Celebrate May Day with (almost) free radicals!

It’s May Day again, and a very special one at that: today also marks the 50th anniversary of May Day 1968. Turbulent times all across the globe, with landmark events like riots in many US cities after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the protests, revolts and strikes in France, the Prague Spring (without which we probably wouldn’t have The Unbearable Lightness of Being), or even the ensuing demonstrations on Moscow’s Red Square.

To celebrate the occasion, Verso Books is throwing a flash sale, where they offer 50% off of all books on their May Day reading list.

Amazing and important books, including the  classic May Day Manifesto 1968 by Raymond Williams or Andrea Komlosy’s brand new and unique volume Work, are up for grabs here, so hurry: the deal ends midnight May 2!

In the meantime, for those less lured by the touch and smell of a print book than by the invaluable contents of one, here’s a beautiful online copy of the Manifesto.

“On ne peut plus dormir tranquillement dès qu’on s’est subitement ouvert les yeux.”

I’ll hear you out now.



Sussex University: the start of the Autumn Term, 1974. There was not a seat to be had in the biggest Arts lecture theatre on campus. Taut with anticipation, we waited expectantly and impatiently for the advertized [sic] event to begin. He was not on time—as usual. In fact rumour had it that he would not be appearing at all that illness (or was it just ennui? or perhaps a mistress?) had confined him to bed. But just as we began sadly to reconcile ourselves to the idea that there would be no performance that day at all, Paul Feyerabend burst through the door at the front of the packed hall. Rather pale, and supporting himself on a short metal crutch, he walked with a limp across to the blackboard. Removing his sweater he picked up the chalk and wrote down three questions one beneath the other: What’s so great about knowledge? What’s so great about science? What’s so great about truth? We were not going to be disappointed after all!¹

Against Method (1975) by Paul Feyerabend, published by New Left Books (better known these days as Verso), established its author as the “anti-science philosopher” and the “worst enemy of science.” Some people just don’t get irony, apparently. Feyerabend “felt it necessary to respond to most of the book’s major reviews in print, and later assembled these replies into a section of his next book, Science in a Free Society, entitled ‘Conversations with Illiterates’.”²

By the way, I just picked up a VG, crisp 1975 first edition copy of Against Method for £3 (fourth printing, with light wear to original DJ). Usually this particular edition sells anywhere between £40 and £200, depending on the book’s condition and the bookseller’s nerve. Hence the post’s title.

For those of you interested in the workings of Feyerabend’s mind with regard to this particular book (or just simply enjoy looking at typewritten pages scribbled with notes and such), this document will be a real gem.

I’ll hear you out now.

Feyerabend, Paul K. Against Method: Outline of an Anarchist Theory of Knowledge. 1st edition, New Left Books, 1975.

* OED, s.v. bargain n.¹ 3.a. and 3.c.
¹ Krige, John. Science, Revolution and Discontinuity. Harvester Press, 1980, p. 106.
² Preston, John. “Paul Feyerabend.” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2016 edition, edited by Edward N. Zalta, sec. 5.2.

A Bokononist Calypso for Ice-VII Inclusions in Diamonds


You say, ‘It’s the water I run from the tap,

that’s dripping and keeping me up from a nap,

boils for tea, coffee, freezes to ice,

and is drunk by women and men and some mice,

it fills up boreholes and fills up a cloud’,

you say, and knowing it makes you so proud,

you say, ‘I know this, I go for a hike’,

And You Know Who thinks, ‘If you so like’.


Image source: O. Tschauner et al., Science, 9 Mar 2018, vol. 359, no. 6380, pp. 1136-1139.

This is a new Bokononist calypso I wrote today, when I came across the news that ice-VII, a strange configuration of ice was found inside diamonds originating roughly 600 km below Earth’s surface. Previously it was thought that this particular phase of water ice may be found on asteroids and other planets both within and outside our solar system, but on Earth it was only known to exist in laboratories.


Currently, there are 17 different known phases of ice, as in frozen water. They’re numbered from ice-I all the way through to ice-XVII. Even without an MSc in theoretical chemistry, this nomenclature may ring a bell to readers of literature: in Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle, ‘ice-9’ (or ‘ice-nine’, depending on edition) is a seed crystal concocted by Dr Felix Hoenikker, which, coupled of course with human carelessness and short-sightedness, brings about a frozen apocalypse.

This is a somewhat more popular rendering of this recent icy discovery, while this one here is the more in-depth stuff for science-y folks out there. The latter is unfortunately “protected” by a heavily fortified pay-wall.*


* Shame on you, Science Magazine. “Access to this Article for 1 day for US$30.00?” Really? De most komolyan, és akkor csodálkozunk a Sci-Hub-on és hasonlókon? We’ll get back to this in the near future, trust me.


In a previous post I talked a little bit about listservs, or email lists, as valuable sources of up-to-date information on what’s going on in one’s professional and academic areas. I focused on listservs dealing with literary studies and the wider humanities, for the simple and obvious reason that these are my primary fields of research and interest, and this is my website after all. In case anyone missed listservs in STEM fields, then due to la demande présumée, here are a few: [1] [2] [3] [4].¹

So let’s start with getting a few things straight, to avoid anything Dunning-Kruger-y. It seems to be obvious, for example, what a CFP is, an abbreviation that generally stands for “call for papers,” but it may only be obvious to some and not to others. A CFP is probably the most common way of soliciting contributions (articles, book chapters, conference presentations etc., more on² this in a minute) from academics.

CFPs are usually issued by publishers and/or editors of journals, journal special issues and volumes as well as by organizers of conferences and workshops, it really depends on the event in question. In case of large-scale events, there may be multiple CFPs circulated: for example, the annual conference of ALA (American Literature Association) solicits presentations both through a general call for papers as well as through CFPs posted by individual member societies. CFPs usually follow a fairly standard structure, to provide potential contributors with key information they need.

As I mentioned already, there’s a huge variety of events and organizations that may want to attract scholarly contributions of different types. Besides the ones I list below, one may often find calls soliciting general articles for journals, nominations and submissions for prizes and grants etc. I’ll name only the two most common ones here.

Academic conferences and workshops

As it says on the tin, these are conferences and workshops for academics. Conferences tend to be bigger in scale, with more participants and usually with a broader range of subjects considered, whereas workshops are more focused on a specific issue, question or topic and are normally designed to allow a small number of participants engage in a more thorough discussion of that topic. Depending on the event, it may be down to the organizers to select and accept proposals (usually more proposals are received than there are presentation slots, so they need to be selective) or alternatively there may be a panel of selected experts who evaluate proposals and select the best ones for presentation.
Conference and workshop CFPs usually include:

  • The title, date(s) and location(s) of the event, often amended with information on the organizers as well.
  • A description of the general theme and rationale of the event. This normally includes a non-exclusive list of questions, issues and topics the organizers find particularly interesting and important. Of course, proposals addressing other topics that are however relevant to the overall theme still have an equal chance of being accepted.
  • Paper submission information. For conferences, the usual requirement is a proposal (also know as ‘abstract’) of 250-300 words plus a short CV; in case of workshops, the organizers sometimes ask for extended abstracts of 500-1000 words, or even for the whole paper to be submitted up front so that it can be circulated to other participants in advance, thus allowing a more in-depth discussion of individual papers.
  • Some conferences (especially large-scale annual ones) also accept proposals for panels. Panels are separate sessions at a conference, dedicated to discussing a particular subtopic of the overall conference theme, and normally consist of 3-5 papers on that narrower topic. A panel proposal usually includes a description of the subtopic to be explored, proposals for every contributed paper and the CVs for all participants.
  • In many cases, conference/workshop CFPs also include the time allocated for delivering each paper so participants can plan their presentations accordingly. The time slots are usually given to accommodate the presentation itself, normally 15-30 minutes in length, as well as a Q&A session. The latter is generally around 5-15 minutes in the case of conferences but can be much longer (even up to an hour) in workshops.
  • The deadline to submit proposals (and often the deadlines for registration).
  • Ways of contacting the organizers.

I’ll give you a few examples: this is a CFP for a conference on steampunk and transnational cultures; this one is also for a conference, but here the organizers also invite creative works and demonstrations as well as academic presentations; and this one is for a workshop.

Edited collections & journal special issues

Edited collections are books compiled by one or more editors, in which each of the individual chapters are written by different academics. Such books are centered around a given topic and are normally published by university presses or other academic publishers. It is the editors of such volumes who select proposals to be developed into full chapters and included in the book.

CFPs for edited volumes and journal special issues normally include similar details as do the ones for conferences, with only a few changes:

  • The title of the collection and the name(s) of its editor(s).
  • A short description of the proposed book/special issue, the primary topics of interest and the rationale of the publication.
  • The types of submissions sought (e.g. scholarly articles, creative writing, teaching resources etc.).
  • Information on submitting proposals. Editors usually request a short abstract of 250-500 words, occasionally with references, as well as a brief bio statement from the author. In case of journal special issues, submissions are normally sent either through the usual submission channels of the journal or directly to the editor(s) via email; book chapter proposals are almost always sent via email.
  • The deadline for submitting abstracts, the submission deadline for final drafts of chapters and the approximate length of chapters (in words).
  • The projected publication date of the collection.

Here is an example of a CFP for an edited collection of essays, and this one is for a journal special issue. In this CFP, the editors are also seeking art and works of creative writing besides scholarly essays, while this one is interesting as it gives the approximate length of both abstracts and chapters in characters, not words. The reason? That book is to be edited by scholars from Germany, who (along with quite a few other continental European countries) tend to use the number of characters in a texts instead of the number of words to indicate its length.

CFPs @ UPenn – up-to-date, thematic, and relevant for folks like me, who are into literary studies (although by no means exclusively for us).

CFPList – this one is also updated very frequently and gives the option to narrow your search to certain specialist fields. You can also sort CFPs by submission deadlines and display events on a map.

H-Net – mainly geared toward people doing research within the social sciences and the humanities in general.

ESSE – being the official CFP listing of The European Society for the Study of English, this site primarily deals in CFPs within English and American studies, literature and linguistics.

SPEP – official listing of the Society for Phenomenology and Existential Philosophy, with CFPs in fields such as philosophy, critical theory and literature.

ASLE – published by the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, it is an up-to-date list of CFPs in this quickly emerging niche area.

L’Association française d’Etudes Américaines – maintained and updated by the French Association of American Studies, this website provides separate listings for conference and publication CFPs (a feature I love, as for budgeting reasons, I many times have to opt for gaining a publication credit instead of traveling to present at a conference).

Can think of something I missed? Can’t see something you were expecting to see? Let me know in the comments or drop a line.

I’ll hear you out now.


1 I’m probably a bit too hyperlink-happy sometimes, but apparently I enjoy this blogging endeavor much more than I expected myself to.
2 Aren’t homophones fantastic?

Earn $250 with this simple trick!

I receive the occasional email update from Quora on questions and answers posted in topics of my interest, and among those, I got one from 2015 going “Are academics paid for publication of an article in a scientific journal?” It’s certainly a good question, even if the answer for anyone within academia is a pretty obvious and unanimous NO. Somewhat regrettably, respondents were mainly working in STEM fields, not just on that question, but on other similar feeds from 2016 and 2017 as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the last guy ever to have anything against STEM folks; the regrettable part is that there’s no response from anyone outside those fields, say from a humanities or arts background. Not that the answer would be very different: scholarly journals in the humanities and the arts also pay nada. It rather has to do with the responsiveness of such academics: people working in STEM fields seem to be much more active on fora like Quora (pun intended) when it comes to sharing their knowledge and insights.

“Pretty much the only link between academic publishing and your bank account is the fact that you won’t get a job if you don’t publish.”
Nick Hopwood

Writing a book and publishing it with an academic press is a different cup of coffee (I’m not into tea that much), as depending on the publisher, you may receive a flat-fee advance payment and/or royalties (usually quantified as a certain percentage of book sales). But the questions here mainly concern journals and maybe book chapters, that is, not standalone publications like a book under your name.

An obvious rationalization of such journals not paying for contributions (apart from the fact that quite a lot of them wouldn’t be able to afford it, especially the ones operating independent of big UPs at well-endowed universities) is that publishing in such journals is part of the job description of most academics [1] [2] [3] [4]. They don’t get any cash for publishing in those journals, all right, but publishing their articles is just them doing what they get their salaries for, and they also get paid extra sometimes through promotions, grants, fellowships etc., many of which are attainable only if you have a strong list of publications in high-profile outlets. This is all good then, right?

Well, as long as you’re on tenure-track, yes, we can say that.

But what about adjuncts on casual contracts and hourly pay? Or, worse still, about independent scholars with no institutional affiliation (and thus no institutional salary)? Being a member of the latter cohort, that’s the big question for me, and I know from experience that I’m not the only one with such concerns.

So what can indie ACs (short-hand for ‘independent academics’, obviously) do to make up for that disadvantage? Seek out venues and publishers that actually do pay for scholarly contributions! I’ll tell you about one such venue here, one with which I have some personal experience, and that is the Critical Insights series published by Salem Press.

Critical Insights is the umbrella series which has four subseries as well: Authors, Works, Themes, and since recently, Film. Every volume in these series focuses either on an individual author’s œuvre, a single work of literature, a literary theme, or a a single film classic or a director’s body of work. Chapters in these volumes are in part commissioned by the volume editor and in part solicited through the circulation of open CFPs. Although these essays can be useful resources for established scholars and researchers as well, the primary target audience of the Critical Insights series is advanced high school and undergraduate students as well as teachers and lecturers. The volumes generally focus on authors, works, and themes which tend to be the most widely discussed ones in classes, thus providing a valuable resource for educators and students alike, equipping them with valid and current knowledge about a wide range of issues from a variety of critical perspectives. In short, they are great starting points for future literature and humanities scholars to introduce them to the study of literature and culture. Every volume is structured in the same way to make them easy to navigate; you can read more about it here.

counting-money-gifAnd why did I bring up this series? Because the folks at Salem Press seek and contract-hire academics to author original scholarly essays for these volumes, and they pay you actual money for it!

Each chapter author receives a honorarium of $250 (via check), usually during the month following the one in which the book’s published (i.e., if the volume comes out in September, then you should expect to receive your check by the end of October). Contributors also receive a free copy of the volume in which their work appears: you will be mailed a print copy if you’re within the US, while overseas authors receive a camera-ready PDF of the book. On top of that, you can bag a decent 50% discount on additional copies you might want to buy.

I’ve so far authored (and co-authored) 3 chapters for different Critical Insights volumes, with the fourth one forthcoming later this year, and my experience has always been the same: great editors, helpful in-house staff, and timely payments, not to mention the beautiful and rewarding feeling of being paid for doing something I enjoy.

If you have the calling (and, quite frankly, the zeal) to take it a step further, then you can also become a volume editor. Editors are usually approached by Salem, either for their expertise on a particular topic or through recommendations and referrals, but if you think you have what it takes to see through the editing of a volume on a particular work / author / theme / film that is still missing from the series, then you can also try pitching your idea to the publisher.

Editors are of course better compensated than chapter authors, somewhere in the region of $2000. One large is paid when the whole line-up of contributors is on board (i.e., when they have all signed their contracts), while the other grand comes after publication, just like in the case of chapter authors.

With more money comes more responsibility, of course: as volume editor, you need to write the introductory chapter as well as most of the front and back matters, including compiling the general bibliography and the index (although you get assistance from Salem’s in-house editors as well). Besides these, you’re acting as liaison between Salem and the individual contributors, so if authors have any questions about their paperwork, the style guide, or anything else related to their chapter, then it’s your duty to find out the answer. Naturally, you need to recruit contributors for the volume, so if you were to propose editing a volume for Salem, it’ll come in handy to have at least a few provisional chapter authors up your sleeve already in advance. If you can’t find enough contributors, and especially if you miss authors for any of the four “Critical Contexts” chapters (which are compulsory parts of any Critical Insights volume), you may need to step in to save the day, which means writing one or more extra chapters for the volume (all chapters need to be new and exclusively written for the volume, reprints or revisions of previously published material are not accepted).

All this can of course be stressful, exhausting, and overwhelming, and surely there will be moments when you’d feel that there’s no damn way two thousand dollars will adequately compensate you for all the tribulations and the perceived white hairs. But all in all, and in spite of all difficulties that may occur, editing a volume for Salem Press is an incredibly rewarding task to take on. You will get to know fantastic people, you can even form long-term friendships and you will almost certainly find academics you’ll be able to collaborate with in the future as well. Plus a book-length byline always looks good on your resumé, especially if you’re someone falling into the somewhat obscure category of the ‘early-career academic’.

It is obvious that you can’t make a living off of writing essays or editing volumes for Salem, but as an indie AC (you surely must remember by now) you need to rely on multiple sources of income, and writing essays on topics in which you have a scholarly interest is certainly a very enjoyable way of earning some extra money.

I’ll hear you out now.

Literary studies listservs

Every now and then I have the good fortune of having mesmerizingly interesting conversations with bright and promising young students and scholars, and every now and then they ask me the question: “So dude, how’s it that you find these conferences and calls and s**t you write those thingies for?”
Good question, one I used to ask my professors back in the days myself (with slightly  different phrasing though).

Of course you can always simply google the topic you’re interested in, amended with phrases like “cfp” or “call for papers,” but it needs patience to try and pick the suitable ones from the plethora of results. In short, you can search for them, but it means buttwork.

A better way is, therefore, to let those calls come and find you instead of running around looking for them. A very convenient and also highly expedient method is subscribing to thematic email lists, or listservs, in your topic of interest.

Being primarily a literary scholar, I’ll point out a few such listservs, which deal with subjects related to literary studies. Most of these require only an email address to subscribe. If you have any questions about the list or about subscribing, drop an email to the lists’ admins.

And if you know of any other lists that do not appear here, let me know in the comments!

AFRLIT – contains discussions and calls related to the literatures of Africa.

ALCS – affiliated with the Association for Low Countries Studies in the UK and Ireland, this list aims to promote the scholarly study of the language, culture, history and society of the Low Countries.

BALLADS – news and discussion relevant to the study of popular / folk / traditional ballads, international and multilingual as well, and it’s been with us since 1997(!).

BAMS – the official listserv of the British Association for Modernist Studies, containing announcements, events and discussion threads.

BARS – mailing list of the British Association for Romantic Studies, the list is only open to members of the Association and primarily contains CFPs and conference announcements.

BOOK-HISTORY – features occasional announcements, calls and discussions related to the history of the book.

CCBC-NET – an electronic forum of the Cooperative Children’s Book Center, School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to discuss ideas and issues related to literature for children and young adults. “Every month on CCBC-Net members focus on a new topic or issue, which are selected and posted in advance. The CCBC-Net Community includes librarian, teachers, university educators and students, authors, artists, editors, publishers, and other adults with an interest in literature for the young.”

CCWW – list maintained by the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women’s Writing at the Institute of Modern Languages Research (School of Advanced Studies, University of London), it promotes events and calls related to research on contemporary writing by women in French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish (including Catalan and Galician).

CLASSICISTS – discussions, CFPs and announcements for Classicist scholars.

COMPARATIVE-LITERATURE – pretty self-evident, this one is affiliated with the British Comparative Literature Association.

ENGLISH@UPENN – maintained by the Department of English at UPenn, this list mainly features calls CFPs for publications and conferences in the fields of English and American literature, culture and society; see also the CFPs@UPenn website as well for a thematic list of CFPs.

FEAST – provioided by the Association for Feminist Ethics and Social Theory for those with an interest in feminist ethics and social theory. A somewhat unusual feature of this list is that it’s unmoderated, so it requires self-descipline.

MILTON – a listserv featuring discussions, news and calls related to John Milton and his time.

TEXTUALSSCHOLARSHIPDH – “a significant group within the DH community is engaged in the creation of various types of electronic editions and yet we still lack a theoretical framework specifically dedicated to digital editions. This list provides a space to start conversations about this fundamental aspect of or work.”

VICTORIA – a discussion forum for scholars and students interested in Victorian Studies, maintained by Indiana University.

I’ll hear you out now.

The Arts of Attention

And then in the end, we did this awesome conference in September 2013.

rewindImage source: 巻き戻し! – Be Kind! Rewind! by vaporwave-gif

It started out as an idea for a seminar for the 11th ESSE Conference at Bogazici University in Turkey, originally dreamt up by Professors Katalin G. Kállay and Ortwin De Graef. Due to other commitments, they never had the time to organize that seminar in the end, but the idea was far too good to be abandoned. Kata was my Master’s thesis supervisor and is a good friend, and we took it upon ourselves to turn that seminar into a conference. In the end, after long months’ work and preparation, the conference took place between September 11-14, 2013, in Budapest.

It was an absolute miracle that we pulled it off, with each one of us doing the jobs of, like, 3-4 people. Apart from allocating presentations to sessions, managing seminar room bookings, and writing the CFP, which we did together, my specific tasks included promoting the conference online, designing all conference-related printed matter (from envelopes through posters to badges), responding to queries from participants, monitoring and applying for funding opportunities, liaising with the curator of the art show at the conference, chairing a few sessions, organizing a satellite workshop and a book fair, and managing the conference website. For all the help and support, our ineffable gratitude goes to our fellow organizers Rebeka Sára Szigethy, Judit Nagy, Ágnes Kende, and Lőrinc Bubnó.

We had an impressive lineup of the heavy artillery of contemporary humanities, with keynote talks by Ortwin, ‘Sepp’ Gumbrecht and Brett Bourbon, and with and opening message by Stanley Cavell. Yup, him.

taoa_coverAnd once the fun was over, more fun followed when we were collating and editing the conference proceedings, with, as a matter of course, copious amounts of blood, sweat, and tears involved in the process. Géza Kállay, Mátyás Bánhegyi, and Balázs Szigeti provided extra sets of eyes and hands for that, and we must acknowledge the invaluable assistance we received from Donald E. Morse as well.

Besides the editorial credit, I also contributed an extended version of my paper “Victims of a Series of Accidents: Attention and Authority in Kurt Vonnegut’s The Sirens of Titan” to the volume, a preprint of which can be read here. This is the explanation for the pretty cool fact that my name appears on the cover twice.

I’ll hear you out now.