Thursday, August 30, 2007

Civil Rights? No way!

Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which put 80% of New Orleans underwater and decimated some of the poorest ethnic neighborhoods in the south. Holding his press conference in the Superdome 2 years ago, bathed in light from the emergency generators, Bush pledged that "we could never imagine a United States without New Orleans," and that "the US will stay as long as it takes" to repair the flood damage. Now, 2 years later, a total of ONE house has been rebuilt in the Ninth Ward neighborhood, which is predominantly black, whereas more affluent neighborhoods like Holy Cross have been largely rebuilt.

ONE HOUSE rebuilt in the Ninth Ward. With a Red Cross relief fund well over $400,000,000. 50 million bucks of that went to building new office towers in Manhattan.

For more info, visit Katrina's Angels.

Also, CUNY--my very own institution--is officially raising its minimum SAT scores from 480 to 520 as of next year. No matter what your high school grades are, no matter what extra-curricular experiences you have, no matter what your socio-economic and cultural background, if you don't make 520 on the test you WILL NOT be admitted to any of the senior colleges. This means that 1) a racist and culturally biased test is determining who gets into CUNY, a supposedly public school which once entirely WAIVED tuition during the depression and immediately after WWII for the poorest European immigrants; and 2) the smaller colleges, such as Brooklyn Community and Bronx Community, will be over-enrolled and flooded with students who can't get in anywhere else, which will strain and tax those smaller institutions beyond their (already limited) funding capacities.

The SAT has been proven to measure two things: wealth and whiteness. In situations where questions have been skewed among ethnic or minority populations--that is, when more people of color get a question right than white people--guess what happens to that question. It gets removed from the test! Because white people have to succeed at all costs. Preliminary SAT tests, given to elementary and middle-school students, have previously asked questions that are skewed towards a white upper class. Questions about china patterns, embroidery, and chess, to name just a few.

For more info, visit FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing.

Today was a good day. Went to the Paley Center to watch episodes of I Love Lucy, as well as rare James Dean tv-movie, The Thief (presented by the US Steel Hour!), which was amazing. Was going to do work, but went to MoMA instead, which was...amazing. Overwhelming. Loved every minute of it.

Going home now...have to go over my contract from Penguin. Some nice before-bedtime reading. Lots of clauses. Thank God for Lauren.

Philip Morris: "You can feel the difference in your throat!"

Well, tomorrow marks my second week in New York. I can't believe it--seems like 2 days rather than 2 weeks. I'm finally starting to feel like a human again, rather than a crazy Canadian in transit. Still broke, but there's a lot of stuff you can do here when you don't have a lot of money. Also, oddly enough, living here has made me healthier. I'm exercising more, eating less, and mostly cooking at home. Produce here is pretty random in terms of prices, but there are a few little shops I've found where you can put together a whole meal for 2-3 bucks. I've even started eating breakfast again, I meal I used to always skip, but now I kind of like my yogurt and granola (I shamelessly stole this idea from Matt). I've already gone down one waist size, without even hitting a gym--just through walking everywhere, sweating A LOT, and eating less crappy processed food.

When I first started walking down to my favorite cafe, it seemed to take forever, and I'd be sweating and gross by the time I got there. Now, it's a pleasant walk, and the nice blonde girl knows that I always get my large iced americano. Yes, I'm OCD about these things, but I love my routines. Do I have a favorite chair outside on the patio? Possibly. Do I get cranky and Rain Man when someone's sitting in it? No comment.

Going to visit the Paley Center today, otherwise known as the sweet, sweet house of 140,000 archived television shows and commercials. Believe it or not, this is one of the first things on the 'just for me' list that I've done since getting here. It's a long fucking list. But aside from visiting The Strand and Forbidden Planet Books, I've mostly just done CUNY- and job-related stuff for the past 2 weeks. A leisurely day is in order.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, may I present the original I Love Lucy intro, complete with shameless whoring by their sponsor, Philip Morris Cigarettes:

(And Lucy's amazing "TV Commercial"):

Nobody does it like Lucy!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

The Impossible Dream

I finally did the impossible today--I got a library card. Not for NYPL, but for its little sister, the Mid-Manhattan Public Library across the street. The no-nonsense woman at the desk was highly amused by my Canadian ID, but she processed the application anyways without asking for proof-of-address. Apparently, even though NYPL asks for "a traceable address document"--i.e., a utility bill--I can just give them anything with my current address on it, and they'll accept it for a research card. We'll put this theory to the test tomorrow, since, for some reason, there are NO copies of I Love Lucy, Season 2 in this entire fucking city, ANYWHERE, that can be taken out of a public or university library. I couldn't even find one at Kim's in the West Village (which I can't get an account with anyways), and it's really interesting that I'm supposed to be teaching this tomorrow. Also, I thought I could get the episode "Lucy Goes to the Hospital" from Youtube, but as it turns out they only have clips, not the whole episode.

At least I got the library card!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Big Day

Lord, today was busy. But it had a nice beginning--I slept SO well, practically passed out as soon as Myka and I finished watching a movie ("The Lives of Others/"Das Leben de Anderen")--very good, all about the Stazi in 80s Berlin. So I totally slept until 9am, which was amazing.

Made my way to Hunter, where I couldn't find 1) a place to sit down, 2) a working PC with internet access, or 3) any good books in the library. The queer section--one always looks for HQ 76.4 in every library, just to see what's there, of course--was about 1/4 of a shelf. Not auspicious. But then I walked down Lexington and found a Barnes & Noble, where I was finally able to grab something quick to eat (the lineup at the Bread Factory was crazy).

This B&N was in a bizarre building, a combination of a shopping center and some type of banking/high finance multiplex, with X-Ray machines at every entrance. I had to get my bag scanned just to enter the bookstore, and then again when I left. Isn't there something seriously fucked up about this? Like, Mussolini-style fucked up?

My Media 371 class went well. Of course, I talked for the full hour, since I always do this for the first class and I'm sure it annoys the hell out of my students. I find it's just best to get all the administrative stuff out of the way first. But they were a smart and lively bunch, so I'm optimistic and excited to teach more.

Eve's class was incredible. Whereas most grad courses during the first week only go for about 30 minutes to an hour--just housekeeping stuff and the rote assignment of presentations, usually--our class went for almost three hours, and nobody was shifting uncomfortably or glancing at the clock. I hadn't eaten since noon (still haven't eaten yet, and my stomach is rumbling up a storm as I type this!), but it didn't matter; I was rapt. She talked unassumingly and elegantly about pretty much everything, and I kept thinking: this really is your scholarly idol who's talking, and she's so amazingly generous and humble. The experience was actually quite emotional--I just wanted to look at everyone and exclaim: "Can you believe that this is really happening? This brilliant woman who's been through so much in her life, and who's had such an impact on the academy and queer studies and affect studies, she's just talking to us in this quiet voice, almost frail, but so full of strength!"

I tried to be as incognito as possible, kind of feeling like I was taking time away from the students, but she still stopped to talk to me in the computer lab--I'd given her an inscribed copy of my Farscape book in the hopes that she might read it, and she thanked me and said that she'd actually looked up the show online to see if she could order the DVDs. "I don't usually love visual science fiction," she said, "I'm more into the print kind, but you make the show sound so fascinating that I think I'll take a look." When Eve Sedgwick pays you a compliment, you kind of remember it verbatim.

I asked her if she minded if I submitted an essay at the end of class, promising to keep it short so she wouldn't have much extra marking to do, and she said: "Of course, I like your writing!" Um, let's revisit this compliment again in slow-motion, shall we? Eve likes my writing. My writing is liked by Eve.

I have to say, these last 10 days have been hard--much, much harder than I imagined they would; I've been missing friends and family like crazy, and those of you who know me also know that I'm not usually the most sentimental person--but getting that compliment really made me feel better about myself. Like. yeah, maybe I can do this.

Now, I have to drag myself home on the subway before I pass out from hunger.

As Callie from Gray's Anatomy would say: "Big day. Biiiiiigggg day."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Sooooooo tiiiiiired

Got no sleep last night--the chicken factory across the street from my apartment was SO loud, it was fucking epic--steel boxes clanging, chickens screaming, workers yelling at each other, and, just for ambience, two-ton trucks barreling by every minute or so. The best is when they hit potholes on Greenpoint Ave going 80 mph. It sounds like the apocalypse.

Also, the G-Train was fucked this morning...I got to the subway at 9am, and ended up waiting close to 30 minutes for a Manhattan-bound train, while watching the Queens-bound trains fly by on the other side of the track, one after another. This crazy stick-figure model girl standing next to me looked so mad, she kept clenching her cell-phone tighter and tighter, I was afraid she would pulverize it. Finally got to the GC half-walked, half-crawled down 5th Ave, then got to the computer lab and somehow managed to find the only non-working PC. It took 10 minutes to boot up. Feels like my brain.

Flashback to yesterday: so far, I think, the best day in New York yet. It was the first day where I actually didn't feel useless, alienated, and alone in this city with no friends and no money. After Myka left to visit her grandparents (swimming in Long Island--odd, but apparently people do this), I took the F-train to Park Slope, which is in downtown Brooklyn. Very gentrified--almost the exact opposite of Greenpoint, and eerily reminiscent of Kits in Vancouver, complete with smiling blonde couples carrying yoga mats and designer dogs. Browsed around a few used bookstores, then went dumpster-diving and found this AMAZING table-tray on wheels, solid wood and well-made, just sitting outside a palatial brownstone. All I could think of was how much it looked like the brownstone from The Cosby Show. I grabbed the table and hauled it all the way back to Greenpoint on the subway. Then I found a lampshade, a chair, and two great shelves, all discarded. Trash day is like Christmas in New York.

Went to the local produce shop and bought carrots, beets, baby squash, brocoli, and a yellow pepper, all for $2. I'm serious. At least some things are cheap here. Made a kickass veggie sautee with tumeric and balsamic vinegar. I bought a cheap bottle of red wine to share with Myka (6 bucks--I could become an alcoholic again, something to look forward to). Unfortunately, or fortunately--as the case may be--"sharing with Myka" turned into drinking the whole bottle myself while listening to Jill Scott and dancing around the aparment with Myka's scarf, pretending to be Eryka Badhu. Cuz I'm just queer that way.

About halfway through the bottle, I decided I was tired of my sweat-soaked, shaggy hair, and it seemed like a capital idea to buzz it all off with my electric razor. Since my razor doesn't have a hair-cutting attachment, I figured it would work just as well to use the beard-trimmer. Well, this did work, very well in fact, but it took a few drunken passes, and then I had to even it out at 3am, since I wasn't sleeping anyways and the OCD gremlin inside of me just knew that it looked like I'd stuck my head in a lawn-mower. Suffice it to say, my hair is now roughly a 5 O'Clock shadow, I'm a lot cooler, and I'm trying to drown my hangover and lack of sleep with vitamin water.

All in all, a sweet day. Now if only I could stay awake long enough to read Bourdieu...why the fuck did I assign this to my students?

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Hawt in the city

It's hot as hell in Brooklyn right now. Had a nice morning with Myka and her friend Christine, who's currently a roadie for someone named Margaret Thrasher. Had a tofu scramble with yam fries, then dragged my tired ass down to the cafe by the waterfront, Champion, for coffee and free wireless (plus, it's air conditioned).

Going to spend a few hours reading at NYPL. Still can't take out materials, since they require a million documents that I don't have in order to open up an account, but even as a foreign alien and potentially threatening Canadian I can still use their reading room. I can't even get an account at the Brooklyn Public Library, for Christ's sake, since they require a SSN.

We might end up going to a housewarming party at Myka's rich cousin's place in TriBeCa. I could see how the other 1% in this city live. I keep fantasizing that it will be like the party that Carrie goes to with Big where the hostess "only serves clear fluids," no beer.

Friday, August 24, 2007

CUNYlingus (sorry, couldn't resist)

Sometimes it seems like this blog is the only normal thing I can do in New York. Tried to open my bank account for the third time today, but was told that they won't authorize it until I have a utility bill, which we don't have. Fascism!

Just at the Grad Center now, since it's much cooler than our apartment and has internet access. I opened up a paypal account so I can beg more people for money. It's working so far!

Gonna call mama in a second...she's trapped in Penticton with Nana. Oh, Penticton, land of peaches and 14+ clothing stores. I once ate at a restaurant there called "Shades" with a pair of huge sunglasses hanging outside the door. The waitresses were surprisingly unironic.

I'm alone in the computer lab, which suits me fine. Nice and quiet here, and there are couches to stretch out on. Maybe I'll just strip down to my undies and ask the secretary if she can bring me a beer. Yeah. That sounds major, as Posh would say.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

CUNY, CUNY, CUNY, I've got love in my...wait, that doesn't rhyme

Finally got my computer account at the Grad Centre (dammit, I'm using the Canadian spelling!) up and running, so I can do my email and stuff here on weekdays instead of stealing wireless from the bagel shop. Although I do still love my bagel shop, and I'm happy to go there on weekends until I get high-speed up and running at the apartment. The US has a bewildering array of different internet services, so it might take a while to figure out which one I can use, or if my 200 year old building will even support it.

Had fun with the 7 subway line today, trying to figure out how it can get from Jackson Ave to Grand Central to Bryant Park without stopping at Penn Stn, which is actually where I wanted to go. Although the Bryant Park stop--right across from NYPL--is only about 6 blocks from the Grad Center, and the blocks are short rather than the mutant epic New York blocks that I've become accustomed to (the blisters on my feet can attest to this)

Everything is slowly getting better. Myka has taped a sign to our door that says "It's ok to fail," which I like.

Still, give me a year and we'll see what happens. I see myself living in a communal apartment with Matt and Bri.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


Holy fuck, I just met Eve Sedgwick. I knocked very timidly on her office door, and she was super nice and actually remembered who I was. I love her glasses.

Just going to toddle off down the hall and hyper-ventillate now.


Give me a C-U-N-Y (but no T...wait...maybe add that T on there for good measure)

I'm stealing internet from a computer at the Grad Center library, since my account won't be ready for 48 hrs (thanks again, CUNY), but some foolish person forgot to log off. Ah, it reminds me of the days when I would steal internet from the Vancouver Public Library. Good times.

Managed to get a fair bit done today. Went down to the SS office on Fulton St, which is apparently in the "BAM" cultural district of Brooklyn--a hub for the arts. I saw a sandwhich shop, a place that sold cheap weaves, and a dollar store. Not precisely the Xanadu I was expecting, but there was an art gallery stuck between the "Good Passport Photos OK" store and the Persian tea shop, so I guess that's progress.

The Brookyn SS office is a lot more streamlined, but security is tighter. I had to put all of my belongings through an X-Ray machine and metal detector, just like the airport, only instead of some fancy destination you end up...down the hallway at Wicket #22. There was an ex-marine in line with me who kept shouting "Benjamins, Baby, Benjamins! Keepin you safe! Marines!" And one of the staff members--a terrifying black woman who tended to scream into her microphone--had a pink teddy bear sitting behind her glass partition. There was also a US flag that was kept pristine within a glass enclosure. Why don't they just fucking freeze one of those flags in carbonite so that we can enjoy its subtle beauty forever?

Wolfed down a Snickers bar (mmm, breakfast AND lunch), and the vitamin water that I've now become addicted to, and took the G/L/1 trains to Penn Stn to visit the Grad Center. This actually proved easier than I thought. The "Security Office" was actually a room with a hot Brooklyn security guard who I had nasty, nasty thoughts about. Got my picture taken (worst ever), then went down to the library and got my barcode affixed to the id card. Found the "help desk" (another subterranean room with one irritated person working there), and got my computing account. It will be amazing not to have to use internet cafes all the time.

On my way to the English Dept to print of my SSHRC form, so that it can be countersigned for the millionth time, then I'll fax it to Ottawa.

Thanks everyone who chipped in to send me a bit of money. It means a lot, and I promise to pay everyone back!


Monday, August 20, 2007

Gotham Kicks My Ass

Today was all about getting fucked over. New York totally made me its bitch.

First, I went down to the local HSBC to open up an account, only to discover that they require a utility bill with my name on it as proof-of-address. Since we don't have any bills yet because we haven't lived in the apt for long enough, I need to wait until we get a ConEd bill, then get my roommate to sign a form saying that I live with her (since my name isn't on the account), then get a fucking NOTARY to stamp the form.

Next, I went to Hunter College in the hopes of filling out my hiring papers. Nope--I need a SSN, which I thought I'd be able to avoid. So, after wandering around trying to find the Media Studies Dept for about 30 minutes--nobody seems to know where anything is on campus, including the bookstore employees and the security guards--I finally got to speak with the dept secretary, and was sent on my way to the local Social Security office in Midtown.

Nope. Wrong again. After waiting at the SS office for another 30 minutes, I was told that, because I live in Brooklyn, I have to go to the "new" Brooklyn office on Fulton St--which, by that time, had just closed. Awesome. So I run over to the Grad Center on 5th Ave in the hopes of meeting with the Graduate Director, only to discover that 1) he'd already left, 2) the security office--where I had to get my id and computing account--was closed, and 3) the cafeteria had closed at 3pm, so my dream of having a square meal that day was pretty much shattered.

Then I got an email from my agent telling me that my first advance cheque won't be ready for at least a month. And even if it was, I couldn't deposit it in my temporary bank account because I don't have an international tax number yet. So I have a bank account that only partially works, no money to put in it, no tax number to allow me to legally deposit the advance for the novel that was supposed to make me money, and I'm officially down to $100 in my Canadian bank account. Seriously, my royalty cheque from McFarland--however paltry--is the only thing that keeps me going, I dream about getting that $200 cheque in the mail any day now. ANY DAY NOW.

I dragged my tired ass home on the obligatory 3-subway-line transfer (the N to the 7 to the G and finally home), and after lying down on the couch with a very irritated Guinevere (where the fuck were you all day, she kept meowing), I was so exhausted that I passed out for an hour. I woke up all groggy, not even knowing where I was and thinking that it was the next morning. Oddly enough, this was the first time that I walked through my neighborhood on autopilot, not even paying attention to the street signs but simply knowing where I was going.

Now, after this post, I'm off to return to the couch and watch Firefly. And tomorrow, we start all over again!


Sunday, August 19, 2007

"I'm a legal alien"

Day 2 in Brooklyn. Found a hidden gem: a bagel shop that charges 75 cents for fresh, hand-rolled bagels, and it also has free wireless. Slow, but better than Starbucks, and it's called "The Boar's Head" which is much cooler.

Still doing research on how to get my SSN, whether I actually need it or not, if/how I can apply for a bank account, etc. I'm going to stop by HSBC tomorrow and talk to account services there--hopefully I can get away with not applying for a SSN, since the process takes a while and involves me going to their office on downtown Brooklyn. Apparently they hold on to your documents, too, and I can't give up my visa because I can get deported if I don't carry it at all times. Isn't the US fun?

Off to grab a coffee and take the L train down to the east village, maybe ramble around there for a bit. Discovered a Rite Aid close by too, thank god.

Hope all is well with everyone!


Saturday, August 18, 2007


Today was my first morning in Brooklyn! It's amazing so far--there's so much close to our apartment, including a laundromat, two awesome cafes, multiple bars, hardware stores, delis, a grocery store, and a clinic. Just a short entry for now to let everyone know that I'm safe and sound, and I'll write more later.


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Edited Volumes

I'm currently working on THREE edited volumes: 1) Tori Amos, 2) Queer Grad Students, and 3) Teen Wizards, Mutants, and Heroes. How do I have time to work on all of these, you ask? Well, each takes about 1.5-3 years from start to finish, so I can stagger the work.

If you know anyone who's interested in contributing, please spread the word.


A Dragon Wrecked My Prom: Wizards, Mutants, and Other Teen Heroes

"She saved the world. A lot."- Epitaph, Buffy Summers

Teens save the world. A lot. This volume will collect a series of
critical essays on the role of teens (and tweens) as world-savers, wizards, superheroes, and wielders of occult or technological power. Just as magic can allow an eleven-year-old to save the galaxy (Diane Duane, "High Magic"), technological augmentation can allow kids to take on dark lords, super-villains, and even death itself. Buffy, Joss Whedon's "Runaways," Harry Potter, The Neverending Story, and The Black Cauldron all present us with teens and tweens who have the power to save the world. Whether this power derives from magic, genetics, technology, or some mysterious dimension (ala Cloak and Dagger's light/shadow powers), I am interested in
exploring what magic and mutation have to do with adolescence. How do these empowered teens manage to save the world while still acting like kids?

Although this volume originally focused on the role of the teen wizard, I have broadened it to encompass a whole array of empowered teens, from Sabriel to Alanna the Lioness to Vanyel Ashkevron. How are teens uniquely equipped (or ill-equipped) to save the world, and is supernatural teenlit--including paranormal teen romance, urban fantasy, and other forms of kidslit--supportive and encouraging towards ALL kinds of teens? Who gets left out? Who is ultimately disempowered in these narratives, and how does magic act as both an equalizing and an exclusionary force? I am particularly interested in examining the role of at-risk and marginalized youth in a variety of supernatural texts, including LGBT youth, mixed-race teens, disabled teens, poor teens, and teen subalterns who find inventive ways to negotiate their own heroic narratives. This also includes teen super-villains!

Abstract Deadline: Sept 30, 2007.

Please send abstracts with recent CVs and bios to:

Or, you can contact me via snailmail at:

Dr. Jes Battis
Dept of Film and Media Studies
Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue
Room 433 Hunter North

New York, NY 10021

Blood Roses: Reading Tori Amos

This volume will assemble a variety of critical essays on the cultural work of Tori Amos--including her lyrics, musicality and arrangement, artwork and
album covers, interviews, charity work (RAINN), and her evolving status as both a feminist and queer icon. I am updating the CFP in order to explain with more precision what types of essays we are looking for. I also have a new co-editor, Matthew Rohweder, a SSHRC-sponsored doctoral student at the
University of Toronto (and a Toriphile like me). The abstract deadline has also been extended to Oct 30/07

Tori has always been cryptic. Unlike Madonna, who maintains her staunch feminism while also embracing a shock-aesthetic of free sexuality and other
political arguments, Tori has always remained a bit of a cryptogram. Her songs tackle everything from gay-bashing and murder ("Taxi Ride") to sexual abuse ("Me And A Gun") to playful BDSM ("Leather.") Although albums like
Scarlet's Walk position Amos as strictly anti-imperi

alist and anti-racist, her texts--when taken as a whole--are much broader than their political fragments. They are cryptograms, spells, myths, stories, and maps, all ideas that Amos herself has engaged with over her 20-year career (if we include Y Kant Tori Read as her 'original' effort, also her rejected and disavowed text that has nonetheless become a camp artifact for many of her most devoted fans).

Essays should be critical, with coherent, sophisticated arguments about some aspect of Tori's work. Grad student submissions are welcome.

Potential topics could include:

- gay and lesbian politics
- camp, iconic status, diva-ness
- comparisons to Madonna, Cher, Sarah Slean, Kate Bush, et al.
- magic and the supernatural
- mapping, imperialism, postcolonialism

- bondage, BDSM cultures
- sexual abuse, suicide, murder
- music videos (production, imagery, reception)
- fairy tales, intertextuality, Neil Gaiman, Sandman
- the place of Tori Amos within Queer Theory
- advertising and marketing of albums
- Tori's 'indecipherable' interviews, linguistics, semantics

Abstract Deadline: Oct 30, 2007.

Please send abstracts with recent CVs and bios to: AND

Or, you can contact me via snailmail at:

Dr. Jes Battis
Dept of Fil m and Media Studies
Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue
Room 433 Hunter North
New York, NY 10021


Graduating Gender: Queer Grad Students Reading Culture

I am still looking for a variety of essays written by/for queer graduate students, both in North America and beyond. I am particularly interested in global perspectives on race and sexuality, as well as essays that treat fantasy cultures, science fiction, popular film and television, and
children's literature. I already have interest from a university press, and will submit a project-proposal based on the abstracts by early November of 2007.

These submissions need not be creative or autobiographical, but I would like you to incorporate what you feel are your own unique experiences as a queer grad student into your scholarly arguments. If you originally wrote this for a course, or even a grad-level presentation, how was it received?

Try to update and revise your work to be as self-reflexive as possible--in short, make it powerful and subjective while still carrying an argument about a particular queer text, be it print-based, visual, or digital.

Central concerns to keep in mind are:

1) What does it mean to you, personally, to be a "queer grad?"

2) How does your sexuality inform your graduate work?

3) How is being a queer grad different from being a queer professor?

4) Did you always intend to pursue doctoral studies, or are you still uncertain about your position as an academic? Are you more interested in creative projects?

I am interested in any and all types of essays that you may have written/are still writing as a graduate student, including M.A. project essays, possibly even B.A. honors essays, dissertation chapters, conference presentations, and comp/field exams (with a coherent narrative/argument).

Abstract Deadline: Oct 30, 2007.

Please send abstracts with recent CVs and bios to:

Or, you can contact me via snailmail at:

Dr. Jes Battis
Dept of Film and Media Studies
Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue
Room 433 Hunter North
New York, NY 10021

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Unbearable Cuteness

Katy and her Fairy God-Papa. Immediately after this picture was taken, I smuggled her to New York.

Saturday, August 11, 2007


Just brought Guinevere home from the vet, and she was SO GOOD. Barely made a sound when she got her vaccination, and now she's got a health certificate and she's all ready for the flight. Barely cried at all--such a trooper.

"Iz on your Poang, stealin yer Angel puppetz"

Six more days. {Bleep}

Mia Familia

My three favorite Family Guy clips of the moment:

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Freaking My Face Off

So, my apartment is nearly packed up (just have to tackle Scary Closets #1 and 2, and of course I keep finding goddamn books hiding in every corner), but all in all things are going well. I move to New York in 8 days. EIGHT DAYS! Every day brings me closer to the mother of all panic-attacks.

This is the biggest move of my life. When I moved to Vancouver from Chilliwack, it felt earth-shattering, but it was barely 2 hrs away, and back then I still had a car. I still felt very much like an adolescent when I moved out of the house, but this move to New York feels...scarily adult. Like, I decided this, I implemented it, I made all the plans, I got the funding and the support, and now I'm actually getting on a plane and moving 3,919 km away (I counted). I'm bringing a few books, clothes, whatever I can fit into a suitcase--goodbye, sweet file folders!--and my very surprised cat, Guinevere Anastasia Battis, who is currently sleeping on the TV and has no idea what's in store for her.

To say that I'm freaking out would be an understatement. Matt and I have lived as platonic best-friends and life-partners and old biddies or whatever you want to call it (we just call it 'us') for 2 1/2 years now in our tiny studio apartment downtown, and now we're both going away to separate mega-cities (is metropolises a word?) We're cranky, tired, anxious, upset, excited, all of the above, and every time we try to just chill out and spend a quiet minute together, something always comes up--more to be packed, an appointment, a social function, some move-related crisis, schoolwork, a fire alarm, an exploding bottle of champagne (those last two really happened). I don't think we'll really have even a second to actually THINK about saying goodbye until it really is goodbye at the airport. Maybe that's best. We'll both just turn to jelly once we get on our respective planes.

Because of the crazy border stuff, I still have no official employee number with CUNY, no benefits, no funding, no office, no library card--nothing. I'm getting on a plane with about $50 in my bank account, and my medical coverage sucks ass. I won't see any money from either teaching, SSHRC, or my publishing advances and royalties until September, so I guess I'll be dining on ketchup packages and sesame snaps until then.

This is big. It's so big that I can't even really fit it inside of my brain. But I'm doing it. We're both doing it.


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Dissed Off

At 2:07 PM today, I submitted my dissertation to the (crazy) thesis assistant at our library, and it was approved (after only two tries--the first time it almost got rejected because there was white-out on the title page, and then I was missing form # 7287). But it was approved, and now I am officially and irrevocably done my PhD at Simon Fraser University. Feels...weird.

Please, please, don't let me get obsessed with Scrabble on Facebook....

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Happy Pride

Today was the Pride March in Vancouver, and on a brutally hot day! I got some mild heatstroke early on and ended up spending a lazy night with two of my dearest, loveliest, shiniest friends--the type of people you just want to hang out with all the time, no matter what day of the week. We're like a Pride Parade for each other.

There were dykes (and bykes), dogs, flying condoms, fairy drag queens on stilts, go-go dancers in bulging underwear, and many, many, many hot gay men wandering around in packs, all primped and coiffed and shaved and ready to hit the city.

"If you loooooovvvve 'Will and Grace,' but don't support gay marriage: fuck you."

- Margaret Cho

Happy Pride Everybody!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

In the Crease

The defense was two days ago, but I kind of feel like it's still happening. Like I'm having 'Nam flashbacks or something. Weird.

First odd thing that happened: one of the managers at Halpern Center asked me if I could sign for the room. She knew that I was the graduate student defending his dissertation, but she still wanted me to do paperwork.

Second odd thing that happened: the same woman asked me if I could help her move some boxes. This was entirely unrelated--there just happened to be some boxes, and since I was a guy and I was standing there she asked if I could move them. I wanted to scream: "Lady, I kind of have other things on my mind right now!" But I'm a good boy, so I helped.

There were several times I thought I might throw up. Before, during, and after. Do you automatically fail if you barf on the external examiner? Nobody clarified that rule.

The examiner in question, a brilliant professor who specialized in feminist science-fiction studies, grilled me with questions about my methodology for nearly 45 minutes. After that, the secondary external, a brilliant and queer sociologist (who I'm totally in love with), asked me some great questions along the same lines. I may have blacked out at this point. She excused herself to go the washroom, and we had an early break. At this point--an hour into the defense--we should have gotten through five separate rounds of questions, not including the audience, but we'd only gotten through two. I realized that we were going to go over-time, and all I could think about was how amazing it would be to have lunch.

The 'sort of second/sort of first' round resumed, and my third reader asked a great question about lovesickness and eros. Then my second reader asked about the relationship between 'queer' and 'lgbt' in my work, which was totally fair, and I knew she was going to ask. Finally, my supervisor very gently asked about kinship and sexuality, which we'd talked about at length many times, so he knew I'd be able to answer--bless his heart.

After that, I fielded a few questions from the audience, including a tough one about class and agency from another brilliant Victorian prof (she told me at the party afterward how elated she is to be able to send her kids to Charles Dickens Middle School in Vancouver.)

Suddenly, it was nearly 3:00. When did that happen. We convened, I waited outside with a gang of friends, and then I went back in to receive the verdict: pass with (very) minor revisions. Exactly what I was hoping for. I only have a dim recollection of anything that I said during those three hours. At times, I was convinced that I was just repeating random words, or slurring like I was drunk and stoned (that came afterwards).

We went out for lunch at the fancy-schmansy faculty restaurant (my risotto was ok, even though it kind of tasted like tuna casserole), and then I went out for dinner with some friends at Subeez, our local industrial-emo-hipster restaurant downtown. The highlight of the day was sitting on my couch afterwards. Seriously, I love my couch like the perfect boyfriend I never had.

The next day, my supervisor was kind enough to throw me a little soiree with wine and cheese and all of those impractical types of food that taste amazing but don't absorb any of the alcohol in your bloodstream. I snuck a look at his first edition set of Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdue." I didn't touch it--just looked. Then we all realized that Brianne was terrifically drunk, so we went to Foundation on Main for some yummy vegan roughage. Brianne was still drunk when we got back to the apartment. I wanted to laugh so hard when she stole the couch from Matt--he kept trying to move her, but she was totally passed out. At one point, her feet were resting on the top of the couch, and she was lying diagonally with her head almost touching the floor, completely at peace.

And that was that. Goodnight dissertation, Goodnight moon, and Goodnight little grad students everywhere.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Playing Doctor

I am now officially Dr. Jes Battis. Sweet Baby Jesus, this has been a long day. I'll update more when my brain is working properly. Suffice it to say, the defense went well, I passed with very minor revisions to my dissertation (just a few footnotes), and I can finally relax.

Thanks to everyone--you all know who you are and how much I love and appreciate you all.

Jes (AKA Dr. Detroit)


Ok, today's the day, and I'm about to head down to Halpern Center for the defense. Hopefully I can eat a muffin without throwing up. I don't think I've ever been this nervous, EVER, about anything, and I've done day-long interviews before.

Here goes something....

Wednesday, August 1, 2007


Well, I guess I'm defending my dissertation tomorrow morning. Holy fuck. I get to stand in front of a podium for fifteen minutes giving a mini-lecture about how my project came into being, and then I sit down for two rounds (two hours with one break) of questions from some of the most brilliant people in my discipline.

And there's muffins and juice.

Wish me luck!