Author Archives: Claire Potter

June 15, 2014, 12:16 pm

School’s Out For Summer: Are You Writing Yet?

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The children in Enid Blyton books were always being sent away: it always went awry in some exciting way, and yet the parents never lost their faith in the soundness of sending their children away.

At least, school is out for most of us. I am coming off a year’s sabbatical, while other people are teaching summer sessions and institutes. I must say, unless I really needed the dough there is nothing I would rather do less than teach in the summer. Nothing. Because summer is for: WRITING. And the summer is for FUN.

The best part of summer writing is long, empty days. One of the most difficult writing problems to manage? Long empty days. Managing free time is only slightly more difficult than realizing that you pushed all kinds of deadlines into June and July, added a conference and a tenure case, and and have…

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June 9, 2014, 12:28 pm

Today’s Quiz: What Is the Difference Between a Non-Profit and a For-Profit?

monopoly-manAnswer: a) none; b) the non-profits are better at evading scrutiny; c) the for-profits are busy remaking the world in their image; d) all of the above.

This week in Jacobin‘s online edition, see David Francis Mihalyfy’s Higher Ed’s For-Profit Future. It’s about corporate academia, as exemplified by the institution that is currently best known as the cradle of neoliberal thinking that has destroyed, and is still working to destroy, education for everyone. The University of Chicago, Mihalyfy argues, ”serves as a window into the fully corporatized future of education, where an unquestioned goal is profit for top staff and the checks-and-balances of the trustee system do not function.”

Structurally, Mihalyfy argues, there is absolutely no difference between the non-profit university and the for profit corporations that neoliberal economics wants us to use as a model every form of…

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May 31, 2014, 12:12 pm

Moving Experiences

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One of many lies you will encounter on your journey to your new home.

Facebook is full of transitions right now. Some people who already had tenured or tenure-track jobs are moving to new ones. Newly, or recently, minted Ph.D.s are leaving Grad Institution City for a tenure-track job, and others are taking a post-doc or visiting job. Some people are deciding to leave academic work altogether. They have had it with years of temporary, uncertain employment; they want to stop commuting; or they want to live somewhere that really suits them, not the place where the job market dumped them. And I say, good for you. It takes guts.

Whatever your reason for relocating, moving is a drag. I know. I’ve moved fifteen times, which is really not an accurate number. In our years as a commuter couple we would sublet our New…

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May 28, 2014, 11:58 am

Goodbye Toronto, Hello New York: #Berks2014 Roundup and Looking Ahead to #2017

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Franca Iacovetta, President of #Berks2014; with Jayeeta Sharma, one of the program chairs.

I have been in conference recovery mode for the last several days. You know what I am talking about. It’s an exhaustion so deep that it feels like one’s brain is covered in layers of flannel.

I can only imagine how the crew up at the University of Toronto and York University, led by Berkshire Conference President Franca Iacovetta, are feeling. In short? The Sixteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women was, as Ed Sullivan used to say, a really big show (actually, he would have said it was “A really big shoe.”)  It was a crashing success, by any measure to which you might hold a conference. I wasn’t at a single panel that was not full, and I didn’t hear about any panels that were not full and did not surpass the …

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May 25, 2014, 1:04 am

Berks Day 3: Is The Book Dead? (Uh, No)

books1When I wasn’t selling memberships to the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians (you can buy one here, or outside the book exhibit tomorrow), or announcing the new Berks website launching in beta this summer, I was on a panel about the future of publishing. It was packed. Thanks to Paul Eprile (also in charge of the book exhibit) for organizing it; and Jean Quataert, Melissa Pitts and Lois Banner for a great conversation.

My opening remarks had the intentionally provocative title: “Should Historians Write Books? How the Digital World is Changing Your Career.” And without further ado:

Two years ago, I was on a plenary session at the American Historical Association, during which environmental historian Bill Cronon, the President of the AHA announced that he no longer owned any books. Downsizing from a house to an apartment, he had sold everything and replaced all his books with…

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May 22, 2014, 9:03 am

Women With A Past: Big Berks Day 1

canadian-flagWhy no posting? Where has Tenured Radical been lately?

Just preparing for the most awesome history conference ever!

Yep. It happens every three years, and the time is now. The Sixteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women launches today at the University of Toronto. Although we have been an international conference since the 1990s, this is the first time the Big Berks, as it is called, has been held outside the Lower Forty-Eight. Thanks to the heroic efforts of President Franca Iacovetta and her team at the University of Toronto, we have four days of terrific programming and artistic performances.

Today’s program is here. Top five things to know? (more…)

May 7, 2014, 11:19 am

Is College Teaching Just a Job?

vintage_circus_posterClearing out a bookcase the other day, I stumbled across an unread copy of The Hedgehog Review that had slipped to the back of a shelf. I was delighted to find, among several interesting essays and interviews, an article by Frank Donaghue that asks the question: “Do College Teachers Have to Be Scholars?” (spring 2012). Part of a provocative special issue on The Corporate Professor, I am sorry to say you cannot click through to it, but here are the answers to the question:

  • No. The connection between teaching and scholarship has been “uncritically yoked” during the same decades that more and more college faculty can expect to work as adjuncts, jobs in which there is generally no time, support or reward for traditional scholarly production. Adjuncting is now the dominant model for college teaching, fueled by the hiring practices of the only faculties that are currently expanding:…

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April 26, 2014, 10:30 am

I Didn’t Defame You — I Just Used You: On Hashtag Activism

twitter-bird-1Earlier this week, I retweeted a link to a media report about a personnel issue at another campus. A friend of mine subsequently wrote to say that I ought to have investigated the report further, as what had occurred was far more complex.

Let me say: personnel matters usually are complex, which is why I rarely write about contested tenure cases at Tenured Radical. I receive many requests to do so, usually from angry students distraught at the loss of a beloved professor. I refuse all of them. I know from personal experience that whatever the truth of the matter, most of the relevant documents are not public. When actual discrimination occurs, it is very rare that you have the documentation to write a plausible and fair story unless the case goes to court. In other words, even if I were inclined to write about people in trouble, I would not do so since I do not have access to the fact…

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April 22, 2014, 7:42 am

Department of — Assassins?

thEveryone on Facebook is complaining about grading. But at least you aren’t worried about character assassination, or actually being assassinated. You aren’t the chair of the French Department at Oberlin, where one faculty member is suing a colleague for making multiple false claims that he was plotting to kill a third faculty member, that he brought a relative to the United States and falsified his academic credentials to embed him as a killer for hire, and — now there is undoubtedly some very strict language about this in the faculty handbook –that he tried to pay his TA to marry him.

You can also thank your lucky stars that you are not the Dean of the Faculty at Oberlin, wondering how this case got to court in the first place. As Kaylee Remington of the Lorain, Ohio Morning Journal reported last week,

a lawsuit filed April 17 in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, Ali Yedes, who…

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April 20, 2014, 10:48 pm

Mean Presidents, And Other Campus News

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Your cub reporter

Last week I was reviewing books about blogging for a course I am teaching in the fall. Advice from professional bloggers who actually make money doing this is to post every day. So I did, but curiously, although there were plenty of readers, there were few comments. What’s with you guys? Grading or something? Even sexual mayhem at Dartmouth didn’t rile anyone up! That surprised me, I’ve got to say. There are usually squads of people out there ready to defend the poor lads who are being “falsely accused” and tell me I am a puritan; or alternatively, accuse me of patronizing women. I was reproved for patronizing librarians, who want money and not kisses.

I can understand that. But all I have is kisses. And news:

Here’s the Colby College Library — but where are the books? In storage, that’s

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