Category Archives: the Radical Addresses Her Public

May 2, 2010, 12:08 pm

Like Sands Through The Hourglass, So Are The Days Of Our Lives: Having The Courage Not To Go To Graduate School

You would think that May would signal the winding down of things at Zenith. In fact, as we all know, the liberal arts college has a tendency to crank things up toward the end of the year. Didn’t spend enough of your budget? There will be a memo asking for suggestions on how to do that. Last year, when I was chair and everyone was in ex post crash-o mentality, we saved a lot of time via a memo telling us that departments and programs were prohibited from spending down at the end of the year, although how they would be able to sift legitimate from illegitimate expenses was not clear. (“Six skateboards? Why did sociology purchase skateboards?”) Prizes and various awards must be given, and we will be solicited for the names of ever-more students to receive them. Committees that have been ruminating on this or that will be rushing legislation to the floor of the last faculty meeting….

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March 16, 2010, 1:43 pm

College Teaching 101: Managing The Lecture Class

In February 2010, I participated in a Roundtable discussion about teaching lecture classes at Zenith. The following essay about teaching is developed from the notes I prepared for that occasion.

Why is it important to learn how to teach lecture classes well?

First of all, for many of us, lecturing will make up the lion’s share of our course load – whether you measure that in students taught (a SLAC) or courses taught (a research or state university.) Novice teachers live with the terror of a little-acknowledged fact: the lecture room is where your weaknesses, or your inexperience, are most easily revealed; it is where your expertise will be challenged most publicly, often by questions that come out of left field, questions that may be designed to undermine you — or not. Disturbing things happen in the lecture room because students (having not yet gone to graduate school to be…

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January 14, 2010, 2:50 pm

Playing The Blame Game: Or; How Should Graduate Schools Respond To The Bad Job Market?

Over at ConfessionsOf A Community College Dean your favorite administrator and mine, Dean Dad, asks: “Why do people still go to grad school in the liberal arts?”

Good question. Although I have no former undergraduates making the leap into a Ph.D. program this year, the bigger picture is quite different. As Dean Dad notes, “the adjunct trend is so well-established at this point, and the economic irrationality of grad school so screamingly obvious, that it’s fair to wonder why many departments are actually experiencing record applications.” While he explores various irrational explanations — love for learning, self-delusion, and hiding out until the recession is over — there is, he argues, some rationality to the choice:

academia still offers a surface legibility. Yes, the odds are daunting, but good students have spent years rising to the top of academic competitions. There’s still a…

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October 25, 2009, 1:00 pm

Next Week, For My Benefit, President Obama Will Play Basketball With Lesbians

What, exactly, has happened to feminism?

If Joanne Lipman’s peculiar rant in yesterday’s New York Times about why women should only blame themselves for the lack of gender equality in the so-called “post-feminist” world was not enough to inspire this question (see Historiann for extended commentary), read today’s paper. A front-page story by Mark Leibovich features former Clintonista Dee Dee Myers wagging a finger at President Obama for playing sports with men. Forget it that a grown woman who calls herself Dee Dee, and whose job description seems to be pundit, is accusing the President of not taking female people seriously. Forget it that Dee Dee would know better than anyone that it is not always a good thing for the President to relax by playing with girls.

No, I am going to lay those issues aside and cut to the chase: who the President plays basketball with has nothing to do with…

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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 …

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July 1, 2009, 1:39 pm

“And Your Little Dog Too!!!” Christina Hoff Sommers Still Wants The Ruby Slippers

Yesterday one of my trusted agents (and I keep telling you, my agents are everywhere) sent me a link to Christina Hoff Sommer’s recent piece in the Chronicle of Higher Ed, “Persistent Myths in Feminist Scholarship.” I thought Sommers was going to really let fly about vaginal orgasm (“what vaginal orgasm????”), or weigh in about whether women were on the cutting edge of medical practice in the nineteenth century until men invented medical school as a canny strategy to take over the birthing room. But I soon realized that the article was just another tired old piece of conservative wheel-spinning crap, the central ideas of which Sommers (who calls herself an “equity feminist”) has published elsewhere.

As I wondered why the Chronicle would publish something intended only to generate more of the drama Sommers is famous for, this exchange from The Wizard of Oz, featuring Judy Garland an…

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June 21, 2009, 2:37 pm

Another Year, Another Job Market: When Not Perfecting Your Tan This Summer, How Can You Prepare?

“And by the way,” I wrote in a message to a young scholar whose book manuscript I would love to sign for the new monograph series Renee Romano and I are doing at the University of Georgia Press, Since 1970: Histories of Contemporary America, “There’s nothing that accessorizes an interview outfit like a book contract!”

Which got me to thinking: it’s been a long time since there was any Radical Advice for the job-lorn. One by one, jobs are starting to appear on the web and in those odd paper newsletters our professional organizations still send out. So what can you do now to get ready for a new job season? Well, it depends on what kind of job seeker you are. None of the advice that follows is comprehensive, and if we are really lucky, this post will draw a lot of comments from readers willing to share experiences that will correct, amplify and enrich it.

For The Market Novice

If you have…

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May 28, 2009, 12:44 pm

Should Have Taken The Car (And Other Radical Notes On Public Policy and Family Values)

In case you were about to get to work this morning, hold your horses. Megan Stack at The Huffington Post gives us a sneak preview of the latest episode in Wasilla’s Bristolgate scandal. In the upcoming GQ, hunkalicious high school dropout Levi Johnston reveals that on multiple occasions Todd Palin offered to give Bristol a car if she would break up with him.

Definitely should have taken the car, Bristol. Of course, maybe she figured that if she didn’t use birth control, and did have a baby, Todd and Sarah would have to give her a car anyway to take the baby to Baby Swim and Well Baby and Baby Baby. Or that Sarah would forget that it was Bristol’s baby, and maybe think it was just another baby she had delivered herself by mistake on a fund-raising trip. Then Bristol would have had both Levi and the car. Talk about thinking ahead!

But back to poor, wounded Levi, who is now said to…

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May 24, 2009, 8:35 pm

Radical Commencement Address

Dear Graduates of Zenith:

You are done, God bless you. The clouds cleared, the sun shined, and we all sat out there and baked. Except it was more like being poached, really. Between last night’s rain and today’s sunshine, we the faculty, deans and administration cooked slowly, draped in various fabrics, wearing black velvet hats, listening to all the same speeches you heard. And they were very good speeches: (Not So) New President made a big statement about the proliferation of handgun violence and violence against women; Anna Quindlen suggested that you take a crack at fixing the world since everyone older than you hasn’t really made much of a go of it. A community organizer from Middletown read a sweet passage from E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web that made me tear up. And then you threw your hats in the air, and we all marched away. The woman I was sitting next to pointed to a line …

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April 22, 2009, 11:50 pm

This One’s For You: What The Bush Administration Did For America

There are lies, and then there are lies.

There was Bill Clinton claiming that “he did not have sexual relations with that woman,” for which he was impeached. Aides to Richard M. Nixon went to prison for crimes, and covering up crimes, that subverted the electoral process and that abused the power of government to investigate and punish Nixon’s political enemies.

So how about the lies of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld? The lies about “a few bad apples” committing aberrant crimes at Abu Ghraib? Where do we stand as a nation on those?

Oh sure, you have been hearing reports on the news all day, but we are historians: we always want to look at the archive. So you might want to read this government report about the full knowledge Bush administration officials had about what was going on at Abu Ghraib, and other places where people were being tortured on the authority of the President of the United …

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