Here are some curious titles of real papers delivered at actual academic conferences at British universities during 2013. The top ten list covers a range of humanities disciplines and is given in no particular order. It includes bizarre deployment/s of parentheses, random forward slashes and some intriguing use(s) of the English language. The idea of this post is not to undermine the research credentials of those responsible, which is why I have diplomatically left out names and affiliations. Nor is it intended to suggest that an interest in an esoteric subject or subject area equates to poor scholarship or in/tellectual desperation or (straw)-clutching. That would be rich coming from someone who has spent the best part of a decade researching and delivering papers on late-Victorian London public librarians. All the same, it is difficult to read the following titles without wondering are all of these genuine research programmes or are some of them post-modern prank interventions into academic life, aimed at exposing or ridiculing the essential meaninglessness of modern scholarship?
- Involvement in Sexual Minority-focused sport as a Buffer against Internalized Homophobia
- Byron’s Violent-Fatigue Workout: A Literary Heavyweight’s Affinity for Mixing it with Pierce Egan’s Fancy
- Adapting Romania: book history and the textual variants in Carmen Sylva’s short stories
- Narrato-Rhetorheme: On the Rhetorical Function of Culture in Fictional Narrative
- Shoes as a gendered discourse in medieval legal Muslim sources
- Analysing Women’s In/Security Narratives: Meaning-making and Broken Translations
- “How far would (you) go to save (the one) (you) love?” – Multiple Reader Allegiances with Characters in Heavy Rain
- The Rhetorical Mechanics of Fictional Ontology: Worldless and World-Dependent Implication in William Gass
- Dixie and Dominique ‘Get Real’: Performativity, Politics and Capitalism in Drag Space
- The Materiality of the Body – the Body as Material: An Investigation of the Breast in Women’s Hagiography
*with thanks and apologies to the scholars whose titles I have used to illustrate this post.