Shorter Margaret Wente: porn fine by me, just leave it unexamined.

craftmasterHere’s my brief summary of Margaret Wente’s predictable, by-the-numbers shot at the academic study of pornography:

Provocative lede!  Bad puns.  Academics write only jargon-filled articles that no one will ever read.  Also:  the stupid feminists used to be against porn, but now they’re pro-porn, but they’re still stupid (duh).  Irrelevant academics can’t even make porn interesting.  But you should be very alarmed by this trend!  Academic research on porn will take over our universities!  This research is trivial and therefore all higher education is unworthy of public support.  All college students should watch porn, just not for college credit.

I don’t carry any water for porn studies here, but I also don’t think it’s the most irrelevant thing ever studied in an academic setting.  (Because the internetContinue reading

Back to the future: $1.6 million Mellon grant for “broader career paths”


1989 or 2014? I can’t tell the difference.

From the Chronicle of Higher Education:

The American Historical Association and four universities will split a $1.6-million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation aimed at broadening the career paths of history Ph.D.’s, officials announced on Thursday.

.       .       .       .       .

The university recipients of the grant—Columbia University and the Universities of California at Los Angeles, of Chicago, and of New Mexico—will each receive about $300,000, Mr. Grossman said. The history association will receive the rest. The institutions will begin different pilot projects, including creating mentor databases, increasing internship opportunities, and crafting curricula designed to give students better real-world skills, such as how nonprofit organizations work.

(Emphasis mine.)  I get it that the Mellon Foundation (and the AHA, which also gets a share of the dough) wants the prestige of these programs in taking the lead in a project like this.  But are Columbia, UCLA, and Chicago Ph.D.s really the ones having trouble finding jobs, provided that they expand their job searches beyond major metro areas in the U.S. and internationally?  I doubt that they’re truly disadvantaged. Continue reading

Memo to Dems and CSU-P faculty: you need a little F.U.

Much prettier than Kevin Spacey

Much prettier than Kevin Spacey.

Hilarious headline at The Daily Beast by Dean Obeidallah:  “Dems Need to Channel ‘House of Cards’ Frank Underwood” in order to try to avoid electoral disaster this fall.  Actually, the headline was the only amusing part of that article; if only we had Democrats as tough as Frank!  The rest of the article is full of predictable and sensible advice like “turn out your base!” and “crank up the fear factor” about the Republicans!  Well, duh.  That might work, but it sure is a lot less fun to watch than House of Cards.

I was hoping that the article was itself a brilliant, murderous plot full of twists, turns, and of course SPOILER ALERT Continue reading

Spring Break!

cowgirlbikiniFor the first time in my life, I’m actually going to spend part of my spring break in Florida.  Honestly; the farthest south in college or grad school I ever went was Baltimore.  (I know!  I was a total grind.)

See you on the flip side of the continent.

How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail? The “big questions” and women’s history.

alicecrocodile“How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail, and pour the waters of the Nile on every golden scale?” It’s that time of the year, friends. Why does every spring semester feel so damn busy? Is it the graduate exams, the lectures and colloquia, or the inviting, deep, deep snow in the mountains? All of the above? Other concatenations of obligations, pleasures, and near-disasters?

I was chairing a Master’s exam committee yesterday, and my student (who did brilliantly, natch) made a comment about the ways in which women’s history was always viewed as narrow or of limited relevance to the rest of the profession, when traditional topics in men’s history (the new imperial history, for example, which seems almost exactly like the old imperial history) are viewed as “big” topics of universal importance. Size matters, right? So why do male topics always seem bigger than women’s histories, even when they’re based on a much narrower source base written only by a tiny sliver of elites? (Bonnie Smith’s arguments in The Gender of History seem inescapable.) Continue reading