Wednesday, August 13, 2008


16.0 professional sucker punch


A rhetoric and composition journal recently rejected a book review I sent them in part because I was not a member of their book review pool. I inquired as to how I might join that pool, offered to send a c.v., and so on.

This was the verbatim reply:

"Manuscript and book reviewers are primarily selected from the pool of folks who publish in [the journal] itself, along with the scholars who hold major positions in the field of r/c."

...followed by the signature of the email author.

Three thoughts:

1. Book reviews are service, not a throne to be attained. I am told repeatedly that it is a waste of my time to write them (though, I think, a social obligation to one's colleagues who produce good books or who need to know that good books exist).

2. It's true, I've never published in the journal. So: Is it more insulting that he left me to conclude that he didn't answer my question because I am not "major" enough? I have no illusions: I am a second-rate scholar at a second-rate school who gets by in the discipline by being willing to serve and having a good demeanor. But it was helpful to be presented with an incomplete syllogism that would force me to recognize my inadequacies.

3. I was drafting up a small thinkpiece about the importance of independent journals (which Comm has almost none of, rhet comp has more of, although they are fewer and fewer). (This was inspired by some posts at the JoshieJuice blog.) It's an important distinction and one that has inflected how rhetoric has grown up in both disciplines. This journal wasn't always like this -- maybe before T&F/Erbaum got a hold of them? Or am I over-reading what is likely just a temperamental thing of the current book review editor?

Sigh. No good deed.

1 comment:

David B. said...

This is a test! Wouldn't you like to comment?