Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dear Ms. Undine answers some more of your academic questions

Dear Ms. Undine,

IHE recently reported that colleges in Michigan are outsourcing their hiring of adjuncts to something called EDUStaff.  The colleges are delighted because they can chisel even more money from adjuncts stop retirement contributions to faculty and, in one case, "ending retirement contributions saved the college at least $250,000 in the first year." I'm guessing the money went toward a climbing wall, more luxuries for the football team, and a new no-books atrium for the library, but I'm concerned that individual schools won't get to know the people who are teaching their students.  Am I right to be concerned?

Signed, Miffed in Michigan

Dear Miffed,


Dear Ms. Undine,

Recent essays on being published and on mistakes humanities scholars make in trying to be published  seem to say that publication is a possibility and that, in fact, "if you're not a writer, you're not a player." Being a player makes me feel like Frank Sinatra at the Sands circa 1960.  Do I have to be a player to be a writer?

Signed, Ring-a-ding-ding

Dear Ring,

Not unless you have Sammy and Dean and Angie Dickinson on speed dial.

Dear Ms. Undine,

I want to submit an article, but I am now terrified of the "mean girls" who constitute a totally vicious academic universe. I'm picturing Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man, but meaner. Is it true that peer reviewers live to inflict pain?

Signed, Anesthesia

Dear Anesthesia,

No. Although there are exceptions, they live to carve time out of their own writing time in order to provide what they hope is helpful feedback to improve someone's article.  Some academics are mean, but then, some people are mean, and the internet is a whole lot meaner.

Dear Ms. Undine.

All I do is get up and write or revise all day long. Sometimes, just to shake things up, I recite poetry to the cats.  I'm pretty sure they listen to me. Is this normal behavior for a writer? Is this normal behavior for cats?

Signed,  Wonder while I wander

Dear Wonder,

Your question is in two parts, so I will answer both.

1) Yes, totally, totally normal, no problem here at all, no sir.
2) Yes. Cats will listen to anyone with opposable thumbs and access to the food dish.


Nathan Burroughs said...

This is hilarious.

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

This is awesome. My favorite line could really speak to almost any question in academia -- "Q. Am I right to be concerned? A. Yes." Yeah, that pretty much covers it.

undine said...

Nathan Burroughs--thank you! I have *so much wisdom to impart* on these crucial subjects.

Fie--thank you! I feel the same way--alarmed--about a lot of things I read about academia, so humor seemed to be the only way to go with it.