Weekend Reading – Doing it Wrong Edition

Streetlights through a rainy window

It’s that time of the (academic) year for many of us: we are neck-deep in grading, in stressed-out student, in wondering if we’ll even have a job in the fall and how are going to make ends meet over the summer. Typically, this would be the time to share self-care pieces, but instead I’m sharing a few provocative readings that have prompted me to ask the question, maybe we’re doing this wrong.

  • Life Hacks of the Aimless and Poor, by Laurie Penny in The Baffler. “The isolating ideology of wellness works against this sort of social change in two important ways. First, it persuades all us that if we are sick, sad, and exhausted, the problem isn’t one of economics. There is no structural imbalance, according to this view—there is only individual maladaption, requiring an individual response. The lexis of abuse and gas-lighting is appropriate here: if you are miserable or angry because your life is a constant struggle against privation or prejudice, the problem is always and only with you. Society is not mad, or messed up: you are.”
  • Better Writing Won’t Cure Your Academic Woes, by Maximillian Alvarez in The Chronicle. “Like bear traps clamped onto our spleens, the contemporary academy holds us in place with such polished myths, which tell us who we are or who we should be — myths about how productive we’d be if we “focused more,” about our mental health being an entirely “personal” issue having nothing to do with our exploitative environments, about academe being a meritocracy, about the golden shores of tenure waiting for us if we just swim hard enough. Uncompromisingly, publicly, communally, we need to renounce our allegiance to these myths and throw them into the fire for good.”
  • Digital Identities & Digital Citizenship: Houston, We Have a Problem, by Bonnie Stewart in the theoryblog. “Digital identity isn’t just the wrong lens for figuring out digital scholarship, or encouraging participatory engagement in learning. It’s actually the wrong lens for building towards any vision of digital citizenship that makes for a liveable, decent digital social sphere to inhabit.”
  • Nevertheless, He Persisted: Tales of Masculine Perseverance, by Michael Hare and Nell Stevens in McSweeney’s (SATIRE). ““I love sports,” Steve Ames, 22, would say, “just not lady sports.” Whenever lady sports came on TV, he would wave his hands in mock excitement and squawk, “Look at me! I’m a lady playing lady sports! Don’t mess up my hair! Oh no, I broke a nail!” Nobody ever laughed. He persisted nevertheless.”
  • Building a Safe Space for Depression in Academia, by Emily Henken Ritter in Duck of Minerva and What I Learned From Attempting Suicide, by Anonymous in Inside Higher Ed. I’m not going to do a pull-quote from these, because much of these two pieces can be triggering. They are difficult and important reads, and tie into in a lot of ways with what is being said in the first two pieces here. We’re doing something very wrong in higher ed. And, we are not alone in feeling it, acutely.

On a less somber note, here’s how every single Nickleback song is written. It’s *hysterical*.

Image by _Kripptic licensed CC-BY-2.0

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