Monday, December 28, 2015

NEH Evaluations, or Academics are Cunts

I applied for an NEH Fellowship for my Blanchot book. Today I received my evaluations. I want everyone to know what cunts are in charge of our nation's intellectual work.
Thank you for requesting additional information on the review of your NEH Fellowships application, which you submitted in spring 2015. The Endowment received 1,251 applications; the budget allowed for 80 awards.

As with all applications submitted to the NEH, your proposal was read and discussed by knowledgeable persons outside the agency, who advised the Endowment about its merits. The NEH staff commented on matters of fact or on significant issues that otherwise would have been missing from these evaluations and made recommendations to the National Council on the Humanities. The National Council met to advise the NEH chairman on grants. The chairman took into account the advice provided during the review process and made all funding decisions, as is prescribed by law.

Copies of the panelists' ratings and written evaluations of your proposal are included with this memorandum. The range of possible ratings is Excellent (E), Very Good (VG), Good (G), Some Merit (SM), and Not Competitive (NC). Please keep in mind that panels are one stage of NEH review.  The panelists provided both initial comments on each application before their panel meeting and final comments after discussion of each application during the meeting.  Panelists' opinions and ratings may have changed in the course of the deliberations.
Evaluation from Panelist 1
The project seems to lie in the history of literary theory. The applicant indicates that in between hermeneutics and deconstruction, there was a phenomenology-inspired school of literary theory. He plans to use Maurice Blanchet as a case study. I don't see a developed idea in the proposal, other than to look at Blanchet in this particular light. It is hard to tell whether that's a fruitful way to go.
Your initial rating for this project: SM, Some Merit
Your final rating for this project: SM, Some Merit 
Panelist 1 is a USDA Grade A Cunt who can't even get basic information correct, like the spelling of Blanchot's name. I like how my project "seems to lie in the history of literary theory" after I specifically and repeatedly stated in my application that this project is in the field of literary theory. That is some insightful analysis of my application!
Evaluation from Panelist 2
Garrett proposes a book showing that Blanchot is a philosopher in the phenomenological tradition, this in turn is claimed to help us to better understand the history of literary theory.  The proposal left me wondering whether Garrett’s work will contribute to an existing conversation/debate/discussion among other scholars in phenomenology and literary theory, and, if so, what this contribution might be.  The bibliography consists solely of book-length works, so I’m wondering whether there’s a journal literature that’s being overlooked.  The proposal as it’s written gives very little indication of how Garrett’s views about Blanchot are positioned within a broader academic conversation.
Your initial rating for this project: NC, Not Competitive
Your final rating for this project: NC, Not Competitive
Panelist 2 makes some very good points for someone who didn't bother to read or understand my proposal, which included an essay about how my research will contribute to the existing conversations among other scholars regarding Blanchot and the canon of literary theory. The required one-page bibliography–as per the instructions–was not to be exhaustive (and could not be exhaustive because it could only be one page!) but rather was to give an indication of the types of texts/material to be analyzed.
Evaluation from Panelist 3
This work might be significant to humanities scholars working in literature and literary theory, or to scholars working in Continental philosophy. The applicant has been productive as an independent scholar, with a number of publications and manuscripts, but has published only one article in an anonymously peer-reviewed journals. The project is clearly defined, but I am not well-placed to assess the quality of its conception.  If the applicant seeks further support, I would suggest he reorder the fields of the project, putting Literature first and Philosophy second or third. The plan is feasible. The applicant is productive and likely to complete the project.

Your initial rating for this project: NC, Not Competitive
Your final rating for this project: NC, Not Competitive
Panelist 3 fetishizes his/her academic career and the tenure-track system. Anonymously peer-reviewed journals are only for people who have the possibility of an academic career. I had no such possibility, even though I did manage to get such a publication because of the quality of my graduate work (that is, I got one of my term papers published a couple of years before I even completed coursework, so fuck you). Since then, my work was invited to be included in an edited volume, and my work was included in an edited volume that I co-edited, so I also have the experience and skill set to edit a volume of philosophy that was published by an esteemed university press. Again: fuck you and your academic wankery, you piece of motherfucking useless shit for brains (said with all due respect).

The NEH has no academic requirement from its applicants except that they have completed a terminal degree. No publication history, no academic affiliation, no tenure-track career path. None.
Evaluation from Panelist 4
This project has merit in its promise to enrich our understanding of Blanchot through phenomenology, and its appeal would likely be limited to scholars in those areas.  The applicant is relatively well prepared to take on this project, having published work in this area before.  The proposal itself does not indicate specifically what the applicant will be able to say about Blanchot's views or methods, as revealed by a phenomenological treatment.  The work plan is reasonable, and the prospects for successful completion of the envisioned book appear to be reasonably good.
Your initial rating for this project: SM, Some Merit
Your final rating for this project: SM, Some Merit
Panelist 4 is somewhat reasonable, though he/she relies too heavily on the future possible tense: "The proposal itself does not indicate specifically what the applicant will be able to say…." You know, do what a proposal has never done before. I did, however, complete my application with everything the NEH required, which unfortunately for me, did not include the unforeseeable futurity of possibility. Next year I'll consult the appropriate Sibyl.
Evaluation from Panelist 5
The proposal is to continue work on a book emphasizing the importance of phenomenology on the literary theory, philosophy, and fiction of Blanchot.  It seems somewhat narrow, but the narrative does a nice of job placing the project in a larger context of recent history of literary theory.  It should be of interest to those working in phenomenology and literary theory. The applicant is a recent Ph.D. and there isn’t much of a track record of publication. The project seems to be well focused; I wonder about the general interest of the work for philosophy, given that Blanchot, as the applicant notes, is usually placed at the margins of philosophy.  More importantly, it wasn’t made entirely clear to me what the payoff would be of thinking of Blanchot as a phenomenologist.  How does this enrich our understanding of his thought? The work plan seems feasible. Despite the lack of institutional support, the author seems to have made good progress, so it’s likely that the Garrett would take good advantage of the fellowship to get a lot done.

Your initial rating for this project: SM, Some Merit
Your final rating for this project: SM, Some Merit
You are correct, Panelist 5, "the Garrett would take good advantage of the fellowship." Unfortunately, he was denied the futurity of that possibility (see above). Again, we have some jerk-ass academic in love with his or her own privilege and delusions of grandeur ("much of a track record of publication"). Again, the NEH requires no history of publication. Hell, the NEH doesn't even require that I publish my research at the end of the fellowship.

I do love how Panelist 5 completely and utterly contradicts Panelist 2 regarding how I position Blanchot and myself within the larger conversation. I also enjoy many of the panelists' complaints about my research basically not being interesting to them. You know, because the NEH requires work to be interesting to everybody.

Fuck academics. Fuck assholes. Fuck smug shitheads and their bullshit CVs listing their truly interesting and important anonymously peer-reviewed jerk-off stains on each others' faces. As Grandma used to say: Fuck all y'all.

I've already applied for another NEH grant; I'll keep you posted. And I've already applied to be a panelist for future NEH fellowship applications, now that I know the position will provide me an opportunity to be a cunt.