Initials, Pro and Con

Dorothea lets off some steam directed at disciplines, journals, conferences, and authors who present their names by initials followed by last name. She has some advice for them all: “DON’T.”

I’m piqued to note this today, because my credential badge for the annual SBL meeting arrived the other day, and it read “Andrew Adam.” Now, when I filled in the forms for registration, I typed “A. K. M. Adam,” and when the forms reviewed all the data in order to confirm it, the forms all showed “A. K. M. Adam.” The confirmation email said my badge information would read “A. K. M. Adam.” (I’d upload a screenshot of it, if anyone cared.) This is important because every book I’ve written, every article I’ve written, every book review I’ve published, my whole professional life has borne the label “A. K. M. Adam.” There are few enough people who read and note my stuff, that when one of them meets me, I want them to know I’m that guy.

Nothing against the name “Andrew” —I like it very much. It doesn’t, however, communicate that “the bearer of this nametag is the person whose books you may have read, who’s appearing in several conference sessions, whom you know to work at Seabury-Western.” And with due respect to Dorothea (and “due” = “a whole lot”), I don’t want disciplines, journals, conferences, or registration bots to start unilaterally altering my self-presentation — whether contracting “Ermintrude Regisphilbin Wattbottom” to “E. R.,” or assigning me an unrequested “Andrew.” Initials: maybe, maybe not; consistency and consideration, absolutely.

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