Category Archives: kiss my queer ass Grim Reaper

January 21, 2010, 2:10 am

A Bad Day For People Who Love To Read: Robert B. Parker and Erich Segal

Since reading mystery books got me through graduate school with my mind intact (OK, mystery books and Tina Turner’s Private Dancer album), imagine my shock this morning when I opened the Paper of Record and learned that Robert B. Parker died at his desk yesterday. Parker, who wrote five pages a day, every day, was the creator and alter-ego of my beloved Spenser, Boston’s literary private dick and modern Knight of the Round Table. I will never forget reading my first Spenser, at the urging of my first real, grown-up, live-in girlfriend, while I was studying for my comprehensives. I then read the next fifteen, and haven’t missed buying them in hardback since. Next time you are in a rough spot with an administrator, try this kind of retort on for size (quoted in the obituary):

“Look, Dr. Forbes,” Spenser says to the long-winded college president who is hiring him. “I went to…

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May 6, 2009, 8:46 pm

This Is What You Do: A Shooting On Campus

Over two years ago, on April 17, 2009, after the Virginia Tech shootings, I wrote this post. Towards the end I wrote:

So far, two faculty members have been identified as among the dead, one of whom may have tried to block the classroom door to give his students time to escape through a second story window. Another faculty member, interviewed yesterday on NPR’s Fresh Air, described barricading himself in his office as he heard the gunfire below, listening to students and faculty being shot and not knowing where his two children (enrolled at Tech) were at that precise moment. And I know that I am thinking about this because the human mind grasps precisely what it can handle and no more but: am I the only college teacher wondering whether I would have the courage to try to save student lives in such a pointlessly horrible situation, knowing that mine might be taken in the process? Or the …

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April 14, 2009, 11:39 am

All About Eve: Eve Sedgwick, May 2, 1950 – April 12, 2009

As I am a historian and not a literary scholar, I don’t have much of a claim to memorialize Eve Sedgwick, who died Sunday after a long and brave struggle with cancer. I didn’t know her — I knew of her, I read her, and our paths intersected here and there. And yet there are often certain figures present at the founding of a field who provide glimmers of insight and inspiration, lighting candles in corners of the intellectual world previously dark. They have a disproportionate effect on all scholarship, reaching far beyond their own discipline or specialty to alter the way we think.

Eve was one of these people, and historians have felt her influence in profound ways. While many scholars would look at Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire and Epistemology of the Closet as Eve’s most crucial contributions to queer studies, for me it was Tendencies, a group of essays …

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September 23, 2008, 12:14 am

Elegy For A Really Good Administrator

Over the weekend, our associate provost died suddenly and very young. Early in both our careers we had our struggles with each other. As I matured, I acquired the attitude that maybe being pleasant rather than obnoxious would help me get on better with everyone who ran the university, which, shockingly, did turn out to be a better way to get things done. As the Mother of the Radical (MOTheR) always said, “Good manners can’t hurt, and smile when you say that.” (Or was that John Wayne who gave me that advice?) Anyway, when I became a chair, and then chair of a major faculty committee, I realized that being pleasant was the only route to go, and in the process came to understand that most of the people who run Zenith are hard-working individuals who try to do their best for the faculty and the students.

Which is how I ended up forming a relationship with Paula Lawson. Oh sure, we didn’t …

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