What to do?

July 2, 2008

Earlier this week, I was contacted out of the blue by a literary journal I’ve never heard of (whatever, it’s out of a good uni) asking me to review an article submitted to them on a topic that I am apparently considered to be, uh, “expert” on, because I published on it last year, and because it’s not a genre well-covered by academia (hence the journal’s asking an outside reader like me, rather than just shopping it out to their editorial board).

Anyway, I scanned the article quickly, and while I don’t think it merits publication, as it is mostly a straight-up close reading of a single text (are those still done?), I wonder if I should urge them to ask the author to revise and resubmit, because s/he (it’s totally anonymous on both sides) also seems to want to encourage those in her/his field to embrace this overlooked genre, which I can totally get behind.

My discipline is pretty open to non-traditional subjects; the discipline of the journal, less so.  Actually, I’m surprised that I was asked, given the journal’s discipline’s common view of my discipline (that is, we’re a bunch of trashy splitters).  So the part of the article that is arguing for the genre-in-question’s legitimacy might be worth publishing, even though that argument would be old news in my discipline.  But even then, it’s not a well-supported argument:  if you want to say a genre is worth scrutiny, you probably ought scrutinize more than one example to make your point.

Are the hedges and lack of detail confusing enough for ya?

Anyway, I need to go and read it again, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to recommend rejection.  Which makes me feel slightly crappy.  Also, as the article is nowhere near as good as my article (which was not included in the bibliography), can I recommend my own article to the author, if indeed I suggest heavy revision and resubmission?  Is that outrageous academic puffery, even if I’m right?

Of course I realize that all this is a total distraction from my own work.  Fuck.



  1. Hmmm… Not your place to save the world (or her/his article.) REJEC-TION (goddam you Adam Sandler.)

  2. Yeah, now that I’ve slept on it, I think I’m going to suggest rejek-shon. There is at least one other person (probably from the discipline-in-question) reviewing the article who can talk about whether or not s/he thinks it’s worthwhile to that particular crowd. From my perspex, it’s a decent first-year grad student paper, which: na ga do it.

  3. ho boy…the politics of academia are sticky! congrats on getting the reviewer invite! sounds like you’re making the right decision by sayin’ no no. as for a self plug, maybe you can think of a crafty way to slide in a mention in your response, if you haven’t already done so?

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