Friday, April 08, 2005


Friday Morning Blogging

The original title of this post was "Wednesday Blogging." Then it was "Thursday Blogging." But, since I've been getting "page has no data" or some such message from Blogger for the last couple of days, either when trying to just get into the dashboard or when I tried to hit "publish post," it's now "Friday Morning Blogging." Blogger needs to get its act together.

So, not a whole lot to report, but as it's now been a week since my last blog (hmm, how Catholic that syntax was--I feel like I'm in the confessional), I figured I should post something.

The problems at my institution that I've outlined in the last couple of blogs remain, though I was able to achieve an extremely minor victory in the curriculum department though persistence and a great deal of backroom dealing with fellow department members.

Also, I have learned of an unexpected ally in the fight against our freshman indoctrination course, someone I was certain was completely in favor of what the university is doing. This doesn't mean anything is going to change in the near future, but if we can become a somewhat more organized underground, perhaps little changes here and there will eventually amount to something.

I've also had several student visits over the last couple of weeks, I suppose because of the stance I've aken on various issues in my courses regarding standards and the need to assign works that are more open to interpretation than the ones we generally ask students to read, and am finding that there is a great deal of discontent amongst our students. They feel unchallenged, for one thing, and they feel that their professors are using their classes to pursue ideological goals, rather than using them to make certain students are adequately trained in their chosen fields and exposed to the knowledge necessary to making their degrees worth more than the paper they are printed on. This is particularly true of those who have attempted the GRE and are finding that a curriculum heavy in twentieth-century ethnic American literature (with the earlier periods in American literature being represented heavily by slave narratives) and which emphasizes "Anglophone" literature instead of British literature is not serving them well on the subject test.

So I'm doing everything I can to foment small revolutions here and there.

On the other hand, I had a bit of a row with one of the radical feminists, though I don't think it was serious enough to jeopardize my position here. Of course, you never know, but she was cordial enough to me the day after, so it's possible we kept the difference of opinion at the level of the profession and not the personal. Time will tell.

In the end, a bit of hope. Suggestions for successful fifth column activities are welcome.

Glad to see you get that fightin' spirit back, Winston.

Don't know of any fifth-column activity ideas for you right now, other than to keep on remembering that "sanity is not statistical."
I assign a lot of "extra" texts from public domain archives of literature like rather than the stuff I am "required" to teach by the department. Since I have little supervision, I can "get away" with it.

As for getting fellow fifth columners - good luck. I have yet to find any.
If you've got no choice in textbook, do you at least have a choice in how much weight, and what parts of it you read? Supplemental texts?

I don't know what to tell you about finding allies against faddism: I'm fortunate in that my department is quite unfaddish and very serious about our work and teaching. Outside of that, it's a matter of slow, careful networking, identifying the people whose course materials and curricular ideas jibe with your own. Unless you want to give up the fifth column thing and go into full-bore insurgency: then you can send out blanket e-mails and have public meetings, but you might want to have tenure for that. I do. (want to, that is)
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