Category Archives: You Have Nothing To Lose But Your chains

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.

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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