Archive for June, 2013

June 27th 2013
I got your bull$hit–now if you please, some help with the mucking.

Posted under American history & jobs & students & wankers

I just got back from my trip to find this job announcement in my university email:

The Assistant to the Associate Provost for Educational Attainment is a high-level, limited-term administrative assistant position that offers an opportunity for the right person to play an essential role in supporting educational innovation.  The ideal candidate will value this unique opportunity for professional growth and development within a dynamic time and context, as the University focuses on student success initiatives and serves as the host campus for the Reinvention Center, a national consortium of research universities focused on supporting excellence and innovation in higher education.

Translation, anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Continue Reading »

17 Comments »

June 19th 2013
Where am I? Where the heck are you?

Posted under American history & art & fluff & happy endings & local news

This is a re-posting from 2011, but it explains my recent absence from the blog:

Interestingly, this old home video is pretty accurately descriptive of my week– Continue Reading »

7 Comments »

June 12th 2013
Grad applications, ca. 1961: Writer Phyllis Richman gets the last laugh, and a Harvard proffie remains clueless

Posted under American history & Gender & happy endings & jobs & wankers & women's history

File this post under reader and commenter Indyanna‘s notion that effective teaching can only be measured in the obituaries of our students. Via Echidne, we learn that in 1961, Phyllis Richman, writer and longtime restaurant critic at the Washington Post, applied to the graduate program in City and Regional Planning at Harvard’s School of Design . She received the following letter from Assistant Professor William A. Doebele, Jr., which read in part:

[O]ur experience, even with brilliant students, has been that married women find it difficult to carry out worthwhile careers in planning, and hence have a feeling of waste about the time and effort spent in professional education.  (This is, of course, true of almost all graduate professional studies.)

Therefore, for your own benefit, and to aid us in coming to a decision [on your application], could you kindly write a page or two at your earliest convenience indicating specifically how you might plan to combine a professional life in city planning with your responsibilities to your husband and a possible future family?

Richman recently answered his letter:

I’m sorry it has taken me so long to respond to your letter from June 1961. As you predicted, I have been very busy. Recently, as I was cleaning out boxes of mementos, I came across your letter and realized that, even though we discussed it in person 52 years ago, I had never responded in writing.

In 1961 your letter left me down but not out. While women of my era had significant careers, many of them had to break through barriers to do so. Before your letter, it hadn’t occurred to me that marriage could hinder my acceptance at Harvard or my career. I was so discouraged by it that I don’t think I ever completed the application, yet I was too intimidated to contradict you when we met face to face.

At the time, I didn’t know how to begin writing the essay you requested. But now, two marriages, three children and a successful writing career allow me to, as you put it, “speak directly” to the concerns in your letter. Continue Reading »

13 Comments »

June 10th 2013
Hard Times, indeed.

Posted under American history & art & European history & jobs & students & technoskepticism & unhappy endings & wankers

“Clearly you need to restrict the dimensions to things that more or less have a right answer or several right answers.”

So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)

What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue Reading »

58 Comments »

June 6th 2013
Good blogging: do you know it when you see it?

Posted under American history & art & fluff & happy endings & publication

Sorry I’ve been out of touch lately–I’ve been enjoying our lovely wet and cool late spring days here on the high plains with my head stuck pretty much full time in the eighteenth century. (And that is awesome! So long as it’s all in books and in my head, and doesn’t involve period costumes and camping out.) Working on the back porch, watching the rose bushes bloom (finally!) and the hollyhocks and herb garden grow is pretty swell (even if it ain’t Italy.)

If you want some bloggy amusement, head on over to Tenured Radical, who is soliciting ideas in the service of answering some reader mail: what makes for a good blog post? How does it differ from academic writing for books and journals? What do you look for, and which posts do you tend to avoid? Let’s share!

Meanwhile, I heard this song last night on David Dye’s World Cafe, and was reminded that there once was a Velvet Underground song that felt like a fun, happy, summer song: Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

June 3rd 2013
And speaking of poor judgment on the world wide non peer-reviewed internets. . .

Posted under bad language & jobs & students & the body & unhappy endings & wankers

Do you feel pretty? Well, do ya, punk?

Via Echidne originally, I give you Geoffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of New Mexico, who tweeted before thinking twice, or even once, really.  I kind of liked the first comment at Get Off My Internets, which reads “[w]ell, he’s in evo psych. Of course he’s a d!ckhead.”

Since when are academics concerned about appearance?  Continue Reading »

29 Comments »

June 2nd 2013
Summer fun cocktail: I haz it, but what shall we call it?

Posted under fluff & women's history

A few weeks ago in Portland, Oregon at a conference, I had a fantastic cocktail called the Bonnie Wee Lass at a fun pub called the Raven & Rose near Portland State University with Sharon Block, Monica Fitzgerald, Rachel Hope Cleeves, and Leslie Paris.

The drink featured the relatively exotic but completely delicious ingredients of Hendrick’s gin, lemon juice, rhubarb syrup, and rose water, and appeared in the most appealing shade of baby pink.  I’m pleased to report that I’ve cracked the recipe code on this one, although the photo at left doesn’t do the color justice.

In any case, here’s the recipe, including instructions for making or procuring rhubarb syrup and rose water: Continue Reading »

14 Comments »

June 1st 2013
We’re gonna blog it like it’s 1399! Or, what academic blogging can and can’t do for you.

Posted under art & European history & jobs

Anachronistic image of Chaucer from the 17th century

Go read Dr. Cleveland on the uses of academic blogging, and how in many respects it is like Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry (only with more profanity, lulz, and kitty-cat videos.  Warning:  he says some nice things about this blog, so file this one under “blogrolling in our time!”  Next thing you know, we’ll be blurbing each other’s books!)

You can’t blog your way to a tenure-track professorship.You simply can’t. Even a gig at IHE or The Chronicle for Higher Education is not enough. That doesn’t mean blogging is not professionally useful to you. It means you need to be clear about what it’s useful for.

Blogging and other social media serve academics by bringing you to other people’s attention and building your professional network. It works largely as publicity for your other work, and it widens your potential audience while strengthening your connections. Continue Reading »

20 Comments »