Category Archives: the Horror

November 29, 2014, 12:30 pm

Study says Humanities Ph.D. Candidates Should Drink More Coffee

Drink-Coffee

Ok, I lied. But you clicked on it, didn’t you?

Today we focus on yet another study, this one by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. The AAAS injects new life into a tired conversation (one that has been going on intermittently for about five decades) about whether humanities Ph.D.s spend too much time in graduate school. What are they doing there? Should they do less of it? More? Should they do the same things — only faster? No one seems to know much, except that the median time to degree is 6.9 years.

As Colleen Flaherty of Inside Higher Ed noted last week, in a follow up to the MLA’s 2014 report that recommended a five-year Ph.D. clock “with wiggle room” (perhaps two years of wiggling?), AAAS is suggesting that humanities graduate students might benefit more generally from a shorter time to degree.

Among the key findings is that the median time is longer in the…

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May 31, 2014, 12:12 pm

Moving Experiences

u-haul_logo_3_xh2u

One of many lies you will encounter on your journey to your new home.

Facebook is full of transitions right now. Some people who already had tenured or tenure-track jobs are moving to new ones. Newly, or recently, minted Ph.D.s are leaving Grad Institution City for a tenure-track job, and others are taking a post-doc or visiting job. Some people are deciding to leave academic work altogether. They have had it with years of temporary, uncertain employment; they want to stop commuting; or they want to live somewhere that really suits them, not the place where the job market dumped them. And I say, good for you. It takes guts.

Whatever your reason for relocating, moving is a drag. I know. I’ve moved fifteen times, which is really not an accurate number. In our years as a commuter couple we would sublet our New…

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May 7, 2014, 11:19 am

Is College Teaching Just a Job?

vintage_circus_posterClearing out a bookcase the other day, I stumbled across an unread copy of The Hedgehog Review that had slipped to the back of a shelf. I was delighted to find, among several interesting essays and interviews, an article by Frank Donaghue that asks the question: “Do College Teachers Have to Be Scholars?” (spring 2012). Part of a provocative special issue on The Corporate Professor, I am sorry to say you cannot click through to it, but here are the answers to the question:

  • No. The connection between teaching and scholarship has been “uncritically yoked” during the same decades that more and more college faculty can expect to work as adjuncts, jobs in which there is generally no time, support or reward for traditional scholarly production. Adjuncting is now the dominant model for college teaching, fueled by the hiring practices of the only faculties that are currently expanding:…

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April 22, 2014, 7:42 am

Department of — Assassins?

thEveryone on Facebook is complaining about grading. But at least you aren’t worried about character assassination, or actually being assassinated. You aren’t the chair of the French Department at Oberlin, where one faculty member is suing a colleague for making multiple false claims that he was plotting to kill a third faculty member, that he brought a relative to the United States and falsified his academic credentials to embed him as a killer for hire, and — now there is undoubtedly some very strict language about this in the faculty handbook –that he tried to pay his TA to marry him.

You can also thank your lucky stars that you are not the Dean of the Faculty at Oberlin, wondering how this case got to court in the first place. As Kaylee Remington of the Lorain, Ohio Morning Journal reported last week,

a lawsuit filed April 17 in Lorain County Common Pleas Court, Ali Yedes, who…

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April 20, 2014, 10:48 pm

Mean Presidents, And Other Campus News

jimmy_olsen_by_docshaner-d3hcilh

Your cub reporter

Last week I was reviewing books about blogging for a course I am teaching in the fall. Advice from professional bloggers who actually make money doing this is to post every day. So I did, but curiously, although there were plenty of readers, there were few comments. What’s with you guys? Grading or something? Even sexual mayhem at Dartmouth didn’t rile anyone up! That surprised me, I’ve got to say. There are usually squads of people out there ready to defend the poor lads who are being “falsely accused” and tell me I am a puritan; or alternatively, accuse me of patronizing women. I was reproved for patronizing librarians, who want money and not kisses.

I can understand that. But all I have is kisses. And news:

Here’s the Colby College Library — but where are the books? In storage, that’s

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March 6, 2012, 11:37 am

The Gospel of the Toothbrush; Or, How Many Teeth Does Your Child Have (Left)?

Just when you thought that middle-class parents had reached the limits of ignorance, the New York Times reports today that children under the age of five are showing up at the dentist’s office with a dozen or so cavities.  Some need the kind of extensive repair that is usually characteristic of people my age. One little darling featured in the story had 22 cavities, and was due for a root canal — at the age of two and a half years.  Go read it here.

My first thought was, well, these are probably parents working 3-5 jobs between them: things like toothbrushing just fall through the cracks as Mom and Dad pass each other in the hall like ghosts between day shift, night shift and swing shift.  But apparently not. The kid with the root canal?  Mom is described as a homemaker and Dad is in IT. Homemaker is not an easy career, I’ll grant you, which is a reason I checked the “historian” …

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December 19, 2011, 1:05 pm

History and the Politics of Scholarly Collaboration, Part I: Or, Why Anthony Grafton Is a Rock Star

Meet Anthony Grafton, the AHA's Jonathan Swift

Have you followed American Historical Association president Anthony Grafton’s serial meditation on how graduate schools might respond to a bad academic job market? A market that has, since the the 1970s, been either stagnant or getting worse? A market with whose effects the blogosphere is obsessed?

If you haven’t, you need to catch up.  For “No More Plan B” (October 2011) and “Plan C” (November 2011), both co-written with Jim Grossman for the AHA newsletter Perspectives, go here and here. For an article about “Plan B” by Scott Jaschik of Inside Higher Ed (October 3 2011) go here; and for a response by graduate student Dan Alloso (UMass-Amherst) go here. (more…)

November 27, 2011, 11:29 am

Even More Annals of the Great Depression: A Job Market Carnival

It’s the last day of Thanksgiving break, which means the job season (for what it is worth) is about to go into high gear. Longtime Readers of the Radical will recall that one of my early posting categories was the job market (tag lines also include “the job fairy,” “the job fairy is not smiling” and “the job fairy is smiling.”) When I began this blog, it is quite possible that I had served on and/or chaired more searches than almost anyone my age. (more…)

June 2, 2011, 3:07 pm

As The Department Turns: What Causes Conflict, Drama And Other Energy Sapping Dynamics

Things can explode when you least expect it!

 This week’s Chronicle of Higher Education features a blog post by David Perlmutter entitled “It’s Not Your Fault.”  Aimed mostly at helping assistant professors and graduate students understand how they might have unintentionally become the target of a senior person’s anger or jealousy, Perlmutter explores six factors that might cause unwelcome behaviors by senior people.  While it is sometimes the case that a younger person’s actions might have provoked the incident or ongoing dynamic, it is also likely that it didn’t. The project of figuring out what went wrong can be just as agonizing for a younger person as the reprisals and criticisms themselves. 

As Perlmutter notes wisely, “sometimes the quickest relief comes from merely figuring out that a single tussle or a longstanding feud is not your fault but rather originates in the minds,…

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January 11, 2011, 5:06 pm

If I Could Stick My Pen In My Heart/And Spill It All Over the Stage: Teaching Evaluations

If I could win ya, if I could sing ya
A love song so divine
Would it be enough for your cheating heart
If I broke down and cried? If I cried?
“It’s Only Rock n’ Roll (But I Like It),” Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, 1974
In the past week or so, as many of us have been putting together classes for the new semester, teaching evaluations have arrived.  I suspect they arrive electronically at most places now, as that is substantially cheaper for the institution. At Zenith we switched over from a paper system, where students filled them out together in one of the final classes, to an online one in which they fill them out alone and receive access to their grade for the course only after having done so. Like everyone else, students are bowling alone.
But I like it, like it, yes I do.  Photo credit.
I have thought for years that fall teaching evaluations, received as the promise of the new spring…

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