I'm back in New Orleans - which is not in the Midwest, I know; all will be explained later - and overwhelmed by everything that has to be done/prepared for/attended/completed/
written/revised/commented on, etc ... by Monday. It's the Tennessee Williams Festival this weekend, and I'm convening a panel on the short story on Sunday; Louise Gluck arrives in town on Sunday night: there's a dinner that night, and then her reading at Tulane on Monday. My boyfriend Salman Rushdie is here in a week and I have to write something sensible for the introduction at his lecture. Meanwhile, there's an MS of a book to be revised this weekend, and students clamoring for references, etc. (By "etc" I mean "for me to read their work and give them written comments.) This isn't unreasonable on their part: it's my own fault. I fell behind during my travels to London, New York, and Easton, PA, where I was the visiting writer at Lafayette College. So now there are considerable chunks of two honors theses and an independent study to read, plus six short stories and a stack of exercises. I also need to write a review of the new Hanif Kureishi novel, Something to Tell You, by yesterday. And finish re-reading The Satanic Verses by Wednesday, when we have our final event in the Rushdie Reading Series.
Of course, I would have more time if I was not wasting it a) playing Klondike on my Nano; b) storming around campus in a rage when I see that the Info Desk workers in the LBC have not bothered to put in place all 80 of our Louise Gluck tent cards, preferring instead to leave them stacked behind the Info Desk where no one can see them; c) annoying the clerks in the campus book store by asking them if they are handing out our Rushdie book marks with every purchase (I'm going to be banned soon, or at least told to stop inserting bookmarks into every book piled on the front table); d) waiting on hold to speak to someone at our webmail "Help Desk", which ultimately results in the diagnosis of "I don't know"; e) watching a video of Paris Hilton trying to belly dance; f) lying awake at night wondering why, when I tell the students at our last meeting before Spring Break that our next meeting will be at 11 AM on March 26, only a handful of them WRITE IT DOWN, resulting in some students turning up at 6 PM on March 26, and others appearing at 11 AM today, March 28, all seething with resentment because I neglected to remind them, or because the reminder I e-mailed on Monday did not, apparently, reach anyone (see item d); g) trying to complete Tulane's Digital Measures Online Annual Report, which took HOURS and made me feel as though English was my second language; and h) thinking about the beautiful weather outside, and wishing that the Brazilian Studies conference, Arabic Film Festival, and Tennessee Williams Festival were not all scheduled for this weekend.
Here is the Midwestern portion of this post, about online access to MFA theses. This is the word from the University of Iowa. An about-face, of sorts.
Statement from the Provost Concerning MFA Theses
"In recent days a number of people have been upset about what they believed was a plan by our library to publish the creative thesis work of students in our writing programs on the internet without their permission. Let me say as simply and clearly as I can, there is no such plan nor will there be. I regret sincerely that we did not convey this message when students and faculty first voiced their concerns.
For some time now our library, like most major academic research libraries, has been exploring ways to make its collections more accessible by digitizing some materials. As part of that process, there has been discussion about the possibility of making graduate student dissertations and theses available in electronic format. But any such process must be preceded by developing policies and procedures that allow authors to decide whether and when to allow distribution.
On Monday, March 17, I will begin pulling together a working group with representatives from the Graduate College, University Libraries, our several writing programs, and all other constituencies who wish to be part of the process. Under the leadership of Carl Seashore in 1922, Iowa became the first university in the United States to award MFA degrees based on creative projects. Although this has been a rocky start, I like to think that Iowa will again lead the way by developing policies and procedures that safeguard intellectual
property rights while preserving materials for the use of scholars in generations to come.
Lola L. Lopes
Interim Executive Vice President and Provost
The University of Iowa