Category Archives: Archives

June 18, 2013, 2:06 pm

Go Into Academia, Win Valuable Prizes

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Where is your college president spending the summer?

Today’s New York Times has the latest revelations about New York University’s executive compensation practices. (Full disclosure: not only was Tenured Radical’s Ph.D. bestowed from those Violet walls, but my current institution recently had its own executive mini-scandal.)

As Ariel Kaminer reveals, NYU’s top execs and a few elite proffies are also offered mortgages for summer homes, “Universities in similar circumstances, like Columbia and Stanford, also have helped professors and executives with home loans,” writes Kaminer, who has been following this story for several months. “Aid for vacation properties, however, is all but unheard-of in higher education, several experts in university pay packages say.” And how many universities offer you a mortgage after…

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June 5, 2013, 2:52 pm

Radical Mailbag: Writing A Good Blog Post

woman-writing-letters-by-charles-dana-gibsonSo ya wanna be a blogger? “Santa Rosa Sandy” writes:

Dear Dr. Radical:

Having enjoyed your blog and admired the writing (and wry humor!) for a while, I wondered if you’d be willing to address the characteristics of good blog writing. My own sense is that blog posts should be meaty, but pithy—if that’s not conflating two different food groups. They can be leavened with more personal comment, humor, and current cultural reference than—say—a journal article. I recently submitted an invited entry to a higher ed blog (admittedly, I’d gone over the word limit). But to my chagrin, the editors are making it fit by removing anything that seemed even slightly leavening, leaving a pretty bland result. (more…)

May 26, 2013, 2:15 pm

Could Flipping the Curriculum Lead to More Jobs and Better Educated Students?

history fanAnother school year ends, and the MOOC people are happily planting stories in the media about a teaching model that, if it succeeds, is likely to kill off full time work in the liberal arts forever. How do we fight this, and the concurrent view that liberal arts BAs are simply a thing of the past?

Here’s my idea: let’s flip the curriculum. Kill the survey courses and start teaching history as applied knowledge, and as a set of skills that can tangibly enhance the careers that most of our students will actually have.

As a profession, we have, to date, mounted few successful counter-arguments to those who wish to shift resources away from teaching, and jobs, in the humanities and social sciences. One of the reasons that MOOCs may be doing so well is that they represent practically the only big idea that the academy has had in the past several decades. Many of our colleagues in the…

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April 30, 2013, 8:53 am

The I’m Too Busy to Blog Post: Fat Armpits, Supreme Court Mulligans, and Mad Men’s Recent History

There are papers to grade, classes to prepare, a search to finish, a conference to pack for, and yet….that last post gets colder and colder as the days roll by. So without further delay, here are some shorts to brighten your day:

itw_coverFat Armpits Are The Worst. Before returning to Brooklyn Sunday, I was in the newly-ronovated Acme Market in Bryn Mawr, PA loading up on my favorite diet foods — Tastykakes, scrapple — and reading gossip mags in the checkout line. The misogynist gem to the right caught my attention. Kim Kardashian, who was on the rampage last year because everyone could have a baby but her, has learned to her horror that a growing fetus can make a girl look dumpy.

It must be terrible to be so fragile. According to celeb mag In TouchKardashian is on the brink of a breakdown, having discovered that aging leads to age and pregnancy leads to weight gain. In her seventh…

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April 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

On the Giving and Taking of Advice

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The mother of us all: Pauline Friedman Phillips, aka Abigail “Dear Abby” van Buren

Ten years ago, in the midst of a conversation, a colleague temporarily lost her temper at me. “Please stop giving me advice!” she snapped. “I don’t want any advice. I just want to talk about this!”

Needless to say, I was shocked and a little hurt. But upon further reflection, I had to admit that a flaw in my socialization had been usefully uncovered.  My friend had not asked for any advice, and yet I had offered it anyway. Why?

The giving and taking of advice is so ubiquitous in university life that it defines whole categories of activity that blur the line between personal and professional. In graduate school, members of my cohort gave each other advice, and it was often at least as good as the advice we got from faculty. …

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February 22, 2013, 10:59 am

Why The Feminine Mystique? Why Now?

Today and tomorrow we are hosting a symposium at The New School for Public Engagement in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of Betty Friedan’s popular feminist blockbuster, The Feminine Mystique (1963). A gathering of multiple generations of feminists in four panels and a keynote, the event was sparked by undergraduates at Parsons School of Design. These young women, who were over 25 years away from being born when the book first came out, planned an exhibit (which opened today and will be up until March 5) inspired by Friedan’s ideas as a class project. One thing led to another, and suddenly we have An Event, with a keynote delivered by feminist historian Susan Ware, who published a wonderful book on Billie Jean King and Title IX in 2011. See our fancy announcement in The Grey Lady here.

We who…

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February 14, 2013, 1:36 pm

Why Tenured “Radical”? And Other Political Confessions

It appeared that my ability to join the collective hinged on my agreement with all the criticisms of my past political thinking and work, and not just a willingness to consider them….The criticism indicated that I was inferior to other members of the collective, and I wanted the opportunity to prove that I had a substantial history of work and ideas, and that I should be considered an equal. So I agreed with the criticisms in general, and said I would rethink things in light of the criticism. I thought to myself, I could always change my mind.

Cathy Wilkerson, Flying Too Close to the Sun: My Life and Times as  a Weatherman (2010)

A central theme in several autobiographies of former radical antiwar activists is the role that criticism sessions played in persuading people to adopt a new world view, one that ran counter to attitudes they might previously have valued as members of …

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February 10, 2013, 1:36 pm

“My Friend, I Disagree.”

Shortly after yesterday’s post went up I heard from an old friend and colleague, Dr. David Shorter, who disagreed with my views about Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, and wanted an opportunity to respond to them in this forum. I immediately agreed.  Shorter is a professor of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at the University of California Los Angeles. His first book, We Will Dance Our Truth: Yaqui History in Yoeme Performances (University of Nebraska Press, 2010), unpacks the biases associated with writing in educational and legal considerations of Indigenous rights. Shorter’s digital projects, his work with indigenous language revitalization, and his other research areas are described on his website.

Recently, my friend and previous colleague, the Tenured Radical herself, penned a blog posting about the matter of BDS and Brooklyn College’s defense of academic freedom. As usual, her …

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February 7, 2013, 9:15 am

How The Lie Was Told

The first illustration of Pinocchio, by Enrico Mazzanti. Photo credit.

Today’s guest blogger is Michael Pettit, associate professor of Psychology and Science and Technology Studies at York University in Toronto. He recently published The Science of Deception: Psychology and Commerce in America. He is currently completing the research on another project tentatively entitled The Sex Lives of Animals in the Age of Kinsey.

Lies loom large over the historian’s craft. Historians devote considerable time to parsing the tensions among words, intentions, and behaviours. Reconstructing the inner lives of those who lived in the past is a notoriously difficult task. It is doubly so when you know your informants are deliberately leading you astray. And yet deception hasn’t really figured as a category of historical…

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February 2, 2013, 11:53 am

When The Modern European History Survey Goes Modern: Social Media in the Lecture Hall

Our guest blogger Mary Louise Roberts is a Professor in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Her most recent book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War Two France, will be published with the University of Chicago Press in May. This essay was originally written for ”The Public Practice of History In and For a Digital Age,” a plenary session at the 2013 American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Roberts appeared with historians Edward Ayers andWilliam Cronon; editor Niko Pfund; journalist Michael Pollan and your very own Tenured Radical.

I begin with a confession.  I resist change.  Unlike the other people on this panel, I am a change resister.  Unlike them, I have not pioneered digital or digitized approaches to historical inquiry.  In fact I have consciously refused them.   And when I have embraced new technologies,…

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