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APA Member Interview: John L. Protevi

John L. Protevi is the Phyllis M. Taylor Professor of French Studies, Chair of the Department of French Studies, and Professor of Philosophy, at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge. He works at the politics/science/ French philosophy (primarily Foucault and Deleuze) interface.

What is your favorite thing that you’ve written?

I have two favorites: one on the Terri Schiavo case, and another on Hurricane Katrina. They were both written in a frenzy as the events unfolded in 2005. The final versions of these papers appear in Political Affect, which I published with University of Minnesota Press in 2009. With those pieces, I had the impression I could now “speak in my own voice” in combining politics, science, and philosophy, but only by immersing myself in many different fields: from neuropathology, to jurisprudence, to meteorology, to the history of slave revolts, and so on.

What are you most proud of in your professional life?

The interdisciplinary nature of my work. Being in a French Studies department, there is no pressure to take part in policing the analytic/continental border. Consequently, I’m able to read eclectically. Currently, I’m reading Frédéric Lordon, who brings Spinoza and Marx together on the question of desire. I intend to bring him alongside my Deleuze-influenced enactive cognitive science in order to write an article that engages with current analytic approaches to ideology, such as Haslanger, Stanley, Gooding-Williams, and Swanson.

What do you like to do outside work?

Sports. I watch them, talk about them, and do them. My favorites to watch and discuss are basketball and track and field (mostly the track, but I can even watch the hammer throw if need be!). I had to give up playing basketball because of injuries—I sacrificed my cartilage to my love of the game—so now I just run, lift weights, and stretch.

What are your goals and aspirations outside work?

Run an 8-minute mile, squat 1 x BW (body weight: 160 pounds), and deadlift 1.5 x BW (240 pounds).

Where is your favorite place you have ever traveled, and why?

Paris. Because Paris. And I worked hard to get to a level of French language proficiency so that I could participate in the intellectual and social life of the city: reading newspapers, buying books, going to exhibitions, movies, sports events, and then discussing them—and politics, of course!—with French friends. And, of course, talking about the wine and food we’ve recently consumed as well!

What are you most grateful for in your non-professional life?

Being able to share my life with the amazing Kate Jensen, French Studies professor at LSU and my wife.

What’s your top tip or advice for APA members reading this?

You can’t take rejection on the job market personally; there are too many aspects that have nothing to do with your worth as a teacher/scholar. [Pause three beats.] For the same reason, you can’t take success personally.

—Kate Jensen

What advice do you wish someone had given you?

Don’t think in terms of the tenure-track job market. Think in terms of the labor system.

Two blog posts sum this up for me:

Find out more about John on his website here.

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This section of the APA Blog is designed to get to know our fellow philosophers a little better. We’re including profiles of APA members that spotlight what captures their interest not only inside the office, but also outside of it. We’d love for you to be a part of it, so please contact us via the interview nomination form here.

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