Category Archives: Resources

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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Marcelo Viñar

…homologar la tortura y el genocidio a las generalidades de la Neurosis traumática es desconocer su especificidad, la que radica en que es otro humano –un semejante– el que tramita racionalmente nuestro oprobio o destrucción. A partir de allí –y a perpetuidad–, la pregunta de quién es el prójimo se planteará sin cesar con otra intensidad, con otra incertidumbre, con otra congoja. Quebrada la identificación originaria a lo humano –que es constitutiva de todas nuestras ficciones teóricas sobre el origen del sujeto psíquico– éste queda fragilizado o fisurado.


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…with a wild surmise

I am mortally offended and in touch with many years of anger. I see who and what I am dealing with. 

I am not sure what to do. Two have resigned, and four are considering it. Ride it out, says another colleague. Perhaps, but the big change for me is that I see we are dealing with people who do not act in good faith. I had been advised to consider them merely incompetent but what they do, they do not do in error.

Another colleague said it was impossible to advance because the institution does not want to improve, and works against it actively. It might be important to stop interacting with these forces, stop fighting for rights, stop working for collegiality; ignore them completely and work on nothing that cannot be translated into hard data.

I had always assumed that I was considered to have legitimate expertise and to be honest and sincere, but I discover now that it is precisely these characteristics of mine which are questioned. They were the things assumed about me as a child: that I was not competent and would not be, and that I would attempt to compensate for that by taking advantage of others.

Someone similar must be projecting the same things into me now. I should stop allowing these projections to destabilize me. I should have a protection spell cast so that they glance off my diaphanous shield.

Things to remember, or even say to some:

+ I am legitimate.
+ I see why those who wanted more of a certain kind of work out of me are disappointed. I am also disappointed not to have been given better conditions.
+ Those people should remember how they instructed me not to do that work, but to do other work.
+ They should note how well that work was done.
+ But most importantly: I am exhausting myself, yes; but it is not by working too hard on my work, it is by defending against their strangeness.

I really do not want to spend any more time questioning my right to exist, or defending it, including on this weblog.



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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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An e-mail I received

Dear Z,

Now that I have seen the madre patria I have a different and deeper understanding of you. I have much to recount, but I am distracted by the beauty of this place.

— and I have spent a truly glorious day after the interview in — and later in —. We stopped for drinks in the middle of the afternoon and had sparkling conversations with anyone sat to the left and right of us, then we walked down a hill and, without changing streets, up a hill and then finally stopped for a fantastic meal that took place entirely in Italian (Roman Italian, without any provocation at all) then walked to the water, then up a hill then down another hill.  It’s only 8:30 PM and I feel like I’ve done more living than I have in the past eight years.  Before we crossed over the bridge to return to —, we visited two different beaches and drove through what had to be the most exquisite forest I’ve ever seen–and I’ve seen many!

Naturally, this is not wise advice, but you should know that packing up and moving without a job is what I would call healthy.  Not moving is folly.  How could you do anything else?  I pray I didn’t blow the interview though I fear I was overly enthused and not cool at all.  According to me, I was charming as hell.  As I mentioned, I had the feeling that I was shortlisted because of —.  When asked about what languages I felt comfortable teaching (by the lone —ist) and at what levels, what I wanted to say was “…all levels of — but, with some re-training, also —.”  What I did say instead, out of my control and against my will,  was that I was perfectly competent in both.

Sounder judgement kicked in when I resisted saying I was great at —, — and —, too, though I was on the verge.  I understand the comparisons with — though this city bigger, hillier and more stylish than I remember how to be.  It’s its own creature and a thing of wonder.  Z, I may just move here myself without a job.  It’s true, it’s crazy-expensive but I feel it’s worth so much more.  I love being viewed without suspicion or overt scrutiny, as if I were not worthy of trust, deserving of free-will and as if others had better things to do than to give a shit. 

Prolonged investigation of Mother Teresa would inevitably reveal flaws and I’m sick of being viewed as a fucking Martian with plans of overtaking all Earthlings.  Anyway, I’m off to sleep so I can get as much of a fix as possible before my return to Maringouin on Sunday.  When I move here, I’ll work on a nice cozy home for you, me, — and one or more of his various ladies so that we can all live happily after in this place that, for God’s sake, we deserve.

I have bolded the most relevant sentences.


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On the adjunct crisis

People do not realize that many decades ago at Berkeley they decided freshman composition should also be given by (many) departments other than English. They have it in Rhetoric, Dramatic Art, Comparative Literature, and now all of these departments.

This means that English is more immune to being asked to staff these courses with adjuncts, and other departments get TAships for their students.

Yes, it is possible to achieve sufficient “uniformity” across departments and disciplines.




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One of these is needed.


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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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Just to be sure I remember…

→It is the gaslighting and the undermining, even more than the lack of a research culture.

My claustrophobia. I did not say this myself, but someone else said my problem was having to work at too low a level. (He said something much blunter than that, about having to work “seven categories” beneath my capability.) I discern that my claustrophobia is self-inflicted. I keep trying to lower horizons, have less verve, become less intelligent, limit thought. That could be where the claustrophobia comes from.

My hesitancy or mental fog. It is a result of trying to adjust to the claustrophobia. That is to say, it is in part self-inflicted. It is also a reaction to the gaslighting and the undermining, but it is in part a result of my acquiescence to these, my intentional effort to become less capable.

→I do not like those people who claim superiority to their surroundings, and those claims are often false. But I could consider resisting engulfment by surroundings at the very least.




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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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