An interesting series of dreams over the last few nights, with last night’s dream perhaps getting closer to reality than might be desired. I dreamt that I was in a department that was undergoing a significant transformation — it was being re-formed or something of that nature — and everything was in flux. I have an appointment with the head of the department, but when I go to his office there are two faculty members present. I am, at first, put off by what was supposed to be a private meeting but the dream reality is ambiguous — I am early or maybe this is the way it supposed to be — but I decide to make the best of it.
The discussion begins with one of the other individuals, an aged woman, wondering what folklore is and why what I do is in any way special. I give a dependable, brief defense of the field, seeking to fend off the usual assumptions that it’s fairy tales and a cabinet of curiosities. But she is determined that folklore studies is trivial: her stance is not aggressive or mean-spirited, more a kind of focused indifference and ignorance that represents a kind of entrenched conservatism that isn’t unfamiliar to me in real life.
At first, I decide to push back, defending the discipline in some of the usual ways but also trying to be evocative — “folklore studies is the texts as people actually use them to create their reality” — where I can. But eventually I realize that even I can’t care that much any more: the institutional drift is against it, and I begin to speak more about my interest in narrative, deflecting the defense of folklore studies into a discussion of my own growing interest in, and preference for, narrative studies.
And, this morning when I got up to write down this dream, I saw a notice from [Academia.edu] about activity on [my account] there: already the posted paper from MLA on [“Using Topic Models and Morphologies to Understand Folk Narrative”][mla] has more hits than all of my work on material culture combined.
This is where I should have been all along.
[my account]: http://louisiana.academia.edu/JohnLaudun