Category Archives: You Have Nothing To Lose But Your chains

April 11, 2013, 11:26 am

The Art of Losing Isn’t Hard To Master

alfred_e_neumanThe final results are in for grants filed by Tenured Radical last fall:  of four requests for funding to support my sabbatical, exactly none succeeded. Over the last few weeks I have been fielding communications from various foundations that express profound regret at this situation.

I would like to point out that this regret, unlike so many other forms of regret, was avoidable. But that said, I want everyone who spent the time reading my grants and discarding them to know: I forgive you! And to everyone whose grants were chosen when mine was not? I forgive you too!

To the thousands of people who have been opening the same form letters as I have opened in the past few weeks: take it from a fellow loser, you did good to even try. I know you feel like the Whack -A-Mole. So do I. However, need I point out that you will only ever have a chance of success of you are willing to risk…

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December 7, 2012, 9:51 am

Stanford’s Five Year Ph.D. (continued): In Which The Blogger Responds To Comments On A Prior Post

Maybe I could turn this post in as a dissertation and get another Ph.D. by Sunday? Photo credit.

Yesterday I posted about Stanford’s new plan to shorten up the humanities Ph.D. to five years.  Then I went to the movies, specifically, a documentary about why the children of the poor attend four year colleges in far lower numbers than the children of middle-class or wealthy people. During the course of the evening, the post metastasized all over the interwebz, attracting a number of comments. My original Twitter posting notched more re-tweets than any item at Tenured Radical  has probably ever had.

Awesome. Keep talking, and while you do, here is a response to some of what I have heard.

Just to be clear: I do not defend an endlessly long Ph.D. But that said, many defenses of a forced time to degree metric…

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July 11, 2012, 3:00 pm

Writing By Hand: the Lost Art

Today the Tenured Radical is feeling like the Tenured Crank, and not just because of the summer cold that has taken up temporary residence between her vacationing ears.

Over at HASTAC, where there are always a ton of great ideas for the digitally inclined, writing prof Teresa Narey highlights the question of whether young people will continue to learn handwriting skills. Given the shift to using computers in secondary school, and curricula geared to a techie world, will subsequent generations even need to learn to write legibly? Cursive writing, she argues in this post, “is becoming an outdated skill.”

Secondary schools are apparently divided on this issue: some still teach handwriting and some do not. Some schools teach handwriting out of tradition, without any real conviction that it is a skill worth having. “Contrastingly,” Narey writes, “many Catholic schools continue to make…

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May 9, 2012, 9:45 pm

Let’s Go To The Videotape

In case you missed this on April 14 2012 (which you did if you weren’t one of about 200 people at TEDx Connecticut College, “Rethinking Progress”) my talk just got posted to the TED site by the fabulous students who put on this event. Enjoy. And admit it: like me, you’re grading. You don’t want to read anyway.

February 29, 2012, 1:24 pm

Radical But Not Tenured: Reflections from an Unemployed ABD

By “Sam Concord”

Today’s guest blogger is a pseudonymous graduate student from a major research university and a future tenured radical. Super-qualified, unemployed, and nearly finished with his degree,  Sam reflects on his six years in graduate school and how he has practiced the art of failure.

I am crawling to the finish line of graduate school with six publications, one mostly-finished dissertation, two major teaching awards, and no job. As I wait to go on the market again next year, I’m doing my best to embrace what Jack Halberstam calls the new ways of being opened up by failure. These benefits include the time and space to figure out what I’ve been doing for the past six years.

In this spirit, I offer you four versions of this story: Superhero Sam, Naked Sam, Terrorist Sam, and CV Sam.

Superhero Sam. One highlight of graduate school was not dying when a driver …

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February 20, 2012, 3:37 pm

So You Think You Can Write During the Semester?

You actually can.  But it’s going to take a lot more than just wanting to. I say this because I have navigated the rock (scholarship) and the hard place (The Job) that so many of us wrestle with in different ways over time. I have been:

  • The person who decided that my full time teaching job at a SLAC was too interesting, too full of new surprises, too packed with interesting students who would hold me accountable, too — well, too! — to write at all during the semester. In these years, I vowed to make the most of holidays, breaks, and summers. Bad plan!  At least, a bad plan to make semester after semester, because the time off was never enough time, particularly when I failed to factor in the days spent at the beginning of these breaks watching teevee because I was so tired I couldn’t think and the days at the end getting ready to return to the classroom.
  • The person who decided…

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October 6, 2011, 5:12 pm

Ask The Radical: Are You Clocking Too Much Overtime?

As we were sorting our mail at the end of a long teaching week, we came upon a little cry for help.  Missouri Marv writes:

Dear Tenured Radical:

It was my dream to get a tenure-track job.  However, I am only in my second year in a humanities department and my dream has become a nightmare. The semester is not even half over and I am exhausted.  My classes are over enrolled by about fifteen students. I am behind on my grading:  last week my students asked when they would get their papers back and I heard myself saying that I had left them on a bus and that the Transit Authority Lost and Found was closed for Rosh Hashanah. I barely have time to review the reading I have assigned my students.  Confession? Sometimes I don’t even read it.

Every time I think I have protected a little free time someone schedules a meeting:  worse, our university now uses Meeting Maker, so I get a…

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July 29, 2011, 1:16 pm

Tenured Folk: Is It Safe To Go Back On The Job Market?

Are you chum and the job market the Big White One?

In the case of the Tenured Radical, I think we can say:  most definitely yes.  After two years on the job market, I recently accepted an offer of a tenured faculty position at rank. While I have not yet entirely digested the experience, I have a few reflections on it in the event that you too are thinking about going on the market as a senior person.

I know, I know.  All of my advice is supposed to be for the nontenured or the jobless.  But senior people have dreams too, don’t they?  So after years of telling other people what to do, I put some of my own advice into practice.


March 29, 2011, 11:18 am

Tuesday Found Objects: What You Need To Subpoena From My Zenith Computer Today

I was hanging out this morning using my university computer to download BDSM pornography and order Angela Davis posters (paid for out of my research account, of course) when I decided to take a break and check up on what my other radical colleagues were doing.

They’ve been busy!  So without further ado:

  • The Facts, Ma’am.  Jon Wiener, from his perch at The Nation, asks:  “What does it take to become the target of this kind of attack?”  Wiener points out that Cronon is “not Bill Ayers,” but a self-avowed political centrist who published “a simple fact” that Republicans in Wisconsin did not want revealed:  their close ties to a group that drafts union-busting legislation and creates public relations strategies for passing that legislation. This fact, Wiener argues, “disrupts the Republicans’ explanation of what they are doing in Wisconsin. They say the new law there ending collective…

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January 2, 2011, 3:47 pm

I Killed My Book: And Other Highly Personal Thoughts On Writing To Begin the New Year

What would life be like if you started over again?

Sometime last fall I made decision to kill a book that I had worked on for a long, long time, a book that people still ask me about.  This is how it went.

Long-time readers of this blog know that I began Tenured Radical back in 2006 because I was in a Bad Way and trying to Work Out $ome $hit.  At the time,  I had gone through a major institutional trauma and survived it, just barely, and at a high cost to those close to me.   Central to this institutional trauma was a rather profound and vicious trashing of The Book.  Blogging became a way of returning to the book, a project that had become so utterly soiled by its use as a vehicle for expressing contempt for me that I couldn’t look at it without becoming enraged or suffering a profound sense of loss.

For a time, blogging worked to jump start what constituted a rescue operation rather than …

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