All posts by Marc Bousquet


13 Ways of Looking at ‘Yeshiva’

The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. 
It was a small part of the pantomime.

As you may well not have heard on your corporate nightly news, the Obama-era National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has been near-paralyzed by years of Republican dirty tricks leading to resignations and scandal that included frequent leaking of confidential board proceedings to former Republican board members advising the Romney camp.  With the Department of Justice eyeballing the corporate hacks in question, howe…


Good MOOC’s, Bad MOOC’s

So I just finished a brief radio appearance (CBC) on the subject of Massive Open, Online Courses (MOOCs). The main guest was George Siemens who, with Stephen Downes, helped pioneer these courses in Canada. Even though all of the press coverage has gone to the competing Stanford edu-preneurs behind Coursera and Udacity, Siemens and Downes have done much of the most important work, theoretical and practical, distinguishing between good and bad MOOC’s.

At the heart of the work of Siemens and Downes…


Sympathy for the President?

I shouted out “Who killed the Kennedys?”
When after all it was you and me.

UVa’s board of trustees (“Visitors”) are widely rumored to be considering reinstalling not-quite-ousted President Teresa A. Sullivan after a three-week public-relations debacle that has Sullivan staggering under all the white hats and halos, and the Visitors themselves painted in shades of black (their chair, Helen Dragas, playing Mistress of the Dark Arts). As soon as the Visitors announced the vote of reconsideration,…


On This Rock

Cary Nelson

Cary Nelson completes his third consecutive term as AAUP president next week. No one serving in that role has accomplished so much with so little against a mountain of obstacles that would have sent weaker personalities scurrying back to their carrels and laboratory benches. During his tenure, he averted near-certain financial collapse, calmed near-annual rebellions from the union affiliates, appeased traditionalists, weathered the unionization of the staff, oversaw the departure of …


Hoist by Her Own Petard?

As I mentioned in my last post on improving our comments policy, I had my say about Naomi Schaefer Riley’s work roughly a year ago (Giggling at Stereotypes). Over time I think most reasonable observers will agree that the issue with her work isn’t one flawed post, but a history of offenses against academic norms.

Together with shameless hit pieces like The Faculty Lounges, her assault on African-American Studies was not an exception, but a repetition, of serious blunders against both academic an…


Commenting, Moderation, and Provocation

Not everyone writes to provoke, but provocative writing is common in the blogosphere, including the segment of blogging for traditional news and opinion outlets. Editors’ goals for bloggers resemble their aims for columnists. Generally they want to hire someone whose edginess is both deniable and claimable—not one of our reporters, but one of our loosely affiliated thinkers.

That dynamic tension is mirrored in commenting policy.  Most provocative bloggers push buttons and boundaries in order to…


Rejecting Government Offer, Quebec Students Persist in Historic Strike

A guest post by Lilian Radovac

Last Friday, representatives of Quebec’s student unions were summoned to emergency talks with the government. They were joined by college and university administrators and labor union leaders, whose goal was to hammer out an agreement that would end the 12-week long strike.

Meanwhile, members of the Quebec Liberal Party were gathering in Victoriaville, 70 miles southwest of the provincial capital, for the first day of their annual policy convention.

As negotiations…


The Biggest Student Uprising You’ve Never Heard Of

250,000 students pack the streets in largest demo in Quebec history

A guest post by Lilian Radovac. (BTW, SoCal readers may want to know that Marc is speaking at UC-Irvine a 4 p.m. 4/23 on New Media/New Protests.)

On an unseasonably warm day in late March, a quarter of a million postsecondary students and their supporters gathered in the streets of Montreal to protest against the Liberal government’s plan to raise tuition fees by 75% over five years.  As the crowd marched in seemingly endless w…


Robots Are Grading Your Papers!

"Insufficient number of supporting examples. C-minus. Meep." (Photo by Flickr/CC user geishaboy500)

A just-released report confirms earlier studies showing that machines score many short essays about the same as human graders. Once again, panic ensues: We can’t let robots grade our students’ writing! That would be so, uh, mechanical. Admittedly, this panic isn’t about Scantron grading of multiple-choice tests, but an ideological, market- and foundation-driven effort to automate assessment of tha…


How Many Leftists Does It Take to Get Media Attention?

One of the biggest of the big lies to get passed off in recent decades is the myth that the liberal media cater to left intellectuals. Featuring left luminaries like Barbara Ehrenreich, Stanley Aronowitz, Michael Moore, and Cornel West, and expected to draw over four thousand anarchists, activists, organizers, and revolutionaries, you won’t hear about the record crowd packing this weekend’s Left Forum, at Pace University in New York, unless you’re already listening to WBAI and reading The Nation


The Joy of Cycling to Work

It’s raining and 53 degrees, and the office is 12.5 miles away by way of the Los Gatos Creek bicycle trail, but I can’t wait to go to work. I like riding in the rain. I like riding, period. But above all I like riding to work. The exercise is part of it. With a four-year-old boy and a pregnant spouse, there’s always a really good reason to skip the gym.

It’s a state of mind more than anything else. The hours in the office are bracketed by life and not the containerized living death of the car. I…


Grad Students Fight Sleazy Union Law

A guest post by Andrew Yale

Back in 2004, Bush appointees to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) stripped private-university teaching and research assistants of the right to unionize, reversing a unanimous, bipartisan decision in 2000. The NLRB now has an opportunity to restore their rights. All that’s required is actually ruling on a petition for a union election brought by the Graduate Student Organizing Committee at New York University in April 2010.

Due to Republican shenanigans in the…


Sympathy for Eichmann?

With “Why I Feel Bad For the Pepper-Spraying Policeman, Lt. John Pike,” Atlantic magazine senior editor Alexis Madrigal provides a useful discussion of the criminalization of protest and related militarization of police response. Madrigal is quite right that we’re missing the point if we pretend that Pike is an “independent bad actor” and “vilify” him as an individual without analyzing the flawed system of protest policing in which Pike operates. However, Madrigal makes a serious blunder in fram…


What UC Davis Pays For Top Talent

Lt John Pike pepper-sprays peaceful sit-in.By now, you’ve seen the video of UC-Davis police lieutenant John Pike pepper-spraying a peaceful sit-in. You’ve seen his strutting little-man-in-a-big-body sadism, giving his beefy little canister a  nonchalant waggle before strolling down the line of nonviolent protesters, aiming the toxic stream into their faces from a few feet away.  You might even have signed the petition urging the resignation of the thugs who authorized this performance. Now, courtesy of the always trenchant Vijay Prashad,…


Campus Occupations Intensify

a guest post by Zach Schwartz-Weinstein

November 9, 2011 may be another turning point in the relationship between the occupation movement and campus activism.

Students have played a leading role in the occupations at Wall Street and around the U.S., not to mention the occupation of Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the Spanish indignado movement, and the ongoing student struggles against austerity across Europe. In fact, the “occupy everything” meme first gained purchase on this side of the Atlantic via …


Occupying the Catholic Church

St Paul's offers sanctuary to the Occupy movement–but what if churches were the target?

As the occupy movement flashed to 1,500 cities across the globe this weekend, police repression intensified. At Occupy London, organizers moved from the London Stock Exchange to St. Paul’s Cathedral, where as many as 250 protesters set up tents. As police prepared to “protect” the building, the cleric in charge of the facility, Giles Fraser, intervened. “Canon Fraser came out to greet us. It was amazing,” pr…


Teach-in at Occupied New York City

Gayatri Spivak at the teach-in at Washington Square: “I believe you can win if we keep this will for social justice alive. Logistics are important. Pizzas are important. But the real demand–is to win.”

A guest post by Bob Samuels

I went to several Occupy Wall Street events on October 16 to talk about student debt, unemployment, and the academic labor system.  In the morning, checked out Zuccotti Park, and I found that the site is serving as a training center and launching platform for occupati…


Inside the Crackdown at OccupyBoston

a guest post by Zach Schwartz-Weinstein

My last guest post on the Wall Street occupation came way back on day three.  In the intervening three weeks, occupations and/or general assemblies have sprung up all over the U.S., from Maine to San Diego, Portland to Buffalo, Oakland to Charlottesville, Va. I’ve spent a lot of time in the week and a half at occupied Dewey Square, across from Boston’s South Station, and one of the first occupations to spring up beyond Wall Street.

Like the Wall Street occ…


Why Do I Occupy?

So I just got back from Occupy San Jose, and it was exhilarating—not just for me, but for Heather and, especially, Emile, our 3.5 year old son. After 20 years of top-down academic wankery, I was thrilled to spend three hours practicing democracy. And it was Emile’s first demo!

I’ll always remember the smile on his face while he chanted, “Time for the 99!” and “This is what democracy looks like!” on the two-mile march to City Hall and Chavez Park. Participation peaked at 150 and hovered near the…