Category Archives: research

October 2, 2014, 11:41 am

Department of Not-Useful Research: “Women” Prefer “Gay Porn”

18724101Remember that scene at the beginning of The Kids Are Alright (Lisa Cholodenko, 2010), in which “the moms” watch gay male porn while their attempt to perform lesbian sex is a total fail? I remember my creeping embarrassment at this scene, not because of the porn but because I hate lesbian bed death jokes. It turns out that I missed the point. Amanda Duberman at The Huffington Post reported yesterday that women’s taste in pornography runs away from violence and “female friendly” products (whatever that is), and runs heavily towards queer porn featuring men and women. As it also turns out, Cholodenko was offering me  information – in addition to signaling that the whole movie would be a lesbian bed death joke.

Silly me. You have to understand: I write about porn, I research porn, I have friends and former students who make porn, and I’ve got a book manuscript under revision that …

Read More

February 26, 2013, 10:14 am

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Crowdfunding

kickstartingToday’s guest blogger, Dan Royles is a doctoral candidate in history at Temple University. He is currently a dissertation fellow at the Center for Historical Research at the Ohio State University. Update: Due to your generosity, Dan raised almost a thousand dollars more than his goal by the deadline.

For almost a month, I’ve been using Kickstarter to raise money for my oral history project on African American AIDS activism. I’m a doctoral student in history writing a dissertation on the same topic, and as with many projects on the recent past, archival sources are relatively thin. But fortunately, although the HIV epidemic in black communities has claimed many of the very people who fought to stop it over the past thirty years, others are still around and eager to share their stories, so doing oral histories makes a lot of sense. I wanted to undertake a full-fledged oral…

Read More

January 27, 2013, 10:34 am

Want Helicopter Parents Gone? Teach Your Students To Fly

In today’s New York Times KJ Dell’Antonia weighs in on helicopter parenting, speculating that one outcome of articles like his is to give some parents the warm and fuzzies. After having read about how other people’s  kids wander clueless through their educations, “most readers get to give themselves a pat on the back. They would never do such crazy stuff! Therefore, they are not helicopter parents. Case closed — off to drive the kid to hockey practice as soon as I pack up his bag.”

Dell’Antonia missed the second audience for this article. College teachers and university administrators will be re-posting it to Facebook, with hair-raising stories about the heli-relllies who have been camped out in the President’s waiting room, grimly awaiting action on last semester’s Epic Fail. Parents intervening on behalf of young people who have screwed up in some dismal way or another is a fact …

Read More

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…

Read More

September 6, 2011, 5:19 pm

Respecting Differences

Today’s guest blogger is my Zenith colleague, feminist philosopher, animal studies scholar and fellow tenured radical Lori Gruen.  I asked her to comment on the renewed interest, both virtual and real, in the relationship between humans and chimpanzees.

Two summer movies featuring “chimpanzees” (no actual chimpanzees were used in the production of either film) have really got folks talking about our primate cousins.  People seem to be both fascinated and frightened by the idea that scientists might create intelligence in other apes.  What’s interesting is that other apes are already intelligent without our manipulations — we just don’t know how to appreciate it because we’re too focused on our own cleverness.  Project Nim, a documentary by James Marsh, director of the acclaimed Man on a Wire, reveals the quirks inherent in cognition research with chimpanzees as well as …

Read More

July 16, 2011, 3:21 pm

B Is For Bourdieu; Or, Why A Selective School Doesn’t Grade Like A Community College

In our endless quest for intellectual excellence, we at Tenured Radical ask today:  ”Why do college teachers give so many B’s?”  This strikes us as a dramatically more novel and interesting question than the ongoing obsession about why college teachers give so many A’s. We were pushed to think about this after reading an article in The Deseret News, which notified us of the unsurprising fact that 43% of college grades are in the range of A, and fewer than 10% of grades are C or below.  So why are critics so concerned about A’s when, in fact, B seems to be the giveaway grade, coming in at somewhere over 47% of all grades given?

Any of us who teach at any level nowadays know that C, D, and F are now the equivalent of “fail, fail minus, and geddaf*ckouddahere.”  To lean sloppily on the work of sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, students at selective schools who receive these grades are be…

Read More

May 26, 2011, 1:16 pm

Isn’t It Time To Bring The State Back In? Thoughts On The Recent Pew Report On Higher Ed

If you have a Google alert on “college,” as I do, you will know that the last week has been filled with pundits weighing in on the question of whether college is a worthwhile investment.  This is because, on May 16, the Pew Center released a new report called  “Is Higher Education Worth It?  College Presidents, Public Assess Value, Quality and Mission of Higher Education.” Highlight: although every feature of the report addresses the wreckage that privatization and cutting public education budgets has created over the last two decades, the report never suggests that getting the government back into the business of funding higher education would be a good start to solving any of these problems.

Now, although I always find what the Pew Center has to say interesting, as a researcher my first question about the study is this.  Putting aside the fact that there could be no demographics more…

Read More

March 6, 2011, 7:43 pm

On The Road: Radical Research Tips For Historians And Other People

The National Archives

Your favorite Radical is settled in at the  Rumor Mill in Culver City, an Internet cafe that has a convenient coin laundry next door.   Research trips lasting longer than a few days necessitate either big luggage or laundry.  I opted for the second, since I had a Sunday, and since my travel wardrobe consists mostly of black tee shirts I only need to do one load.  But laundry also gives me another opportunity, which is to hang out and see a little bit of where I am.  Last night I walked Abbot Kinney in Venice and had an outstanding dinner at 3 Square Cafe and Bakery (barbecued ribs and sweet potato fries, with a cucumber, watercress and yogurt salad to start) and spent the rest of the evening checking out tee shirts that cost between forty and sixty dollars.

I had spent the day at UCLA Special Collections in the Women Against Violence Against Women papers.  For those…

Read More

March 2, 2011, 4:15 pm

My Bags Are Packed, I’m Ready To Go: The Spring Research Trip

Happy 100th Birthday Ronnie!  I’ve FOIA’d your a$$!  (Corbis Bettman.)

Dateline Simi Valley.  When I look back at the past four years of the blog, I have filed several series of posts while on spring research trips.  Zenith has a rather unique spring break structure, as I may have mentioned:  two weeks in the middle of March.  I don’t know any other colleague who has two weeks off; my guess is that there will be some kind of sunset on this little oddity sooner rather than later.  Zenith is currently in a homogenizing mood, and everything we do is becoming more like what everyone else does.

Here is my current list of non-confidential items that fit this category (yes, they have all been reported on in the campus newspaper.) We now have  summer sessions, in which one can mostly take a dizzying array of introductory science courses (they are now imagining a J-term, which every college student…

Read More

August 8, 2009, 5:23 pm

Research Trip Skills; or, “Be Prepared!”

I remember heading out on my first research trip. It was when I was just beginning my dissertation, and I thought I would start with a week at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park.

The first thing that happened was that my car broke down. I had to rent another one along the way. Oh, and did I tell you that this was prior to the invention of the easily portable laptop computer? I had not yet purchased the then-revolutionary Kaypro (the computer that looked like a terrorist’s suitcase, weighed enough to actually have fissionable material in it, and required two 6×6 discs just to boot up?) So we took notes by hand. That’s right: on index cards, just like our high school history teachers taught us.

Although I had some money for a motel, I did not have enough for a motel and a kennel, so I took my long-suffering Labrador Daisy with me. She spent the day in the …

Read More