Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Week in Links (Fear and Loathing in the Academy Edition)

I'm not sure whether I feel better or worse knowing that this sort of feeling doesn't seem to go away even as one progresses in one's career. But this is a really good post that captures some very familiar feelings and approaches (or lack thereof):

The Many Stages of Self-Loathing — I Mean Writing

And some practical tips. Although I have to say I really disagree with this column's position on who/whom. It is often very useful to have the oblique case marked.

10 Grammar Rules You Can Forget

This is irresponsible. If the author thinks that any given (or even most) of her students aren't qualified for what they are applying for or that she can't write them a good letter, then she shouldn't write for those individuals; but to blanket refuse to write letters because she doesn't approve of the program to which the students are applying is a deeply unfair power trip. My general feeling is that it's the place of recommenders to be supportive or unsupportive of their colleagues or students who are applying for things (jobs, fellowships, whatever) but not to dictate the trajectory of their careers by cherry-picking which applications they will or won't support.

Why I Stopped Writing Letters of Recommendation for Teach for America


Katie Roiphe has written before about how having a PhD in literature made her a better journalist because it made her a better reader, and she proves it in this next link with a deft critical reading of the documents of the most recent academic sex scandal.

I've been lucky enough never to have been in a situation in which I could have become involved with one of my professors, and I'd like to think that even if I had, I'd be smart enough to walk away. But, too, the first great love affair of my life was an end-in-disaster dalliance with a senior colleague, though the disaster was of the personal, not the professional, and not at all to the same scale. Nevertheless I have good working knowledge of the murkinesses and fuzzy boundaries and ambivalences and contradictions that Roiphe talks about. On the basis of my own experience, this rings true:

"Colin’s description of Nicole is that she was “original, quirky, highly intelligent, strong willed.” He said, “It was impossible she was manipulated by me.” Ben’s description of her, on the other hand, is filled with stories of her weakened, anxious, often “bawling her eyes out,” of him stepping in, protective, outraged, and her vulnerable, injured. After I talk to both of them, it is hard to reconcile Colin’s Nicole with Ben’s Nicole. In the emails, however, you can read conflicting feelings. At times, she seems exuberant, clever, playful, eager, warm. At other times, she seems to be pulling back, apologizing, making excuses. Colin now says he did not see it, but a bright strand of ambivalence is clear in moments of stiffness, a return to formality, a psychic retreat. This is not surprising to me: a 26-year-old with a boyfriend, intrigued, flattered, weirdly drawn to a 61-year-old man, yet not wanting to go further, to enter a fully fledged sexual affair. Can one be attracted but wary, invested but anxious, warmly engaged but freaked out, intrigued but put off?"

The Philosopher and the Student

There has been some criticism of this reading as misogynistic and victim-blaming but I think that the paragraph I cited above really gets to the heart of it. This shows how she was the victim. She was Colin's Nicole and Ben's Nicole and never just Nicole; and she was in over her head even as there were intriguing or titillating elements in the lake that was drowning her. This paragraph in particular read sympathetic to me.


Because this is at least nominally a medieval blog, here is a nice post on marginalia:

And for people who need to work on texts in non-Roman alphabets, these have been archived for use during the government shutdown:

Library of Congress Transliteration Tables


And finally, an amusing hashtag to follow on Twitter this week is #IndianaJonesAcademicMovies for amusing if predictable puns like "Indiana Jones and the Graders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Archive" and then more amusing, less predictable and more non-sequiturious like "Indiana Jones and the Judicious Sprinkling of Compound German Nouns."

No comments:

Post a Comment