Category Archives: Questions

Job interview outfits … for half senior faculty, half administrative positions

They decided to interview all women, which is interesting since I can see what they are wearing. All have sensible shoes, a little too old for them, like these, but I probably need those to look conservative enough for the kind of thing I am applying for and because I can no longer wear real heels. I much prefer these, but they are $395.

In terms of outfits, I am not sure I can get away with what they were wearing. They were dressed at the level of dressiness I use for work, which is all right for a graduate student on a job interview but perhaps not for me on a job interview. One had on a suit and a shell, without jewelry. The outfit was too plain; you must wear a necklace or a scarf if you have on a jacket and a shell. Another had on a beautiful skirt and sweater that I would love to wear as an interview outfit and that did not require jewelry, but is that not too casual, really, for someone twenty years older?

In my opinion, I look fantastic in this sweater (which in person is less casual) and a short straight skirt, and this skirt and sweater, and I really do not feel like acquiring a suit, and jackets are so uncomfortable. I would rather wear a dress, but I think I need a suit. Probably a navy suit. I can wear gray, black, and brown as well, but I look strangely well in navy.

Ideally I would have a knee-length camel sheath dress with a matching suit jacket in the same length. Albert Nipon. I had a Donna Karan suit for years and it was very good, but I could not afford one now. I could perhaps shop in Chicago when I get there.

What do you think? Should one spend a fortune on clothes one likes, but does not covet . . . ?



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I should not say this in real life now, but…

I do not agree that communicative approaches, those methods referred to as grammar-translation, the direct and natural methods, and so on, are merely teaching “styles” — they have different goals and produce different results. Since we as a group do not have a common approach, the de facto departmental method is that used by those who teach the most sections; therefore, I favor creating as small a group as possible to dedicate to the basic sequence, and starting to use, rather than squelch, the expertise of all faculty, all the time.

Imagine for a moment a world in which all courses were taught for pleasure, not as “service.”



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Vallejo, el extranjero

…it seemed that if we could only decide who Vallejo was we might know what his poems mean.

Was this so and if it was, were we just falling prey to some form of the intentional fallacy?

Not necessarily.

It was that these poems were coming from a uneven, multi-leveled and multilayered collage of contexts, only some of them familiar.

It was that the speaker, the subject of discourse, was split, doubled, decentered and on the move.


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One more thing I disagree with

“You must take care of yourself (and not your work).”

Some fallacies inhere in this sentence (depending on how it is used).




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Mon cours

I said I would give a senior/graduate level course called Raza y palabra, on race and writing in Spain and Latin America, 1486-2014. This happened in a flash of inspiration and I do not now remember my concept clearly. The title is entirely too ambitious, and there is entirely too much potential material. I must order books, however, and I must remember that the students know less than I do. Much less, in fact.

Here is something quite simple I could do.

1. Talk about what race is generally. Perhaps use some of Tanya Golash-Boza’s new anthology — either the book, or the material she also anthologized lately in a special issue of a journal (that I can find). Inquiry: what is race?

2. Talk about the idea of the “Hispanic” or the “Latin” (“por mi raza hablará el espíritu”). Material from José Piedra, José Ortega y Gasset, Joshua Goode, Jerome Branche. This “includes” Spain. Inquiry: what is Hispanic? (Note: the idea of the mestizo nation is how exceptionalism and also specificity are asserted; one is alleged to have moved beyond race — and yet this allegedly supra-racial identity is defined in racial terms.)

3. Talk about the “Afro-Hispanic difference.” (Decide what to read here). Inquiry: what difference does race make? Possible theme: contesting the criollo.

4. Talk about indigenismo, considering among other things the ways in which it is deployed in service of the (criollo) nation. Use Arguedas here, go for it.

5. Talk about the Chicano movement, the plan espiritual de Aztlán, Anzaldúa.

***And have a list of films to have them watch, and a list of books to review. Films are for common discussion, and books for individual presentations.***

What do you think?




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A flash of insight

Look at these instructions on how to apply for jobs.

I had a flash of insight: they are asking for more materials now because they are tired of weak applications. I have never applied for a job that asked for a research statement, but I always included clear discussion of research in my letter. Now they are separating the components of the letter, and breaking things down to step-by-step instructions … just as we now must, when we assign things to the students.

(My experience is that essays do get much better when you write instructions almost as long as the essay itself is to be — even when teaching at a level where part of being at that level is, or was at one time, no longer needing such instructions.)

Now job candidates need more explicit instructions, or now search committees have organized to improve the quality of job applications. In this process it has become the case that more materials are required than ever before. Things have not become more competitive, but more bureaucratic; and official efforts are being made to ensure that all candidates know how a good application looks.

What do you think of my theory?




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Housing, and budgeting, and negotiating

It might be that this is where I would have to live, if I get and take Job #1. It is extremely expensive but everything that looks reasonable in that town has hidden costs or if not, is entirely too depressing (as in, I would rather stay here and leave the profession than move there and live in those things). These condos are in actual move-in condition and they are rentals, so there are no secret costs. I would be able to not think about anything, just start work. There are very great advantages to this.

I have never paid $1250 in rent. It seems ridiculous. If I pay that much in rent, and pay on old bills, and possibly continue to pay my mortgage, utilities and home maintenance here, then realistically speaking I could be looking at as much as $3,000 in rent, utilities, mortgage, and home maintenance. I am overshooting, of course, to take care of repair possibilities — anything left would go to other unexpected things, car repair, dentists, things like this, or if not, travel.

Then I might want another $2,000 to spend, perhaps. Right now I take home $3,200 or so and it is not enough, I do not make it, but this is because mortgage and back bills take almost half of it. Perhaps I want more than $2,000 to spend, then. Let us be opulent and say I want $3,000 to spend.

I want, then, $6,000 per month to take home. That is $72,000 per year, in take-home pay, which would mean over $100,000 gross. But the most I can get, I suspect, is $78,000. I wonder whether I could ask for a housing supplement. Or for books, conferences, and computers (part of the reason I have no money now is that the university does not pay for these things).

70% of $78,000 is $54,600, which is what I might take home in this state which has no income tax; that divided by 12 is $4,550. Since my mortgage is $700 and this rent would be $1250, cost of rent would take up exactly my complete salary increase if I get $78,000. Once I sold this house, or if I could rent it, things would be somewhat easier, but not a great deal easier.

This does mean, though, that I must have a salary that high, to make this proposition viable even marginally. I am glad I have made these calculations.




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Open thread on the AAUP election

It is very important. Discuss. Everyone I know is for the Fichtenbaum slate, yet Cary Nelson sounds reasonable.

My faculty will never unionize so support for an advocacy chapter is important to me. But no, on the other hand, I do not want a quietist AAUP.

I do not have any inside information on this matter, and I could use some.



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A serious question

A program at my university is having a fundraiser so their building can be finished. It involves a $50 dinner ticket, and buying drinks at the bar, and participating in a silent auction.

No, I do not have the money; yes, I have other priorities, anyway; no, I am not comfortable being asked to make this kind of contribution to the university.

On the other hand: I already have thousands sitting on cards, to cover for conferences, professional dues, and books, that I will be teaching summer school and grading the AP exam to pay off. Some might say: what is another $65 or so in these circumstances, when the person in charge is serving as a reference for you, when this is a tax deduction, and when it could mean a chance to hobnob with some of the right people?

I still say no; if I were to donate $65 somewhere I would send it to, say, the United Negro College Fund. Yet I feel coerced and cornered. How would this make you feel?




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Et voilà

Does “the therapeutic model” (as though there were only one) interdict practitioners from identifying or naming experiences such as emotional abuse? Should practitioners not say such things “as they might intrude upon their client’s reality”? I would say not: not to recognize such things is to ignore what is happening. I also wonder why emotional abuse should be something practitioners are not allowed to identify; they make wilder conjectures than that daily.

My information, gathered over the past years, is that people have not known a great deal about abuse, and that it is in fact hard to recognize. All the problems I have, have to do with dealing with abusive situations I do not know how to recognize or handle, and that I submit to but do not function well in. I can try to say I am depressed, I can try to say I have an anxiety disorder, I can try to say I have some form of ADHD, but the clear answer is always that the emotional abuse has kicked up again and I have been felled by it again.

I think that learning how to recognize it and not internalize it is an excellent project and I hardly think it would be inappropriate for therapy. And there is, efectivamente, therapy for this, that names it. Emotional abuse in the guise of advice is one thing I have suffered from, and I have always found it useful to identify what is happening.

Yesterday I was talking with some people who I would say are healthier than I am in this regard, about a situation we all have with someone. They see it more clearly than I do and apparently their friends also see it more clearly than do mine. I have learned that when I have difficulty thinking clearly it is invariably that I am in an abusive situation I do not recognize, and in which I am inadvertently complicit.

I had a screening psychotherapist tell me one time: “You are enmeshed in a system and you fear extreme violence.” This did not seem intrusive to me at all. It was illuminating. The person to whom I was funneled was, however, a Reeducator. According to him, the large space of health I had created in my life was not health but “denial.” “Honesty” was to reenvision myself as a victim and accept powerlessness. To live in the space of darkness and there to work not toward a future but merely through each painful day.

Someone else says something different: “The worst thing you can develop, in terms of your health, happiness, and deepest values, is an identity as a victim. Victim identity destroys personal power and undermines the sense of self. It makes you falsely identify with “damage” done to you or with bad things that have happened to you.”

And: “As you experience the enormous depth of your core value, the last thing you will want to do is identify with being a victim, or a survivor, for that matter. You want to outgrow walking on eggshells, not simply survive it, and you do that only by realizing your fullest value as a person.”

That is a very mainstream, even commercial person, writing in Psychology Today, and I hardly find these ideas intrusive.



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