Category Archives: You Have Nothing To Lose But Your chains

January 10, 2014, 9:25 am

Things That Might Hinder Your Career, Part Eleventy

One of the standard questions for candidates at the end of a conference interview is: “Do you have any questions for us?” Which of the following do you think job candidates ask most rarely?

  • Will you tie me up?
  • Do you spank in your department before tenure?
  • Is that the PMLA in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?
  • All of the above.

From today’s Vitae, we see that some a$$hat put an ad on Craig’s List for power exchange interview sex at the Modern Language Association meeting in Chicago this (more…)

January 9, 2014, 2:03 pm

Downton Abbey — With Job Candidates

Mr. Carson

Mr. Carson; photo credit

John Hodgman’s spoof, “Downton Abbey — With Cats,” (The New Yorker, January 13 2014), has it exactly right. The season premiere of this popular, snooze-inducing update of Upstairs, Downstairs (1971-1975) has finally been reduced to its essence: clothing, manners, food and estate management. There is no longer a plot, nor is there really much of a script. It is not possible, for example, to issue spoiler alerts, as nothing happened in the premiere to season 4 that aired on Sunday. Nothing. You can watch it and go to bed with nothing on your mind.

This does not mean that we learn nothing from Downton, however, even though you would become a great deal more educated about the cultural history of post-war England from Bertie and Jeeves. For example, unless you have taken Modern British…

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November 16, 2013, 10:55 am

When You Are Too Sick to Teach

advertisement-for-sanitas-fumigator-for-the-treatment-of-influenza-and-other-lung-infections

Be considerate of yourself and others: stay home.

This article in today’s New York Times about doctors going to work ill struck a nerve as we enter the college sick season. Danielle Ofri’s account of tending to patients until she was completely felled with the barfing flu (otherwise known as the super-communicable norovirus) suggests that doctors forge on because they define themselves as the not-sick. ”As much as we empathize with our patients,” she writes, “part of protecting our inner core may require drawing an unconscious demarcation between ‘us’ and ‘them.’” Next to the grisly research about deadly infections being transmitted on physicians’ neckties, the idea of a doctor keeping an appointment with me when she has a vile illness is next on the list. I actually left a family practice years ago and found another doctor because it made no sense to me to go to a “wellness”…

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October 27, 2013, 11:19 am

The Check Is In The Mail — Sometimes

Kreider

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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July 9, 2013, 10:28 am

On Edmund Morgan and the Possibilities for Reviving a More Popular History

DoyenMorganPortraitAs you will see, the passing of a distinguished colleague brought ever more radical thoughts to mind this morning as I settled in to my writing.

Hat tip to Edmund Morgan. Do graduate students still read Morgan for their comps if they are not Early Americanists? I am of an age where we did, so it is with a heavy heart and a grateful wave that Tenured Radical bids goodbye to a distinguished writer and teacher who passed away yesterday at the age of 97. Morgan taught at Yale when I was an undergrad there, standing out as a teacher even among a history faculty famous for their capacity to make the past come alive in the lecture room. His biography of Benjamin Franklin  (more…)

April 24, 2013, 9:26 pm

Report From The Post-Feminist Mystique

514_400x400_NoPeelIf you are not a subscriber to The Nation you may have missed author Deborah Copaken Kogan’s “My So-Called Post-Feminist Lit Life.” Riffing off the title of the  TV series about adolescent female angst that introduced us to Claire Danes back in 1994, Kogan rips the lid off what it means to be a female author in a literary world where men rule.

Kogan’s reflection follows her nomination for the Orange Prize, a British literary award given only to women, and is a reflection on the perennial (male) complaint that the time for “women’s” anything has passed. Because feminism finished the work — and anyway, if it’s for women it’s got to be second rate, right? Unlike things for men, like, say, Augusta National, the Joint Chiefs of Staff or President of the United States.

Revealing that she has not yet been allowed to pick a title for one of her four books (Shuttergirl, a 2002 memoir of…

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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.