Shoptalk: Overheard At MLA

Literary scholars say the darndest things, and their comments at this year’s annual Modern Language Association convention in Philadelphia proved no exception to this rule. From chatter overheard in bathrooms and on barstools …

Literary scholars say the darndest things, and their comments at this year’s annual Modern Language Association convention in Philadelphia proved no exception to this rule. From chatter overheard in bathrooms and on barstools, I give you a dissonant chorus of gossip, a listicle of nonsense, a nonce taxonomy of shade. If you’re so vain that you think a quotation is about you … it probably is.


1. “Oh, you’ve actually been going to panels?”

2. “The best way to do MLA is to not do MLA.”

3. “It was a semi-representative representational gesture.”

4. “Do I look like America’s Next Top English Professor?”

5. “I just can’t do the Frankfurt School on a Saturday morning.”

 

6. Person 1: “ASA [American Studies Association] is better. It’s all white people here.”

    Person 2: “ASA is also white.”

    Person 1: “Well, it’s gayer and blacker than this!”

    [beat]

    Person 1: “And the fashion is MUCH more aggressive.”

 

7. “I absolutely need a map of where Ben Franklin traveled.”

8. “The moderator is my husband, he just doesn’t know it yet.”

9. “Some people consider MLA their Christmas.”

 

10. “They have their own brand of neo-Marxian bullshit.”

11. Person 1: “Someone was trying to tell me the difference between post-45 and the study of the present.”

      Person 2: “You can study the present?”

 

12. “Will I see you at the 8:30am panel tomorrow?”

13. “We’re in the past but we’re not post.”

14. “I would love to give a panel on escalator etiquette.”

 

15.“He cited himself how many times?”

 

16. “I’ve been drinking more than I’ve been attending panels.”

17. “Interviews are like Tinder dates but worse.”

18. “Do we know each other from GradCafe?”

19. “Did they hire cheerleaders for us?”

 

20. “You got rid of your man bun!”

Coming in February from Washington D.C.: Overheard at AWP

Featured image: Henri Adolphe Laissement, Cardinals in the antechamber of the Vatican (1895). Wikimedia