Category Archives: What Is A Scholar?


I have removed everything I have from the cumbersome Endnote and placed it in the virtuous Zotero, and that is how things will be. I will place things from the Seminario there, and from Evernote. I have become quite serious and will become moreso. I have not yet discovered whether I like Scrivener but I have gone and bought Word Perfect, and all of this is moving me further and further from my Linux plan. I am not sure how to feel about that.


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Someone agrees with me on composition and the introduction to literature, Dieu merci

Q. Do you have comments on the idea that “literature is not for everybody, and should only be taught in literature classes” — ?

A. That idea makes me mad. I could point to cognitive theory, which makes the argument that literature is an important way we develop our ability to empathize with people who are not like us. I could point to the fact that “literature” in the sense of “storytelling” has been a part of every major culture, even non-literate ones, and every single student in our classes needs to learn how to understand what other people are doing when they are telling stories (and to identify it when it happens) because it is embedded in our advertising, our politics, our leisure activities, and yes–our art.

Literature should no more be limited to “literature classes” than math should be limited to “math classes.” We use math to understand physics, chemistry, sociology, psychology, and yes, even occasionally literature. The case of literature is the same (Flatland is a good example).

A. The Research Compliance Committee has determined that literature is too dangerous for general access, and must be handled according to strict guidelines, using proper and approved reading methods. Literature courses focusing on such methods are the most responsible way to expose students to working with literature, but other courses may be approved on a case-by-case basis by the Committee.


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Advice to job candidates

Do not, as you introduce your job talk, say that your presentation is “part of a larger project” if the larger project to which you refer is a book of essays edited by someone other than you.

Faculty, don’t “professionalize” your students by teaching them phrases like the one quoted above if you do not also teach them their more correct usage.


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Chuchería, fruslería, insignificancia, tontería, menudencia, bagatela

No hay tal yo de conjunto. Basta caminar algún trecho por la implacable rigidez que los espejos del pasado nos abren, para sentirnos forasteros y azorarnos cándidamente de nuestras jornadas antiguas. No hay en ellas comunidad de intencio­nes, ni un mismo viento las empuja. Lo han de­clarado así aquellos hombres que escudriñaron con verdad los calendarios de que fue descartán­dolos el tiempo. Unos, botarates como cohetes, se vanaglorian de tan entreverada confusión y di­cen que la disparidad es riqueza; otros, lejos de encaramar el desorden, deploran lo desigual de sus días y anhelan la popular lisura. Copiaré dos ejemplos. El primero lleva por fecha el año 1531 y es el epígrafe del libro De Incertitudine et Vanitate Scientiarum que en las desengañadas postrime­rías de su vida compuso el cabalista y astrólogo Agrippa de Nettesheim. Dice de esta manera:

Entre los dioses, sacuden a todos las befas de Momo.
Entre los héroes, Hércules da caza a todos los mons­truos.
Entre los demonios, el Rey del Infierno, Plutón, oprime todas las sombras.

Mientras Heráclito ante todo llora.
Nada sabe de nada Pirrón.
Y de saberlo todo se glorifica Aristóteles.
Despreciador de lo mundanal es Diógenes.
A nada de esto, yo Agrippa, soy ajeno.

Desprecio, sé, no sé, persigo, río, tiranizo, me quejo.
Soy filósofo, dios, héroe, demonio y el universo en­tero.

I must look up discussions of the philosophical sources of this text. Research, exercise, art, nature, revolution and love are everything, and are the antidotes to the cruauté of the university.


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Dieci anni

An old student came by; it had been ten years. She said our workplace is a sad one, that many traumatic events have taken place, but that I look the same as ever and seem happy. I changed her life, she said, by convincing her she could do the professional things she did not think she could.

(Teaching is not important, and I am not good at it.)

How to eject the introjected torturer, though. I think of Marilyn Monroe, taking drugs, with so much pressure to perform in the ways desired.

I wonder whether the harsh people I always felt goading me ahead on the paths they chose were actually mere fans.



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La méditation pour cette semaine

I woke up this morning very clearly aware of the reason I do not like to wake up: waking up means waking up to the university slapping me in the face and then putting me in a barrel of water and covering it, so that I will drown. I will then have to spend the rest of the day trying to get out of the barrel, which I will achieve sometime after dark. While I am in the barrel, the university will tell me how I must learn to sacrifice more. If I learn to sacrifice more, I will not be slapped around so much or put in barrels of water to drown.

Consider the opposite: is the answer that I must learn to sacrifice less?

I am so tired of this behavior and attitude of theirs, though, and I am so tired of hearing professors with good circumstances, well employed spouses, and so on, talk about how all problems are problems of “time management” or of “not knowing how to write” or of “not being serious.” And about how people in my class who left little teaching colleges saying they had not done the Ph.D. for this, were called arrogant, or considered traitors to the “profession.” It is the excoriating professors who are arrogant.

Remember that this week’s themes are conceding to power, rather, not conceding to it.

About practical life, I have said before that I am spread too thin and there is no way I have found so far to cut that down, in the circumstances I have. I do not fit in. I should be an enthusiast of second language teaching with one research interest.

But perhaps there is yet a way to time-manage the situation into submission.



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Some interlaced conversations today

Student: This book is something you administer, not something you learn from. When I am working with it and its companion website I am in a frenzy trying to make sure I know where I am and that I am matching the right thing to the right thing. I am completing an exercise and learning to use the book and software more efficiently for this purpose, but I am not learning material since I am too distracted by the book and its website. This is to say that the textbook package is designed to enable students to pass courses, but not to teach them Spanish. It is only useful insofar as it helps one to fill out its rote worksheets. To do that it gives translations and has you fill in a blank, but it does not immerse you in the language.

Professor Zero: Can I quote you anonymously on that?

Student: Yes.

PZ later repeated the above to a TA she is friendly with.

TA: Yes, that is the problem with the book we are using in my field as well. But it is not only a problem with the book, it is also a problem with the structure of the courses.

Friend of the TA: Well, the problem of courses structured to get students through requirements but not to teach them anything is university wide.



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