Archive for November, 2010

November 8th 2010
I wanna be promoted!

Posted under American history & art & fluff & jobs

Roxie wants to be promoted, and she’s made her own Xtranormal video explaining her reasoning.  (Er, I mean “Professor Sawyer’s” reasoning.)  I know that this wasn’t the point of her post–but as soon as I read her title, all I could think of is this song:

Sing it with me:  Bam bam bam bam buh bam bam bam bam–I wanna be promoted!  Bam bam bam bam buh bam bam bam bam–I wanna be promoted!  (But I might settle for sedation if it were offered.  Mmmmmmmnnnnnn.)

Have you been following the spate of rude little Xtranormal movies that are flitting around the academic blogosphere?  Continue Reading »


November 8th 2010
Wanda wonders: what would other proffies do?

Posted under jobs & students & unhappy endings

Folks, we’ve got another “Dear Historiann” letter that is really a request for ideas and advice from you, the wise and experienced commentariat at  Tenured Professor Wanda wonders what the heck should she do on a master’s committee when the student’s thesis is literally indefensable, but the student’s advisor won’t admit it.

Dear Historiann,

In a few days’ time I will sit on the exam committee for a master’s thesis that is not ready to be defended.  I stopped the defense once already because the document was not comprehensible. This time it is comprehensible and it turns out the work is, in my opinion, no good. I got a second opinion on this from a colleague with relevant expertise and ze agrees.  We are on a tight timeline.  The revised thesis was given to me with only a few weeks to spare before the last day to defend this term and I didn’t have time to read it until a few days ago.

It is not surprising that the thesis is poor because the adviser knows very close to nothing about the subject area of the work. I actually know more about the topic area and I would not have agreed to advise it.  The problems with the thesis come in many flavors, from basic knowledge flaws, to methodological errors, to unsupported conclusions. I have talked with the student about some of these issues in the past but ze disagrees with my concerns.  It did not ever seem an option to steer hir toward a better analysis.  This is, in my opinion, the fault of the adviser. Continue Reading »


November 7th 2010
Are you an adjunct instructor or lecturer? Plus memories. . .

Posted under American history & happy endings & jobs

World's most famous former adjunct

Don’t neglect to take the survey on contingent academic labor this month sponsored by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce.  Here’s the blog post on it, and here’s a direct link to the survey.

I know people think that tenured regular faculty like Historiann were somehow born in tenured faculty positions or leaped immediately into our jobs upon receiving our Ph.D.s, but believe me–most of us have done our time as adjuncts or non-tenure track lecturers.  Even in the relatively good years of the history job market in the later 1990s and very early 2000s, most of us did our time in these positions before winning a tenure track appointment somewhere. 

That said, I think adjuncting has become a way of life in ways that it just wasn’t fifteen or even ten years ago.  For example:  I applied as an A.B.D. to a number of jobs in the fall of 1994, and didn’t get anything but one interview at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting.  My graduate funding was ending the following spring even though I wasn’t probably going to be done with my dissertation. Fratguy and I were in Boston for his residency, so if worse came to worst, we could live on the $27,000 he was making if I found some kind of part-time job.  So, that year was kind of a see-what-happens attempt at the job market.  When I came up blank for academic jobs, I got a part-time job in a local frame shop running the dry-mount machine, and put out some applications for adjunct lecturing while also writing my dissertation. Continue Reading »


November 5th 2010
Work Promotes Confidence! (And maybe drinking.)

Posted under American history & art & childhood & fluff & weirdness

But alas–work does not promote blogging, and I won’t get promoted on the strength of this blog.  (Details on the poster at left here.)  Hope you have a good day of work behind you, too, and are enjoying the adult beverage of your choice, if that’s your style.  Here’s a recipe for a favorite of the twentieth-century working man, the Boilermaker, otherwise known as a “beer ‘n a bump.”  If the shot is dropped or mixed into the beer, I’ve heard it called a Depth Charge.  Truly, nothing could be simpler:


1 pint of beer (your choice)

1 shot of liquor–whiskey or rye is traditional, but tequila is a popular modern choice.  (It’s your call, but I’d stay away from the Frangelico if I were you.)

Directions:  Pour into separate vessels (or mix them together) and serve. Continue Reading »


November 4th 2010
Retro-Depression Thursday: Big Rock Candy Mountain

Posted under American history & art & fluff

In the big rock-candy mountain, you never change your socks
And the little streams of alcohol come trickling down the rocks. . .

I’m going to stay where they sleep all day, and they hung the jerk that invented work . . . in the big rock-candy mountain.

Howdy!  Now that my hat-eating is all done, my day job calls.  I’ve been thinking a lot about that great Cohen brothers movie, O Brother Where Art Thou.  Fratguy loves to quote it around this time of year:  “They’ve got the midget, they’ve got the broom–it’s a well-run campaign!”  So here’s a hopeful little hobo song that should put a smile on your face.  Continue Reading »


November 3rd 2010
I was wrong!

Posted under American history & class & Gender & local news & race & weirdness

Dang--and it's a new one, too!

Michael Bennet has just been elected Senator.  (I suppose I’ll have to stop calling him “Senator” with the scare quotes now.)  If you recall, I predicted in August before the primary:  “Bennet will either lose next week, or he’ll lose in November.  He’s going to have to clean out his desk in January, in any case.”  Well, I was wrong.  The Denver Postis calling it for Bennet, with 47.5% to Ken Buck’s 47.1% of the vote and a lead of about 7,000 votes.

The sound you hear is of me eating my cowgirl hat!  But, I still stand by all of the low-down dirty things I said about Michael Bennet, whose d00dly white privilege is the only thing that explains his mysterious success at getting appointed to jobs he hasn’t trained for and hasn’t earned.  And if you doubt me about his Locust Valley Lockjaw, just click here and listen to this recording of his phone call to a local radio stationUnbelievable!


November 3rd 2010
Colorado Senate race all Buck’d up

Posted under American history & local news & weirdness

Stumbling through history

Oh yeah, babies–here’s what happens when you have a race between a thin resume who couldn’t win a “one-man charm contest” and a neophyte who until six months ago couldn’t get anyone to talk to him but the Greeley Tribune.  Stay tuned, folks–if you give a crap.  As of this minute, the Denver Post vote returns have Bennet and Buck within 9,000 votes of each other, with Bennet at 47.4% of the vote and Buck at 47.0% (and 87% of precincts reporting.)  It’s going down to the provisional ballots and the military ballots.

In other Colorado election news:  Continue Reading »


November 2nd 2010
Election day roundup: hold your nose and vote!

Posted under American history & unhappy endings & wankers

Nuts to all of ‘em!

Well now–what cheer, good friends?  What cheer!  It’s Election Day, and I only wish I could shoulder a rifle, train on the town green, eat election cake, and quaff draughts of good beer.  Instead, I’m going to bury myself in work in the hopes that I can take off tonight to watch the returns roll in.

Some interesting observations on the current silly season:

  • Yesterday on the Baa Ram U. campus, some supporters of “Senator” Bennet had put up posters urging students to vote for him or else education funding will “go down the toilet,” complete with an illustration of–a toilet.  Except, higher education is funded by the state, not the Feds, and we’re about to elect a Democrat who–probably with the help of Dems in the state Assembly and Senate–will probably dismantle what’s left of higher education funding in my state.  In other words, it’s a two-fer for Colorado Republicans:  they’ll get higher ed defunded, and the Democrats will do it for ‘em!  Say it with me here:  Awesome!
  • I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but in all but a few outliers (interestingly, most of them PPP polls) Ken Buck has outpolled Michael Bennet in every poll since last summer.  Bennet, the incumbent unelected Democrat, has consistently trailed Buck, and he’s never broken 50 percent.  In most re-election campaigns, the commentators and the press would have long since announced that we should stick a fork in him, he’s done.  But not this time around–maybe because Bennet once again (as in the primary) had an enormous cash advantage?  Buck admittedly isn’t a polished candidate and he has made some major blunders, but it’s weird that no one talks about Bennet’s pi$$-poor showing but me (especially considering the princely wad he’s wasted to remain 1-3 points behind Buck.)  Continue Reading »


November 1st 2010
Monday Roundup: Road runner edition

Posted under American history & art & bad language & Dolls & fluff & Gender & Intersectionality & jobs & local news & race & students & unhappy endings & wankers & women's history

How-deeLa Famille Historiann, such as it is, had a fantastic weekend camping trip in Arches National Park.  I swear, ANP must have the friendliest, cutest, and nicest park rangers in all of the 50 states–how do they do it?  And the Devil’s Playground Campground was not just pictureseque, but immaculate.  I mean, eat off the bathroom floor immaculate, and I’ve never said that about a public restroom in my life. (I’ve never imagined saying it about a public restroom, quite frankly.)  This may have been due to the fact that a number of campers and RVs were camping closest to our local bathroom in the park, but there were plenty of other tent campers like us.  You can do a lot worse for 20 bucks a night, friends.  The wind- and rainstorm we endured Saturday night was dramatic, but hardly a deal-breaker.  But be sure to make on-line reservations–unbelievably, on Halloween weekend, this campground was full. 

You were all so good while I was away!  I wish I could give you all some of the candy that we have leftover after Halloween, for which we inevitably over-purchase.  So, these bibelots will have to do:

  • First of all, check out Dr. Cleveland, who it turns out is a dude.  He explains why it’s not the same thing when a student comes on to a straight, white male professor as when a male student does the same–or is otherwise inappropriate–to a female professor:  “Basically, all a male college professor has to do to repel such invitations is ignore them. A student has a fantasy, no matter how durable or ephemeral, of being pursued by an older man; if the older man doesn’t pursue, that’s pretty much the ballgame. . . . Does the student just have a garden-variety crush, or is she actually hoping to act out her fantasies? Doesn’t matter; there’s not much she can do without the male faculty member’s cooperation. Male privilege is not only powerful, but it’s convenient.  A woman professor, unfortunately, doesn’t have to distinguish the male students with harmless crushes from the ones who are prone to act out, either, because the young men who want to act out do. If the script is ‘man pursues,’ a young man with a sexual interest in his professor is apt to make unequivocal gestures.”  Continue Reading »


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