Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).
. . . . .
I cannot pretend I am without fear. But my predominant feeling is one of gratitude. I have loved and been loved; I have been given much and I have given something in return; I have read and traveled and thought and written. I have had an intercourse with the world, the special intercourse of writers and readers.
Above all, I have been a sentient being, a thinking animal, on this beautiful planet, and that in itself has been an enormous privilege and adventure.
From an email I received from the Chair of the Board of Trustees at Bryn Mawr College about the “recommendation from a Board working group that was created at the September 2014 Board meeting to examine the mission of the College with respect to transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming applicants” that was “discussed and approved” last weekend. I’m sure this working group came in response to this story from the New York Times last fall about trans* students at Wellesley.
The working group concluded unanimously that the mission of the College at the undergraduate level is to educate women to be future leaders. In its recommendation to the Board, the working group noted that Bryn Mawr’s identity as a women’s college is fundamental to its distinctive environment, one in which women are central, faculty assume and expect excellence from women, and women assume positions of leadership. The working group also recommended that the College use language that affirms our institutional identity as a women’s college (e.g. use of gendered language) while respecting the diversity of individual identities in the community.
The working group also proposed that the College more clearly articulate the eligible undergraduate applicant pool in the context of its mission. The Board approved the working group’s recommendation that in addition to those applicants who were assigned female at birth, the applicant pool will be inclusive of transwomen and of intersex individuals who live and identify as women at the time of application. Intersex individuals who do not identify as male are also eligible for admission. Those assigned female at birth who have taken medical or legal steps to identify as male are not eligible for admission.
In cases where an applicant’s gender identity is not clearly reflected in their application materials, the College may request additional information, which could include verifiable legal or medical steps taken to affirm gender. In evaluating such additional information, the College fully intends to be as flexible and inclusive as possible.
Within the context of our mission as a women’s college, all Bryn Mawr students will continue to be valued and supported members of the community, no matter how their gender identity shifts during their time at the College.
A reader left a comment on an old post that I thought would be a good question to ask the rest of you in the academic blogosphere, especially those of you who either 1) have navigated a resignation like this, either successfully or unsuccessfully!, or 2) have experience as a Department Chair or Administrator who has dealt with colleagues in this situation before, again either happily or most unhappily.
Here we go:
I would like to seek your advice about a tormenting situation I live in. I am a t.t. assistant prof who has been in her position for four years. I am unhappy for several reasons: being away from home and teaching courses that are not really in my field among other similar reasons. I have applied to other positions and did not get any interview. I am thinking now of resigning, going home to my hometown, and searching for jobs from there. If I don’t end up landing another academic job, I am fine with leaving academia. I would like to pursue other para-academic interests …..
What are the best reasons to give my institution for my resignation which will allow to keep good relations with them, and would be reasonable to ask them to give me a reference letter or is this an unreasonable request when you leave an institution?
First of all, no! It’s not at all unreasonable to expect a collegial and positive recommendation from former colleagues, provided that you don’t leave a pile of road apples in your stall on the way out of the barn. (Your question makes me think we’ve set the bar far too low for collegiality in academic employment if it’s even a question in your mind!) Continue reading
Stressed out? At the end of your rope? You have to hear this story by Mary-Claire King on the Moth. King is the American Cancer Society Professor in the Department of Medicine and the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her name probably sounds familiar to you because she was the discoverer of BRCA1, the gene she named that proves that breast cancer is inherited in some families.
I had the honor of meeting King a few times in the 1990s because one of my best friends from college was her microbiology Ph.D. student. We had a fascinating conversation about mitochondrial DNA (the kind you get from your mother & can use to trace the maternal line), and the possibilities it opened for learning more about Native American history and early American history in general. Continue reading
Big news, friends–a little birdie told me all about a brand-new postdoc at the Journal of Women’s History at Binghamton University in gender and global history:
The Journal of Women’s History and Binghamton University are excited to welcome applications for a new postdoctoral fellowship exploring the intersections of gender and global history. Beginning in the fall of 2015, this one-year in residence appointment carries a stipend of $45,000, plus benefits. The successful applicant must teach one course per semester and present one university-wide public lecture; all remaining time will be devoted to scholarly research and writing.
Candidates must complete all requirements for the PhD by 1 July 2015, or have received the PhD no earlier than the fall semester of 2011.
The search committee encourages candidates whose research explores the embodied histories of the global past, considering women as historical subjects as well as gender and sexuality as historical systems. We are especially interested in scholars who spatial framework transcends national borders to focus on the movement of gendered bodies in transnational arenas, whether through migration, trafficking, travel, imperial politics, slavery, or other processes of exchange. Please note that Binghamton is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer committed to diversity. Women, minorities, and members of underrepresented groups are encouraged to apply.
The postdoctoral fellow will join a vibrant community of scholars working on women, gender, and sexuality at Binghamton University, which has a long tradition of supporting scholarship in this field. In 1974, Binghamton’s history faculty created one of the first PhD programs in women’s history in the United States. Binghamton also houses the Center for the Historical Study of Women and Gender and in 2010, became the editorial home of the award-winning Journal of Women’s History, the first journal devoted exclusively to the international field of women’s history. The JWH promotes comparative and transnational approaches to the history of gender, sexuality, and women’s experiences.
The last time I had a long-term fellowship–which I’m embarrassed to admit was I was fifteen years ago already!–it seemed to me that there was a great deal of hostility between historians and literature scholars. This was at the Newberry Library in the winter and spring of 1999, and I recall a number of not-very-helpful comments from literature people to historians along the lines of “you can’t say this!!!” Similarly, there were rude interjections from historians, who would inform a literature scholar that “you can’t do that!!!”
I remember being lectured by an only-slightly-senior colleague in an English department about my reading of captivity narratives, and when I complained about what I heard as pretty unhelpful advice to another literary scholar, I was informed that I was “just being defensive.” (And maybe I was. But why was that? Was it because I was being talked to like I wasn’t an expert in my own field and I hadn’t won a long-term fellowship on my merits? Ya think???) I remember the frustration of a literary scholar who was writing a book about representations and historical experiences of a particular subject in both colonial America and the modern (20th century) U.S., and was skipping the entire nineteenth century who was informed by historians at the Newberry Library a few years later that “you can’t do that.”
Clearly, the historians were disturbed by the implications of her argument for their sacred cow, Change Over Time, but as a literary scholar she doesn’t need to worry about that, just as I as a historian didn’t have to write my book like a literature scholar would. Continue reading