I’ve alphabetized and tabulated the survey results for words we like and don’t like in conference panel presentation titles. As I’d hoped, people had more than a little fun with the survey (thank you, Mr. Garcia, for risky, frisky, and Lebowski), but there are some interesting minor findings here, as well. (I’ll refer to respondents as “we,” but with such a small sample I’m not in any way suggesting that these findings are generalizable to a broader population of “we.”)
First: our likes are more diverse than our dislikes. The only repeated concept in the “yeah, I’d go see that panel” was punk, either as pseudo-punk or as punk rock. (Apparently, we’ll take punk any way we can get it.)
In terms of what we dislike in conference titles, there were a number of repeats: “post/process/ed” in its various forms (all from one respondent, who apparently really doesn’t like that construction), assessment, community, diversity, expressive or expressivism, literature or literary, praxis, Derridean parentheticalized prefixes, and — of course — Mark Bauerlein. I get the sense that some of these dislikes are tropes — as with the Derridean parentheticalized prefixes, modes of disciplinary talk that have reached the point of tiresome over-use — but with others, I’m not sure if it’s a sense that the terms or topics have been over-discussed to the point of redundancy, or if it’s a sense that use of the term in presentations has been consistently and problematically imprecise (as in the point Joe Harris uses Raymond Williams to make about the term “community” in what we call “discourse communities”).
Note, also, that the one term occurring in both columns is “queer.”
Likes Dislikes Alterity (Dis) Anarchist (Em) Blogs (Post)/process/ed Body (Re) Cartoons Accountability Collaborative Aristotle Composition Assessment Contradiction Assessment Deception Authentic Difference Bauerlein Dignity Cadaverine Economy Carrots Elvis Collaboration Eschaton Community Feminist Community Fisting Contradiction Forgery David Foster Wallace Free Deconstructing Frisky Defalcation George Difference Governmentium Digital Grammar Diverse Halucinogenocide Diversity Helping Diversity Hope Drama Howard Dynamic Imagination Ecumenical Incriminating Emotions Info-literacy Empowerment Interdisciplinar Evaluation Intersectional Expressivism Knitty-gritty Expressive Lebowski First Longitudinal Foucauldian Machine Friends Markup Genuine Material Habitus Metaphor Hermeneutics Mixed-method Heuristics Movies Identity Multigenre Intervention Naked Job Networked Lacanian Omnefarious Literary Paradox Literature Paranoid Margaret Spellings Performative Marginalized Phenomenological Mark Bauerlein Play Mayonnaise Porn Multicultural Poverty Multimodal Private Otherness Professionalism Outcomes Pseudo-punk Outcomes Public Planning Punk rock Post/process(ed) Queer Post/process/ed Radical Post-9/11 Retention Post-post-anything Rhetoric Praxis Risky Praxis Scandal-mongering Profession Schnorresian Proves Soapy Pynchon Spirituality Queer Staging Reconstructing Students Rethinking Syncretic Sage Teaching Socks Technology Student centered Tell-all Subaltern Toilet bowl Sunshine Transfer Synthesis Urinal stain Tautology Video Textualities Working-class Ubiquitousity YouTube Wino Zizek Year
I propose there are a number of things that could be done with this information. First, obviously, if you want to get more people into your panel next year, and help Mark Bauerlein write articles for the Chronicle that are a little more up-to-date, you should probably use the terms “hallucinogenocide,” “radical,” and “naked” in your proposal. Second, there may be an interesting discussion to be had about the distinctions (or lack thereof) between overused terms and imprecise terms in our scholarly discourse. (I’ve noted before that I think people tend to have a lot to say about expressivism and yet manage to say very little about it.) Finally, as both a heuristic for proposal drafting and an expert exercise for scholars in the field, I suggest using as many paired terms from the left and right columns to construct the ideal contested presentation title: can you get “mayonnaise play” in before the colon and “teaching socks” in after the colon?
And “toilet bowl sunshine” is just too wonderful.