There are a couple of posts I could write about this, so I’m going to try and combine them, groggy-headed as I currently am, into one.
Groggy-headed? Ah, well, you see, I was up late last night. Apparently Wednesday was the deadline for funding applications for publications for the coming year. Essentially, professors submit their research plans for the year, specifying one paper that they intend to research and publish, where they plan to do so, and so on. The problem is that nobody told me, and nobody told the one secretary who usually communicates this stuff to me. The result being that I missed the deadline, and would be denied funding if I published something during the year.
So of course, she complained to academic affairs about the screw-up, and they made an exception for me. That is, they gave me until Friday to get a research plan written. Well, I’m researching SF in Korea, which is a pretty different area from the other profs in my department (who usually research linguistics and TEFL-related stuff) so none of the journals on our selected journal list are really appropriate, and I had to specify which journals I am thinking about for submission. I also had to have a bibliography, and explain the needs my research would fulfill, the context within the literature, and so on. Luckily I’ve been thinking about this stuff, or I’d have had no idea what to write.
I ended up emailing the research proposal to the secretary at 1:00am, so that she could copy and paste it into the system when she arrived at work. I pushed myself to finish it last night because I was planning to visit the Incheon Immigration Office and get my new Alien Registration Card this morning. But the stress pretty much had me up until 4:00am.
(I had this awful nightmare that kept waking me up, which tells you something about the stress I was feeling, since I never have nightmares, but this sudden stress seems to have triggered it. In the dream, I was a little old man in a hospital, and my name was Harvey, and my white-haired old Ukranian wife (who looked like Baba Yaga in a hospital gown) had gone violent and senile, and kept breaking out of her restraints and running to the locked door of her isolation chamber and screaming at me through the glass. “Help me! Help me out of here! Look at me, Harvey! You never look me in the eye, Harvey! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaugh!” I’d wake up and feel my heart gently pounding in my chest.)
I’m up, just the same, because I need to take my hypertension meds at a regular time, but I’m not really awake, and I plan on trying to get some more sleep after I take the meds. Ah well, I’m trying to chalk it up to a learning experience: next year I’ll know about this impending deadline at the end of March.
And before the snide commentary starts to roll in, no, it’s not like this only happens in Korea: my friend Mike down the hall told me about a bunch of the grad students in one department of an American university failed to get funding one year because a secretary simply forgot to file the paperwork in tim, and I’ve heard of similar cases in other places. It’s a feature of large organizations… it’s just frustrating when you’re the only one who didn’t know, and then you’re trying to figure out what the vague form you need to fill out means, and the only person who can explain it to you doesn’t quite know what any of it means either. The added language barrier makes it harder, and maybe also was the source of the information bottleneck in this case, but bottlenecks crop up even without such issues in play.
(We did figure it out, but only by cheating: we looked at another proposal briefly in order to figure out what the obscure titles of the sections actually meant in conventional practice of writing an actual application.)
Okay, enough of the muttered complaining, and on to the good news: last week, I was invited to a meeting in Seoul, the purpose of which I vaguely understood to be a collective of people interested in working on the translation of Korean SF into English. It turns out I was wrong, and what was really going on was the founding of an academic association for the study, translation, and publication of Korean SF in English.
This is a group organized by Mr. Park Sang Joon (whose name must be familiar to readers of this blog by now) and while the group doesn’t yet have a name, it can safely be referred to as The Korean SF Project in the meantime. The people who were there, besides Mr. Park and myself, include Lee Soo Hyeon (who was introduced to me at a party a few months ago as Korea’s foremost expert and translator of Ursula K. Le Guin — this is some of her work — and who is also the translator of such stuff as Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and, currently, the Sandman graphic novels series); Prof. Kim Tai-Young (a professor of Business Management at Dongyang University and an active SF fan); and Prof. Hwang Eun Ju (a literary scholar teaching at Anyang University who did her PhD in Essex and whose dissertation dealt with Ballard’s work).
This newly-founded organization is, in fact, so new that it doesn’t have a website yet, or even a name, but it will get these things soon, and I’ll mention both when that’s settled. Dr. Hwang (Eun-Ju) and I discussed the possibility of academic collaboration, with the notion of conference presentations coming up, something that’s especially cool since I now supposedly have access to some funding for such things! Hopefully, we will be able to connect to other scholars of SF in non-Anglophone societies, and perhaps help facilitate not only an Asian SF Studies network, but indeed a worldwide Global SF studies network.
Which reminds me, for anyone interested in Global SF studies, you really ought to check out The World SF News Blog. It’s an excellent new blog that seeks to document news World SF, and is the companion project to an upcoming book on the subject by the blog’s author! There are at least a few people that site has linked whom I intend to contact when our own organization gets its legs under it.