What is a scholar?

Et voilà, now we know. Once again, that is what I would have said, at eleven, seventeen, twenty-four, thirty-one, until I met professors.

Namely, assistant professors who had been protégés of famous people at famous schools, and had jobs for this reason. Also, associate and full professors who had attained these ranks by pleasing the right administrators, and who were now judging one on how well one did this oneself.

According to them, scholarship was done at Christmas and during the summer, and it was very, very difficult. It was important to have some done for when the accreditation agencies appeared and for our ratings, but you should not be caught doing it as people might think you thought you were a better scholar than they.

Thank you Clarissa for pointing us to that post, and this one.

It is 65 degrees Fahrenheit in New Orleans this morning, 58 in San Francisco.

Axé.

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5 Comments

Filed under News, Resources, What Is A Scholar?

5 responses to “What is a scholar?

  1. “Namely, assistant professors who had been protégés of famous people at famous schools, and had jobs for this reason. Also, associate and full professors who had attained these ranks by pleasing the right administrators, and who were now judging one on how well one did this oneself.”

    Those are not scholars but sycophants.

    Before “meeting” you, I had never reflected on what an advantage I have had in growing up in but not of a college town. Because my friends’ parents were professors, I learned how things worked; but because my family had other occupations, I learned skepticism about the academy. I internalized plenty from my family, including some things I wish I had not, but in many ways those attitudes actually usefully counter the dysfunctional academic attitudes (along with the more functional beliefs in what it took to be a scholar that I also was exposed to).

    I don’t mean to pat myself on the back at your expense; I’m sorry if it sounds that way. It’s just that I hadn’t thought about it that way before.

    • Z

      Sychophants, yes. But I really didn’t meet anyone like that until I went on the tenure track. But many colleagues I have had fit that description. This post describes my current place of work and one other one, not my family.

      (And I am in San Francisco today and want to move back — more sacrilege, caring about location.)

      • Z

        Although, P.S. — some of the academic advice I rail at comes from the family, yes, but the problem there, I have been told by blog readers, is Woolf’s “daughters of educated men” — nobody thinks you can be competent — I heard so many times, so emphatically, that to teach well was career suicide (“cut corners on teaching”) that I could just throw rocks at the next person who tells me all I need to do is “cut corners” (on anything — write sloppy stuff, teach sloppy things, evade service, I mean — yes one has to prioritize and so on, but after a few years all I heard was that you were supposed to do worse and worse and become more and more avoidant; this was not the family value, it is just that they didn’t trust me to have gotten it yet, so I have always had to hear this mantra).

      • How I love San Francisco. I long to live in the Bay Area again, anywhere, but there is an apartment in SF that I once glimpsed from the street and marked as mine, in a perfect world.

  2. Z

    Well, I have to write a post about how they slowly erode you on choice of places to live. I did not do the PhD to become a professor, but to do something else research-y and international-y in Bay Area or other select urban places. But, after all the exhortations about how you have to want to be a professor and you have to be willing to live anywhere, I slowly quailed. Right now my thought is d-d straight, one should definitely sell one’s soul to live in Bay Area!

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