Yesterday afternoon, I opened my door to find a manila cardboard mailer, and opened that to find a softbound book, titled Sizing Up Rhetoric, the proceedings of the 2006 biennial Rhetoric Society of America conference. And I opened the book up to page 325 to find “What About Sex? Reconsidering Histories of Nineteenth Century Women’s Public Reform Discourse,” by Inez Schaechterle and Sue Carter Wood. And, if I may say so, SQUEE!
You see, this is my first book article publication. I had another book article accepted several years ago, but due to conflicts between the editors’ vision and several publishers’ visions, the book ended up being published electronically (here’s my article). And while that was nifty and made a good line on my vita and all, I’ve spent almost my entire life reading, collecting, discussing, yearning for, and practically worshipping books. So to find myself actually in one is just damn cool.
It’s also cool because the article is a revised version of the last chapter of my dissertation, and it’s satisfying to see something of that mammoth project get wider recognition. Plus, I wasn’t able to actually deliver the paper at the Rhetoric Society of America conference because it’s a 2.5 hour drive to the Omaha airport from Storm Lake and I hadn’t yet been made privvy to the locals’ secret short route and when I arrived, while the plane was still on the tarmac, they wouldn’t let me board due to TSA rules. Because middle-aged English teachers are a big terror threat, apparently.
Another mark for the coolness of the article is that, I have to admit, it’s highly unlikely that I will follow up and try to publish my dissertation as a book. BVU is a teaching-focused school, so, unlike state schools and big-name private universities, publication isn’t necessary for tenure, which means two things: 1) publication isn’t rewarded, except for a pat on the back, and 2) we teach a heavy load that doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing and research. This isn’t to say that others of my colleagues haven’t published lots of articles and some books, but I’m just not feeling the need beyond a conference a year and the occasional article. I’m confident of achieving tenure and, if for some reason I don’t, I’ll be applying at similar schools — they pepper the Midwest.
So here I am to brag to you about my book article. That’s another thing — one can’t really brag to one’s colleagues about publications. First, because bragging isn’t so cool, second, because in some sense that what’s academics are supposed to do anyway, so it’s merely your job, and third because there will always be someone at your institution that can top you: publish an article, they’ve got a book. Publish a book, they’ve got 10. Publish 10 books, they not only have a great publishing record by they can juggle flaming chainsaws while simultaneously delivering meals on wheels.
But me, I got my nifty little book article. And I’m happy.