There might have been more than usual at the lesbian potluck last night … I know potlucks have been around forever and used by all kinds of groups, but I learned of them only through lesbian community, so you’ll forgive me if I characterize the event according to ‘my culture’, eh? 🙂 Let’s see, there was the unfortunate, nonattendee who still does not know that they were once gypped out of a chocolate drop dessert … some critique of faculty (gasp!) and department politics (horrors!) … and a few compliments (reserved mostly for esteemed colleagues).
I’m making pretty good progress with “the weblog hustle” – everyone keeps signing those consent forms (with varying degrees of permission), except for the dude from English and someone’s significant other. What do I make of it when people just opt out by refusing even to sign the dang thing? I think it’s an indeterminate zone (such as I’ve been operating in all along) and leaves me completely at my own discretion (since one of the options is never authorizing me to post under any conditions). No ban sets me loose, don’tcha think? 😉
Much of the time we talked about our students.
Almost all of us are TA’s, either now or historically. “TV face” continues to curse most of us. Is there a mind operating behind that blank expression? Will it come out to play or remain carefully shielded behind silence and non-active engagement?
Then there was some sharing of worst student writing. Was it lesbians as the leopards of the feminist movement (fondly recalled by Consuela Bananahammock)? And sheer pornography (turning Andrea’s stomach) – even I (the sometimes too open one) know the limits of TMI regarding sexual details! We did debate some grammatical rules as well: when is it “its” and when “it’s”, and do you or do you not include an apostrophe when referring to a decade? There was only a wee little bit of academic competitiveness: “I looked up in the APA!” It was also decreed that writing our own reference letters, while weird, might not be such a bad thing. (shhh!)
Consuela promises a performance of Shoop Shoop if we arrange a karaoke night … maybe we can do dinner one night and then go out? The potluck feast was awesome: spicy chicken (my personal favorite), lasagna, pasta salad, spinach & tofu (also a favorite), russian salad (yum!), and those chocolate drops and fudge… we had an offer for an Egyptian meal (!), although rumor has it Indian might be up for December (Koushik – the pressures on for you to deliver!) … and there’s progress being made on Russian for January (one of last year‘s more rowdy evenings – names were omitted that time to protect the guilty).
Yasser came under a bit of fire. We learned his blog only got one hit in 30 days, and that he just completed one of his … six, was it? (!) incompletes. Maybe we could start a betting pool on when (whether?) he’ll get them all done? Yep, Sirisha noted that some of Yasser’s plans haven’t quite gone the way he would have liked . . .
Jed and Erin had a lengthy academic discussion about the first instance and last instance.
“I am more inclined to accept what Stuart Hall called “Economy in the first instance” (in contradistiction with Althusser’s “economy in the last instance”). Economy has the most concrete, immediate presence for our experience of social totality and our political praxis, but in the end we need to grasp the political, cultural, sexual and other spheres of experience that continuously constitute the realm of economy. Ostenle himself recognizes that sense of totality in his emphasis on a large range of political and cultural phenomena.” Manjur Karim, interrogating Charles A. Ostenle’s article “Manifesto for Praxis Societies and for a Global Democratic and Socialist Political Economy.
Now, I’m not in the Sut Jhally seminar on cultural studies, and only overheard a bit of the debate, but I think I heard that “the first instance is the same as last instance” – is that right? I imagine a hermeneutic circle, Hall beginning in a temporally forward looking fashion (the “first” leading to everything else) and Althusser facing temporally ‘backward’ from what comes out in the end. As always when I spout out my immediate attempt at sense-making I hope someone will correct, contradict, modify or otherwise provide some feedback. Meanwhile, a primer on The Need for Cultural Studies: Resisting Intellectuals and Oppositional Public Spheres
And, some random things I came across searching for definitions of first and last instance that I didn’t want to lose:
The Narrative Construction of Reality, an interview with Stuart Hall.
Subcultures: The Queer Dance Mix
btw – no one seems clear on what the heck “resource economics” is, although we batted that one about for awhile too. It seems to come down to a more specialized focus on the environment, but even this was disputed…
David & Nora came to share the burden (not!) of holding the little one. Pyro arrived ten minutes after everyone else had left (!) and we shared some leftovers and a solid half-hour of good talk. Elsa and I got caught up on summer news – great that all’s well on her family and phd front. Not to mention the miraculousness of how my european travels went and are coming together academically these days. Jaspur was the star attention seeker, setting off a lengthy discussion of the merits of dogs vs cats. I heard only one strong preference for dogs; cats were the winners, overall. Peter and I definitely bonded around this! (For a young pup, though, everyone agreed Jasper is awfully good.)
Finally – although this hardly captures the entirety of talk and laughter – there were some movie reviews. Christopher Strong is highly recommended, along with Bride of Frankenstein. Orson Welles has been judged “an insufferable bastard,” but the movie, RKO 281 is apparently still well worth viewing.
Quiz: Who was accused of “still living in the 1930s” because of not liking capitalism?