A Lunch Professionalism Talk by Jeremy Packer

1:45 Introduction by Kathy Oswald

1:49 Academics professionalism as involvement in networks. Desire for achievement isn’t what motivates Packer. It’s political action, answering intellectual questions.

1:51 The very, very length commitment to the dissertation topic. Jeremy’s been working on his dissertation topic for 15 years. He must have chose well because he can still gets excited about it.

1:53 “Why do you need to love your dissertation topic? Because you won’t be able to escape it for a very, very, very long time.”

1:54 “There’s a path associated with the project. Be sure to work out the theoretical and political commitments and investments of the work early on. It creates a focus and gets you involved in the right conversations.”

1:56 Jeremy shares early presentations from his CV. It includes presentations on Boyz N the Hood and Do the Right Thing, a comic strip, and Disney. It’s helpful to see that someone with such a consistent and coherent research agenda wasn’t born with it!

2:06 Best case scenario from dissertation to book publication is. Six for proposal/manuscript submission acceptance. A year to two years for first revisions. Six months for second round of reviews. Another six months for second round of revisions.  In between, you have to do marketing research in order to help your publisher promote the book. After that, the rewards will follow, which means you’re still committed to the book years after. Perhaps awards nomination, invited talks, response to reviews, if you’re lucky.

2:13 You’ll spend your life being known as the X scholar (e.g., the car guy, the Foucault guy).

2:14 Jeremy reiterates that you have to care about your topic/project very deeply because you’ll live with it for years (and it becomes such an important part of your professional identity).

2:17 A question: How much should you consider the market when choosing your topic. A: Probably not a good idea. Markets change so quickly. Think not so much in terms of topic market, but political/theoretical/methodological arenas. What arenas of scholarship do you want to contribute to? How is your work going to intervene in the production of knowledge? What is the terrain of battle? Can your work enter into debates across topical, disciplinary, theoretical, political, and methodological boundaries?

2:25 Jeremy recommends aiming high. Think about the work that comes to matter. To what beliefs are you going to devote your scholarship? What fights will you wage (political, intellectual, creative, professional)? He makes the important point that there won’t be another opportunity after the dissertation to devote this kind of time to thinking (and reading) in a field, to becoming an expert.

2:29 The types of relationships you participate in shape your work you do in significant ways. With whom are you going to share your time, energy, and trust? Who will you go to battle with? For example, Foucault, Cultural Studies, and Governmentality came out of a reading group made up of mostly graduate students. It helped that Larry Grossberg, Jeremy’s mentor, and Toby Miller agreed to be interviewed. A note to the young and so-to-be wise: If you can’t get a top scholar to write an article, ask them if they’re do an interview to be published in your collection.

2:44 Once again, Jeremy highlights the importance of building strong connections early. Not glad-handing at conferences but rather making deeper connections and building friendships and collegial relationships. Jeremy’s strongest mentoring happened through his relationships with his fellow graduate students. In that case, you’re acting as both a mentor and mentee. The more you do it now, the better you’ll be at it in the future, which could happen a couple of years after you’ve finished writing your own dissertation.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “A Lunch Professionalism Talk by Jeremy Packer

  1. knmartin

    “Be sure to work out the theoretical and political commitments and investments of the work early on.” I would like to hear more about this from someone who got to hear the talk. I’m not sure what he means by the political commitments.

  2. drshephe

    Kelly, Jeremy meant that in terms of personal political commitments in the cultural studies tradition. So, for example, some of Foucault’s early work came out of an interest in political issues in France during that time.

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