A warning

If you ever give a paper at a conference and two days later start receiving very friendly emails from journals such as David Publishing or Lambert Academic Publishing, do NOT under any circumstances feel flattered.

Should they express interest in your paper and state that they would be happy to publish it in their journal, do NOT feel tempted to send it to them. They charge you at least 60 dollars for your paper – yes, you give them money for your intellectual property – and then publish it without proofreading, without proper footnotes and bibliography, wedged in between advertisements and bad grammar.

I was lucky. I received the first email on Monday morning following the conference weekend. After the first paragraph, I felt honoured but also slightly suspicious. In the second paragraph, they mentioned they found my paper abstract “in the electronic archives” of my university (which doesn’t make sense as my university does not even know about this paper). In the third paragraph, they asked whether I would like “to publish it in the form of a book” – quite a feat for a 20-page paper.

The second email arrived Tuesday afternoon. It looked much more elaborate and was happy not only to publish my conference paper but all my “other original and unpublished papers” were welcome. Yes. Right.

These kraken-like publishing companies are the predatory lenders of Academia. They are interested mainly in money. Your money. If you happen to send them something good, it might get published in semi-decent form provided you stuff their editors’ board with enough cash so they will actually read your paper before putting it online or print it on-demand (for more money, of course). Doing so repeatedly can damage your academic career severely.

They are still here. They have been around for years:




Watch out for companies such as these. Always double check. Always google them. If you can’t find a real person behind the email or the grammar seems slightly off, check again. Your career is worth more than this.



How to be a good academic

towards a gentle academic:



  1. be up front and honest about the things you do not know
  2. acknowledge the intrinsic value of others’ knowledge bases, even if they do not seem important to you from your institutional context
  3. do not feign mastery where you have none
  4. respect the gaps in others’ knowledge bases
  5. be generous, not only with others
  6. but also with yourself
  7. you overwork yourself at the risk of legitimizing a culture of overwork
  8. privilege voices and perspectives that have historically been left out of the academy
  9. nothing is ever neutral or apolitical
  10. support the progress of other scholars
  11. collaboration over competition

a really helpful thing that a good education-minded friend of mine has had me do lately is to explain things to people outside of my academic microcosm regularly and using terminology that’s accessible. it’s good practice for honing your own understanding and it keeps you from replicating the intentionally inaccessible nature of the academy.

I try doing this whenever I can. I do not believe in the old bias that you cannot explain the core of your thesis/paper/research in everyday language – this is keeping information to yourself and excluding others from sharing their point of view. Apart from this sharing, the biggest bonus is that you get to see your own work from another, less cryptic perspective. I cannot stress enough how valuable such shifts in observing yourself are – getting proven wrong or doing so yourself is not failure, it is part of learning. Thanks for spreading the message!

Aiming around the corner

Editing is time travel. I am both cursing and congratulating my past selves on writing such erudite rubbish which is growing into a finished thesis that does not exist yet. Sitting in the middle, surrounded by books and notes scribbled on the backs of articles and papers is a rather confused but also confident present me.

Oh, and after eight successful shows (four more to come), I have finally managed to finish reading Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory backstage between Acts 2 and 3. If you think German philosophy is needlessly complicated, have a go at an English translation thereof. There’s a lot of useful knowledge in Adorno, don’t get me wrong – but in order to attain it, you have to navigate a jungle of Germanic pretentiousness and lengthy wordings.

Foucault is almost refreshing as a change…

On the lines

Off to theatre camp tomorrow. With me I am taking:

– An obscure book to review (google Arno Schmidt if you want to know more)

– An essay to give the final edge to

– A PhD rewriting to summarise

– A lesson for next Tuesday to prepare

– William Beckford’s Vathek to read for another essay

And of course my script and everything else I need to survive for this long coming weekend. I might send updates now and then (we do have internet even though we’re out in the country near somewhere called Lützelflüh), but only sporadically so if at all. In the worst case, you’ll hear from me next week! Check out my twitter account if you’d like to read some of my more obscure writings: https://twitter.com/TheCityofNames

Have a great rest of the week!

A rainbow of possibilities

Postmodernism. The elusive unicorn of our not-so-magic woods.

Why can’t it be explained with one nice theory, preferably one that is actually readable? Why are there so many conflicting ideas on what counts as postmodern and what doesn’t, which movements are already post-postmodern or part of the New Weird?

Then again, I shouldn’t complain. Fantasy is equally hard to grasp and define. We are going to discuss Brian Attebery’s “fuzzy set” theory in tomorrow’s tutorial, and according to students’ comments, the debates could become very lively. But if a robin and a penguin both count as birds, why can’t Finnegan’s Wake be fantasy as well?

And I am still experimenting with combining postmodernism and fantasy into one coherent argument of my own…

Edits and piglets

Editing, editing, editing. Editing my hopefully-to-be-published paper, editing the first two chapters of my thesis, editing my personal writing with a beer to stop bothering and start doing things (yes, I usually only drink when things become personal). I think I’m getting somewhere, but as always, I could get there faster and with less effort if only I put more of it into actual work. But it’s a promising semester and last quart of the year, and I am looking forward to it all.

Oh, and I’m going to an urban-agricultural expo in Lausanne tomorrow. I sincerely hope that there will be piglets and sheep to pet.