March 01, 2003

"Bacchanal of the Bespectacled"

I made the mistake of reading the New York Observer's account of the annual meeting of the Modern Languages Association (MLA) just before attending the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA). Ouch.

It is perhaps a little too snide, but mercilessly funny and frighteningly accurate. The article describes the meeting as "a jittery orgy of power, insecurity and angst" and has great fun with the extreme (and extremely absurd) gap between the literary fat-cats at the top of the profession and the desperate job-seekers at the bottom. Much the same could be said of the AHA, except that historians are a lot dowdier than literary types, so don't look for "bright prints and chunky jewelry" at the historians' annual meeting.

Thomas H. Benton's (or perhaps William Pannapacker's?) account of the MLA is also funny, and I think a little more humane in perspective.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at March 1, 2003 05:17 PM