Rebecca Schuman

This post is a footnote to the Spanish Professor’s excellent discussion of the case of Rebecca Schuman, who has taken a certain amount of abuse lately and of whose situation I am now somewhat better apprised than I have been. I have a few non-Power points to make.

1. Schuman is in German. Do you have any idea what the job market is like in German? People brighter and more invested than many of the rest of us, are unemployed. Going through the market in that field is truly harrowing and it causes people real pain.

2. She is brave to be writing about it and while one may disagree with some statements and views, treating her as a traitor to the cause does make academia seem cultish.

3. This is her bio at OSU. Does she look like a slouch?

4. This is an op/ed she wrote in 2013. Can you write on professional issues with more verve?

5. Frankly, people who require complete loyalty at all times should really be complaining about me more than about her — I who have not appreciated the opportunities I have had fully enough, I who have not tolerated workplace harassment well enough, I who threw my talents away for decades, I who have broken every hallowed rule, I who have been occupying a professorship as I dreamed of other projects and other worlds.

6. Or, if you are truly serious, you will start putting in some work to right the things that are wrong with funding formulae now, rather than rag on the people the system has spit out.

7. The rest is silence.


24 thoughts on “Rebecca Schuman

  1. You should be proud of it. And although it was not her department (he was in French and Italian), and she never mentioned it, Derrida was a prof at UC Irvine between the late 80s until his death in 2004. His influence I the department was not positive. I have a few first hand accounts of it, but I will just mention things that are public:
    1) Take a look at the profs at that department (French and Italian): they are either Assistants (ergo they came after his death) or, with one exception, they seem to have been tenured before Derrida’s arrival
    2) Google “Dragan Kujundzić UC Irvine”

    1. Yes, Derrida at Irvine, very important. I am PhD Berkeley where his influence extended and I know for a fact it extended through much of the Humanities at Irvine. Dragan, yes. Then there was JD’s agent Avital Ronnell, a real piece of work, and Derrida’s son. All of these people were weirdly involved with each other and from what I was told (I missed some of this by being in Brazil and then here) would set out on these “seduce and destroy” missions against graduate students. All quite sordid. I mean, it was during the same period that Foucault got turned onto acid in the deserts of SoCal and then caught AIDS in the S/M houses of San Francisco, but he didn’t seem to wreak so much havoc on others as the JD clan did.

  2. I’m still impressed that nobody seem to have made tenure at Irvine while he was there. Talk about a cult. And Dragan was dumped on the unsuspected Floridians. Vuestra servidora alerto al jefe de Germanic and Slavic languages donde lo recibieron creyendo que se habia n sacado la loteria, cuando el escandalo por el acoso sexual y la pelea por los papeles de JD termino en la primera plana del LATimes. Vuestra servidora fue la primera que lo vio, de pura casualidad, en Tierra de caimanes.

    1. Tenure, I am looking at their website, the place is eviscerated, everyone has retired, shocking. I wish I knew some of them well enough to get them to talk about it. Dragan, me es increíble que no se hayan enterado en FL y estoy cansada de la “confidencialidad” que es en realidad complicidad.

  3. Now I have found My Academic Metamorphosis on Lexis-Nexis, so I have read it although not the commments. I don’t see why people are so offended — I haven’t not gotten jobs, but I’ve had jobs where I was unhappy and book contracts I didn’t believe in, all because one is supposed to achieve and be grateful, and went into a kind of fugue state for years. People want another narrative, but they will have to create less nerve-wracking situations, I guess.

  4. What abuse has she taken exactly? Her piece is being published in paces where neither you nor I will ever be invited and the absolute majority of comments is 100% positive. A couple of people dared to express disagreement on blogs with the readership which is a fraction of those in the places where she is cheered and celebrated.

    Her point of view – which is that the academia is a place of worthless suckups who do nothing of value and just spout incomprehensible verbiage – is completely mainstream. I see it expressed in the media at least once a week. Since she has obviously decided to leave academia, she is now trying to make a career in a different field. I suspect these publications are part of the career-switching move.

    I have no doubt she will have a lot of success selling this very popular message about the evil nature of academia. Schuman will move on to make good money bashing academics, while we will sit here, hearing about our jobs being denigrated and ridiculed.

    By the way, when was the last time you saw articles praising the work of college profs anywhere but on obscure little blogs like mine?

  5. That is not even anything close to approximating my point of view. I bash the job market and the culture that encourages people to go on it and take anything they can find and feel worthless when they’re not taken onto the tenure track. The job market and the cult mentality are both farces that deserve ridicule. Scholarly inquiry is incredibly valuable, non monetarily, and I say as much. I poke some fun at theory and at misconceptions of the “average” professor, but that is in jest. You can hate on me all you want, but at least hate on the things I actually mean. Also, I hope you’re right that I end up making good money bashing the aspects of academia that deserve it. After years as contingent faculty I certainly need some security.

  6. “Hate on” is a very popular term with “the young people” (by which I mean “people in their 30s”), first made popular in the late-1990s hip-hop scene, but since then appropriated as an idiom American-English-wide. I am fully aware that it is grammatically “incorrect” according to certain views of what “correct” English is. In other words–quit hating on my technique, dude. 😉

      1. David, an academic would go to the original sources. Look at some my links to some of Schuman’s professional work.

  7. David, I am an anti-intellectual neo-conservative in the same way (though FAR LESS SUCCESSFULLY) that Stephen Colbert is. I am as pink as they get. Even my hair is dyed red (as are most of my clothes ;)).

    I am one of the most outspoken advocates for the relevance of the humanities outside the university (and with undergrads of other majors) that you will ever meet.

    Colbert says the same things as Bill O’Reilly, but he does so to point out the absurdity of what O’Reilly is saying. I am just not nearly as good at it as he is.

    Like I implored Clarissa–I’m not an academia-hater, but I AM DEFINITELY a job-market-status-quo hater. A BIG ONE. The job market is a farce, and it deserves to have the ridicule of the entire world heaped upon it for time immemorial. Sometimes in my ridicule-heaping I get a little sidetracked (and again, I went to UC-Irvine, the House of Derrida, so my beef with Theory goes way back and is quite justified, as that view still dominates that institution), but it is all about the job market.

    Conservatives would have every professor in the US replaced with the re-animated corpse of Ayn Rand as a MOOC and every university in the US transferred to the ownership of ExxonMobil. I ASSURE you I do not want that, in any way, shape or form. If you want a good laugh, go back to my blog in 2003-2004 and watch me have a complete nuclear meltdown over the re-election of George W. Bush. *shudder*

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