July 24, 2009

Anglophilia and other social diseases, part I

I'm always surprised when people assume that because I studied and taught English, I must be an Anglophile. For one thing, lots of people study "English" without spending a whole lot of time reading English literature; lots of undergraduate English programs are set up to facilitate that--for better or worse.

Anyhow, if I remember correctly, I wrote my dissertation on some books written by an Irish writer ... and even though he was born a British subject and--correct me if I'm wrong--remained one by choice until (and presumably after) his death, he certainly wasn't English. Most 20th century British literature worth reading is likewise not precisely English.

So ... I haven't been to too many exotic and foreign places, and certainly the UK is someplace I'd like to visit, but I don't expect to love it exactly. I don't feel drawn there or anything. I just don't get that--it's not like I'd get to live in any of the books I've come to know and love of the years.

Once I read a paper to the ladies of a local Jane Austen Society chapter, and they were all dressed in some semblance of period costume for their post-lecture "high tea," during which I--trying modestly to avert my eyes from the little old ladies in their Empire dresses while leaning down close enough to hear their enthusiastic discussions--realized that they were engaged with Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in a way that I just couldn't be. I could live in London for the rest of my life and never be invited to a party at the Dalloway home, is what I'm saying. I don't read the stuff because I want to experience it. Most of the stuff I read about I'd hate to experience firsthand.

It might be that pretend history is easier for people to swallow in places like in the very historical southern town I used to live near, because about that same time I also met a person who had a pronounced--yea, even mispronounced--British accent he had somehow picked up after spending ONE SUMMER in the UK as an ADULT, defying everything anybody knows about dialect acquisition. Embarrassing--to everyone but the one who should have been embarrassed.

That's the kind of thing that makes me leery, to say the least, of Anglophilia.

To be continued ...

July 12, 2009

After long silence

I did, I confess, think about quoting in its entirety the Yeats poem "After Long Silence," but upon reflection I'm not fond of it, and it's not relevant. I might as well have quoted "After great pain, a formal feeling comes," which I also don't like much and which is also irrelevant. And from there it's only one short step to the After the Fire version of "Der Kommissar."

Go ahead, you know you want to. We'll wait.

Well, it's been an eventful month: one campus interview right on the heels of another, with a job offer from the first interview coming as I was waiting to begin the second interview. For a short while there, I felt like I was a very hot commodity indeed ... hotter, in fact, "than hell itself." As Tom was wont to say.

If you bothered to follow the link, you might also want to check this out. I would live in that world if I could--that trumpet, that voice.

The (self-perceived) hotness was mitigated only a little by the subsequent revelation that the second interview will not result in a job offer, that I will not be the subject of a battle royale (with cheese) amongst my current employer and two prospectives. I wasn't the top choice in Georgia, and I couldn't string the other place along long enough to see whether Georgia would work their way down to me (it happens), so I gladly accepted the first offer and will be starting there August 17. I'm sure it would have been my first choice in any case, but it might have been good from a negotiation standpoint.

I'm not putting the details here because I like to keep this space separate from my professional life, at least in the search engines. But folks, if you're having trouble getting yourself mentally ready for an interview, it's always helpful to watch this clip (it includes some not-safe-for-work language). Even if I shared this with you recently, it's worth watching again:

I also like to watch Apocalypse Now before a campus interview. Gets me in the right frame of mind to go up the river and into the heart of darkness.