An evolving post. Toward my post on choosing academic jobs, this is a post on the penchant for scolding in academic culture.

This post started out as a comment on this one; the original comment is now in that comments thread where it was intended to be in the first place. This post also follows this one, which follows on a CHE article to which I do not wish to relink. I will link to a useful comment on it, to which I will want to refer when I finally do write that post on choosing jobs.

Noticing my reaction to the article and some comments on it, which lasted a few days, I realized that this is what I most dislike about academia: all the scoldings and admonishments. If you ask for information, you usually do not get it, but you do get admonished with standard, basic advice — the same advice that was given before graduate school.

The reason I have to ease myself into academic work some days is the sadness it brings. I open books and think of the years I denied myself this, and I know sharply I should have read them sooner. I am reminded of all the pieces of writing I never finished. I see that certain persistent difficulties I have in life are the results of this. During Reeducation I had the impression I had hung myself on a wall and was beating myself to death with a sledgehammer. Taking up again all the activities I had before that time reminds me of all of these things, and waves of grief come in like the bands of a tropical storm.

I combat these things fairly well nowadays, at least, much better than before. This, in turn, leads me to realize what it was that was blocking and disorienting me during Reeducation itself: I now associated academia entirely with verbal abuse, condescension, scolding, admonishment, degradation. I would open a book and not be able to distinguish one letter from the next, because I could not quiet the now internalized voices.

I think it just got to a point where I had heard too much. At first I was good at handling all the admonishments, but the more divorced from reality they became, the more destructive they seemed; they were more and more weakening. I do not think the people who say one should be able to put up with just anything, have in fact put up with much. As the pseudonymous CHE commenter says, “having parts of your pension stolen and being told your discipline is worthless is not a matter of adjustment.”

Axé.

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2 Comments

Filed under Banes, Da Whiteman, Questions, Resources, Theories, What Is A Scholar?

2 responses to “An evolving post. Toward my post on choosing academic jobs, this is a post on the penchant for scolding in academic culture.

  1. Z

    Actually, this and the “Condescending to Academics” post on Clarissa’s blog is important material for my What Is A Scholar? piece. There are many defenses of the liberal arts but I want to talk about scholarship generally, as against the narrow advice of academic survivalists like this Perelmutter character (author of the CHE piece). There are admonishments from people who just want a house in the suburbs and to be a big fish in a small pond, and who assume others are all like this, and from people who aren’t in academia, all assuming that one is not who one is and that one does not know.

  2. Z

    Also: perhaps all of this was “mansplaining”. Here is the famous Solnit piece on that, illumnating. http://www.tomdispatch.com/blog/175584/

    My post “In Trade, a couple of days after the present one, also deals with this issue.

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