If you read the story (and I'll give you a language and content warning, since some professors seem never to have heard my grandmother Emma Thomasson's advice that swearing is a sign one lacks the education to choose a better word), you find listed several categories of liaisons between conference attendees and what they represent. See, the presenters at the panel were using the different categories of sexual relationships at an MLA conference to talk about something serious -- well, serious to them, anyway. One presenter, who in addition to her role as an associate professor of performance studies (what?) is also an associate professor of religious studies, spoke her piece in a bathrobe. I've been to seminary, and had I seen any of my professors in their bathrobes, I would have become an atheist on the spot.
The upshot of some of the discussion seems to be that the people in the MLA feel that their association has gotten stale and staid. Cited as evidence: That a panel presenter asked people in one session to not talk during the presentation. I hope that guy's students read his quote and yak up a storm when he's in front of a classroom. Naturally, it's President Bush's fault.
Lemme throw an idea at you, MLA, about why your conference is boring. Maybe it's because you spend time navel-gazing (and apparently elsewhere-than-navel gazing, too) about silly and ridiculous stuff like this and dressing that navel-gazing up in polysyllabic emperor's clothes of non-meaning instead of digging into some real literature and some real questions it may raise about life. And maybe you've spent so much time gazing into those navels and elsewheres that you've become an such Ouroboros of trivial minutiae that even you are finding it hard to care about what you're talking about.
I feel the need to read a comic book.
(H/T Erin O'Connor)