Category Archives: you Know Who You Are

July 22, 2013, 9:39 am

More On The Grafton Line: You Can Play Too

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L.D. Burnett sez: Bring it on, play-uhs.

We have just passed the half-way marker for summer, with a precious few weeks remaining before those emails about fall teaching start arriving.  And what to my wondering eyes do appear, as I was posting hilarious quotes about Kate Middleton’s labor on Facebook?

The Grafton Challenge.

For some time I have been following Saved By History, the blog of a certain L.D. Burnett, a Ph.D. candidate in the History of Ideas at University of Texas-Dallas. We are Facebook friends, so when I noticed comments about how generous senior scholars can be, I thought in a rosy haze, “Yes we are….but what did I do to deserve such a lovely compliment?”

Not so fast, Radical. It’s Princeton’s Tony Grafton she’s talking about.

Here’s the skinny. Yesterday, Burnett responded on blog to…

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May 6, 2013, 10:26 am

Where Are the Women At The New York Review of Books?

nyrb052313_png_230x1292_q85One of the paradoxes of being a female intellectual in my generation is that we grew up dreaming about being part of a literary and academic establishment that did not include people like us. This is, of course, doubly true for lesbians and women of color. My life history is informed by what is, and what used to be: sometimes the two collide. These collisions usually occur when I revisit the literary institutions that have shaped my aspirations and career since the 1960s.

My perspective on publishing is a comparatively long one. I have been a continuous subscriber to publications like The NationThe New Yorker and  The New York Review of Books since I was a teenager. When, as a young person, I imagined myself a writer, I imagined myself writing for those publications despite the fact that they were almost entirely written by men. Since feminism was only beginning to make an…

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November 22, 2012, 10:41 am

Why Did The Pilgrims Establish A Day Of Thanksgiving?

To get a long weekend for catching up on their grading, of course.

Oh yeah, Thanksgiving has a bunch of origin stories, but this is the one no one knows. See, in 1621 the Pilgrims had assigned a bunch of papers and got backed up, as is not uncommon even for really conscientious faculty. But the Pilgrims had been staking out a new empire and purifying the Anglican church. They were simply overcommitted, and had not yet “learned to say no” as so many of us are now usefully instructed to do by senior colleagues.

The Wampanoags, however, were concerned about their grades, particularly since it was well past midterms. They came over and were like, “Yo! When are we getting our papers back?” In a classic feint that had first been used at Oxford back in 1321, the Puritan forefathers said, “We are almost done grading but in the meantime, why don’t you come to dinner and bring the main…

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April 17, 2012, 11:16 am

When Is Competition a Positive Force?

Thomas Eakins, Max Schmitt in a Single Scull (1871), Metropolitan Museum of Art

Yesterday morning I was gliding down the river in my single scull. I was ten to fifteen minutes from the dock, workout complete, leg muscles burning slightly, warming down and starting to think about the rest of the day. After I navigated the last turn, a long bend that can make you or break you in the annual 3.5 mile race our rowing club hosts in October, it would be a straight shot back to the boat house.

Then I noticed another sculler on my port side: I was about a half length ahead.

I don’t wear my glasses on the water (more than one rower has sent an $800 pair of specs to the bottom of the river) so I identify others by how they row and the color of their boats. It was Jackson, a 70-something masters’ rower who…

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April 29, 2011, 11:12 am

The Only Good Professor Is A Dead Professor: Or, Is The Decline Of Academic Labor A Health Risk?

When was the last time you stopped grading, writing, reading or writing up committee reports and went to the gym?  In “Performance Pressure,” published this week in the Canadian academic journal Academic Matters, Megan A. Kirk and Ryan E. Rhodes are betting you didn’t do it lately.  In “Performance Pressure” they argue that assistant professors are particularly at risk. “Being a professor is a profession that has been shown to have the longest work hours, heaviest work demands, highest psychological stress, and lowest occupational energy expenditure compared to other professional occupations,” they write. Hence, among all professional workers, new faculty are most likely to become mentally run-down and unhealthy for lack of exercise:

For many, the allure of becoming a professor is the promise of a career that involves freedom of choice, national funding, opportunities for promotion,…

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January 18, 2010, 1:18 pm

Lefty Loosey, Righty Tighty: Sociologists Try To Explain The Political Orientation Of The Academy

In Professor Is A Label That Leans To The Left, New York Times reporter Patricia Cohen reports on a new study by sociologists Neil Gross and Ethan Fosse that reaffirms the liberalism of university faculties. However, says Cohen, “critics may have been asking the wrong question. Instead of looking at why most professors are liberal, they should ask why so many liberals — and so few conservatives — want to be professors.”

Putting aside for now the issue of what might be the right question (like why most people read about scholarship in the newspaper rather than reading scholarship), Gross and Fosse point out that conservatives may not see university teaching as consonant with their image as conservatives; nor do conservatives see university careers as the best use of their time and ideas. Beginning with William F. Buckley’s God and Man At Yale (1954), conservatives have consistently…

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October 21, 2009, 6:49 pm

Here’s A Place To Begin Reforming Health Care: A Letter To My (Former) Primary Care Physician


Dear Dr. PCP,

I called your office this morning at 9 a.m. because I realized this morning that a cold I had yesterday had triggered an asthma attack. I am currently on maintenance medications for asthma (Singulair and Zyrtec), which means I am almost never actively asthmatic. The corollary to this is that when an asthma attack commences I know that the situation is potentially serious, and I explained this to the woman who answered the telephone at your office. I asked for a prescription refill for an albuterol inhaler and an Azmacort inhaler, and told the administrator that my history of asthma, and the drugs I have been prescribed in the past (including these) could be found in my file. This is what followed:

I offered to come in to the office if a doctor wished to see me before refilling my prescriptions.

The administrator said that you were out of the office, but that there was an…

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September 5, 2009, 3:17 pm

Just Say No (But Not To Me): Achieving Balance in Your Work

I wish I had a dollar for every time in my career at Zenith that, upon noticing or being told pointedly how many responsibilities I have, a senior colleague or administrator has said: “You just have to learn to say no.”

It makes me want to punch them. Figuratively speaking, of course.

Sometimes it is said in a genuine attempt to be helpful: “Perhaps,” my colleague is thinking, “TR doesn’t know that she isn’t expected to respond to every last living human being who asks her for something, and I need to reassure her that it would be OK to say no to many of the things people are asking her to do.” Sometimes (and the older you get, the more likely it is that the message is delivered in this spirit) it is patronizing. The colleague is saying some version of, “No wonder you haven’t finished that book yet — don’t blame the rest of us if you haven’t learned time management skills, and if you …

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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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June 8, 2009, 2:03 pm

If President Obama Supports the Culture of Death, Then I Do Too


Those of you who do not get the New York Times may have missed the feature story describing the confusion and uncertainty abortion protesters in Wichita, KS have been afflicted with since the murder of Dr. George Tiller shut down all the women’s health clinics in the city.

“I don’t know what the future holds,” said Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, one of the most well-known anti-abortion organizations. Seven years ago, Mr. Newman moved his organization’s national headquarters, its leaders and his family from Southern California to Wichita to focus a national spotlight on Dr. Tiller, whom he described as “the flagship” of the country’s abortion business.

“I think it’s too early to say what comes next,” he said.

Although Operation Rescue worked for years to close down Dr. Tiller’s clinic, his death was never the outcome Mr. Newman wished for, he said. Of …

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