This Friday I will be giving my mock job talk. Our department makes us do this to prepare for the real thing. Strangely enough, I am more freaked out by this one than by the real thing. I have no problem talking in front of large crowds and have done so at dozens of conferences. However, there is something unsettling about a room filled with all of your professors, friends and colleagues, who all expect you to do well (especially my diss director will not be happy with anything less than a stellar presentation)–but I guess that’s good and really forces me to work on it. Sad part: I haven’t had time to work on my talk yet (I’ll start immediately after I’ve posted this). I need to get together a 1-hour, ca. 25-30 page talk and I can’t quite decide what I should talk about. This is in part due to the fact that a) it is at this point increasingly difficult for me to tell which parts of my diss people might be interested in and b) whatever part I choose, I will have to cut it substantially and therefore be again confronted with the question which parts are the most interesting ones and which ones I should cut. My dissertation is sadly not a traditional one, since it is not separated into what you would consider clearly separate chapters. It is more of a large, complex logical argument for a new hermeneutic system for the study of contemporary culture and of postmodernism (which I argue are significantly different), which develops over the progress of the chapters. It is hence difficult to select a section for a talk without summarizing all previous chapters (and I cannot use chapter one, since writing sample and job talk have to be different). Eh, it’ll work out somehow.
Other than that there is not much new stuff to report. I have to get a haircut today (and possibly shave off that big beard I’ve been growing as an index of my hermit existence) and I need to start figuring out what to wear (I will actually have to wear a suit etc.–yuck–well, I got some nice ones earlier this summer). I hope that I will have made substantial progress on the talk by tonight, so that I’ll be able to leave the house for at least a little while to go see the Boystown Halloween Parade (which will be on Halsted, hence only a block away from my house)–I hear it’s, well, fabulous!
A propos Halloween. I actually decided to leave the house on Saturday night for a Spanish department Halloween costume party. My friends and I decided to get up early, worked away as long as we could, then met at a coffee shop to figure out our costumes. The costume store we went to gave us nothing, really. Just a lot of slutty costumes for girls who decide to fight sexual repression for one day a year and jump on the chance to look like hookers in training and a lot of lame (mostly overly masculine) costumes for men. Even Bakhtin would be sad to see the US-carnivalesque deteriorate into simply a low-budget softcore porno for a nation of otherwise sexually and morally repressed people. In any case, the store did not have what we were looking for and the Spanish Inquisition idea turned out to be too expensive. Hence, we decided to have a pow-wow over the greasiest Chicago beef we’ve had in a long time. Result of brainstorming: we’ll dress up as Sigmund Freud, carry a Slip n’ Slide and hence be a bunch of Freudian slips. We figured that way we would at least win the prize for the lamest, most grad-student-y costume (which everyone else either greets with: “what???” or “Oh, my God” followed by shaking of the head that simultaneously expresses disgust and pity). Actually, the initial plan also included a different costume for our vertically challenged (i.e. short), Italian friend Eugenio, who, we thought, was perfectly suited to dress up as objet petit a. Sadly, he did not share our excitement about this possibility. But, long story short, we dressed up as Freudian slips, which sadly excluded the Slip n’ Slide (turns out, they are quite difficult to find in the fall/winter), which was replaced with actual women’s slips we decided to wear (nice satin/lace combination). Despite the fact that they were very comfortable and we got a lot of support from the people in Boystown (which is where the party was), wearing short, satin-y women’s underwear turned out to be quite cold in all the wrong places, but then that’s probably just one of the many potential problems you’ll face when you dress up as Freud in women’s underwear. (Oh, I just remembered, as the night progressed we also developed a dance that included a burlesque-show component of Freud meets Trotsky–“we will bring your perrrrmanent rrrrevolutionnnn.”–but that is something I should probably not describe in too much detail.)
Ok, back to job talk. Freutsky out.