Are you an aspiring PhD in English seeking a coveted tenure-track job? Chances are you'll be in Chicago this weekend for the annual Modern Language Association convention, and you'll be stressed. Why not "indulge in a little stress-relief fantasy role-play" with a successful libidinous leader in your field?
Each year, university English departments interview candidates for their job openings at MLA. It's a scary experience. But "MLA interviews, fraught with tension, can also be thick with eroticism," according to an unnamed "assistant professor at a research university with a real degree of success in my field," who's seeking a "mock-interview make-out session" on Craigslist Chicago's "casual encounters" section. He's headed to MLA for some interviews, too, and he would like to practice with you. Or on you. Or under you:
I propose to play interviewee to your interviewer:
I will arrive at your MLA hotel room, in my interview suit, ready to discuss my research, my place in my field, my theoretical approaches, my teaching methods, etc.
You ask me the appropriate questions and listen, interrupt, challenge, acting as a typical faculty member of a hiring committee. (You explain that your colleagues are respectively ill in bed and unable to attend because of personal obligations but, yes, you are authorized to advance my candidacy.)
Over the course of the interview we begin to cast flirtatious sidelong glances, adopt inviting body language and inch toward one other. At the right moment one of us makes the bold move of an innocent touch on the shoulder, followed by leaning in for a kiss. We both know it's wrong, but we're too titillated to stop.
The final outcome is something we can discuss in advance, or figure out on the fly.
I am also amenable to flipping the script...
At which point he rewrites the entire preceding passage with the names reversed, because, hey, he's a professor, and no one ever knocks academic writing for being overwritten. Or goshdarn hotmaking sexy sexy with the interview suits and the theoretical approaches and oh, god. Oh god.
This is brilliant, really. It negates the need for face-to-face pickup lines. Which, let's admit it, English professor pickups stink out loud:
- My name? It doesn't matter, honey. Just call me Big Other.
- You and me, we could write another volume of Foucault's History of Sexuality.
- I want Derrida all night long.
- Take down my pants and see my différance.
- I think heteronormativity is overrated. Have you tried heterokinkativity?
The unnamed Craigslist professor, who is "in a committed relationship at home but (by agreement) not beholden to monogamy when on the road, especially at conferences," tells the Chronicle of Higher Ed that he got maybe 20 responses, some of them promising. (Pre-internet, he'd admitted to acquiring a sheepskin, ahem, at two of seven previous conferences.)
But, after reflecting on some of the less positive responses, and remembering that he's an English professor, the guy realized that he was maybe taking the Hegelian master-slave dialectic a little too far, imposing his phallogocentrism on an already-fraught interviewing process for young academics. He appended his Craigslist post with a mea culpa:
The debate has drawn my attention to the fact that the post can be seen to perpetuate two power structures within the academy: those of gender and academic rank. The fact that this was inadvertent is irrelevant; I understand now I have done a disservice to all scholars who are victim of these structures, and all those who will be victims of it in the future. I am sorry.
That's one reaction. Another is WWJD: What Would Jacques (Lacan) Do? He'd get nasssty in the sheets and ask you about his mother while papercutting himself on the eyeball with the title page of your dissertation. Or maybe that's Bataille. I dunno, I'm not post-coursework yet, I don't have to know that stuff.
But mock-interview man has already inspired copycats, like this Craigslist poster from today:
I'm a professor looking for a break from the MLA lunacy and hoping to meet a sexy literary critic to share some postmodern discourse about sexual fantasies over the phone. If the thought of exploring digitally mediated eroticism on your mobile piques your interest, drop me a line. The conference is of course a zoo, but I'll bet we can find a common hour or two in our schedules when we can put out the Do Not Disturb sign, slip beneath the sheets, and whisper into each others ears.
What do you mean, "the conference is a zoo"? That's a problematic linguistic othering of your colleagues that would seem to exoticize them while leaving you in a position of AHHHHHH GOD, GOD, so good, never let it stop. MLA CHICAGO, YOU ARE THE SEXIEST.
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