Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘contests

Other Stuff Wednesday

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Other stuff:

* Duke swine flu Patient Zero located. Get your torches and pitchforks and meet me by the Chapel.

* NPR is having a microfiction contest, no entry fee (but no real prize either). I’ve already entered more than 1,300 times.

* Trailer for Ricky Gervais’s SFish comedy “The Invention of Lying” about a universe where no one has ever thought to lie.

* What is a master’s degree worth? My advice to students in the humanities, as always, is to stay away unless they’re paying you to go. Don’t miss the structural analysis from Columbia’s Mark C. Taylor:

The next bubble to burst will be the education bubble. Make no mistake about it, education is big business and, like other big businesses, it is in big trouble. What people outside the education bubble don’t realize and people inside won’t admit is that many colleges and universities are in the same position that major banks and financial institutions are: their assets (endowments down 30-40 percent this year) are plummeting, their liabilities (debts) are growing, most of their costs are fixed and rising, and their income (return on investments, support from government and private donations, etc.) is falling.

This is hardly a prescription for financial success. Faced with this situation, colleges and universities are on the prowl for new sources of income. And one place they invariably turn is to new customers, i.e., students.

* Also on the academic front is this on the split between reading and writing in English departments from the always insightful Marc Bousquet, at the Valve. Welcome to my future, everyone:

As of Fall 2007, contingent faculty outnumber the tenure stream by at least 3 to 1, roughly the inverse of the proportions forty years earlier. Across the profession, this trend line will drive the percentage of tenure-stream faculty into single digits within twenty years. It is hard to imagine that the trend line for English could be worse–but it is– and the outlook for literature is worse yet. A 2008 MLA analysis of federal IPEDS data (Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System) shows that between 1993 and 2004, the hiring of nontenurable faculty continued to dramatically outpace tenure-track hiring in the profession as a whole.

However, in terms of absolute numbers most disciplines actually gained a modest number of tenure-track lines, or at least held steady. Political science gained 2.5 percent new lines; philosophy and religion packed on 43 percent. English, however, lost over 3,000 tenure-track lines, an average annual loss of 300 positions. This amounted to slightly more than one in every 10 tenurable positions in English — literally a decimation. If that trend proves to have continued — and all indications are that it has — by early 2010 English will have shed another 1,500 lines.

I just thank God I have an MFA to fall back on.

You All Stink – 2

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The Willesden Herald, having already shat on your dreams once this year when it declared that no one deserved to win their annual contest, is back with twenty-seven reasons why your short story is no good. As a former editor of a literary journal, I can confirm that yes, your short story stinks, for many of these reasons. Via Bookslut.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 17, 2008 at 1:14 pm

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You All Stink

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Meanwhile, in literary news, Zadie Smith has announced that no one has won the Willesden Herald Prize this year.

Our sole criterion is quality. We simply wanted to see some really great stories. And we received a whole bunch of stories. We dutifully read through hundreds of them. But in the end – we have to be honest – we could not find the greatness we’d hoped for. It’s for this reason that we have decided not to give out the prize this year. This doesn’t make anyone at The Willesden Herald very happy, but we got into this with a commitment to honour the best that’s out there, and we feel sure there is better out there somewhere.

I know the proper response from a cynical, seen-it-all-before guy like myself is “Good for her”—that’s what Bookninja had to say—but I actually feel like this is a betrayal of the ethics of contest judging. It’s cheap. It’s actually really easy, and offensively self-aggrandizing, to say “No one met my lofty standards”—much harder to actually pick something someone else wrote and put it out there with your stamp of approval on it.

A contest judge has an obligation not to go out of their way to spit in peoples’ eyes.

Maybe the entries really were all, to a one, that bad, but somehow I doubt it.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 10, 2008 at 5:22 am

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