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May 06, 2006

Comments

Jennifer Cascadia

Very interesting. Thank you.

I do see most of what you're saying -- although I think that what you went through would no longer be so extreme for women of my generation. Still, there are similar elements of patriarchy to contend with.

The only piece of advice you give which I will not take(though probably very prudent of you to give it, as it would be for me to take it), is not to fight back like a male.

This is something, which, if I saw I was obviously being unfairly treated, I would simply have to do -- the reason being that if I did not do so, I would not be able to live with myself; I'd always feel queasy inside.

Hattie

I am glad to hear what you say. And Fish does indicate that the big battles have been won the academic world.The problem with being unfairly treated, though, is that you may have trouble figuring out what's going on.
(Not trying to have the last word here. Honest.)

Salalalee

Excitingly, I don't share your views on academic success (or its absence). Why am I excited? because usually I agree with you, as you know, my fine friend, and so we can have a heated discussion about this. My non-agreement is broad, (admittedly) vague, and global rather than specific and pointedly analytical. It goes something like this: If you let yourself become preoccupied with alliances, conflicts, struggles, and political strategies, then you get distracted from the main business at hand, which is learning more about the things that interest you (and that brought you to graduate school in the first place). Oh, the misery of second-guessing! Of tracking the misdeeds of some evil bastard in your department! Of reading the lips and the body language of possible foes! yikes.
More anon; this bears further scrutiny.
Doctor Salalalee ^^^^ (her mark)

Jennifer Cascadia

I like Dr Salalee's approach. I think that we can psychologically insulate ourselves to some degree just by not caring.

As for The problem with being unfairly treated, though, is that you may have trouble figuring out what's going on. -- I hear ya sister.

In fact, I've had a lot of that -- much more than anyone's fair share. My main way of dealing with it these days actually has a sort of religious ring to it, which is probably unfortunate, as I would not take the following religious-sounding metaphor into any sorts of religious mental spaces... But I like to "bring into the light" various events and my reactions to them. I like to speak very directly to anyone who will listen - and I like to get the reputation as being someone who will do this as a matter of course.

So then, even when I'm treated unfairly (as I often expect to happen), there will be people who know that I am making a noise about it, and that I will make a noise about it next time, too.

So, maybe then the incidences of me being treated unfairly will tend to drop off.

Hattie

Hi, Salalee. I'm glad to hear what you say. We'll have some pretty hot discussions when we get together.
And I think Jennifer's correct that it's all a lot better than it used to be. I happened to hit an English department that, in the mid-80's, was overrun with evil trolls who resented postmodernism and who wanted to destroy women's studies.
Also, I do think I'm something of an autodidact, fond of my own ideas and not so fond of research. Not really an academic, in other words, as you definitely are, Salalalee.
I guess I enjoyed the fight and was a pain in the ass, but I got as good as I gave.
I must ask my daughter what she thinks about all of this, because she got her doctorate in German. She did not experience the conflicts I did, but she's a very different kind of person from me.

Hattie

Salalalee. Wait. I don't mean academic, I mean scholar. You are a real scholar and I am a person in love with my own ideas.

Holly

I must disagree vociferously with #10, "remember that a student is a customer." A student is NOT a customer. Teachers are NOT selling something to students. We are NOT working for tips or commissions, and we are NOT obligated to ensure that they go away from some "transaction" happy and satisfied.

Hattie

Hmm. Maybe I wasn't clear. What I meant to say was that it is easier to find a place as a student than as a teacher. For a teacher,a student is an asset, whereas a colleague may be a rival for scarce jobs and other resources.
Holly: do you read "Inside Higher Education" online? It gives a good view of some the issues arising here.

Holly

'Holly: do you read "Inside Higher Education" online? It gives a good view of some the issues arising here.'

I haven't, but I'll check it out.

Hattie

Someday I'm going to collect horror stories. Here's one that happened to a friend, and older woman (not me,thank god). Her thesis advisor, who had shown no previous signs of hostility toward her read her final draft and when he handed it back had written "crap" on the front of it in big capital letters with a marking pen.
At her orals, she had the pleasure of sitting outside while her committee had a rip-roaring argument about her. Then after a half hour or so they came out, gave her big hugs and said "Congratulations."
God.

Jennifer Cascadia

Heh. NO...that is NOT a God!

But really, I hate the academic "hedging of one's bets".

It's pretty low (and most of today's society is pretty low).

Hattie

Hi, Jennifer. The main thing that's happening right now in your country is that it is being raped for its resources. If you don't like that, you're going to be in conflict with the powers that be.

Jennifer Cascadia

Australia or Zimbabwe?

Hattie

): I was thinking of Australia. Is Rhodesia being raped too?

Jennifer Cascadia

Zimbabwe?

Well the wildlife is being killed by hungry peasants. The farmland is being eroded or not replenished.

Hattie

Another thought. I have been studying the strategies of highly successful academics, which they are kindly sharing on the Internet these days. And I think I can now address your objections, Salalalee to what I say, or articulate what I think you are saying. What you are saying, I believe, is that it is the work that counts. And of course I agree with you. What's the point of the academic world if it is not to produce good work?
But egos get in the way. And I encountered a lot of hard pressed people who felt threatened or who were competing for crumbs at a not very prestigious institution. When I went to a more highly regarded school, my social and political problems with faculty vanished. But I had to abandon the work I really wanted to do, which was on Aphra Behn and colonialism. The two people who could have helped me (and for them it was a stretch) were at the school I had left and so were not available, and my new school had no one who could work with me on this subject. I was just learning to do good research and write a paper in good style when a truly evil cabal pulled the plug on me.
I did enjoy my MA work on the autobiography of a boy living through the Hitler years, but I know it was not nearly the quality of work I wanted to do.
So I learned the hard way, but by the time I had learned I was too fed up to go on. And now the trail to Aphra has grown cold.

Hattie

This is a little confused. Shouldn't post when I'm tired. But I guess it is understandable if somewhat scrambled.

Jennifer Cascadia

I'm just looking up Aphra Behn.

I wonder if it is ever too late to do academic work -- it seems to be the kind of work that one gets better equipped for as one gets older.

Hattie

The problem in my case is that the trail got cold.
This was during the big "writing cultures" fad in anthropology, and I saw a connection between that and some strange insertions of seemingly factual travel narratives in Behn's Romance, "Oronoko"
No longer a very sexy topic, I would say.

Jennifer Cascadia

Then you must find another sexy topic -- (or help me with mine as I need all the help I can get!)

Hattie

!

Jennifer Cascadia

Just offering.

Holly

hey Hattie--in case you haven't noticed, I included this post in the current Carnival of Feminists.

Hattie

I hadn't. Thanks.

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