Day 352: Things Are Happening

I can’t really talk about what specifically is happening, since I don’t want to jinx it, but there may be at least a little bit of excitement in the future for me.

Other than that I am writing a lot–an article I am hoping to turn in by the end of this week, as well as dissertation stuff (putting the finishing touches on the first few chapters).

Giuliani and Edwards dropped out of the presidential race today.

The temperature here in Chicago dropped over 50 degrees in 9 hours yesterday (one of the most significant drops in temperature ever–we were below zero this morning and are still only slightly above that mark with windchills reaching minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit). I stupidly did not check on the weather online, so I left the house with a light jacket (and without any gloves, hat, scarf, decent shoes,…) when it was still in the upper 30s. After sitting in a coffee shop working for about 6 hours, I wanted to walk home last night at about 10 p.m. only to find that the outside had radically changed without letting the inside know and without asking it for permission. What I encountered when leaving the coffee shop was the most severe snowstorm of the season and the effect of the above-described temperature drop. Awesome! Consequently, the 20 minute walk home was accompanied by insane laughter on my part for the last 5 minutes, since I was honestly as cold as never before–ridiculously so. Result: I actually got pretty serious frostbite on my hands (which I used to periodically cover my face in order to keep the wind-induced tears in my eyes from freezing) and on my ears, which have already begun to peel. But I am not complaining. This is exactly why I love Chicago. Who wants to live in one of those entropic states where every day is the same with a stable temperature of 78 degrees?


Day 347: It’s Bakhtin Time!

Yes, it is true: the dialogic imagination is in the house! (Maybe, if we’re all really lucky and keep our fingers crossed, the dialectic may even stop by–that is, as long as the dialogic does not deteriorate, as is common, into the logic of the carnivalesque).

Ok, enough pseudo-comedic references to weird Russians. The point of this post: the course blog for my Multiethnic U.S. literature class is off the ground (and, in case I have not yet mentioned this yet, my Intro to Multiethnic U.S. literature course this spring is now 25% more multi-ethnic–for the same price–what a great deal!). Students have posted their first response papers and now it is up to the online community to test their logic. What this means is, that I invite you to read some posts and comment on critical method, logic, ask further questions, or voice your criticism. This, of course, should not be competely devastating (remember: they are beginning literature students and this is a general education course), but, as you will see, there are problems with logic and underdeveloped arguments that need to be pointed out–i.e. students need to get into the habit of thinking through their arguments/analyses/logical frameworks in detail and more carefully before releasing them into the world. Any feedback will be greatly appreciated. The next set of papers on Octavia Butler will be posted by Monday.

to visit the site, click this link:

Day 344: Neologisms and Slaves

I am very busy writing at the moment, so this post is simply a small assortment of things I have recently come across that struck me as rather weird. 

First: neologisms. I thought William Gibson was the master of those, but here some examples of neologisms I had previously been unfamiliar with despite my devotion to Gibson’s writings: 


Does It Look Like I Give A Fuck

“You hurt your leg? Well, DILLIGAF! “

“Oh you got another new phone; DILLIGAF!”



Similar to that of a doppleganger, it is another individual with the same name as you whose records and/or stories are mixed in with your own when you Google yourself.

“Hey, I just googled my name and found that I have three googlegangers!”

California Car Pool

When each member of a group uses their own car to go to the same destination. Typically, describing the case where the group is together at the start or close enough to share rides.

And finally this:

Day 341: Multiethnic Literature

This semester I am experimenting a bit with alternative teaching and writing formats in my course on Multiethnic Literatures of the U.S. I have created a course blog that will be (at some point–hopefully) pretty much completely student-run. Students are signed up as contributors/authors and will post short responses, as well as longer critical essays on novels. The point of the blog is to ensure that students don’t simply write each paper in one long all-nighter every four weeks. Instead, I want them to be responsible for taking care of and respond to outside comments on their writings (and to each others’ posts). This will hopefully get them into a regular writing routine, which, so I hope, will result in more carefully framed research questions and more complicated critical arguments.

I therefore invite all of you to visit this blog and participate in the discussions, since even very brief comments, ideas and, criticism will help them think through problems more critically. To that end, this blog will not only focus on literary and cultural issues, but also invites students and outside readers to discuss the social and political problems that are mediated by cultural production. The general topic of my course this semester is “race, diversity, neoliberalism.”

You can visit the blog here:

Check back often for constantly updated student writing (the first batch of papers will be posted next Thursday)–we all greatly appreciate your feedback. Also, feel free to spread the word about this, send the url to people you know, or maybe even advertise the blidget (the blog is also available as a blog widget for your own blog, facebook, etc.)–this would help us a lot and hopefully ensure that we get some outside comments. Thanks–cj

Day 338: Mediations Journal

I will also quickly do my part to advertise the grand inauguration extravaganza of the second series of Mediations, the journal of the Marxist Literary Group. Issue 23.1 is a dossier of contemporary Marxist thought from Brazil. Mediations is published bi-annually. The Fall issues are dossiers of non-U.S. material of interest; the Spring issues are open submission and peer reviewed. Mediations has circulated in various forms and formats since the early 1970s, and is now available free on the web. Both a web edition and a print edition, downloadable in pdf format, can be accessed at Featured authors in the current issue include Luiz Felipe de Alencastro, Paulo Arantes, Ina Camargo Costa, Francisco de Oliviera, Milton Ohata, and Roberto Schwarz (!).

Day 336: Some Kind of Monster

This weekend I had a LOONG discussion with a friend regarding monsters (we were both supposed to read/write at Intelligentsia…). Since we could not really come up with a lot of answers, here my attempt to take the debate to the streets:

1. If we assume that each specific stage of capitalism creates its own monster in cultural production (e.g. Industrial Revolution –>Frankenstein), what is the monster that corresponds to contemporary capitalism? (pre-emptory note: zombies do not count, since they do not qualify as monsters per se, since monsters must be freaks that stand OPPOSED to a norm, while zombies often are a way to represent this very norm itself in a freakish way).

2. What stage of capitalism does the alien in Ridley Scott’s Alien represent (the first movie–just by means of explanation: EVERY character in the movie is very specifically materially coded–class and otherwise–and the story itself is at heart an allegory for a transformation in international trade–remember what turns out to be the entire logic of the space mission–so how do we read that alien itself)? Bear in mind: this movie was released in 1979 (hence we must be very specific here as far as economic transformations are concerned).

Just wondering if people have any ideas.

Day 333: The Last MLA Post for the Next Ten Months

Even in times of postmodernism, it seems as though irony will not have to fear for its life as long as the MLA continues to host its annual convention.

I just got this link from a friend–it’s an alternative MLA site that lampoons, impressively accurately, this year’s program, MLA behavior and even, also quite accurately, the floor plan of one of the headquarter hotels. I also love the alternative Chicago poster–this would have been a lot more fun, had they adopted it as the official convention poster. Go Chicago! here the link: