Category Archives: What Is A Scholar?

Perhaps the twain is not destined to meet

The people who say there is no difference between the MA and the PhD are also those who say that if there were no tenure, everyone would be FTE with benefits. They have a really different idea of the university than I do and it appears to be a for-profit community college.

I believe in the unity of teaching and research but I have a more Humboldtian education than I had realized heretofore. Many people do not, and in fact in the United States the other vision is that of the English college.

I remember that even when I was a child, adults would argue about this. Some said the “teachers” at the community college were better, and others pointed out that the university did research.

Everyone seems to believe there is a conflict between teaching and research but in the Humboldtian model there is not, that is to say, there is hardly. There is, however, a great conflict between the idea of the college that transmits knowledge, and the university that creates it.

There are, of course, possible problems with the idea of constant progress, constant revolution, constant production.

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An argument I will not have again

1/ All institutions need more tenure track hires. That doesn’t mean everyone has to emphasize research to the exclusion of everything else; it means everyone deserves to be on some form of tenure track.

2/ If you have your NTT people on FTE, with benefits, pensions, offices, telephones, and representation in shared governance, that is good (and forsooth, you should have accomplished it by now), but it is not enough.

3/ If you are one of those people who says, “Gosh! We should really start saying hello to our NTT people in the halls, it is so rude of us to ignore them, as we do!” you were clearly very poorly brought up, what can I say. But don’t start greeting them and congratulate yourself for having taken important political action. When you start greeting them, all you will have done is take a small step toward minimal politeness.

4/ Don’t think you’re going to be able to run a program, or a quality program if you relinquish all your TT lines. Realize as well that you may not be attractive enough to move to unless you can offer the TT; and that even if you are, many others are not.

5/ People who say there is no difference between the M.A. and the Ph.D., and that an NTT job with perks is good enough, are neither serious nor sincere. They are just trying to get away with continuing to overburden and underemploy, while representing themselves as heroic champions of the downtrodden.

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Neoliberal culture

I’d like to read this McGuigan book, but I do not want to buy it, and we do not have it, and the next university only has it in e-format, and only for its own faculty and students, so the following university is the place. Note that that university is also the richest. Don’t let people tell you the rich prefer e-books.

It is important because it explains why neoliberal culture has managed to colonize us so well. For example we deindustrialize, but we get to gentrify, and it is cool.

Also on these matters: what is the common good? R&D people, applied research people, say that is what they are doing. We say that the production of knowledge contributes [naturally] to the common good. But in practice, we generally mean the good of the researcher and the reputation of the institution. John Wallach, at the AAUP conference in 2018, gave a talk on this, arguing that democracy, not “academic freedom,” should be a first principle.

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After neoliberalism?

Clarissa is posting on Wendy Brown who, as we know, is a major critic of the privatization of the University of California as well as one who shows what neoliberal values have done to everything.

Newfield, and my colleagues, want to reclaim the idea of the public good, and the public for that matter, and higher education as public good, but Brown suggests that ship has sailed and that in higher education, now, we don’t work to form an educated citizenry but human capital.

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On academic freedom

This study explores the history of academic freedom in America through the focus of three interpretive models–the Gentleman Scientist Model, the Liberty Model, and the Professional Model–to show how the concept evolved over the past century. It examines violations of academic freedom, AAUP statements, and debates about the meaning of academic freedom to show how it remains a contested concept. It concludes that by studying the origins and changes in the idea of academic freedom in America, current controversies can be better understood.

That is a dissertation abstract, and the dissertation is fascinating.

During the Great War, the AAUP decided the concept of academic freedom did not apply, and condemned rather than support the many faculty dismissed for their antiwar beliefs. The Nation was appalled.

The Nation magazine criticized the AAUP report as “a serious disappointment” arguing that “By rejecting this principle, the committee, for the period of the war, hands over the keys of the castle to the enemy…” and “jeopards the very conception of a university” (“The Professors in Battle Array,” 1918). The Nation argued, “surely the university, as the home of freedom, should not go out of its way to impose on its members, in addition to these, other restrictions that are not laid on other members of the community” (“The Professors in Battle Array,” 1918).

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Cannibalizing

Working at a university that is cannibalizing itself, in department that is, and a state that is, is disheartening and it is hard not to feel downhearted, not to feel joy. I used to be energized by work and inspired by what happened on campus — it was why I liked school — but here I only feel sad and ashamed.

Earlier on my poststructuralist education was disconcerting to me, being who I was. The messages I received were: you must not trust yourself, but decenter yourself; you should not trust your thoughts; and your words cannot mean what you believe them to mean. I was arguing against these ideas in my beautifully written, yet malformed dissertation and it was very visceral.

These topics are still hard to write near. To write, you must trust yourself and your words to some degree, and you must place your voice in your work. It is not enough just not to yell at yourself. You also have to trust yourself. You have to believe you are real. You also have to believe you do not deserve destruction. You have to believe you have value of at least some kind.

I would like to believe I had some sort of value. Once I did not question my own value. Questioning of the value of people was not part of the world then.

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Non-pecuniary

After I finish “Language and the entrepreneurial university” I will write a piece on the non-pecuniary benefits of learning, and some of the beginning ideas are here.

I am working on these ideas in part because somehow I do not feel NOT authorized to do so. I struggle with problems of authority when I author.

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