Category Archives: colleagueship

April 21, 2013, 3:56 pm

On the Giving and Taking of Advice


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 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 9, 2013, 12:38 pm

Protest, Engage and Discuss: Brooklyn College, the Occupation and Academic Freedom

Bloomberg to City Council critics: Brooklyn is not Pyongyang!  Photo credit.

As of this writing, despite saber-rattling of various kinds by donors and politicians, the Brooklyn College event featuring speakers from Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) seems to have gone off without a hitch. The Israeli state still exists; the Palestinian people do not yet have a state of their own; and the Mayor of New York has affirmed the principle of free speech in our public university system. Read about it here.

I realize that it is conventional to begin a post like this one be declaring that one is not an anti-semite, that one is a supporter of Israel — or not an anti-semite and not a supporter of Israel, and hence a supporter of Palestinian freedom (whatever that means at this moment in history.) I cannot tell you…

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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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December 13, 2012, 11:39 am

Because You Don’t Wanna Be *That* Colleague, Do Ya?

You aren’t *that* colleague, are you? The one who mansplains your way through the gender studies search, having proofread your daughter’s feminist theory take-home final but not the actual applications? The one who is sure that your seminars are so drastically under-enrolled because you are such a demanding teacher and everyone else int eh department has given in to political correctness/grade inflation/fashion?  The colleague who always needs a ride — but never gives one? And never asks for that ride until it’s time to go home? The colleague who is always late to a meeting because you have something (unnamed) that is more important? The one who has no advisees because all of your hours are by appointment only and you “don’t do email”?

Of course you aren’t. So you will really enjoy this end of semester crowd pleasing essay as you wade your way through grading, job applications and…

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July 9, 2012, 4:32 pm

Who Is At The Controls In Your Career?

About ten days ago, Dr. Crazy asked the question: “What do I wish people would have advised me not to do?” Four years post-tenure and about to stand for full professor, she is trying to evaluate a period in her career that has been vexing, stressful and ill-rewarded. Go over there and join the conversation.

Many of us will identify with Dr. Crazy’s self-criticism that she has “let things overtake me that haven’t necessarily been the most positive for me, professionally or personally.” The partial list of what she regrets speaks to many of the ways in which nice people, people who try to identify and meet institutional expectations, can put their own needs last. Worse, engaging in institutional policy-making and hiring can make a good colleague into a target for other people’s resentment in ways that s/he never imagined. As university business swallows time and energy, a tenured …

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January 4, 2012, 11:07 am

History and the Politics of Scholarly Collaboration, Part II: What Is To Be Done?

I won’t be at this year’s American Historical Association Meeting in Chicago, but I did promise you a follow up to this post in which I addressed the ongoing discussion about the crisis in academic hiring.  For those of you who don’t want to go back and read it, I made the following points:

  • That the market in tenure-track history jobs went into crisis in the mid-1970s and has never recovered.  And yet, as a profession we continue to organize doctoral training around a teacher-scholar model that represents an increasingly smaller fraction of what might count as professional historical labor.
  • That most of us have a significant number of contemporaries who pursued alternative careers based on their historical training. Yet we continue to write and speak about this problem as if the only solution to underemployment and the proletarianization of academic labor through adjunctification…

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December 31, 2011, 1:51 pm

Living In The Middle; Or, What I Learned At My First Job

Today is the day I go off the payroll of Zenith University, the institution that gave me my first job. Tomorrow I officially go on the payroll of another university in Metropolis, the city where I went to graduate school.  If all goes well, we will move in mid-summer.

OK, so Zenith wasn’t actually my first job.  I had a fair amount of work experience before I began my twenty years there in July 1991. Prior employment included: aluminum can recycling; substitute receptionist at Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate; popcorn stand attendant at a neighborhood movie house (the summer Jaws was released, no less); stringer for the Hartford Courant; administrative assistant and general dogsbody at a boutique public relations firm; writer/editor at an advertising agency; bicycle messenger; teaching assistant, research assistant, assistant to the Dean of the College; proofreader at the SoHo

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November 4, 2011, 6:12 pm

You Know All About Eve: A GLQ Special Section on Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick

Who has time to read journals in November, you ask?  Sometimes you just have to stop and do it: it is so much easier to neglect journal-reading now that many of us access them electronically.  Remember? They used to pile up next to the desk until either vacation would come, or you would clear the decks for three intense days of reading and throwing them away.

In any case, take the time now for one issue. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies vol. 17 no. 4 (2011) has devoted a special section to the memory of literary critic, poet, feminist and queer studies scholar Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick (May 2 1950 – April 12 2009). It includes an essay on James Merrill by Sedgwick, introduced by her husband Hal, followed by reflections on Sedgwick and her work by Henry Abelove, Michael Moon, Kathryn Kent and Neil Hertz. (more…)

March 12, 2011, 1:08 pm

The Social Network: Or; Does Networking Really Matter To An Academic Career?

One of 17 ways to visualize Twitter.

Why do we tell young scholars to “network,” and what  do we mean by it?

As I was finishing up Samuel Delany’s Times Square Red, Times Square Blue (1999) last night, I came across this gem of a quote on p. 138:

I feel that my career benefits regularly from the results of my networking.  My ultimate take on networking is, however, this:  No single event in the course of my career that I can cite has been directly caused by networking.  Nevertheless, the results of networking have regularly smoothed, stabilized, and supported my career and made it more pleasant (there is that term again) than it would have been without it.

In general I would say (and I would say this to young writers particularly):  Rarely if ever can networking make a writing career when no career is to be made.

Delany, as many of you know, is a queer science fiction writer who has also…

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