April 19, 2015, 2:04 pm

The Current State of Academic Conferences

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Some panelists were missing, but Benjamin Franklin showed up at this year’s OAH.

I am just back from St. Louis, where the Organization of American Historians (OAH) had its annual meeting this weekend.  A brief review:

  • The program was good. I did not go to any bad sessions, and I went to 2-3 every day, which is unusual for me. I didn’t hear anybody complain about any bad sessions. Congratulations, program committee, and many thanks to Marc Stein of San Francisco State for the queer history stream.  Marc has been a relentless promoter of our field, and has made it far more prominent at this and other conferences than it would have been without his efforts.
  • The Renaissance Hotel was still under construction, and they had booked two conferences back to back, which made checking in on Thursday a drag. There was…

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April 7, 2015, 9:34 am

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien: On Changing Jobs

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I’m guessing Hannah Arendt was not chosen as our school mascot because of the smoking.

The other day I read a comment on Facebook to the effect that, after changing jobs, many academics experience a moment of intense regret. The author of the comment timed this moment of regret at about six months into the new job, when the losses and the difficulty of the transition becomes truly apparent. I would just like to take this opportunity to say, after three years of working in a new job:

Not me. I am happy as a clam.

I haven’t gone in the other direction either: I don’t think that my previous job was incredibly flawed. Although everyone collects grievances and regrets, mine seem to have vanished entirely, and I remember only the things I liked about working there (longtime readers of this blog will be shocked at…

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April 5, 2015, 8:14 am

Sunday Radical Roundup: What We Are Reading

bugs-bunny-clip-art-16It’s Easter, it’s Passover. But what is Tenured Radical doing? Visiting Mom and catching up on email, that’s what. But in the middle of everything, there is time to read, and here are a few things that have caught my eye:

  • Oh My God! I Left the Baby on the Bus! A brilliant essay about choosing not to have children — many times — by M.G. Lord, “You’d Be Such a Good Mother. If Only You Weren’t You,“ Dame (April 3, 2015.) Yes, yes, and yes.
  • You Must remember This. Daniel Zalewski’s essay, “Life Lines,” The New Yorker (March 30, 2015), is about an artist and illustrator whose hippocampus and memory were zapped by encephalitis. I cannot even begin to describe what an amazing essay this is. Not one of those New Yorker pieces that endlessly devolves into brain science, it teaches about the brain and brain research through the life this former New Yorker cover illustrator Lonnie Sue…

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March 19, 2015, 5:08 pm

Even a Moment of Mentoring Can Matter

nurse mentor preceptor 1American Historical Association President Vicki Ruiz has a wonderful essay about mentorship in this month’s Perspectives. Her own career as a historian began with an invitation to come to office hours:

A community college transfer, I knocked on Jean Gould Bryant’s door with a feeling of dread. What had I done wrong? She quickly put me at ease. After that eventful meeting, I began to consider graduate school, and over a period of 18 months, Bryant expanded my intellectual horizons as she prepared me for the rigors of her alma mater, Stanford. Coincidentally, I enrolled in courses on “race relations” taught by a young African American sociologist trained at UCLA. Leonor Boulin Johnson also took an interest in me, lending me books I never knew existed, books in Chicano studies. And, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

As Ruiz points out, it’s easier “to know those…

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March 18, 2015, 11:27 am

Update: Notre Dame Requests Changes in a Post

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Illustration is a reference to the tag for this post.

Readers of my review of Emily Yoffee’s review of The Hunting Ground may be interested in knowing that the Chronicle has been contacted by Dennis K. Brown, an Assistant Vice President and University Spokesman at Notre Dame, in response to alleged inaccuracies  about the Lizzy Seeberg case. Brown’s request reads as follows:

From: Dennis Brown [email address redacted]
Sent: Friday, March 06, 2015 1:54 PM
To: Dianne Donovan
Subject: Blog entry

Dianne,

I’m not sure if you’re the right person to contact, but do hope you can assist or point me in the right direction.

An article this week by Claire Potter on sexual assault includes inaccurate information about a case at Notre Dame four years ago. Here’s the link to her article.

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March 17, 2015, 8:00 am

Reading Around the Web

latlonlinesA few things that have crossed our desk last week, and we wanted to make sure they were on yours too.

  • Erik Loomis wants to know: what’s love got to do with it? In “Adjuncts“ (Lawyers, Guns and Money, March 12 2015.) Written on the occasion of National Adjunct Walkout Day, Loomis acknowledges many of the reasons, good and bad, that people stay in the game. However, he argues that these reasons aren’t good enough to stay in a business that stresses you out and does not pay a living wage: “to be honest, most adjuncts should also quit their jobs and find something else to do,” he writes.  I completely agree with this. Parenthetically, I am fascinated by the seriousness and lack of vitriol in the comments section. Past experience suggests that had I published such a piece at Tenured Radical, my computer screen would go up in flames. Hat tip: Historiann.
  • More questions: Margaret…

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March 15, 2015, 8:00 am

Wikipedians in Blue

034072-keystone-copsWho knew the New York Police Department was full of avid Wikipedians? Here’s a fun fact to include in your next digital humanities syllabus: in ”Edits to Wikipedia Page Traced to 1 Police Plaza,” Capital, March 13, 2015) Kelly Weill reports on a review of Wikipedia pages conducted by Capital. Numerous edits to Wikipedia pages about police brutality have been altered, and the edits can be traced to IP addresses assigned to NYPD headquarters.

According to Weill,

Computer users identified by Capital as working on the NYPD headquarters’ network have edited and attempted to delete Wikipedia entries for several well-known victims of police altercations, including entries for Eric Garner, Sean Bell, and Amadou Diallo. Capital identified 85 NYPD addresses that have edited Wikipedia, although it is unclear how many users were involved, as computers on the NYPD network can operate on the…

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March 13, 2015, 10:05 am

What We Are Reading: Michael Zakim’s “Paperwork”

048americansteelpensIn this age of electronic delivery, we at Tenured Radical still receive some of our reading by mail (although not The American Historical Review, which now arrives over the interwebz, deducting $12.00 from our annual dues.) One of these items  is Raritan, a physically beautiful humanities journal out of Rutgers University, founded in 1981 and currently edited by Jackson Lears. Raritan is so about the print side of things that it barely has a Wikipedia entry.

Much to my regret, I often fall behind in my reading — which means I have a stack of back issues of Raritan and other journals that I am slowly making my way through. There is poetry, translations, art criticism, book reviews — it’s kind of an old fashioned literary publication, in a good way: the writing is superb, and the paper is lovely you can enjoy just holding it sometimes. Most of Raritan is written by men,…

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March 7, 2015, 11:20 am

How We Make Money From Books

Dollars in the books, isolated on white background, business traI recently had the good fortune and pleasure of signing, and returning, a new book contract. It is only the third one I have ever been offered, and I am happy to say that over time, these documents seem to be getting shorter, less complicated, and easier to understand. This one is about half the length of my first contract, signed about two decades ago; it also designates an advance that is about $500 lower than that first advance.

I want to tell you why that lower advance is OK, and why my negotiations with the press over the terms of this contract were very brief. To do that, I will tell you another story, one that is about how academics that have money made it. It is based on a snapshot I have just gotten of my own savings, a retirement fund that has more or less survived eight years of low wages in grad school; two years of adjunct labor; paying back student loans; having homes in…

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March 3, 2015, 5:53 pm

What Movie Did You See? A Response to Emily Yoffe’s Review of “The Hunting Ground”

Students protesting rape at Dickinson College, Carlyle, PA.

Students protesting rape at Dickinson College, Carlyle, PA.

Last night I went to see The Hunting Ground, a documentary by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering about rape and anti-rape activism on college campuses that debuted in New York and Los Angeles last Friday. Full disclosure: I was interviewed extensively for this movie, and appear in two clips in the first half hour.

Let me begin by saying that it isn’t an easy movie to watch, even if you have heard all these stories before. Maybe especially if you have heard them before. Some of the cases are notorious. For example, there is the Notre Dame football player who played two games and went to practice every day while the Notre Dame police claimed they couldn’t find them. Then there is  the rape and assault accusation against a star FSU quarterback and Heisman…

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