Saturday, September 30, 2017

I've been cited!!! (sorta kinda maybe well not really)

Although I've now a decent among of published articles for an early career academic, considering the glacial pace of academic publishing, it takes quite a while for anyone's ideas to disseminate widely enough to be cited by other scholars. My only essay out long enough for citation is my first, an article on Stephen R. Donaldson and the idea of genre. By a stroke a great good fortune, the director of my undergraduate senior thesis, Dr. Donald "Mack" Hassler, was compiling a volume of essays with Clyde Wilcox called New Boundaries in Political Science Fiction and, well, to make a long story short, he threw a young protege a bone, and gave me my first publication.

Anyway, you can imagine my excitement when I recently saw that someone had cited me. Actually, tbh, I've been cited once before to my knowledge -- way back in 2011 or so, a scholar named Patricia Kennon quoted from me in a contribution to Irish Children's Literature and Culture: New Perspectives on Contemporary Writing (2011), quite the pleasant surprise when I found out a few years later.

Within the last few weeks, though, as I worked on my aliens article for SRD,  a new essay on Donaldson by someone named Emily Auger, Gothic Science Fiction: 1980-2010 (2011), came to my attention. It's a pretty decent article, too, pressing on Donaldson's aversion to posthuman identities (through the metaphor of ruined skin and the technology of genetic mutation in his Gap novels); although perhaps excessively theory-heavy, Donaldson deserves more discussion & this certainly fits the bill.

Anyway, the Works Cited quickly drew me like a moth to light, and voilĂ  -- my 2008 article made the cut. "What part did she actually cite?" I wondered. So I read the article, and . ... well, apparently I didn't make the cut. 

Alas and alack, Dr. Auger made no reference to my article anywhere in hers, despite the WC reference. Seems as if she included the citation isolely for completeness's sake, but couldn't find any rational means of incorporating a direct quote or paraphrase. Technically in terms of MLA, that's a no-no, but can't say that I mind, honestly. Truth be told, I'm a bit embarrassed by my essay. Although Political Science Fiction came out in 2008, I mostly wrote the article in 2005, my final year of undergrad. I haven't read the essay since then, dead-sure that there'd be some absolute undergrad howlers in there, but the encounter with Dr. Auger's essay forced me to revisit the piece. Luckily, my library had a copy. And . . . .

. . . . well, it isn't as bad as I'd originally feared. Sure, there were a few howlers. For example, I had used the phrase "social construction of evil" despite (I easily see now) not knowing exact what that phrase meant. Also there were some truly cringe-worthy over-generalizations on what fantasy literature is and does. Plus several additional counterarguments that should have been rebutted, possibilities I just wouldn't have known enough about back then to counter. Still, all in all, it's not bad for someone in their first year of an MA (the period when I actually sent the final manuscript to Dr. Hassler). Nobody reading it today could realize that, of course, but so it goes.

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