Author Archives: Claire Potter

April 10, 2014, 5:54 pm

General Radical Marches on Atlanta; or, Fun @ The OAH Annual Meeting

2014-Program_150pxAir travel and conferencing can have the effect of making me feel as though I am not really anywhere at all. I certainly believe that I have been in nearly every major hotel, in nearly every major city, for at least one conference. Usually more than once. The last time I was in this one, the Atlanta Hilton, it was January, 1996, and the worst snowstorm ever to descend on the South (until this winter) created all kinds of havoc from Georgia up to Albany, New York. Some of us who remember that AHA Annual meeting managed to escape Atlanta, only to get stuck half-way home in dreary motels in Charlotte. Some Zenith friends of mine made it as far as Hartford, and then got stuck in the airport motel there; others rented cars and tried to drive home. Those who stuck it out at the Atlanta Hilton were the smart ones, since they did not get stuck in someplace even less desirable (like the Amtrak go…

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April 1, 2014, 8:53 am

Not An April Fool’s Joke: Massive Cuts at USM

les-miserables-poster001In my previous post, I made a reference to massive cuts at the University of Southern Maine. The cuts have sparked student and faculty protests, and an administrative response that is truly scary, both in its willingness to accept scarcity logic as the educational status quo and its desire to impose faculty and staff reductions by intimidation. This includes cutting entire departments to break faculty tenure.

A strong dissent from the New England American Studies Association can be found here. (Where is a statement from the other American Studies Association?)

I have also received permission from Associate Professor of English and Women’s Studies Lucinda Cole to reprint her account of the state of things. Some of you may have already seen it on Facebook.

To the ‪#‎USMfuture‬ Student Who Asked Me That Question

At the last three faculty meetings I attended at the…

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March 30, 2014, 1:58 pm

Random Bullets of (Fill In the Blank)

1980sa-520x343Aaaaaand…..here we go.

  • The latest from Tenured Radical’s Book Blog, a project of thinking and writing a book out loud, “Which Side Are You On?” sketches a few thoughts on what we assume about a researcher’s choice to explore a contentious topic.
  • I am one of two people in my March Madness Fantasy Bracket to have picked Wisconsin to win.
  • In other research news, we have a new study on whether porn hurts children. Answer? No one knows! How do people keep getting funding for this research? Produced by the office of the Children’s Commissioner for England, the study is actually not about children, it’s about teenagers, which is also old news. The older kids get, the harder it is to gin up uncritical public concern for them. A second point worth mentioning is the focus said teenagers’ consumption of, or exposure to, pornography which might (or might not!) affect their sexual…

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March 26, 2014, 11:55 am

Should Academic Online Behavior Go to Court?

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Imagine if Daffy Duck had email, Twitter and Facebook.

Here’s an interesting case that has been percolating along for some time and should be of interest to all of us in the academic blogosphere. Raphael Haim Gold, 54, who is the son of Norman Golb, as New York Times reporter John Leland puts it, “a controversial Dead Sea Scrolls scholar,” has been successfully prosecuted for impersonating and harassing other scholars who have found fault with his father’s scholarship. The conviction is now being heard on appeal.

For reasons that remain somewhat mysterious, Golb Junior defamed his father’s intellectual detractors for three years via various forms of Sock Puppetry and Internet impersonation.  As Leland writes:

Mr. Golb’s online campaign was chiefly directed at his father’s most bitter rival, Lawrence H….

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March 25, 2014, 1:45 pm

Why the Adjunct System Hurts Students

tee-rhrI left Zenith University a little over two years ago, but every once in a while one of my former students hunts me down for a recommendation. Fortunately, I actually kept a lot of those letters I wrote, so in most cases it doesn’t take more than a nip and a tuck to bring one up to speed: “Since graduating with high honors in history, Jason has worked for SEIU and interned at the Smithsonian…..) I don’t mind, even though I now have new students to write for. Zenith paid me well over the years (ok, not always as well as I wanted, but still.) I think writing recommendations for former students is part of some cosmic bargain hammered out over twenty years of tears and snot, to paraphrase Jodie Foster’s Golden Globes speech, even though I now work somewhere else.

But if I had been an adjunct there? No way. I have a number of friends and acquaintances who taught at Zenith — as a post-doc…

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March 18, 2014, 12:19 pm

Random Bullets of Academia: Tuesday Edition

jackofalltradesHistorians – are you sick of  adjuncting? Consider the highly-paid world of finance! In Perspectives on History, Chris McNickle talks about putting his history Ph.D. to use as the global head of institutional business for Fidelity Worldwide Investment. As it turns out, the savvy investor wants to know what things change over time; why bad things happen; and what might happen in the future. Doing this properly all requires research, evidence and argument, not to mention an understanding of the conditions under which the economy has flourished and crashed in the past.

I am really starting to like this monthly feature. It leads by example, and demonstrates a reform that all graduate programs might make without hiring another faculty member or making a single curricular change: just put on your department web page what your non-academic degree holders are doing.

(Adjuncting, by the…

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March 11, 2014, 10:15 am

Oh Brave New World

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Have administrators at Columbia’s Mailman School considered closing their budget gap with a bake sale? Maybe asking faculty to shill gift wrap and ginormous candy bars door to door?

That has such people in it.

Here’s a novel way to lighten the burden of paying faculty salaries: make them figure out how to pay their own salaries! As Inside Higher Ed reports, Columbia University has notified several longterm non-tenure stream faculty in the Mailman School of Public Health (including Carol Vance and Kim Hopper) that they will be terminated for not meeting 80% of their salaries with outside funding.

According to CNNMoney.com, in 2013 the university had the ninth largest endowment in the United States, at $8.197 billion dollars.

Read the article: I could only garble this story more by trying to recapitulate it….

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March 10, 2014, 10:55 am

Why Charter Schools Should Pay Rent — or Close

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It’s a “free” market system, children: that’s why our exclusive charter school gets space from New York City for free!

Here are two stories about education, both printed this week in the New York Times. I would like to put side by side because together they tell a bigger story about urban public schools than they do separately.

The first describes Mayor Bill De Blasio’s plan to charge rent to privately funded charter schools. As the story explains, charters divert public tax money into schools; and they cream the students they want and reject students that are difficult to teach. They also gobble up space in school buildings that the Board of Ed decides existing schools either don’t need, or don’t need exclusive access to: gymnasiums, libraries, playgrounds, and cafeterias.

Furthermore, charters create…

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March 7, 2014, 5:06 pm

Dept. of Untenured Radicals: Santa Cruz Students on the March

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Photo credit: Indybay.org/

Beginning at 3:00 Pacific Time on Wednesday March 5, students at UC Santa Cruz occupied an administration building. When they left the following morning, under their own steam, they chanted “We’ll Be Back!” They probably will: they’ve done it before. Good for you, young people: I thought it was creepy to put someone whose specialty is Homeland Security and border control in charge of a school system too.

Here’s what they want:

1. We demand the resignation or impeachment of Janet Napolitano as
UC President immediately.

2. We demand that next and all future UC presidents be someone who:

a) is elected by students and faculty;
b) has an extensive and positive background in education;
c) works towards completely eliminating student debt through
full subsidization;
d)…

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February 28, 2014, 11:05 am

Because the NY Times Can’t Print Everything….

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This cover illustration from 1867 was titled: “The First Vote.”

….sometimes Tenured Radical steps in.

On January 31, 2014, Columbia University’s Eric Foner reviewed a new book on Reconstruction by Douglas Egerton. The review elicited this response from Bonnie S. Anderson, professor emerita in history at Brooklyn College. Anderson is the author of many influential books and articles in European women’s history, including the two-volume A History of Their Own: Women in Europe from Prehistory to the Present (Oxford University Press, 1999), co-written with Judith P. Zinsser. She writes:

It depressed me to see the generally enlightened historian Eric Foner perpetuate the Reconstruction era’s erasure of women in his review of Douglas Egerton’s The Wars of Reconstruction (Bloomsbury: 2014.) Foner asserts…

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