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Mar. 2nd, 2009

Knut Hamson


Teaching and Publishing

A Scholarly Book and a 4/4 Teaching Load

The piece below the cut is from The Chronicle. I was wondering, for those of you with heavy teaching loads, how has your load affected your publishing? Sure, it means you publish less than you could if your teaching load were lighter. But has your teaching load helped shape what you write as well as how often you write?
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Jan. 30th, 2009

Knut Hamson



This came today in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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What do you tell students who want to go to graduate school? Personally, I tell them two things:
1. Don't bother applying to any program that won't fund you.
2. Don't go unless the degree is enough.

The rationale behind #1 is that any program that doesn't see it's students as an investment is more trouble than it's worth. Funding may be limited, it may be incomplete, and you may have to off-set that with work or loans. But to borrow the whole amount is foolish.

The rationale behind #2 is that, even if you everything right, you may never get a job. Forget the tenure track; you may never get any academic job. There are no guarantees, and the market has been bleak for long enough for us to realize that things won't change. (Well, not until several programs drop their graduate programs entirely and stop flooding the market...but that's another post for another time.) I tell my students that the degree, the learning, the love...they have to be enough.


Oct. 2nd, 2008

Vote Tyrion


Community advertisement: furthered

There's nothing in your community information about this, so I hope I'm not breaking the rules by advertising...

I started a new community called furthered aimed at lecturers at tertiary level education, primarily in the UK. If you teach as part of the Post-16 sector, either in an FE college, or in a sixth form school, you may like to join.

Aug. 28th, 2008

Knut Hamson


(no subject)

In another blog a few days ago, I came across a comment I have been thinking on since then, and I was wondering what y'all thought.

The comment: Legitimate academics are engaged in the disinterested inquiry into truth, whereas the employees of think-tanks are engaged in the partisan inquiry into justification for their ideology, regardless of the truth.

Is this really the case?  I do not disagree with this person's take on think-tanks.  However, I distrust the claim that legitimate academics can be disinterested, or beyond ideological biases.


Aug. 14th, 2008


Are you a stickler for grammar?

I'll be teaching my second online undergraduate-level class starting next week.  I've received an email from one student who is an international student and I can already tell that her command of the English language leaves something to be desired.  Keep in mind, this is not an English or Writing class; however, being an online class, written communication is vital.

So before I even begin this term, I'd like to know how you all handle international students (or other students who don't have a good command on the English language).  Are you as hard on them as you would be any other student who makes grammatical/spelling mistakes, or do you allow them some extra leeway? 

Jul. 9th, 2008

du bist hier



Hi all - inspired by my astonishment at some recent reads, I've created a livejournal community for making a scrapbook of hilarious, and/or witty, ascerbic, memorable, or otherwise interesting in-publication academic snipe and snark. This is not a gossip or sparring  site; just for sharing particularly vivid quotations from academic books and journals.

attackademia - please join and contribute!

May. 28th, 2008



interview for a CS lectureship at an Irish university

I've been invited to an interview for a lectureship position in computer science at an Irish university. They told me that I should prepare a 15 min presentation about my current research and that the whole interview is not expected to last more than 45 min. Apart from that I do not really know what to expect. Does anybody here have experience with such interviews?

I assume that the Irish system is probably pretty similar to the UK system? My experience is limited to central and northern Europe, so I would appreciate any comments and insights you might give me. Thanks in advance.

Cross-posted to academics_uk.

May. 1st, 2008


(no subject)

Hi all,

I am a first-time instructor and I have a quick question for those of you with experience.  We have our Core Assessment project due this week (by Sunday), which is the one assignment in class worth the most points.  Today I had a student e-mail me with her project draft attached and asked me to look over it and see if she's "on the right track".  Keep in mind, she e-mailed me today (Thursday) and it's due by Sunday midnight at the latest. 

What would you do?  On one hand I want to offer help if it's requested but on the other hand I think it's a little late in the game for her to be asking for assistance.  Thoughts?

Apr. 27th, 2008


Expecting too much?

Do you ever feel as if you're expecting too much from your students?  Because the way I see it, stupidity couldn't be a problem for this many students, could it??  Are the instructions not clear enough?  Are the questions/assignments really that difficult? 

What do you do when you feel like this?

Oct. 10th, 2007

Ezra Pound's Hieratic Head, Henri Gaudier-Brzeska


"World Literature"

What is it? Or, better yet, what isn't it?

My department (English) has a (relatively new) "World Literature" requirement. This is not surprising. Many departments have such a requirement. But I'm wondering if anyone can help me define what it is, exactly.

It seems (though I could be mistaken) that the impetus is to increase our students' exposure to and understanding of literary works, authors, traditions, etc. beyond our own national borders. (I should point out that I teach in the US.) But as I have seen such courses taught (at more than one institution), there's no clear definition of what "world literature" is.

For starters, how is US literature not part of "world literature"? Can we not see the ways that writers look beyond the literatures of their own nation? Would Thoreau have written what he did without his education in Greek and Latin? Would Whitman be the same without having read the Hindu Vedas? Does Pound do anything of note that doesn't look to antiquity, medieval Europe (British and continental), north Africa, or Asia? Does Ishmael Reed make any sense without some background of Haitian Voodoo? Can we even begin to understand Gerald Vizenor without a familiarity with the Chinese character Sun Wu-Kung (itself an adoption from the Ramayana)? Sure, I may pick very specific examples, but can we really think of the literature of one nation in strict geographical isolation?

I am asking people for what they think because this is a discussion my department is currently having, with really no consensus. According to one member of the faculty, "World Literature" is anything not written in English. For another, it is anything "not part of the literary history of literatures written in English," including Classical literature because (in his words) "it is the backbone upon which English literature was built." (So the ancient literatures of the Mediterranean are not "World Literature" because of later developments in western Europe and America?) For yet another, it is any "non-western" literature, so the literature of western Europe does not count as "World Literature." As you can probably imagine, there then become as many opinions as there are pulses in the room. And not one of them is satisfactory.

One reason I ask is because I teach Native American literature. I asked, "what about my class, is that World Literature?" "No," most answered right away, but then discussion followed. On the one hand, any Native American literature written in English is part of the "literatures written in English" (and geographically in the US), so cannot be "World Literature." On the other hand, many writers work outside of the intellectual and philosophical traditions handed down from Europe, so sure (one faculty member tells us), "Native literature is World Literature, because it's not really American in the sense of Emerson, Thoreau, and Melville." (I find those choices interesting, but I didn't want to continue this digression.) Right now, there is no course called "World Literature," but people can and do teach courses that fit this requirement (such as "The Novel," or "Postmodern Literature," or "The Short Story," without teaching anyone from England or the US).

Personally, I don't care what requirements my courses fill; I won't teach it any differently whether it's "World Literature" or not. But I am curious what others think about this. Is there a department that has a good working definition of "World Literature"? Is there a department that doesn't bother with this distinction because it causes more problems than it solves?

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