Naming My Fear

I am an academic-in the Humanities, no less-so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I sometimes act irrationally. Hell, seeking an academic career in itself is pretty much an irrational act, yet many of us are stubborn or committed or devil-may-care enough to do it anyway. By and large, I’ve embraced my propensity for seemingly irrational behavior. Getting lots of tattoos over the last 25 years? CUSTOM PAINT JOB. Writing right-handed but eating left-handed? HOW I ROLL. Espresso at 8 PM? SURE! Rooting for the Cleveland Indians? YES. Reading poststructural theory for fun? PART OF MY CHARM.  Continue reading “Naming My Fear”

On Student-Shaming and Punching Down

A few years ago, trapped in the midst of final exam grading, I started posting some of the real howlers I got as answers on Facebook. I didn’t use students’ names, and I don’t “friend” students on FB, so this sort of venting seemed like an OK way for me to keep my sense of humor during the end-term crush.

I have felt guilty about doing that ever since.

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We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Well, we’re at mid-November, and in college and university campuses near and far, faculty members’ Grump-O-Meters are pinned to the maximum. In the immortal words of Spinal Tap’s Nigel Tufnel, “this one goes to eleven.”

Maxed out. Hide the sharp objects.
Maxed out. Hide the sharp objects.

It’s a fundamental maxim that if you give an academic the opportunity to list his or her grievances/pet peeves/to-the-barricades burning causes, they will fill any and all available space to do so, like air rushing into a vacuum. Nothing exemplifies this more than the time-hallowed tradition of complaining about students. It’s a routine so consistent as to be performed unthinkingly in the hallowed halls of higher ed: the later in the semester it is, the worse “today’s students” are compared to those predecessors. In August, the new crop of students looks great; they’re engaged, talkative, and have that new car smell. In September, the luster’s off a little bit, but they still show up and do most of the work, so good for them. In October, the thrill is almost gone; they start to skip class, discussions become anemic, attention spans have shriveled. And come November, OMFG HOW DID THESE MOUTH-BREATHERS EVEN GET INTO HIGH SCHOOL MUCH LESS COLLEGE THEY ARE WHERE CIVILIZATION WILL GO TO DIE A SLOW AGONIZING DEATH I HATE THEM ALL.   Continue reading “We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us”

My Best Worst Writing Advice

Challenge Accepted.
Challenge Accepted.

November is here, and with it comes #AcWriMo, the month-long Academic Writing Challenge. (PhD2Published started this party a few years ago; if you’re unfamiliar with it, check it out here). I signed on this year, hoping to jump-start a coupled of stalled projects that need to get done so I can move into my new book manuscript. November will be crazy–POD Conference next week, travel over Thanksgiving–but the #AcWriMo challenge will hopefully keep me writing daily, even if it’s just a little bit. I’ve blogged about keeping a writing schedule before, but it bears repeating: We all know that the best way to write productively is to schedule our writing time and fiercely guard it from interlopers, and to do it daily. To get Ass In Chair and WRITE. It’s that simple, as I’ve learned by trial and error (mostly error) writing my dissertation, several articles and chapters, and my first book project (staggering to a close as we speak). But I didn’t always know this good advice on consistent and productive writing. In fact, I was the classic prototype of a binge-and-purge writer throughout grad school and into the early years of my career. If you could do it wrong, I did it wrong without fail. If there was a way to make it more difficult, by god I would find it. Yet, I thought I had it figured out. I wrote good stuff, so the process that got me there had to be the optimal one, right? *Cringe* Well, this got me thinking–what if I had written an advice-to-writers piece during that stage of my writing life? The very thought made me chuckle, and since I’m all about cheap laughs, I thought I’d write it out, just to see the train wreck that would ensue.

So here you go. In honor of #AcWriMo, I give you: My Best Worst Academic Writing Advice.

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Every Type of Email College Faculty Send to Anyone

It’s been awhile since I’ve appeared in these parts. The first three weeks of classes + my new position + brain-dead Kevin at the end of the day = no blogging. I know the tens of people out there who read this humble blog have been waiting with bated breath for a new post. Or that’s the fantasy I entertain, at least. LET ME DREAM.

Last week, my Twitter and Facebook feeds were full of links to The Toast’s hilarious piece, “Every Type of Email College Students Send Their Professors.” The best satire is that which rings of truth, and this piece was no exception. Gems like “hey professor i have 97 grandmothers, all dead, i will not be in class for the rest of the semester” hit pretty near the mark, based upon my experience (all students begin emails with “hey” for some reason). But then I got to thinking…there’s one group that is worse in the aggregate than students at email, and that group is FACULTY. Face it, colleagues, we’ve got precious little room to laugh at students’ online foibles. Because we suck, too. In that spirit, drawn from the sometimes-humorous, sometimes-depressing, always-unique trove of experience, I present Every Type of Email College Faculty Send:

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