New York Times article on Prof blogs, Facebook/MySpace pages

nutty-professor.jpgRead and discuss.

Does anyone else have a problem with the fact that they illustrate this story with a still of John Houseman from The Paper Chase?  (How many of you XX types have been told, especially in your younger years, that “you don’t look like a Professor!” by someone who meant it as a compliment?)

Please note that the only people interviewed for this article are male professors, and they rhapsodize about the opportunity to “humanize” themselves in their students’ eyes.  Somehow, this reminds me of the discussion in January over at New Kid on the Hallway about clothing, and the fact that many male professors are clueless that the liberty they have to dress as they like in the classroom is a gendered privilege.  I don’t really think my students need to see me as more “human.”  That just gives them more information about me outside of my professional life, and my professional life is the only thing my students need to know about.

As it happens, I’m reading Leslie Bennetts’ The Feminine Mistake (which I recommend highly) and she’s got all kind of depressing facts and studies that show how women’s work is devalued, but in particular, the ways in which women are paid even less than other women and viewed as less competent if they’re mothers.  As you all know, Historiann has a sex, but as far as most of you know, she is otherwise like the Publick Universal Friend, Jemima Wilkinson–a wife to none, and a mother to all humankind.  Thanks, but no Facebook “friends” for me–I’d rather be a Professor Universal Friend.

0 thoughts on “New York Times article on Prof blogs, Facebook/MySpace pages

  1. A quick scan of the article brings to mind a phrase that describes much that is deplorable in American culture: anti-Intellectualism run amok.

    Then there is this line.

    professors have embraced the Internet since its earliest days

    Professors not only embraced the Internet, they invented it. I was way behind my peers when I started making daily visits to the World Wide Web in 1996. How many journalists can say that?

    However, the most significant problem in the article stems from its assessment of the content and motives of professors’ blogs. Pets and popularity hardly seems an accurate assessment of the serious academic work that has become integral to a lot of blogging by professors as well as by others playing the role of scholar. Apparently, writer Stephanie Rosenbloom has not been reading Historiann, nor many of those listed at Cliopatria’s History Blogroll.


  2. James–thanks for the compliment. I agree–if Professors aren’t blogging or facebooking in a way that features their professional perspective, then who cares? Most of us aren’t very good-looking, or terribly interesting, or terribly good at anything else besides our scholarship.


  3. and the fact that many male professors are clueless that the liberty they have to dress as they like in the classroom is a gendered privilege

    This is also often a privilege of whiteness.


  4. Is there a suggestion in this comment thread and in the article that pet blogs aren’t serious scholarship? I’m afraid I must disagree, and of course I am outraged by the article’s scare quotes in reference to “entries ‘written’ by [the professors’] dogs” — clearly implying that dogs don’t actually write their own blogs. Harumph! I’ll have to get the English prof who types for me to pound out a letter of protest to the Times.


  5. Hey, don’t diss the Kingsfield — I loved that show! I even had an organic chemistry prof. who called us all by our last names (and also tried to get me to go into chemistry because I had the best grade in the class).

    As to blogs by pets, dolls, et. al. — I’m about to have an entry by the distinguished Mrs. Beasley, once I can locate my digital camera. . .


  6. I was just reading that piece barely two hours ago, and my first thought, I’ll confess, was I wonder what Historiann would have to say about this phenomenon? It does seem like more boomer narcissism, to be sure. (Though it would be tempting to audition for “Profs Strike Back,” to duel with the Rate My Profs Allstars!)

    Coincidentally, in another section of the same Times (“Circuits,” C8), there is a how-to piece for those who want to start their own blogs. It turns out that you can actually make say $45 a month if you’re a particularly good blogger and you allow streaming ads on your site. (Thankfully, not here…) It would truly be a labor of, well, labor, to be a regular reader of Mark Cuban’s (owner of the Dallas Mavericks) pageturner. I hope he doesn’t get to buy the Cubs. I can’t imagine Historiann getting tossed out of too many basketball games for throwing a team towel at an errant referee!


  7. Indyanna, I’ve never been thrown out of anything–yet. It’s something I hope to achieve before I’m totally middle-aged! (Perhaps I’ll join in with the “Re-Create 68” crowd down in Denver this summer?)


  8. Pingback: Schadenfreudelicious! Bennetts sticks it to the NYT : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present

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