CUTIE and the Art of the Academic Reading Group

It’s that awkward moment at the end of reading group. For the last hour, the work before us has been thoroughly inspected, dissected, protected, and rejected. Some of us have even read the thing. An unspoken question hangs in the air: what will we do with the item of scholarship we’ve just explored up one side and down the other?

To answer this recurrent query, inspired by the FMK assortative mating strategy employed in pop culture, consider the CUTIE Criterion. In response to the prompt: How shall we respond to this work going forward? What role do we see it playing in our research?

Cite: As in, I will cite this work. Papers in this category will surely be namechecked to indicate I belong in the conversation in which I seek to publish.

Use: I plan to make good use of this work, engaging deeply with its approach and findings. I solemnly swear that I am not its author.

Teach: This work will show up in a syllabus soon, since it makes points I’d like to make and it does so succinctly. It’s just that good (…or bad…..). Alternately, it’s important.

Ignore: This work doesn’t connect, or at least it doesn’t do anything for me; it’s variously right or wrong but not in ways I find useful. Who picked this reading, anyway?

Expunge: Yikes. This work is flawed. Works of this kind will be tagged Do Not Cite in my Zotero. Also, absolutely I doth not protest too much.

Enthusiasm for the CUTIE criterion should not be dampened by the fact that around the world, our own work is likewise meeting the same skeptical fate.

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