Archive for May, 2010

May 30th 2010
Time is swift and will be gone

Posted under fluff & Gender & students & women's history

Random thoughts on attending my 20th college reunion this weekend:

  • Damn, but we look good!  What happened to the class of 1985?  Everyone else from 1980 on back looked great, too.  Why did nearly everyone in my class get a Ph.D. or become a physician?  Attorneys were present, but thin on the ground compared to the M.D.s and Ph.D.s 
  • The progression of age is gradual but clearly visible in 5-year increments when one attends reunions faithfully.  Most of us still stay in the dorm, but the complaints are getting louder and louder about the accommodations.  At the 15th reunion, people started schlepping their own special pillows from home.  By the 20th, it’s all “Did we really use these grungy bathrooms?  I can’t even turn around in this shower!  They haven’t changed the fixtures since 1982.  Why can’t they do something about this rusty pipe?”  And their music these days–its just noise!  The dorms are great for people with families, but I have a feeling that those who are on their own will be hitting the area hotels harder as of the 25th reunion.
  • The student helpers in our dorm were really sweet and enthusiastic–one was a recent grad whose nervousness and excitement about her future were charmingly apparent.  She told me she was glad to see that there are alumnae with happy lives and careers because her classmates are all so pessimistic about life after college now.   
  • People who had their stuff together in college have their stuff together now.
  • People who drank a lot in college still drink a lot at reunions, but they’re a lot of fun.  (That second bottle of wine on Friday night was nice, but as it turns out, unnecessary!) Continue Reading »


May 27th 2010
Gone fishin’

Posted under American history & art & jobs & unhappy endings & weirdness & women's history

Annie Belden on the Pitchfork Ranch, Cody, Wyoming, ca. 1935

I’ll be on the road and out and about for the next few weeks, but I’ll post as I can.  Be good, and if you can’t be good, be careful!  (Photo credit here.)  I bet you thought “gone fishin’” was just an expression around these parts!  Well, I don’t fish and tell.

Continue Reading »


May 27th 2010
DePaul tenure process takes a turn for the. . .

Posted under art & fluff & Gender & jobs & unhappy endings & weirdness

WTF, dudes?  First, DePaul denies tenure to Norman Finklestein, then five out of its seven tenure denials this year were women.  But they’re now rushing to tenure two adjuncts who have never been granted tenure-track positions or been through the annual review process for probational faculty?  As one Associate Professor called it, DePaul apparently has a Leona Helmsley tenure processit’s only for the little people:

In the memo, Robin Burke, an associate professor of computing and digital media, cited Helmsley’s much-derided quote that “only the little people pay taxes,” to say that DePaul appears to have a “Leona Helmsley tenure process,” in that “only the little people are reviewed for tenure.” Burke cited the decision by Provost Helmut Epp to accept a departmental recommendation to award tenure to two faculty members in Burke’s college at DePaul.  The two (whose names are not generally featured in the voluminous memos that have been flying at DePaul about their promotions) had been working off the tenure track and were simultaneously put on the tenure track and tenured — without the standard, lengthy process that would normally be required for someone at the university coming up for tenure.

If I were in one of the departments there that had recently recommended a candidate for tenure who was then turned down by the Provost, I’d be hopping mad too.  Continue Reading »


May 26th 2010
Violence, rape, and class

Posted under American history & art & childhood & class & Gender & Intersectionality & race & unhappy endings & women's history

For those of you following yesterday’s discussion about the so-called “paradox” between class privilege and rage, you might want to check out this week’s New Yorker (May 31, 2010).  Jonathan Franzen has a story, “Agreeable,”about a teen-aged jock in the 1970s who is raped.  In addition to a thoughtful exploration of how the girl would have experienced the rape and its aftermath, it is also a perfect illustration of how class works to suppress the reporting and prosecution of crimes by privileged men.

I will just add that I’m a huge fan of Franzen.  Continue Reading »


May 26th 2010
Get a Life!

Posted under art & fluff

Yeah, it’s summer. Time for me to Get a Life!

I loved this show. It was on late Sunday nights when I was in graduate school in the early 1990s on FOX, and it was hillariously stupid, and starred the hillariously stupid Chris Elliott. A TV show about a 30-year old paperboy who still lived at home with his parents was something that I found extremely consoling back then, when I was uncertain where graduate school would take me. Continue Reading »


May 25th 2010
Privilege, rage, and Southern Honor

Posted under American history & class & Gender & race & students & unhappy endings & women's history

I saw this article published Sunday about the murderer of University of Virginia student and lacrosse star Yeardley Love, and was puzzled by the headline that appeared to juxtapose the life of “privilege, [and] rage” he led.  The lede in the story then contrasts the murderer’s appearance on the links at an exclusive country club just hours before he murdered Love.  But, privilege and rage aren’t opposed to each other–in fact, they’re deeply intertwined in the lives of American ruling class men.  Consider please a few excerpts from the story, which look like textbook examples of how ruling class men presume to use other people, and women in particular, as part of their performance of dominance:

[George] Huguely[V] finished the eighth grade at Mater Dei School in Bethesda and matriculated to nearby Landon School, an elite boys’ private school. He did not want for confidence. Thrust into a football game as a freshman, he promised a coach he would make a big play — in exchange for a kiss from the coach’s fiancee, according to a Washington Post profile in 2006. Huguely promptly intercepted a pass, then walked off the field to ask for the fiancee’s number.

.       .       .       .      .       .      .       .      

Huguely also displayed an irreverent side. Once he stole his coach’s car keys from his office, pulled his car onto the lacrosse field and, from the driver’s seat, struck up a conversation with the coach. The team burst out laughing, according to Huguely’s account. Continue Reading »


May 24th 2010
Chicana/Latina studies scholar jeered at U. Arizona commencement

Posted under American history & bad language & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & race & students & unhappy endings & women's history

Via Inside Higher Ed, we learn that Sandra Soto, an Associate Professor of Gender and Women’s Studies and a co-Coordinator of Chicana/Latina Studies at at the University of Arizona, was asked by her dean to deliver the faculty commencement address to the graduating class of 2010 for the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences.  Towards the end of her speech last week, she addressed the punitive anti-immigrant and anti-Ethnic Studies legislation passed recently in Arizona, and was heckled, jeered, and booed, and has been receiving nasty and threatening e-mails ever since.  Reaction in Arizona to her commencement address has been heated.  “On a local television station’s comment board, several viewers suggested that Soto ‘return to El Salvador.’ (She’s actually from Texas, where her family has lived since Texas was Mexico, she said, and she’s not sure why she’s been identified as being from El Salvador.)”

There is a YouTube video of the controversial final 1/3 of her talk here, complete with cries from the audience, “this is America,” “cut your hair,” and “bitch.”  After an official interrupts the jeers (at about 2:30) to ask for “civil discourse,” the crowd quiets down a bit.  At the conclusion of her short address, she was greeted with both enthusiastic cheers and loud boos.  The entirety of her speech, and some final thoughts of mine, are after the jump. Continue Reading »


May 23rd 2010
The jaw-dropping stupidity of opinion journalism today

Posted under American history & bad language & wankers

You know nothing of my work.

Because it’s so fashionable to decry the state of higher education on the pages of American dailies, I think it’s high time for humanities scholars to decry the sorry state of opinion journalism in the U.S. today.  Take this op-ed by Arthur C. Brooks from the pages of the Washington Post todayplease–about America’s “new culture war:”

America will continue to be an exceptional nation organized around the principles of free enterprise — limited government, a reliance on entrepreneurship and rewards determined by market forces. [Or] . . . America will move toward European-style statism grounded in expanding bureaucracies, a managed economy and large-scale income redistribution. These visions are not reconcilable. We must choose.

I swear–I had to double-check the date on this, because it could have been written in 1980, 1958, or 1934, or perhaps with somewhat different language and emphases, in 1856 or 1802 or 1789.  Let’s just set aside the fundamental dishonesty of supposing that our choices really are either “free enterprise” and “market forces” versus “European-style statism.”  (I guess he assembled his column from a Reason Foundation-provided copy of Mad Libs.)  In what sense is this in fact “a new culture war?” 

Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?   Continue Reading »


May 22nd 2010
Book readings, your audience, and successful self-promotion

Posted under jobs & publication & weirdness

Reader John S. has a reading of his just-published book at his campus bookstore next week.  I gave a few lectures when Abraham in Arms first came out on the subject of my book–they weren’t book readings, but one was for a more general audience, in which I bombed, and two to university audiences, which were more successful. 

My lecture to the more general audience was for wealthy donors to my college, so the audience was middle-aged or older, and very unafraid to share their opinions with me.  I made a strategic mistake in my efforts to connect my ideas about warfare and gender in seventeenth- and eighteenth-century North America to today, and cited some of the gendered and sexualized language deployed by Americans with respect to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They treated me like I was just another jerk with an opinion, rather than someone who had spent a decade researching and thinking about these issues across time.   Continue Reading »


May 21st 2010
We haz mad skillz

Posted under jobs & students & wankers

What was your major, Dave?

In a column full of conventional “wisdom” in which David Brooks outlines a hypothetical angry voter, he writes this in filling in “Ben’s” biography:

Ben would like to have majored in history, but he needed a skill so he studied hotel management. Others spent their college years partying, but Ben worked hard. After graduation, he got a job with a hotel chain. A few years later, he got a different job and then a different one.

It’s not the central point of Brooks’s column, but I can’t let this dig at history majors slide by.  Continue Reading »


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