad that kind of reading proficiency is neither advocated nor practiced by the report.

Anyhow, her conclusion:

Because of changes in the nature and conditions of work, declining proficiency in reading among American adults might cause some concern if not alarm. It is surely also the case that educational institutions at every level can and should do a better job. Yet there is little evidence of an actual decline in literacy rates or proficiency. As a result, the NEA's core argument breaks down.

That is all. Go take a look.

Lately, for some odd reason, I've been watching BBC America, and in particular, among other shows, I've been watching episodes of Gordon Ramsay's "Kitchen Nightmares." It's a lot more palatable than his FOX show, Hell's Kitchen, which is a show that seems designed to determine just how much foul-mouthed abuse aspiring cooks are willing to endure to make their dreams come true.

Nightmares, on the other hand, involves Ramsay visiting various restaurants all over the UK, and attempting to help them reverse their bad fortunes. There's still plenty of swearing, but Ramsay shows a softer side as well, as he really goes out of his way to encourage young chefs even as he's chewing out the idiots.

Anyhow, one of the changes he inevitably suggests to almost every restaurant owner is to lower prices. Lower prices gets people in the door and sets up traffic flow, customer loyalty, repeat customers, and a chance to sell them luxury items like appetizers, desserts, and drinks. Makes sense, but it is sometimes surprising how many restauranteurs fear the lower prices.

I was thinking about this when I saw the announcement that NBC is no longer going to be selling on iTunes, and that includes some of my current fetishes like Heroes and BSG. Or rather, I should phrase it differently: iTunes is no longer selling NBC content, because NBC wanted to more than double their per episode price, bumping it from $1.99 to $4.99, and this despite the fact that everyone else has stuck with the $2/episode price.

As unfortunate as it'll be not to be able to download the occasional episode when I miss them, I'm actually happy to see Apple take a stand in this instance. It seems like every time I hear about a network missing the point of digital downloading, that network is NBC. Maybe the loss of revenue will prompt them to spend a little money on hiring someone with a clue.

Heck, I'd even pitch in $4.99 to see that happen.

Going out with a whimper

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Although I still use them from time to time, as their affordances are useful for a particular context, I don't spend much time anymore on listservs. And today, I unsubbed from my last holdout, a disciplinary listserv ostensibly devoted to my specialty. As with the blog, I go through phases of listserv fatigue, but over the last few years, the fatigue periods seem to grow longer and longer, punctuated more by silence than by activity.

My unsubscription was prompted by a message today which, under the auspices of continuing a discussion from earlier this week, launched into what, as best as I can tell, was a largely unprompted invective against blogging. I won't repeat it here, both because I'm not sure the list is public and because I'm not interested in dignifying it. Long and short, though: blogging, the message suggests, "atomizes, isolates, and individualizes knowledge." A few more sweeping generalizations, and a strange fascination with the idea that blogs are assholes, or like assholes, or bloggers are assholes. I don't know.

And honestly, I don't really care. My experience with blogging is so different--of course, it could matter that I actually maintain a blog--that the message could have been in another language for all the sense that it made to me. I was sitting in Panera today, reading Amanda Anderson's The Way We Argue Now (Amazon), and in it, she has a chapter on ethos in the Foucault/Habermas debate. Anderson is accounting for a comment from Foucault that he is "a little more in agreement" with Habermas than Habermas is with him. By saying this, Anderson explains:

Foucault implies that there is no external perspective from which one might adjudicate their differences or agreements, precisely because one essential element of agreement stems from the attitude of the thinker towards the other's work.

This stuck with me, because it fits nicely into the network-y/visualization thinking I've been doing, particularly when it comes to thinking about ways to map conversations and/or disciplines, and to chart changes. One of the things that Anderson's doing in that chapter is shifting the relationship between Foucault and Habermas, undoing the knee-jerk binary through which that relationship is frequently viewed. The link between the two is still there, but its character is altered, assuming that Anderson's various interpretations are persuasive.

It sticks with me not because I can really disagree with the specific charges leveled against blogging in that message, because I'm sure that there are plenty of examples that anyone could trot out to validate them. What irked me most is the foreclosure of any sort of conversation; it was almost beside the point that it was initiated by someone with little to no direct experience of our community. Almost. Anderson explains that this comment from Foucault is consistent with his "dislike of polemic":

The polemicist...proceeds encased in privileges that he possesses in advance and will never agree to question. On principle, he possesses rights authorizing him to wage war and making that struggle a just undertaking; the person he confronts is not a partner in search for the truth but an adversary, an enemy who is wrong, who is armful, and whose very existence constitutes a threat. For him, then the game consists not of recognizing this person as a subject having the right to speak but of abolishing him as interlocutor, from any possible dialogue.

There's something to this for me, not the least reason for which is my own general avoidance of confrontation. And it's also not to say that I don't fall back into polemic myself. I do. But I've got a lot more interest in figuring out how my ideas connect to, diverge from, and/or relate to someone else's than I do in waging a polemic/war. Even though, I suppose, it could be argued that my entry is doing just that.

Or it would be, were I to do two things, both of which are equally tempting. I'm tempted to refute those claims, drawing on my own experiences, talking about all of the collaboration, networking, and working-with that maintaining a blog has prompted in my academic life for the past three years. I'm also tempted to critique the listserv post, and perhaps even the list itself.

But I think I'll refrain. Which isn't to say that my entry here is snark-free--that'd be some sort of record, I think. It is to say, rather, that a community where someone feels comfortable (much less justified) in making those sorts of comments is not the kind of community I have any interest in being a part of.

That's all.

Speaking of commercials, as far too many people are this time of year, I present to you the four most shudderingly foul words I can imagine:

Maple Cheddar Breakfast Sandwich

I'm no fan of bad commercials, goodness knows, but at least most of them are bad commercials on behalf of pleasantly mediocre products. I'll be honest: the very notion of the MCBS makes me want to avoid the business in question. Not that I go there more than once or twice a year, but still. Yuck.

Go Bears!



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