Comments on: Exasperated Eduardo endeavors to escape the bully-boys http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:01:25 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-88104 Thu, 25 Sep 2008 14:37:47 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-88104 Oh, yes–Straight Man has come up more than once over here (most notably on this post.)

I actually prefer Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim in terms of academic novels. I’ve never gotten into David Lodge’s books, but I really liked Jane Smiley’s Moo (especially now that I teach at Baa Ram U.!)

Thanks for commenting, SIL in Maine!

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By: Sister-in-law in Maine http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-88089 Thu, 25 Sep 2008 14:01:30 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-88089 Have any of you read the novel, “Straight Man” by Richard Russo? It addresses all manner of insanity and back-stabbing within an English Dept. at a mezzo-mezzo (at best)university. It’s not long, and it’ HILARIOUS, so might help ease some of the angst for Eduardo and others.

Great Blog, Ann!!

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87072 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 21:50:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87072 Ha! Eduardo–your gallows humor is pretty impressive.

It IS better somewhere–maybe not everywhere–but the important thing to decide is whether other places will be better for YOU and your wife. I found an extremely collegial department after my bad first job–I know GayProf did, and many others who comment or lurk here have done it too.

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By: Eduardo http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87048 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 20:08:21 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87048 I’ll be sure to share the journey with everyone. Although a little out of practice, I’m gearing up and the letter and cv files are growing. I find myself looking at ads and daydreaming of living in other places, and fantasizing it is June and my wife and I are packing things for a move. I fall in love too easily.

I have heard the phrase “it’s like this everywhere” from more than one person the past five years. And I’ve even had colleagues tell me its worse elsewhere. To which I reply, “the only thing I haven’t seen is a fistfight between profs … day ain’t over yet.”

Eduardo

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87042 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 19:48:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87042 On this loyalty/disloyalty thing, academics know they can’t live outside the flow of history forever. It’s reminiscent of where the law was until maybe the 1980s. Everyone knew that you made partner and then soldiered on until either mandatory retirement age or at least the gold watch. Then a few lawyers began firm-jumping and within a decade the system fell apart. I used to wonder when some smart and hot dissertator would hire an agent to do the agonizing over how to phrase the cover letter and thus try to change both the game and the frame. But I really wonder when a block of department members with some degree of field-relation to each other will put themselves on the so-called “market” en bloc? The industry would resist like crazy, crying that this just isn’t done. Then some ambitious rogue prez/provost/dean team would say this is a way to quickly jump whole reputational status categories and the solidarity system would soon collapse. Chronicle headline: “Six Economic and Social Historians With 142 Years of Collective Experience Move to William, Mary, Cederstrom, Bexley, and Titlebaum; Dean Resigns.”

In a way, the whole framework of academic employment might be more (or at least as…) fruitfully looked at through an antitrust lens than through those of the various discrimination or other forms of emloyer misconduct that are more customarily employed to understand the subject.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87040 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 19:40:18 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87040 The_Myth: ugh. I feel your frustration! What is it about jobs that are nominally administrative? No one ever wants to admit a mistake about hiring someone into a job like that, so they just let a work environment go to h-e-double hockey-sticks.

I’m sorry that your experience led you to drop out of your Ph.D. program. But, perhaps that means that you’re happier now?

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By: The_Myth http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87030 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 18:49:41 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87030 ‘they circulate the meme that “it’s not any better anywhere else,” and/or, “you’ll never find another job now,” and/or ideas to that effect.’

I worked for a semester on a research project with my advisor. She was co-PI and supposedly in charge. She hired a Ph.D. with managerial experience who, within about 4 months, instigated 3 of the 6 workers on the project to quit [I was #3]. When I would take my concerns about the “manager” to my advisor [the PI], she would repeatedly give the excuses Historiann cited above.

I can still hear her saying “It’s like this everywhere and you just have to get used to it.” The manager repeatedly accused me of not doing my job properly, yet my advisor had the exact opposite opinion. But my advisor refused to support me by even just telling the manager to back off. After awhile, she started just stating “Well, we’re not going to fire her…” when prefacing the statements about it being like this everywhere else.. Yet, every time the manager screwed something up [which of course *I* had to fix for her], my advisor would knowingly roll her eyes.

Yet, I lost my job and the manager didn’t. I never trusted my advisor after that happened, and these events contributed to me not finishing my Ph.D. The whole school was full of bullies and people enabling them with their silence.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-87027 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 18:39:17 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-87027 I’ll think on that one. I have to confess I’ve never been subjected to or even significantly witnessed what I’d construe as bullying in a department; although this whole ball of threads on the subject has been one gigantic consciousness-raising exercise for me. There’s no question that all manner of strange internalist presumptions about things breed and float in the guild-system environment of the modern academic workplace. Disloyalty? Where do we fit American history–to add a minor phenomenon–into this formulation, with one household out of five moving every ten years since 1492, I guess, and maybe even more fluid if you go back to the Bering Land Bridge? How or what do we propose to teach the kids who come to school from cross-state in September, but go back “home” to another state in May because their folks have moved, and they can’t even get in-state tuition anymore? Bizarre.

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-86997 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 16:12:29 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-86997 I wonder you’d agree with me, GayProf and Indyanna, that one common element in bullying departments may be that they circulate the meme that “it’s not any better anywhere else,” and/or, “you’ll never find another job now,” and/or ideas to that effect. Because bitter bullies regret that they didn’t grab the main chance when they could, their retention strategy is to try to suppress feelings of confidence and optimism in the junior faculty?

I heard things to that effect in my former department, especially the “you don’t seriously think that it will be better anywhere else, do you?” junk.

I too found the whole discussion about “disloyalty” over at Tenured Radical a bit exotic, although there are people who really believe that it’s disloyalty and treachery, rather than ambition or interest in serving other family members’ ambitions and needs, that leads regular faculty to apply for other jobs.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2008/09/22/exasperated-eduardo-endeavors-to-escape-the-bully-boys/comment-page-1/#comment-86991 Mon, 22 Sep 2008 15:44:16 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=1143#comment-86991 Again, I guess, just, why should anybody ask questions about someone “jumping ship?” Not why *would* they do so, but why *should* they? Jobs are not ships, for one thing, they’re just other sorts of utility modules that help to sustain modern life. I’ve continued to support tenure, (and still do) even as Historiann has raised some good and very trenchant questions about its consequences. But in effect, it’s an element that does clog the arterials of academic circulation, and as such it’s at least one of the impediments to the sorts of lateral (and diagonal) mobility that are accepted as normative in most other occupational spheres. Maybe it’s time to embrace or at least explore the implicit links between tenure and this murky category of havoc being called bullying here? But if we did–as with other surgeries–it might be necessary to cut deeper still to get the “whole thing,” as they say. Maybe it’s time to get search committees and departmental polities out of the hiring business altoghether, and turn it over to academicized versions of the HR discipline? Staffed, perhaps, by career ABDs who know the terms of various disciplinary discoursees, but who would also be expected to have read things like Chandler’s _Visible Hand: The Managerial Revolution_ side-by-side with _The Return of Martin Guerre_. The tribalization of the academic sphere that makes us parse draft application letters like split-open Roman birds may be linked fairly directly to the culture of department-building rituals by “World of Warcraft” methodologies.

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