Category Archives: Archives

January 28, 2014, 10:31 am

There Are More Than Two Sides To Everything

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I welcome the broader observations about the current state of American Studies that Christopher Shea has made at the Chronicle of Higher Education (“Boycott Debate is Symptom of Broader Debate in American Studies,” 1/27/2014). However, I do regret the characterization of the ASA as split between, as he implies, progressive proponents of the boycott and “cultural conservatives.”

Why? In my view, this choice reinforces the views of the most vigorous participants in this conversation (including those who have become activist in their views that an academic organization has no business becoming activist) that there are only two “sides.” You can call them radical and conservative;  or perhaps you will want to characterize them as those whose faces are turned to an intellectual future and the angry traditionalists. In the dichotomies proposed, there is no middle ground, no place of in…

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January 26, 2014, 11:09 am

Weekend Link-A-Palooza: Writing in Public and Cleaning My Desk

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What if the writing were on the wall? Photo credit

School is starting most places, except at chez Radical, where we are actors in a movie sequel called “Sabbatical Part II: Producing the Manuscript.” Yep, it’s true. What LD Burnett began at the #GraftonLine, now a thriving enterprise with 142 members (10 newbies have joined in recent weeks), I would like to push to the next level with this new book blog, How Feminism Survived the Age of Reagan. It is hosted on my own web page, and I will provide links here on a regular basis. I have been toying with this idea for a while, since many writers develop a platform specifically for a work in progress. Based on the wide re-tweeting of this post, I thought: what would it look like to write a book more or less in public, and demonstrate the work that goes into producing …

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December 17, 2013, 12:33 pm

The Education of Henry Adams: A Review

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Henry and his book in fall, 2013 (Photo credit: Rachel Adams)

Rachel Adams, Raising Henry: A Memoir of Motherhood, Disability and Discovery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2013). 272 pp. $17.95.

Raising Henry begins with two images. The first is the photograph of author Rachel Adams and her son Henry on the front of the book. It is, Adams tells us, one of the few photographs of them together, since she is usually the one behind the camera. The second image is one she only describes in the opening paragraphs of the book: a cherished photograph of her mother, already dying of cancer in Rachel’s childhood.

These images combine to ask the reader: what does it mean, not only to focus on the disabled subject, but to expand our view and allow a disabled child’s mother, father or siblings to be “in the picture”…

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December 11, 2013, 10:03 am

Should a Grading Policy Be Absolute? No,No,No

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In the old days at Zenith, I had this sign hanging in my office, given to me as a Christmas present by a student.

OK, so there are some of your students who weren’t listening to Amy Winehouse this semester: too much shot glass, too little in class. Now is the time of year that the chickens come home to roost, don’t they? Their failures are our failures.

And it makes us so mad that we sometimes respond badly. I was privy to an interesting conversation yesterday about having policies that govern late papers, make up exams and whatnot.

The arguments about whether to enforce late paper policies strictly ranged from:

  • Do it: I’ve heard every excuse before; to
  • Don’t be an a$$hat. Give the kid a make up the exam.

I want to emphasize: there truly was a healthy range of views expressed on this issue, and …

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October 27, 2013, 11:19 am

The Check Is In The Mail — Sometimes

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Tim Kreider’s self-portrait

Check out Tim Kreider‘s piece in today’s New York Times about being asked to write for free. This is a gift from heaven. Eight days ago I passed my seventh bloggiversary, and I will soon be writing my 1000th free post. It has been a little over four years since I moved over to the Chronicle of Higher Education, where I continue the Tenured Radical tradition of writing for nothing.

Most bloggers write for free, actually. Want a blog at the Huffington Post? Have your publicist, or your sister posing as your publicist, call them and ask. They will be happy to publish you — for free. They need content, you need exposure. It’s a deal!

Here’s the news: bloggers who make money do so either by writing self-help books based on their blogs and/or by pushing products, which is called…

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September 28, 2013, 7:10 pm

The Associate Professor Blues

yeswelacanIn “Supporting the Second Book,” (Perspectives on History, September 2013), American Historical Association President Kenneth Pomeranz elaborates on a topic he launched in the previous issue. I thought it was great that Pomeranz came out last month about his post-tenure publishing delay: one of the things that I have learned on the #GraftonLine is that academics — particularly senior people — don’t talk about their difficulties enough, nor do we share strategies for changing the bad writing karma that can afflict anyone. No wonder people who are struggling with their writing don’t talk about it – it’s not allowed!!!!!

So good for you, Professor Pomeranz. Many people will feel their load lighten just a little bit from hearing your story, particularly those who work at institutions that require a second book just for tenure. But, as Pomeranz also points out, promotions to full…

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September 18, 2013, 10:03 am

Your Federal Tax Dollars @ Work: August, 1981

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Does this make me look fat?

From a telephone survey commissioned by the Reagan administration in August, 1981, the first year in which I would be filing my own income taxes:

“Given the chance to travel in outer space, a strong minority of the public — 42% –say they would do so. But a majority of 55% would decline the adventure. Young people, surprisingly, are more willing to venture into space than are older Americans. And men are far more likely than women to express the desire for space travel. Half the men — 52% — but only one-third of the women — 33% — say they would travel in space if they had the chance.”

Ask a stupid question…….

September 17, 2013, 8:34 am

Who Pays for Free? When Universities Give Our Work Away

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David Delgado Shorter

In today’s Wired Campus, Hannah Winston reports that the chancellor’s office of California’s community college system will make materials that they have funded available for free under a Creative Commons License. But as today’s guest blogger, David Delgado Shorter, a film maker and professor of anthropology at the University of California at Los Angeles asks, aren’t faculty ultimately paying for these generous policies?

I received a nice note the other day from one of my University’s librarians alerting me to the good news that they had purchased a licensing agreement with a company that would give any UCLA student free access to my book as an e-edition. This news, she informed me, would mean that more colleagues on campus could assign my book more affordably. Well, not just affordable…

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August 30, 2013, 2:53 pm

There’s Nothing That Says I Haven’t Got A Plan….

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Just keep saying: Mitt Romney would have been worse, Mitt Romney would have been worse…

…Like President Obama’s new College Affordability Plan.  (For intelligent and thoughtful responses to this announcement, go to the AHA Roundtable on President Obama’s College Affordability Plan and Inside Higher Ed, August 8 2013. For an outraged polemic, keep reading.)

Like practically everything else about what passes for federal education policy today, the Obama administration’s problem-solving  nibbles around the edges of the issue. There is nothing that is a genuinely new idea or even a well-recycled old idea. Reforms consist of a few small financial incentives awarded to institutions that play along, injecting a good shot of standardized testing, and giving “education consumers” information so that they can make…

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August 26, 2013, 9:43 pm

Sabbatical: Because the Bible Tells Me So

In answer to the question, “Where are you and what are you doing?” The answer is: I am on

For the advantages of a sabbatical, go here. But don’t worry. I’ll still show up here.