Toilet Bowl Sunshine

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.”

Results follow.

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.

Toilet Bowl Sunshine

5 thoughts on “Toilet Bowl Sunshine

  • February 16, 2008 at 4:50 pm


    I admit I didn’t respond to this survey, b/c as your potential co-panelist, I was afraid I would somehow invalidate the results. Please pay no attention to me. I’ve been eating a lot of chocolate.

    Anyway, this is awesome. Maybe a theme for our panel could be re-visitings of tired terms and/or arguments for the relevance to old, tired ideas OF groovy new terms?

    So, for example, I could make an argument for how a paper on fisting / disability / whatever actually does help us learn more about (YAWN) critical thinking.

  • February 16, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Urinal stain? Really?

    Clearly, I’ve been away from the profession for a while.

  • February 17, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    I’ll do a workshop on the “Soapy Student-Centered Dynamics of the Teaching Textualties of Socks.” Such is my pedagogical stance.

  • February 18, 2008 at 11:09 am

    Clearly, I’ve been away from the profession for a while.

    What ChrisTheRed said. Although the one that really baffles me is “carrots.”

    “Knitty-gritty” and “socks” would seem to go together quite readily, at least to this knitter. Hmm: “Deconstructing Knitty-gritty Praxis: Punk Rock Socks as a Signifier of Queer Otherness”?

  • February 19, 2008 at 12:45 am

    I’m glad “wino” got in the list. I was afraid that you might think I was being flippant. I assure you, I’m tired of the hoity-toity “expressivist” set pretending to “keep it real.”

    Winos are not amused at being part of your snooty Marxist parade. Now, if you had a panel on “The Stasis of PBR,” or “Epideictic Encounters with Ripple: How Great Is Your Buzz?” I might be inclined to show up.

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