Monthly Archives: November 2012

What do you need in order to work in peace?

1. To be trusted at least minimally. Not to have it assumed, for instance, that because you may be X, you will surely oppose and work against Y.

2. To be respected/appreciated at least minimally. For example, not to be told that while your field needs representation for reasons having to do with accreditation, it is not actually welcome.

3. Not to be resented. Specifically, not to have people decide your degree itself or the institution from which it comes, or your latest publication, is a personal affront to them.

I would say these are the three main things. It is good not to be harassed or bullied but these things are more basic. It is alienating not to be on team but then also not, for strange and unimaginable reasons like these — reasons more destructive than any more rational ones.

Of course one’s research colleagues are elsewhere but the real life atmosphere one lives in every day matters, at least to me.


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How do academics get alienated from their work?

The answer to this question is easy. If they say research is not part of your job description it is not too bad. You can do research as your hobby and even keep a lot of it off the version of your vita you give them.

If they say research is part of your job description but to get along you had better not do it, and we are going to ask you to direct your effort elsewhere or similar things and you can move, that is fine.

But if not, erosion happens. I find that a difficult situation to work in, in part because I am not wired for ambivalence and in part because I do need moral support.

I have been alienated from work at different times for all kinds of reasons but I think it is worth repeating that alienated from work does not just mean from research.

What else are you not getting done? is the question I ask stalled dissertators. The assumption people make is that they are filling their days with other activities and need to cut down on these so as to make time. This is not always the case.

It has often seemed to me that I have had to pay for having gone to graduate school with my life, but perhaps not.


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Filed under Da Whiteman, Questions, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

Event, part 2

That went very well.


It exceeded expectations.


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The well crafted assignment

I have finally discovered a way to make the language students write coherent compositions without using translation programs, and without saying they do not know what to do: give very, very specific instructions, mostly in English. Here, the actual exercise is basically lifted from one of our books (¿Qué te parece esta lectura?) and the idea for the written instructions is someone else’s, too (although they are what I would say if asked). So this is not original with me, but it is new to me to go into this much detail, in writing, on how to write. Even though it is cobbled together from other peoples’ ideas (so it is a plagiarized assignment!) it took effort and time to construct.

I favor this, though, because it does seem to show students how to compose and write, which makes grading much easier. What my assistant said: you have to do their work for them these days, it is amazing that you had to write this much to ensure that they will be able to write something coherent.



Sobre “Kentucky” de Ernesto Cardenal

a) Citando ejemplos específicos del poema, comenta cómo el poeta crea imágenes del presente y del pasado para enfatizar los contrastes del presente y del pasado con base a los sentidos (el olfato, la vista, el oído). ¿Qué comparaciones exactas hace? ¿Qué admira, y qué critica el poema? ¿Hay ironía en el poema?

b) Después, expande tu comentario al considerar una de las preguntas siguientes:

¿Nosotros, en nuestras vidas modernas, también tenemos actividades que son imitaciones o re-creaciones de actividades que corresponden a otras épocas?

¿Sería mejor vivir en épocas de Daniel Boone o ahora, en tu opinión?

¿Qué hemos ganado, y qué hemos perdido con la industrialización?

c) Finalmente, escribe una conclusión breve, conectando tus ideas con las expresadas por Cardenal.

The poem uses the senses, or sensorial impressions, to contrast the Kentucky of the past and the one of the present. Note that there are very close comparisons between activities undertaken in the Kentucky of Boone’s time and Cardenal’s, and strong contrasts are drawn between the natural landscape as experienced in both eras.

I. Complete each of the following steps, legibly, on another sheet of paper. Number each item to correspond to the questions and instructions. Notes must be turned in to get full credit.

1. This assignment is designed to encourage you to:
(a) Look at the use of language in this text, understood in terms of grammar and vocabulary. What past tenses and other verb forms are being used, to what effect? How are the connector words like “y” and “que” used to structure this poem which is actually composed of a single, long sentence? How is vocabulary chosen to create a set of images? How does the juxtaposition of these images, and the order in which they are presented, work to tell a story, to elaborate on a theme, and to create an argument or a meaning (or set of meanings)?
(b) Use some of the grammatical structures we have studied this semester to consider the ideas, impressions and experiences presented in the poem in light of related views or experiences of your own.

2. In SPANISH, make three lists of experiences related in the poem: those associated with sight, those associated with hearing, and those associated with smell. Then underline the verb forms used in the poem to narrate these experiences: are they in present or past tenses (or others)?

3. In SPANISH, make a list of phrases you can use, using the simple vocabulary we already know, to discuss in simple terms the associations and comparisons that are made. What has positive, and what has negative connotations?

4. In SPANISH, make a list of words and phrases you can use, again using the vocabulary we already know, to discuss one of the questions in part (b), above, and to form a conclusion of one or two sentences (part c, above).

II. Use your notes to write your composition. It must be at least 20 sentences long.

> As you put your composition together, check your verbs: do you have the correct forms?

> Double-check that all the verbs agree with their subjects, that articles go with the nouns, and that adjectives and nouns (e.g. un convertible rojo) agree in gender and number.

>Proofread for coherence: is the discussion of the poem clear? Is the transition from this discussion to your discussion of your own experience smooth? Are direct connections or interesting parallels drawn between your own thoughts and the ideas expressed in the poem? Does your concluding sentence draw these together and take them one step further (or suggest the next step), as good conclusions do?

> Hand-write your composition neatly on loose-leaf paper, skipping lines, or if you write it on a computer, skip lines. Be sure to write in accent marks if these do not print.

> Use vocabulary from our textbook and reader, not from online dictionaries or any translation software! Using a translation program will result in a grade of ZERO and will be reported as academic dishonesty.

> Turn in both your notes and your composition at the beginning of the final examination.


Filed under Banes, News

Algo bien básico

Someone said:

I had to get past the internalized shame and doubt because I hadn’t been producing when I was sick.

I am expected to have this issue but I do not really — it is more sadness at the fun I missed.

I have internalized shame and doubt is about not being able to make basic foreign language classes work in the present situation.

All I care about are the students who care, and I feel badly about not being able to either quiet or drop those who do not.


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J’en ai quatre nouveaux

I actually am in academia for money.


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It is not time management, y’all, or management of priorities, or of tasks, these are the things many of us learned even before serious school started. It is energy management and again, I am not talking about time or priorities or effort. I will explain.



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman

Now I see

…what has been going on. There is a certain kind of bad situation I can usually only tell I have because of how I feel from it, not what I see.

You have to believe your senses. And I, if I am flashing back as I have kept doing intermittently for about three weeks, am always reacting to something that is happening now, even if I cannot identify it. This is a really important point, it is not random and it is not simply because I have been reminded — it is because there is some actually similar situation now.

Our lecture tonight was moved to a different building and we all felt so happy, without oppression, and the room was beautiful and we all felt somehow reborn, we were brilliant.


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Pelo Telefone, sung by Bahiano (1916)

Colleague, by telephone: You must help me, as I am terrified. I am painted into a corner, it is not easy to move from here and I cannot afford to move soon. I need to make tenure, really need it. Yet conditions are such that one cannot work to it. And I have found I am powerless to change these conditions, or even to make others see a change is the answer, despite the fact that a change would clearly benefit one and all.

Z: All I can say is, I am glad to know I am not the only one with this problem. I thought it was my lack of skill, or some situation unique to me.

Looking back on this long-ago day I remember the terror and I think it all has to do with the earnest Advice. “If you do not do exactly this, you will die!” appears to be what we both heard or knew.

My book on this, if I actually write it, will have to do with the variations on standard strategies. It will also have a different point of departure since most others appear to believe the hardest part of an academic job is research. I keep thinking this is a book for graduate students and new faculty, like so many others, but I wonder whether it might also be for their advisors.


What I am tired of is the state of emergency. When do we sail in clear water, when do we get free of the wreckage, when do we hit our stride.



Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Songs

Coda on advice and its sources II

Colleague: Only you did not lie to me or misrepresent anything at my interview. Z: None of us lied, or intended to misrepresent anything. It is only that I know what it is like where you are from, and also where you studied, and I am not from here either, although I have been here some time. All of this means I was able translate for you, as it were.

I appear to have super-knowledge, on the one hand, but I am also impaired.

“Only do things that will help you move up and out.”
– Yes, but I must first create conditions in which I can do such things. (The advice is not made for this situation.)

It takes me such a long time to process things, perhaps because of having heard the advice so desperately, so many times, while everything that was actually done indicated that the advice was only official, or that the conditions in which it might be applied are only tenuously present.

“Why don’t you do this?”
– It is not within my power.
– The decision is not mine to make.
– Yes, I know things are different where you are.

That is all true but I have more power than I believe.


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