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Posts Tagged ‘Historiann’

In the local paper today I saw an editorial explaining the decision not to run last week’s Doonesbury series about the Texas abortion law by Garry Trudeau. Since I’ve been living under a rock (it is spring break, after all), this was the first I’d heard of the controversy surrounding the comic. The editor’s main justification was that the comics were “offensive,” though Trudeau’s treatment of the situation seems much less offensive than the situation itself. As a writer for the Texas Observer describes (via Historiann):

“I’m so sorry that I have to do this,” the doctor told us, “but if I don’t, I can lose my license.” Before he could even start to describe our baby, I began to sob until I could barely breathe. Somewhere, a nurse cranked up the volume on a radio, allowing the inane pronouncements of a DJ to dull the doctor’s voice. Still, despite the noise, I heard him. His unwelcome words echoed off sterile walls while I, trapped on a bed, my feet in stirrups, twisted away from his voice.

“Here I see a well-developed diaphragm and here I see four healthy chambers of the heart…”

I closed my eyes and waited for it to end, as one waits for the car to stop rolling at the end of a terrible accident.

You can decide for yourself by viewing the comics below (via Gawker):

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A few days ago, Justin Martin commented at Inside Higher Ed on the well-known belief that students don’t live in the “real world.”  He justifiably argues that they are:

The students I teach are professional jugglers who make a Cirque du Soleil show look like a barn dance. Among them they’re balancing academic course loads, community service, part-time or even full-time jobs, loan debt, athletic training and competition, transient housing situations, along with some of life’s other gems like a sick parent, a sibling in Afghanistan, or an unplanned pregnancy.

One of the primary reasons educated Americans are such successful professionals is that the college years are hard. “The real world” isn’t so daunting to college graduates because they’ve already spent four or five years in it. The deadlines they face are very real, and I know this because I rigidly impose some of them, and my students know that the word “dead” is in deadline for a reason. I don’t go easy on my students, but I also don’t belittle the loads they carry. College students in the U.S. are impressive people, and their hard work should be praised, not demeaned.

Of course, as I’ve stated before, I also think that people use the idea of the “real world” to privilege their own experiences over systematic data collection and the experiences of others.

Via: Historiann

 

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A while back I talked about the fact that there are very different publication currents at the school where I was a grad student and the school where I currently work.  I stated:

When coming out of graduate school I had a strong desire to do important research but I wondered if the desire for high-profile publications would fade.  What I’ve found is that the desire hasn’t faded but the expectations of my institution create a situation in which I appear to be swimming against the current, wondering how long I can last before I am swept downstream.

When writing this, I was thinking about my own experiences and those of others at liberal arts schools, but this feeling is not confined to the SLACers of the world.  In response to these feelings, I talked about joining an old-fashioned (and long-running) reading group.  Historiann, however, presents blogging as another alternative in her blog post summarizing her talk summarizing her feminist blogging (how meta!).  She writes:

From the perspective of an intellectual metropole like Austin, I can certainly see why some might think of academic blogging as a waste of time that competes with the time available to meet concrete career benchmarks.  But most of us don’t end up in major university towns or big cities with seminars and symposia in our fields and armies of Ph.D. students–most of us leave graduate school and spend our careers in places in which we may feel intellectually isolated.  So blogs can be spaces that become virtual communities where we can combat isolation and have conversations about our common interests.  If your goal in blogging is to alienate friends and allies, then blogs may be potentially dangerous to one’s career.

I suspect that not all blogs work equally well for this task.  A pseudonymous blog in which the author never talks about his specific work (and doesn’t allow comments) is probably much less effective at building academic communities than a blog focused on a person’s particular research interests.  Similarly, an individual’s blog may be less effective at building community than a topic-centered group blog such as Orgtheory.  I suspect that if I had ended up in the middle of nowhere the purpose of this blog may have quickly changed from providing “sociological perspectives on life and the liberal arts” to providing “discussions on the sociology of lima beans for the intellectually isolated.”

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A post at Tenured Radical yesterday brought up the issue of increasing faculty responsibilities and decreasing salaries (in constant, and sometimes absolute, dollars).  The comments on yesterday’s post are particularly interesting given the wide range of salaries at various institution types.  This is something that most people are aware of in the abstract but is still sobering when contextualized.  A post today continues this discussion and responds to Historiann’s discussion of TR’s changing opinion on salary freezes over the past few years (thankfully, academics are able to change their minds based on new information, unlike politicians).

The issues of salary and workloads are connected to current discussions of work-life balance.  At one such discussion on my own campus at which the administration reiterated its support for the health and well-being of the faculty one brave soul brought up the fact that despite these messages, the only way for faculty members to increase their salaries is to increase their workload.  He then asked whether the administration had ever considered rewarding faculty for leading balanced lives rather than simply working more.  The answer, unsurprisingly, was no.

Faculty members, then, appear to be faced with a choice between working less for less money or working more for less money.

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