January 07, 2008

A knot or disturbance in the lives of others For the 2008 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association, I'm serving as division chair for Foundations of Political Theory. This means that I am responsible for accepting--and rejecting--the proposals for panels and papers that will be given at the meeting. Roughly 5000 people attend APSA every year. Foundations is one of the largest sections with approximately 50 panels as well as a plenary speaker (there will not be a prize given to readers of I Cite who guess the name of the speaker I've invited to give this address). I've received over 300 paper proposals and over 100 panel proposals. It will likely end up that less than half the panels are accepted and about a fifth of the papers (fortunately, applicants have a shot at another division; so, even if can't accept them, there is still a chance that someone else will). I'm finding the whole thing heart-wrenching. This isn't just a matter of "excellence" or of the quality of the papers and proposals. The majority are interesting and well-constructed; "excellence" alone isn't enough. Of course, various factors come in as I think about "excellence"--is the paper on Nietzsche something I haven't heard before? Is another panel on Arendt really necessary? What do I do with 30 different papers on Aristotle? Also, with "excellence" as a criterion, do I consider it from the perspective of my interests and concerns or of those of "political theory as a field"? What if one of my goals is changing the...

Jodi Dean

Jodi Dean is a political theorist.

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