Is research a tool for maintaining the sexist status quo in academic departments?

Busybusy again today–no time to think up and write a post myself, but Tenured Radical (who is herself busybusy) is hosting a conversation about sexism in hiring and tenure decisions at Princeton and in academia in general.  She writes:

Untenured faculty are always wanting to know what that little extra edge is that will get them tenure.  Be a man and ignore your students, that’s my advice.  According to the Daily Princetonian, President Shirley Tilghman suggested back in 2003 that if baby Tigers did not focus so much on teaching they would have a better chance of getting tenure.  According to attorney R. William Potter (no relation to the Radical),

In December 2003, Tilghman advised junior faculty not to focus so much on teaching undergraduates; if they want to obtain the holy grail of tenure they should concentrate on scholarly research, she told them, as their “first and foremost” priority. “Their ability to conduct research and demonstrate excellence in scholarship is the most important thing we look at,” she said, although she added that teaching ability is also “considered very seriously.”

I can’t find the origins of the Tilghman quote about tenure cited in the article, but if you go hereyou get to an article that cites Tilghman’s position in 1996 that tenure is a sexist institution and ought to be abolished. Now that’s what I call interesting.  But like all successful people, she now says that isn’t really what she meant.  She was just trying to be provocative, she explained in 2001, recanting this position after she took office as President.

Many readers pointed out that not advising junior faculty at Princeton to focus on their research would be malpractice–but in a further comment TR explained that she is dismayedthat “after all these years, and even at a place like Princeton (whose history department has numerous scholars quite famous for their teacher[ing]) we have nothing more creative to say to untenured people about the relationship between developing these two skills than ‘Do less of this/do more of that.’ Continue reading

Identity Theft: I iz a fictim!

Sausage party!

Check out The Pseudonym Exchange, a new blog inspired by Roxie’s wish to channel Dr. Crazy’s identity.  And now she can–except that the first post is by “Historiann” on something some old tool said to Professor Catharine R. Stimpson.  Over e-mail!  I really couldn’t have said it better “myself!”) 

I am officially the fictim of identity theft.  But if you click over there, you’ll see that I’ve claimed another fictim for myself!

The U.S.A. today: Representation without Taxation!

Representation without Taxation!

I’m sure you’ve all heard recently of the dismal survey that shows that Americans refuse to consider to pay higher taxes even as they refuse to support cuts in government services.  Gee, I wish we had a Transformational President or some visionary state governors who would point out the fact that 1) Americans have historically paid much higher taxes, and 2) that our federal taxes are more regressive than they have been in the past.  Instead, we have a President and a Congress who are pantomiming their “seriousness” by suggesting that cuts in WIC and PBS are the solution, and we in Colorado have a “Democratic” governor who released his new budget plan:  “Spending on K-12 education would take the biggest hit in state history, colleges would get less money, state employees would see less in their checks and Colorado would close four parks and a prison under a revised budget Gov. John Hickenlooper unveiled Tuesday.”

What, according to Hickenlooper, is the key to our financial crisis?  “‘[w]e have to change the culture of the state,’ the governor said. ‘We have to find ways to make the entire culture of the state more pro-business.'”

Well, what about raising the incredibly low, regressive taxes we “enjoy” here in Colorado?

However, Hickenlooper said raising taxes was a non-starter.

“There is still a deep-seated belief out there that in this economy, people don’t want to pay more taxes,” he said. Continue reading

A Valentine: Oh, the Humanities!

I’ll blog about another terrific roundtable I saw last weekend at the Society for French Historical Studies later this week, but in the meantime, I wanted to wish you all a happy Valentine’s Day and leave you with this thought:

In spite of the vicious political attacks on the humanities going back at leastto Lynne Cheney’s leadership of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the budgetary pressures that threaten our work and even in some institutions and programs our very existence, I think in some respects we might be living in a Golden Age for humanities scholarship.  (Whuuut??  Is Historiann taking Professor’s Little Helpers again,I can hear you all wondering?)  Largely because of the market forces that have relentlessly shaped our professional lives, people who manage to get tenure-track jobs nowadays are and will overwhelmingly remain active scholars, whereas in the past it seems like it was a rare humanities faculty member at SLACs, Aggie schools, or public directionals who remained active scholars through their careers.  Scholarship was for the Big Thinkers at R-1s, not for the rest of us, but now even departments like mine rarely hire ABDs or people who haven’t yet published at least a few articles, and many of our tenure candidates in recent years have had books in print in addition to a list of articles as long as my arm. 

In this respect, it seems like we have been a force for democratizing higher education.*  Continue reading

Holding down the Fort: hands across the humanities edition

I’ve been in Charleston, South Carolina for the past few days at the Society for French Historical Studies conference sponsored by the Citadel and the College of Charleston.  The weather here has been sunny, pleasant, and in the mid-60s during the afternoon, so it’s a lovely break from winter for many folks.  (Since it’s also sunny and in the 60s back in the Denver area this weekend, I’m less impressed, but we have far fewer palmetto trees and not much of a harbor, actually.)  It’s still warm and sunny here–and I’m blogging right now from Terminal A of the Charleston airport because my 2 p.m. flight to Atlanta was cancelled!  I’m booked on a 6:15 p.m. flight to Atlanta, but my flight to Denver won’t leave until 10 p.m. EST, so it’s going to be a long stay in airportlandia for me.  Lucky for you that I’ve got a suitcase full of opinions to share with you, and lucky for me I haven’t checked my bag!

SFHS President Joelle Neulander and her Program Committee did a great job of showing the conferees the town and sponsoring institutions.  There was a fascinating (if depressing) roundtable up at the Citadel Friday afternoon on “The Present and Future of French History and the Humanities.”  The Citadel, with its boxy and generously crenellated architecture, was a fitting place for this conversation because we all feel besieged as a profession.  The panel members were affiliated with various institutions in the U.S. and England and featured both mid-career and nearly-retired scholars, and they all had interesting insights about what they’ve observed locally and over the past twenty to forty years in French studies.  Many of the older scholars reminded us that there never was an imagined Golden Age for the Humanities in the U.S., and that they’ve seen other crises come and go.  Other panelists and audience members were more alarmed.

The star witness on the panel was Brett Bowles, a French professor at SUNY Albany and therefore an eyewitness to the “deactivation” of his department along with the Italian, Russian, Greek and Roman Studies, and Theater majors.  He was understandably quite gimlet-eyed on the future of French studies and the humanities because as he reported, 20 full-time tenure-track and tenured scholars are facing the end of their employment at SUNY Albany in another 16 months.  Bowles urged everyone in the audience to be proactive and aware of what’s going on in their universities and to make alliances across disciplinary boundaries.  He encouraged larger humanities departments like English and History to stand up for the smaller majors because he warned that “this is where we’re all headed.  We’re headed to the end of tenure.”  Continue reading

Without Love

Nick Lowe covers Johnny Cash’s classic, “Without Love.” This is one of those rare instances when I think I prefer the cover to the original. Cash’s version is just a little too morose for me, but YMMV.

Love you all, readers and commenters! (Well, most of you, anyway.) I’m off to a conference tomorrow at an insanely early hour. I’ll check in if I can, but I’ve got lots of conferencing to do in just 36 hours or so.