Category Archives: Ch-ch-ch-changes

April 7, 2015, 9:34 am

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien: On Changing Jobs


I’m guessing Hannah Arendt was not chosen as our school mascot because of the smoking.

The other day I read a comment on Facebook to the effect that, after changing jobs, many academics experience a moment of intense regret. The author of the comment timed this moment of regret at about six months into the new job, when the losses and the difficulty of the transition becomes truly apparent. I would just like to take this opportunity to say, after three years of working in a new job:

Not me. I am happy as a clam.

I haven’t gone in the other direction either: I don’t think that my previous job was incredibly flawed. Although everyone collects grievances and regrets, mine seem to have vanished entirely, and I remember only the things I liked about working there (longtime readers of this blog will be shocked at…

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September 28, 2013, 7:10 pm

The Associate Professor Blues

yeswelacanIn “Supporting the Second Book,” (Perspectives on History, September 2013), American Historical Association President Kenneth Pomeranz elaborates on a topic he launched in the previous issue. I thought it was great that Pomeranz came out last month about his post-tenure publishing delay: one of the things that I have learned on the #GraftonLine is that academics — particularly senior people — don’t talk about their difficulties enough, nor do we share strategies for changing the bad writing karma that can afflict anyone. No wonder people who are struggling with their writing don’t talk about it – it’s not allowed!!!!!

So good for you, Professor Pomeranz. Many people will feel their load lighten just a little bit from hearing your story, particularly those who work at institutions that require a second book just for tenure. But, as Pomeranz also points out, promotions to full…

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July 28, 2013, 1:56 pm

Arthroplasty, Athletics and An Academic Life; Or, What I Learned At The Gym


Tenured Radical after a 3.5 mile race in 2008: note that the right knee does not fully extend, making arthroplasty a matter of time.

I am sitting on a beat-up stool with wheels. My assignment is to go from one end of the physical therapy room to another, propelling myself by my heels. I will do this circuit three times. Prior to this I did ten minutes on the Precor, quad and hamstring lifts, glute presses, and a nasty stretching routine in which my right knee, which is no longer an actual knee but a bionic mix of titanium and plastic, loosens up to the 125 degrees I am aiming for by the end of the therapy session.  

I tear off down the room, scooting past a youngish fireman with a repaired rotator cuff and an assortment of elderly people rehabilitating knees, hips, backs, elbows, shoulders.  

My life…

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May 26, 2013, 2:15 pm

Could Flipping the Curriculum Lead to More Jobs and Better Educated Students?

history fanAnother school year ends, and the MOOC people are happily planting stories in the media about a teaching model that, if it succeeds, is likely to kill off full time work in the liberal arts forever. How do we fight this, and the concurrent view that liberal arts BAs are simply a thing of the past?

Here’s my idea: let’s flip the curriculum. Kill the survey courses and start teaching history as applied knowledge, and as a set of skills that can tangibly enhance the careers that most of our students will actually have.

As a profession, we have, to date, mounted few successful counter-arguments to those who wish to shift resources away from teaching, and jobs, in the humanities and social sciences. One of the reasons that MOOCs may be doing so well is that they represent practically the only big idea that the academy has had in the past several decades. Many of our colleagues in the…

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February 24, 2013, 2:42 pm

Academics: Get Thin and Sexy in Only Six Hours A Day!

tim-mcgraw-2-300There are so many things I could, should, and want to be writing about, but until I get Tim McGraw out of my head, it’s not happening.

As the People magazine cover story by Alicia Dennis (February 2 2013) points out, Tim is “Sexy and Sober at 45” (and not coincidentally on the brink of his Two Lanes of Freedom tour, which launches in Vegas on March 1.) I’m sorry I can’t hook you up to the whole article, and I am even sorrier that I cannot thieve the photograph of the bare chested, tanned and chiseled Tim, with a ripply eight pack and absolutely no fat between his abdomen and his hip bones (how do I know this? His jeans are balanced slightly north of his pubes.) Check out another pic below the fold. (more…)

February 2, 2013, 11:53 am

When The Modern European History Survey Goes Modern: Social Media in the Lecture Hall

Our guest blogger Mary Louise Roberts is a Professor in the History Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.   Her most recent book, What Soldiers Do: Sex and the American G.I. in World War Two France, will be published with the University of Chicago Press in May. This essay was originally written for ”The Public Practice of History In and For a Digital Age,” a plenary session at the 2013 American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Roberts appeared with historians Edward Ayers andWilliam Cronon; editor Niko Pfund; journalist Michael Pollan and your very own Tenured Radical.

I begin with a confession.  I resist change.  Unlike the other people on this panel, I am a change resister.  Unlike them, I have not pioneered digital or digitized approaches to historical inquiry.  In fact I have consciously refused them.   And when I have embraced new technologies,…

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November 24, 2012, 11:25 am

My Fantasy Job, A Year Later: What I Did and Did Not Know

That can’t be my story. That’s only a start. I’ll say that a ZEBRA was pulling that cart! And that is a story that no one can beat, When I say that I saw it on Mulberry Street.

                               Dr. Seuss, 1937

This time last year, I was getting ready for the big change that brought la famille Radical to the People’s Republic of South Brooklyn. I was finishing up an almost twenty year tenure at Zenith University and getting ready to sell our house during one of the worst real estate markets since World War II (fun fact: not one home in our Shoreline neighborhood had been sold in 2011.) I was preparing to relinquish practically everything I knew to embark on my fantasy job/adventure, a future which I could only partly imagine at the time.

So how is it going? Very well, thank you.  Here are a few observations about the experience of the last…

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October 20, 2012, 9:42 am

Queer Choices: Marriage Equality At The Crossroads

A change is gonna come.

Ballot initiatives determining the future of marriage equality loom in Maine, Maryland, and Washington, while Minnesotans will vote on banning gay marriage in their state. In these difficult times,  Madwoman with a Laptop (formerly known as The Typist at Roxie’s World) has posted yet another eloquent essay on the topic: “The Unbearable Weirdness of Being Voted On.”

Literate folk will be reminded of a famous essay that begins with this passage:

Between me and the other world there is ever an unasked question: unasked by some through feelings of delicacy; by others through the difficulty of rightly framing it. All, nevertheless, flutter round it. They approach me in a half-hesitant sort of way, eye me curiously or compassionately, and then, instead of saying directly, How does it feel…

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September 19, 2012, 6:08 pm

Should the Syllabus Evolve During the Semester?

This piece of pedagogical advice is for all you faculty out there who are well into the semester and feel as though things are not going as well as they could be:

It’s OK to change your syllabus once the semester has begun. In fact, I recommend it. You can’t change everything, but you can change some things, and it might result in a better class.

Most people feel committed to the syllabus they handed out on the first day of class. I understand this. You worked hard on that syllabus and it represents your mastery of a field. It is a symbol of your intellectual authority and autonomy. Finally, even if you want to change it, you may not think that you are allowed to change it. Many faculty and students regard a syllabus as a contract between teacher and student that should not, and cannot, be changed.

But syllabus isn’t a contract: it’s a guide, and a set of appointments you keep…

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July 14, 2012, 2:19 pm

Bringing Up Les Etudiants: Food and the College Experience

Annenberg Dining Hall at Harvard University

I have just begun reading Pamela Druckerman’s Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting (Penguin: 2012), and I must confess that I am hooked on French social engineering.

The best child rearing manuals and adolescent psychology books offer serious reflections on the young that a college teacher is unlikely to encounter in graduate training or in the workplace. Bringing Up Bebe is an entertaining, intelligent and well-written version of something you might call “Developmental Psychology for Dummies.” Aimed at the parents of young children, it offers surprising insights on the teaching challenges many of us face with young adults. Students can lack of patience for simple tasks. They often need to be entertained or…

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