Liberty’s Daughers and Sons: Celebrating the Legacy of Mary Beth Norton

The conference planned in honor of Mary Beth Norton’s career now has a program posted online, as well as new information about accomodations for the big weekend, September 28 and 29, 2012.

This could be your chance to meet Tenured Radical, who’s chairing the first panel on Friday morning the 28th! Alas, I will not be able to be there myself, much as I had hoped. Continue reading

Profiting from our neo-liberal Rheeality

Kiss my chaps!

Michelle Rhee, putative “reformer” of public schools, will be speaking at the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities meeting this June, for a reported speaker’s fee of about $50,000.  (Rheediculous!  But then, you know that the APSCU doesn’t have to be careful with their money–they’re only spending your U.S. taxpayer dollars, friends, as for-profit unis are the welfare queens of the higher education world.

Now, maybe she’s going to administer for-profit unis the kind of dope-slaps she delivered on a regular basis to public school teachers in Washington, D.C., during her brief, troubled era as the public schools chancellor there.  After all, they have abysmal rates of alumni employment, leaving their students with just a crushing load of student debt without even the fond memories of tailgating, Thursday-night keggers, fraternity hazing rituals, or having after-hours consensual sex in a History seminar room.  (Talk about a wicked cheat!) Continue reading

Dressing for a job interview? Just dress for the conference.

Lee Skallerup Bessette offers some good advice for people on the academic job market in “Dressing for Success” without blowing a lot of dough.  Her advice:  make sure that whatever you wear fits well and is in good condition, and she offers a lot of ideas and resources for building a professional wardrobe without a lot of money.  However, she focuses a lot on “suits” for some reason, when I personally don’t think I’ve worn anything that can be called a “suit” for at least 6-7 years, and most men in my field don’t wear suits either.  Beyond the conference, as some commenters note, we almost never teach in suits.  The men in my department tend to wear long-sleeved shirts and ties when they teach, but most of the men professors in other departments wear jeans or khaki pants with a fleecy vest and hiking boots.  (That’s the preferred look around here, anyway, but it’s probably more casual on average than other parts of the country might be.)

My advice to job candidates is to dress to fit in with the best-dressed folks at the professional conference where they’ll be interviewed.  After all, you’ll be spending more time on average hanging out in the book exhibit and lobby and attending sessions than you will be spending in interviews, and you’ll want to look and feel reasonably comfortable all day long.  And fitting in is what you want to convince your potential future colleagues you can do. Continue reading

Celebrating MBN, Ithaca, Sept. 28-29, 2012

I heard a rumor recently that Mary Beth Norton will retire from Cornell University this year*, and I was delighted to hear that she’ll be honored at a conference organized by a few of her recent students.  (Apparently, some special people got e-mailed invitations already; I guess mine must have fallen out of one of the fiberoptic Pony Express intertubes in Nebraska, or something!  Thanks to reader Perpetua for bringing it to my attention.)

On Friday, September 28th, participants will gather at the A.D. White House for a series of sessions inspired by distinct aspects of Professor Norton’s scholarship and teaching. That evening, attendees will continue the celebration at a catered reception at the Johnson Art Museum. The conference will conclude with a morning roundtable and brunch on Saturday, September 29th. If you are interested in contributing a brief paper to one of the sessions, please email Molly at mwarsh@tamu.edu or Susanah at ssromney AT gmail DOT com.

The conference is being organized by two of Professor Norton’s former students (and now historians), Susanah Shaw Romney, PhD ’00, and Molly Warsh, BA’99. The event has received generous support from Cornell’s History Department; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Society for the Humanities; and numerous other on-campus and off-campus entities.

You can go to the conference blog and sign up for updates by entering your e-mail address.  I hope that Mary Beth will get a good audience for this event–she has always been among the most enthusiastic of women’s historians, and a very generous mentor and colleague to junior scholars like me.  Continue reading

Academic conference etiquette: do we haz it?

I’ve been hearing rumblings from different friends and colleagues lately about an erosion in history conference etiquette specifically focused on the performance and attitude of speakers on conference programs.  The complaints usually fall into two categories:  first, participants aren’t sending their papers to panel chairs commenters with sufficient lead time, and/or they’re sending 40- or 50-page article or chapter-length discussions rather than 10-12 pages that can be read adequately in 20 minutes or fewer.  Second, panelists and roundtable speakers–and some Chairs and commenters too–aren’t crafting their papers or comments to fit within their allotted times, and are taking time away from fellow panelists and/or the time allotted for audience discussion. 

One colleague mentioned that ze is shocked to see this behavior not just among eminent senior scholars–who were traditionally (if still resentfully) permitted more leeway than junior and/or more obscure scholars, but among very junior scholars and even among graduate student presenters.  Ze wonders, “Is anyone training graduate students in professional conference etiquette any more?”  But, to be clear:  the erosion of etiquette is not something my friends and colleagues or I are blaming on graduate students–this is an observation about the overall decline in conference etiquette by people at all levels of the historical profession.

I’ve always thought that one needed to respect deadlines (or at least communicate to your fellow panelists if you must miss a deadline) and time restraints in deference to one’s audience.  (NOTE:  I’m not claiming a perfect record here myself.  But, I don’t think I’ve ever been egregiously late!  At least I’ve never been publicly scolded by the commenter at the conference with the totally reasonable remark that “Professor Historiann’s paper didn’t get to me until very late, so I don’t have prepared remarks on her paper.”  Commenters have the right to refuse commenting on very late papers.)  If an audience has assembled to hear what I and some other scholars have to say, we owe it to them 1) to complete our remarks in a timely fashion, and 2) to permit them plenty of time, after sitting politely for an hour and a half, to add their thoughts or ask us questions.  Continue reading