27 March 2014

Booty Call (The Adjunct Edition)

On Sunday prior to week two of classes, I received a phone call asking me to step in and take over a class I’ve not taught before. It had been assigned to another adjunct, but that instructor never showed up to class in week one* I said I’d step in, help out, because the department had no other instructors for the course.

The class was scheduled to meet the next morning. I raced home to concoct a syllabus, assign a textbook, request a desk copy of said textbook, and put together a “first class meeting” lecture.

When I arrived on campus Monday, faculty greeted me with “I’m so glad we could offer you a class this term!” rather than “thank you for stepping in at the last minute!” And that’s when I realized (like, really realized) that I’m valued only for what I can do for the department. I'd responded to an academic booty call.

You know what I mean? That late night, out of the blue, phone call from someone you’re crazy about? But that person only gets in touch with you when horny, alone, and possibly drunk?

“Hey baby, what are you doing? Want to come over? I want to see you. We can just talk all night if you want. Or cuddle. We can cuddle”
When you arrive:
“Oh, baby, I’m so glad I could be here for you. I know you have needs. Let’s head on back to the bedroom”

In the morning, you might feel used and (slightly) sullied, but you remember that you went into it with open eyes and clear intent. You might feel a bit embarrassed about your desperation to be “liked” by this person you’re so infatuated with—so desperate that you damage the self-esteem you’ve cultivated so carefully.

You might say “sod this arrangement. I’m deserve; I deserve to be treated like a queen/king by someone who loves all of me.” You might even believe this statement. Until the next booty call.

Not this time. Nah. There will be no “next time.” I say “Sod this arrangement. I’m out.”
(sotto voce: "I'm too old for this")

*I never found out what happened to the instructor. I do hope he/she is okay, that she/he was offered a FT position somewhere, or a lovely alt-ac job, and just took off.

26 March 2014

But how are *you*?

Some time (Some?) has passed since my last post. I’ve been a bit caught up.

Unexpectedly, I was assigned a full course load Fall term. After all of my years of teaching, it was my first ever experience with a full load. As an adjunct, I’ve typically received two, maybe three classes a term (thank God I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to rely solely on my teaching income to survive). 

four classes, four preps, hundreds of essays: it was a lively experiment that I (largely) enjoyed, but, dude, that term wore me down.

That's my excuse.

27 March 2013

Grading Day, so Link

Blast! I begin each term with such an effective schedule--no course assignments overlap, due dates are spread out, and so on. Blast! Each term's schedule ends up collapsing about week four. Granted, "collapse" is a bit hyperbolic, but it's inevitable that something will occur to shake up the term's choreography. Yes. I am behind schedule.

Anyway, I've been responding to student work all week, and the end approaches: I sit with 50 papers before me. I will meet with half of the authors in conference tomorrow and Friday. The remainder I will respond to via email today and tomorrow.  As much as I'd love to spend today writing about SCOTUS and WKRP in Cincinnati, I've my priorities. Instead, I'll leave a link to Lawyers, Guns, and Money, where you'll always find insightful challenging posts on a number of issues (academia, politics, ideology, pop culture, etc). Love that blog.

25 March 2013

Howard Zinn, Ideology, and Faulty Scholarship

It's a day (and night) for grading papers, so I'll put this here: part review of a biography of Howard Zinn, and part critique of Zinn's career, David Greenberg's "Howard Zinn's Influential Mutilations of American History" in The New Republic (hardly a bastion of traditionalism or of conservatism). I appreciate Greenberg's approach to revisionism such as Zinn's: he calls out Zinn's willingness to castigate the USA's actions and ideologies while ignoring or minimizing other nations' cruelties--his silences on the brutalities of Soviet Russia, and so on.

Of Zinn's scholarship in A People's History of the United States, Greenberg says:
Zinn rests satisfied with what strikes him as the scandalous revelation that claims of objectivity often mask ideological predilections. Imagine! And on the basis of this sophomoric insight, he renounces the ideals of objectivity and empirical responsibility, and makes the dubious leap to the notion that a historian need only lay his ideological cards on the table and tell whatever history he chooses.
Lord, but I have heard this methodology set forth by undergraduates in courses past: "as long as I identify my point of view and find sufficient quotes that seem to lend authority, my work is done." Rather than reasoning and sound evidence that reflects a thorough consideration of the issue, support becomes a quote-hunt, the results of which are often cherry-picked, redefined, and decontextualized.

Don't such arguments (aligned with specific ideologies, supported with cherry-picked evidence)  become non-arguable? Rather than dealing with reason, we deal with emotion and belief--and one can't really (fairly) argue with feeling or faith.

It's tempting to go on and to develop, somewhat, these initial thoughts, but I have yards of paper to read before I sleep.

Aside: Apparently Ralph Ellison didn't think much of Zinn's scholarship. Who knew?

24 March 2013

Marinetti's Manifesto (link)

The Futurist Manifesto, by F. T. Marinetti, is online!

Marinetti wrote this baby in 1909 to announce a break with traditional artistic conventions. Here are the Manifesto's bullet points:
  1. We want to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and rashness.
  2. The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, audacity and revolt.
  3. Literature has up to now magnified pensive immobility, ecstasy and slumber. We want to exalt movements of aggression, feverish sleeplessness, the double march, the perilous leap, the slap and the blow with the fist.
  4. We declare that the splendor of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath ... a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to sing the man at the wheel, the ideal axis of which crosses the earth, itself hurled along its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with warmth, glamour and prodigality to increase the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Beauty exists only in struggle. There is no masterpiece that has not an aggressive character. Poetry must be a violent assault on the forces of the unknown, to force them to bow before man.
  8. We are on the extreme promontory of the centuries! What is the use of looking behind at the moment when we must open the mysterious shutters of the impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We want to glorify war — the only cure for the world — militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of the anarchists, the beautiful ideas which kill, and contempt for woman.
  10. We want to demolish museums and libraries, fight morality, feminism and all opportunist and utilitarian cowardice.

  11. We will sing of the great crowds agitated by work, pleasure and revolt; the multi-colored and polyphonic surf of revolutions in modern capitals: the nocturnal vibration of the arsenals and the workshops beneath their violent electric moons: the gluttonous railway stations devouring smoking serpents; factories suspended from the clouds by the thread of their smoke; bridges with the leap of gymnasts flung across the diabolic cutlery of sunny rivers: adventurous steamers sniffing the horizon; great-breasted locomotives, puffing on the rails like enormous steel horses with long tubes for bridle, and the gliding flight of aeroplanes whose propeller sounds like the flapping of a flag and the applause of enthusiastic crowds. 
Sounds a wee bit fascistic, yes? But then, Marinetti was one of the early supporters of Mussolini.

For me, this document's significance--beyond historical value-rests in its influence on Pound, Lewis, et. al. who created Vorticism as a response to/variation on Futurism. This work also influenced L'arte dei Rumori (The Art of Noises), by Luigi Russolo, which, in turn, had a profound influence on 20th century music (more on that another time--when I have the time and energy to laud Pierre Henry, Steve Reich, et al).

Anyway, just sharing.