Category Archives: Foucault Thinks All Catalogues Are Bad

November 14, 2012, 11:25 pm

At Thanksgiving, We Thank The Lord For American Studies

Binders full of academics are being disgorged at Luis Muñoz Marín International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the American Studies Association Annual Meeting. Good news: unlike many places in the Northeast, there is heat and hot water, and it’s about 80 degrees. Your favorite Radical, who spent this pre-convention day eating fish sandwiches at the beach, has an unexpectedly fantastic room at the Caribe Hilton, the conference headquarters. A Mad Man-ny styled place with 1960s retro furniture and a shower as big as some Manhattan apartments, it has a balcony and a view of the entire coastline.

Those of us who are checked in here had a fantasy about being able to slip in and out of panels, and in between go back to the beach. I was not the only person to design my convention-wear so that a bathing suit would fit comfortably underneath.  Alas, it is not to be: the actual meeting…

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August 21, 2010, 4:25 pm

Slouching Into Fall: Best Books of Summer 2010

One of the tragedies of a summer ending is ending a summer’s reading. Soon we bring a close, if we have not already, to those hours of getting lost in a book, of time unimpeded by intrusive thoughts of papers ungraded, classes to prepare and teach, errands to run and meetings to attend. Only in the summer (or on a cross-country flight) am I able to re-experience the pure joy of beginning and ending a book in one day, that happy sense of having been entirely emptied out of my own thoughts and occupied by someone else’s, and the sweetness of reluctant departure from a world I do not live in. Reading is, in short, one of the few available ways of making a journey to the past that I know that is also effortless, happy and free (I am eliminating psychotherapy and my own scholarship from the list of time-travel methods, and while reading is not always free, it can be with the help of a…

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April 4, 2009, 8:10 pm

The College Catalogue Goes Bye-Bye: Harvard Catches Up With Zenith At Last

Why does John Harvard look so depressed and defeated? Is it the endowment? Is it the quality of the entering class? No! It’s the death of the course catalogue as we know it.

Following the Harvard Crimson, the Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Harvard University has eliminated printed course catalogues, faculty and student handbooks, and something called the “Q-Guide,” in favor of on-line versions of all these documents. The “Q-Guide,” which publishes summaries of teaching evaluations, is undoubtedly a grisly publication full of accurate, witty and devastating humor about our colleagues who work at an institution commonly known as the Northern Zenith. I am sure the Harvard faculty are glad to see the back of that one, Mary.

The move to web-based publishing is budgetary to be sure, but one administrator points out that the course catalogue will now be much more accurate than…

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