Category Archives: Ask the Radical

February 16, 2014, 10:00 am

Tenured Radical, Live from the Cornell Sex Archive

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If that headline doesn’t grab your attention, what will?

The Human Sexuality Collection at Cornell University is celebrating its 25th Anniversary, reminding some of us that the history of sex has emerged as a field within our own lifetimes. The curator of the HSC, Head of Research Services Brenda Marston, has been leading out a celebration that includes Speaking of Sex, an exhibit at Cornell’s Carl A. Kroch Library, that opened last Friday February 14 and will be up until October 11, 2014. There is also a speaker’s series that kicks off with a reading by Jewelle Gomez at 4:30 on March 12 in Lewis Auditorium (Goldman Smith Hall). (more…)

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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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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January 24, 2013, 12:31 pm

Radical Academic Advice: Think Before Hitting “Reply All”

My inbox at 10:17 a.m. today.

A common faculty complaint at my last job was what we might call “failure to consult.”  Whether it was a project occurring at the upper echelons of the administration, a department chair’s carrying out an initiative or, most commonly, the work of a faculty committee, rule of thumb was to imagine anyone who might be a stakeholder and then keep that person informed. In the days before email, this usually meant having frequent and informative meetings, dropping into offices as you meandered down the hall, or copying a memo multiple time and putting it in separate interoffice envelopes. My favorite form of consultation? – and I bet no one under the age of fifty has ever done this –  using one interoffice envelope and instructing recipients to check their name off the memo, put it back …

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November 4, 2012, 10:26 am

To Market, To Market: The Job Fairy Helps You Land Your Next Job

Clap your hands if you believe in associate professors! Photo credit.

Is going on the job market as a tenured person a loser’s game?

Today’s crie du coeur  is from hist1969, an associate professor who is itchin’, as I was a couple years back, to put on the travelin’ shoes. I edited the question slightly to give more space for a response.

What do you know about the experiences of historians who returned to the market as tenured associate professors? I have looked around, but it seems that in my field people who are moving to other universities have been personally invited to apply. I have received some invitations to apply for positions in the last two years. However, the searches were canceled, or I ultimately felt that such invitations were only intended to “furnish” the searches. By now, I think it’s…

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March 6, 2011, 7:43 pm

On The Road: Radical Research Tips For Historians And Other People

The National Archives

Your favorite Radical is settled in at the  Rumor Mill in Culver City, an Internet cafe that has a convenient coin laundry next door.   Research trips lasting longer than a few days necessitate either big luggage or laundry.  I opted for the second, since I had a Sunday, and since my travel wardrobe consists mostly of black tee shirts I only need to do one load.  But laundry also gives me another opportunity, which is to hang out and see a little bit of where I am.  Last night I walked Abbot Kinney in Venice and had an outstanding dinner at 3 Square Cafe and Bakery (barbecued ribs and sweet potato fries, with a cucumber, watercress and yogurt salad to start) and spent the rest of the evening checking out tee shirts that cost between forty and sixty dollars.

I had spent the day at UCLA Special Collections in the Women Against Violence Against Women papers.  For those…

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November 28, 2010, 11:16 pm

The Job Market Is A Lot Like The PBS NewsHour, And Other Advice For Skype Interviews

“Of course I can teach the second half of the U.S. History survey, Mr. DeMille ”

As I have suggested in earlier years, the day of the convention interview may be coming to an end.  It has been spitting blood and teeth for at least twenty years, as the academic job market has taken a pounding with only occasional, and unusual, seasons of activity that cause the professional association newsletters to write perky articles about recovery.

Even when I was a graduate student, a person could expect to pick up more than one interview at a conference.  Three interviews were considered a tipping point after which it was clear that something you were doing was ringing a bell and there would be a job with your name on it.  Even visiting jobs sometimes merited sending a small committee to the AHA:  the job that washed me in the holy water of the Ivy League and sent me catapulting into a real career…

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September 10, 2010, 11:56 am

Ask the Radical: A Young Historian Seeks Advice On Overcoming Obstacles

A SLAC graduate in the midst of a prestigious PhD program in history asks us for advice, dear readers:

I write to you today with a very elderly cat sleeping next to me (she’s 18, it’s kind of ridiculous) and thoughts of the job market and my ability to provide food for the very elderly cat foremost in my mind. What I’ve been wondering, lately, is what I’m supposed to do with the knowledge BOTH that the job market is very bad AND that, as it happens, a graduate program is probably the best place for me right now.

(Brief aside: I say this not because I’m Special and Being A Historian Is What I Was Meant To Do, but because, in practical terms, it’s true. It’s sort of weird to tell a stranger this, but the flexibility inherent in graduate school–the ability to disappear for months at a
time and still have money to pay [most] bills has been vital. My parents are both dead and I am solely…

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November 22, 2009, 11:21 am

Ask the Radical: Blogging and The Untenured Academic

Leaving the country often has the happy effect that people stop sending email to me almost entirely. Why sabbatical doesn’t accomplish this I do not know, particularly given the vivid bounce-back I composed this time around. Only the chair of my department removed my from the distribution list in September, but I am pleased/dismayed to see that now everyone else has too. Perhaps while I was still state side some secret hope was cherished by many colleagues that I would, in fact, come to advertised meetings of various kinds? If so, I am happy to say that they have not taking to dashing their brains on the flagstones in despair that their coy invitations have gone unanswered.

Since arriving in Cape Town, South Africa, the most sustained correspondence I have had to date is with a group of very capable people who are taking care of my affairs (dog and house) while I am away. We have…

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