here is a certain epistemologically messy game that all professors play with their students at some point in the semester. Students arrive to class unprepared and pretend that they’ve read the assigned material. The professor, in turn, pretends not to know that the students are pretending to be prepared. The students, in turn, pretend not to know that the professor is pretending not to know that the students are pretending to be prepared. The professor, in turn, pretends not to know that the students are pretending not to know that the professor is pretending–OK, you get the point.
Well, it’s that time of year again, the time to send out applications for the academic job market, and for the first time, I’ve decided to list “Got Medieval” on my C.V., under “Professional Service.” (Since this place occupies the first couple of Google hits for my name, I figure I might as well be proactive in claiming the blog.*) So, if you’re someone on a search committee doing research on this Yale applicant with the old-fashioned sounding thesis topic, welcome. If you would like, we, too, can play the game. You can pretend you never found this place, and I can pretend I don’t know you’re pretending, etc.** If it helps, I retracted my blog, Chaucer-style, before my aborted foray onto the job market last year.*** You can pretend that I really meant that.
But please, even while pretending, don’t let the gratuitous posts on Mrs. Brad Pitt, Dan Brown, or monkey shenanigans fool you. I really am a normal academic who will dutifully show up to faculty meetings and teach survey courses and freshman comp at 8AM without complaint. My office door will have the same collection of twenty-year-old photocopied comic strips as your normal, non-blogging colleague. Yes, you’re right that my blog shows a remarkable lack of career foresight. Yes, perhaps I should have prepared for your arrival by delaying my piece on medieval political propaganda and pushing out some additional scholarly sounding posts starting back around August, but it’s almost November, and here we are.
In my defense, I think it’s fair to call this blog “professional service.” The last conference I was at, more than a few people came up to me and said, “Hey, aren’t you the guy with the Got Medieval blog?” One of them even said, “I use your blog in my class to show students who don’t believe me that medieval people weren’t boring.” That’s a service, right? I’ll be presenting a paper at Kalamazoo this year on self-aware medieval marginalia, a topic I’ve been poking at in my Mmm… Marginalia feature for a while now. Like it or not, this weird Internet thing I do is tied up to my scholarly identity in ways I can’t quite disentangle from now.
So, for my normal readers, I will promise to try not to become suspiciously dull now that we have guests reading over our shoulders. Maybe in return, normal readers, you can help me out, at least in a small way, by becoming my blog-follower on the Google, or faving me at Technorati, or by writing a glowing testimonial about how I definitely would be a great literature professor, etc. There are many applets and links in my blog’s right hand margin for you to give me additional Internet credibility. Remember, the Internet cred to academic cred exchange rate is akin to the Zimbabwe dollar to American dollar rate, so I’ll need approximately 60,000 internet recommendations to translate into one real world one.
*In fact, I’ve had to cultivate that, because my unique name is shared by one other Internet savvy person who happens to be 1) my father and 2) completely insane when it comes to his political opinions, which he has a tendency to post frequently and at length across the blogosphere. (Hi, Dad!)
**And yeah, I know you’re here reading. When “carl pyrdum” shows a sudden spike as a search term in November in the Google Analytic’s search history, and these spikes are correlated with originating .edu IP addresses, it can really only mean one thing.
***Aborted not because of scandal, but because my boring, old-fashioned thesis really wasn’t going to come together by May 2008. It has this year. Really.