This year was peculiar at school because various calamities kept us in crisis mode all year. As we plod toward April, I find myself worn as thin as some of the most stressful times of my adult life even though nothing overly stressful stands on the horizon except for typical work responsibilities. Perhaps I could weather daily work more easily if the campus’s internal rhythm hadn’t been thrown off balance. I never stopped attending school, after K12 was college, after college was grad school, straight through to work, and here I remain. My body never adjusted to the normal ebb and flow of time thatRead More →

At work we must turn in our portfolios for annual review once again. Portfolios can be used for authentic reflection and self-growth, rather than for the devolved purpose of bean counting. We are all aware of its dysfunction at my job, and yet we still plod through the ritual while we tinker with repairing it. Around the time we submitted portfolios, I found a picture of a quirky chia pet. Chia pets are about wild and quirky growth, after all. This hearty beast makes me laugh. I want to be this fellow, covered in clover, perplexed and amused at the same time, aslant but stillRead More →

Big Bird was almost executed in the last election, and his stay of execution was a relief to progressives and liberals. An email exchange with a colleague reminded me about using Sesame Street in a class activity for teaching about the “death of the humanities.” Introduction to Humanities that semester focused on public humanities and the democratization of the humanities through new technology. New technology meant writing, the printing press, up to the internet, of course. Maybe students would feel empowered if they could connect “great art” or “high art” to DIY art [we watched performing arts fundraiser Ben Cameron’s Ted Talk for this]. ByRead More →

In a picture, when a child touches a black president’s hair, representational politics changes the world. In the 90s when academics and television pundits were busily engaged in the culture wars, I believed mastering the politics of representation was revolutionary. Surely, transformative images would en/gender transformative politics, and that social change could come from studying and politicizing media, popular culture, language, and discourse. There had to be some momentous connection between representation in images and representative democracy. In those days, young Turks in English departments fought old white guys about the canon, which entailed fierce battles over ethnic/area studies, women’s studies, and the relative meritsRead More →

The debilitating debt of graduate school includes hidden costs that most people don’t consider even later in life after graduation. Many academics have a deep sense of nostalgia for their days of TA poverty, where living on ramen and cheap beer shared in the company of good friends in the same boat got us through until the next measly paycheck. We have an equally deep resentment for the huge bite that loan repayments take from our well-deserved and much-delayed faculty salaries. But the unacknowledged costs of graduate school add up to a substantial amount of cash, yet no one ever includes these costs in any ROI. When youRead More →

In football, according to my husband, a counter trey “is when ….. ” Some things happened I didn’t get, and I stopped listening. The context of this explanation was my dissertation on feminist rhetoric and women speakers. He did actually read parts of it, and givie me some feedback. His main response was that my dissertation sounded like a “counter trey.” He drew the play with the standard little circles and arrows to illustrate. I found that same scribbled drawing today while cleaning up. Although I don’t really remember what he said in detail, I did get the gist. To explain for me, here isRead More →

An article about contemporary students’ sense of entitlement is all over the Canadian papers today. It cites a UC Irvine study published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence. The article discusses how entitled today’s students feel. Here are some stats from the article: The study asked approximately 400 undergraduates aged 18 to 25 whether they agreed with these statements: If I have explained to my professor that I am trying hard, I think he/she should give me some consideration with respect to my course grade – 66.2 per cent agree If I have completed most of the reading for a class, I deserve aRead More →

This article reports about a survey that reveals the biggest time wasters at work. The list is unimportant, but the survey itself suggests that our Protestant work ethic is kicking into hyperdrive. The article recalls something Susan Willis once wrote (at least I think it was Susan Willis) about how academics think of themselves as having it easy because we don’t have to work the way most people do, when actually what we should do is question the Protestant work ethic roots of the U.S. that unfairly demands so much from all workers. Right now it’s spring break and I should be in the UKRead More →