Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Black November

I'm having a black, black f*cking month. It's a dark, narsty semester, but this month is particularly dark. So dark that I constantly feel like the Angel of Death. I'm looking around for a sack-cloth jacket. Bad things happening, despair, unhappiness, general pissiness...

Today I found out that a third version of an internal grant proposal - in which I had, in all of the various proposal incarnations responded conscientiously to each bit of "criticism" the readers had - was rejected again. For a friend in another department, she was funded for a third time, despite the fact that the application instructions state in bold lettering that if anyone has been funded in the last 5 years, they will go to the bottom of the pile.

The readers "report" said AND I QUOTE:
"This project is frivolous."
Point me to the booze....

14 comments:

Notorious Ph.D. said...

First of all: "frivolous" is just plain snarky. Perhaps they mean that they're not convinced of the significance of the project, but then they should say that. This strikes me as a gut reaction, rather than a reasoned response.

Second: After so many revisions, and if you've conscientiously addressed all of them... well, perhaps your reviewer always thought "frivolous," and so invented reasons not to fund it. And when you addressed those reasons, s/he was left with nothing but the truth (as it seemed to hir). This strikes me as irresponsible reader: if a reviewer thinks that there's a fundamental problem, s/he should say so right off, so nobody wastes their time.

(word verification word = "punchini": a famous Italian boxer-turned-opera-composer)

Hilaire said...

Oh, I'm so sorry!! That's awful. Yuck yuck. What an asshole thing to say. God - and at this stage, whose project is bloody frivolous?? I agree with notorious - pure snark.

Sisyphus said...

Oh no! Sending hugs and chocolate from the brownie bar! I hope things look up... or perhaps we will commiserate and drown our sorrows in alcohol together.

... one of the science blogs that, I think SEK linked to featured a handy instruction manual for how to make your own voodoo reviewer doll, stuffed with the offending reports.

Of course, knowing me, I'd just burn them somewhere public. Don't forget that option.

Thoroughly Educated said...

Ick! What a crappy thing to say! Do you think this is anti-medievalist bias, because I am feeling pissy enough to raise a small army, or at least a posse of burly oath-helpers, and come down there and whup some arse on your behalf.

Here's hoping the holidays and next semester lift offer some respite from teh crappe.

medieval woman said...

Thanks guys! I actually think it might be an anti-medieval, anti-medieval women, anti-anything not strict lit crit of canonical texts! Readership and manuscript work? Frivolous. And Notorious, I think you're absolutley right - that's what the reviewer all along thought and now had run out of ways to put me off. However, that's absolutely out of their purview! There are people on that committee like scientists and nurses who routinely write things like, "What do you mean by archive?" So, to them, my work seems frivolous - even though the department who hired me and the nationally recognized venues who publish my work would disagree. This committee is in MAJOR need of restructuring how they dole out their money - The ONLY thing they should be judging is whether the application has a reasonable timeline and whether they have a clear plan of study. They confirmed that my application had both of those - they just thought the idea was frivolous. They've become little asshole gate-keeping autocrats and they say yes to certain folks they like and no to others.

I talked to my Chair about it - another of my colleagues got an even worse response to his work on queer studies - and the Chair is livid and will talk to our Dean about it within the next couple of weeks. After their meeting, I'll also send the committee a letter myself, but I want to give them time to meet.

I guess the thing is that you want to think of your own department/school supporting you. They hired me and it wasn't a close vote either (I've been told)! When you completely denigrate someone's work like that, you also denigrate those who validated that person's work by hiring them. In that case, what kind of megalomaniacal, self-important Kool-aid has that committee been drinking??

heu mihi said...

Oh argh so sorry! It sounds like your dept chair has got your back, though, which is something. And that it's decidedly *not* the quality of your work that's at issue.

In better news, my word-verification word is "coist," which sounds a little dirty, doesn't it?

Can't wait to see you at MLA!

Morgan said...

Ohhhh, are you going to be at MLA? Maybe we'll finally get to meet! As for your 'frivolous' work -- I'm glad you talked to your chair about it. Definitely be proactive about this type of crap.

Susan said...

It's funny, I thought -- that's what I've heard about women's history. So it's clear it's political, not personal, which always makes it easier for me to manage. Like being honest about the response -- you know where you are and that it's not you. Not that this helps, or gives you the money you want, but somehow comforting. I'm glad your chair is taking it on as a policy issue.

My word verification is becity, which is a misspelling of imbecility....

Fifi Bluestocking said...

Aaargggghhhh! So sorry about these idiots. Can you appeal officially? I feel your pain - I recently had an external grant application rejected for all sorts of spurious reasons and when I went to our grants people to get their take on it, they told me the committee that reviewed my proposal "evidently doesn't like feminist scholarship". WTF?! Am I living in 1947?

What Now? said...

Oh, MW, that totally sucks! Bad enough to get rejected, but to get rejected after having to go through rounds of revision and then to have your work insulted on top of it ... it's all too much and too sucky. I'm glad your chair is livid; maybe heads will roll!

Good Enough Woman said...

WTF is wrong with these people? I tell my kindergartener not to be so snarky as that.

As for the booze, I'm pouring you a glass of port right now, and I have a giant block of dark chocolate to go with it. It's not the hard stuff, but it does help one forget about the snarks of the world.

Dr. Virago said...

Sonuvabitch!!! Sounds like this reviewer comes from the same school of snarky disrespect for the humanities and the study of the past as our former dean, who was reputed to have said, "in our college there are those who study the future and create patents, and those who study the past and write papers."

I will buy you a drink at MLA!

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

Hey--let's reclaim the term! "Frivolous," like "bitch," doesn't have to be pejorative. I've always said I'm far too frivolous for academia and much too serious for any other profession. So frivolously send your frivolous proposal to some outside grant-givers and then make frivolous copies of their frivolous acceptance letters to attach to next year's frivolous application for the in-house thing. And have a foofy drink with a frivolous little umbrella in it.

My verification word is "grackin," as in "You'll get past this whole grackin' thing and tell the grackers where to get off."

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Ok -- SUCKS!!! Can I say how much I love that I can say things to our committee like, "this is a major conference in my field, with approximately 3000 attendees from all over the world," and they have no idea, but understand the key words and the bit where I say, "am giving paper, organized a panel, chairing a panel, need to be there" and that's fine.

OTOH, if I were applying for research money? I think they'd think the same thing. I've been asked any number of times why I can't just do my research locally -- um, 'cos we don't have any local medieval history? Well, can't you just research something else? It's all history...


*headdesk*

Hope the Dean can do something.

so I can be the 'erstio' to congratulate you!