Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tenuredsplaining

In this post, I want to give a shoutout to Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) for the "conversation" she had on Twitter early on, where among other things, a certain TR didn't seem to understand that the MLA was heavily policed and therefore a lot of grad students and adjuncts can't make it to the panel (and afford the cost to do it). Despite what was said in the Twitter "exchange" , Lee works tiredly to organize, online and offline. Lee is an amazing new voice to have for those of us who give a crap about highered. Those of us who try to do something, little by little, in our jobs, even if we don't pompously portray ourselves as public intellectuals.

16 comments:

  1. Did you read the exchange? Makes you fume...

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    1. http://storify.com/qui_oui/radically-insufferable

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  3. Not in this case, but I do feel like to a certain extent, the accusations of tenuresplaining are being used to shut down anybody who isn't exactly toeing the party line of the Twitter adjunct movement. And that's definitely not what @readywriting was doing, and like I said, it's not totally applicable in this case, but I do think that what she was saying was maybe getting a little lost in other people doing that on her behalf...

    (Mostly I just wanted to pop by and say that I'm glad you're back to blogging!)

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    1. Thanks! I understand what you are saying. If you go over to Schuman's blog, and see the post What can I do?, you'll see that plenty of us argue with her (myself included). I don't think we are being condescending, nor do we shut up. But TR, specially in that particular Twitter thread, was talking about something she had no idea about. And $100 is a lot of money for a Chicago-based adjunct to fork (and let's not get into the issue of how easy it is to sneak into a panel or not). TR Chronicle article bother me immensely because I have been "tone-policed" more than once, but in my case, it goes something like "You Hispanic are so passionate about things, that's not how we do it in this country". I am all for keeping my mouth shut when it is convenient, but many times, it is used to silence.
      Personally, I don't feel guilty for having a TT job. I advocate for better conditions for everybody at my university to the degree I can. I got elected to Faculty Committee exactly for that (even though most professors think it is a waste of energy). I educate myself about how the budget process work. And in particular, I try to develop arguments that can get the administration attention (gasp, more adjuncts means a lower retention rate, who would have thought about it?).

      Regardless, I have also been reading you, I love your blog. As for mine, I think I need to find what to write about. I have tenure, my teaching experiments have taken a back seat into my service activities (I will probably end up as Faculty Commitee Chair next year). And these activities are very important, but I can only blog about them in a very vague way

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  4. In that case, yeah, TR came across as really condescending. And I was really surprised by the use of explicitly gendered language, like “hissy fit.” However, if you saw her earlier piece in which she basically just asked whether rage is the productive way to address some of these issues, there was a response to her that was a ton of piling on, shouting down, and unilateral declarations of victory. It was over the top, it was using tone-policing as a way to shut her down, and it also got personal in a weird in such a way that by attacking her, Rebecca Schuman was also, in effect, attacking a lot of junior faculty on the TT. Her rhetoric was that TR wouldn’t have gotten her job had she applied for it today when she was fresh out of grad school because she didn’t have a zillion pubs. You know what, though? I was hired ABD with no publications, and that was in 2010. The other guy who has come out of my program (it’s a small and largely new and untested grad program) was also hired ABD and I think also with no publications (if he’s lurking here, he can correct me if he so chooses). I have another friend in a different field at a different university who was hired at a very prestigious SLAC while ABD. It happens, and to say that it never happens wipes out a lot of potential allies and also seems to reflect a (perhaps deliberate) cluelessness about the scope of the state of things. It’s true that loads of good people don’t get jobs or don’t get good jobs. But it’s also true that good people get good jobs and that there’s not a single or impossible matrix by which scholarly quality is assessed.

    And obviously I know that tone-policing and mansplaining are real: I had my entire field of study mansplained to me by an older male grad student at Penn last year, which was more hilarious than anything, but still… But I think that the point that Another Damned Medievalist made, which was that not every time that a man explains something is an instance of mansplaining, is worth keeping in mind, kind of dovetailed with what TR said about allies being people who can push you for better analysis/rhetoric, and that in this respect their both right. Sure, I consider myself to be an ally to non-TT faculty, but it’s really hard to know how to react when people start shouting: You’re not my ally unless you’re 100% in lock-step with my opinion! And beyond that, I’m still TT and not actually T-ed, and to ask me to sacrifice myself for a movement, I don’t want to resort to saying it’s an unfair ask, but it’s certainly counterproductive across the board. I also don’t feel guilty about having a job, and I’m not going to apologize for it or put it at risk.

    I think that's all for now...

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    1. Well, regarding the Chronicle post by TR, you cannot in good faith call someone a drama queen, then give a lecture about civility, and expect a "reasonable" response. And to be honest, I read every comment in that thread, and TR kept changing her responses and contradicting herself. That being said:

      Whether rage is the most productive attitude or not, I don't know. But I didn't go through her experience, so I will not tell her what the best use of her energy is. That doesn't mean that I agree with her 100%, far from it. I do not think burning down the house is a good idea, and I have no intention of puting my job on the line because otherwise I am a "sellout". I have no intention of doing such for different reasons: a) I do not have an inclination for martyrdom if it changes nothing. Seriously, I got tear gassed for the first time when I was 16, defending public education in Argentina. I am not a coward, but I am a pragmatic person. I will probably be department chair in 5 years. Will I advocate for more FT lecturerships? Absolutely. Will I never hire an adjunct? I probably will. What am I doing to try to change something now? Trying to understand how the budget works at my university (hence the post above) and (together with the other members of Faculty Committee) insist to the administration that we need a transparent budget (even a line item budget). To be continued...

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    2. Also, and I am going back and forth:
      My problem with ADM post about the winter wars is that, if I read it correctly, she seems to think that just for having a PhD you are privileged. Maybe she is right, maybe she is not, but when you see adjuncts on food stamps (and I know two), that is a hard argument to make. Again, I don't feel guilty for having a TT job, but every time I talk with adjuncts, the first thing I do is to try to emphatize. And because I am an overly sensitive lady IRL, I can feel the pain. I will give my two cents at Rebecca's (or any other adjunct) blog. If it is not well received, then I will leave that space and participate in others that are more receptive to my ideas.

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    3. Personally, as much as I support organizing and unions, try doing that at a religious school in a right to work state (my state is not right to work, but many states are). It will not happen. That is the problem with one size fits all solutions (or, to put it another way, organizing is tougher in KY than in NYC). I do a lot of things at the university level. But the problem is structural, not just about adjuncts

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    4. And finally: yeah, the she would not get hired today was dumb, because TR got hired two years ago by the New School. I do hesitate to generalize about the market based on the experience of Spanish, because it is pretty unusual. But I think it is safe to say that for a teaching school like mine, you need a few articles to get hired, but not a book (show interest in research, but you do not need to be the second coming of Frederic Jameson).

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  5. To be fair, TR doesn't actually call Schuman a drama queen — it's in the graphic that goes with her post, and drawing on what I know about editorial work, it's likely she didn't have anything to do with it. That said, I realize that I may be going easy in my reaction to her because I was just so sick of what she herself was responding to. You're 100% right about finding a different space to have the discussion — any discussion — if necessary; I guess my sort of knee-jerk need-a-break-from-Twitter reaction was to this sort of thing descending on discursive space that I have found to be really productive and enjoyable up to this point. I actually think that the discussion is going to get quite interesting at NYU with the recent decision about unionized academic labor and I'm looking forward to participating it; and maybe it's fortunate that I won't be able to blog or tweet about it.

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    1. Funny, I just left a response in your blog while you were writing here. Maybe we should start the Bloggers collective, or something.

      I am not a big fan of TR, but I have always respected her. As much as disagree with her position on the Israel topic (I am against the boycott), I thought that her post explaining why she changed her mind and supported the boycott of Israel by the ASA was a beautiful example of what civilized dialogue should be. The infamous post was straight out of Mean Girls (even if it did make a few good points). Maybe because the former was address to a colleague, while the latter to mere adjuncts. I don't know. I only know she is not somebody I am interested in having a conversation with. And $600 is a lot of money even for me!!!

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  6. I think ADM also means that you are privileged if you were someone who could even get into a PhD program. And says that being an adjunct is NOT like being enslaved, captured from Africa, etc.

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    1. Privileged for being able to get into a PhD program? Mmm... I don't think I agree with that, but maybe I still don't have an accurate picture of US higher education. As to the the latter, yes, of course.

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    2. I definitely don't get the whole US higher education system. This weekend, out of curiosity, I spent a few hours going over the spreadsheet of Karen Kelsy's survey, and I just don't get it. I understand debt for undergraduate studies, but the amount of money some people take on to do a PhD in anthropology, or the fact that there were cases where they did it even though it was not funded at all, that's just mind-boggling. The narratives are the most interesting part.

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