Category Archives: Working

Rosa Luxemburg suffered more, and accomplished more in less time

And she was executed, after torture, one hundred years ago tomorrow. She hated Prussian men.

In this rentrée, how many of your departments were threatened with loss of program? It happens to us every third year or so and it is very unsettling. I am sure it is a tactic designed to throw us off our game and distract us into self-defense mode, such that we then give them reason to say our evaluations and publications and grantraising fell. I am very tired of it. It amounts to harassment, not because the threat isn’t real but because we are asked to make efforts at program expansion while the administration makes efforts to sabotage these, and when we reach a stalemate, we are then left alone for a year or more.
In the first year, we recover, in the second, we plan on our own terms, in the third, we really start to stream ahead with our work, and then the war is started again.

Also, I spent over an hour making career and graduate school plans with one of our minors, who graduated in December, and was glad to do it, BUT: in the past I could have claimed this as a teaching activity, which is how I think of it, but now it would be a service activity, and would only count if the student were a major and were assigned to me. So I guess it is public service. But my point is that it was meaningful, something a professor should do with this student, and in this case I was the right one to do it, but because this one does not fall within our statistics it is exactly the kind of thing the university considers meaningless now, and because the university had not specifically assigned me to do this for and with this student, they can accuse me of having wasted time today by doing it. D–n them, really.

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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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Well

Clearly, I worked too hard too late yesterday.  I knew I was exhausting myself, and I am exhausted. This morning I have lolled about, reading news and e-mail.

Today I will make three phone calls and work out, and work for fifteen minutes. This should put me in shape again.

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And so

After sleeping late and reading news, I worked on travel plans for a conference and wrote 150 words of a proposal. I wrote two letters that needed writing, and I will make two phone calls and work out tonight.

Update: what I really did was add 580 words to the proposal and hit submit.

Moral 1: once you get started, it’s hard to stop.

Comment: most of the proposal was cannibalized from prose I already had drafted. It still took all afternoon and into the evening, partly due to formatting issues, but mostly due to rereading, thinking, and arranging.

Moral 2: things take a long time, there’s no escaping it. When I am told I must finish things in less time than they really take, I find that I simply stop. Ergo, just allowing myself to spend a good 7 hours on a good 700 words, even when I started out with a draft, has to be considered good enough by every efficiency expert, because doing this at least put me in a position to hit submit.

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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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Committing to memory

These keywords and key phrases: violation of academic freedom, discrimination, and inadequate consideration of case.

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