29 September 2005

Blogger hopelessness

So I added the bits to my template that allow me to creat expandable posts. (The Banned Books post, see below, is really long and I wanted to truncate it.) As I understood the directions, I would have to add the "span" code to any post I wanted expandable. However, now I find that every post has the "Read the Rest" link at the bottom, even those that do not require expanding. Help! Other Blogger users, what did I do wrong??

UPDATE Sharon Howard at Early Modern Notes pointed me to this helpful link, which explains how to get the Blogger expandable posts feature to work properly. The instructions are easy to follow even if you don't know what you're doing. Now my blog looks nice n' professional again! Thanks Sharon!

Why We Need the ERA

Today's Globe is reporting that the salary gap between female and male full professors at Boston University is increasing:

Among full professors, the highest faculty rank, the gender gap was $19,800 this year, with men making an average of $119,900, and women, $100,100.

How can university administrations think they can get away with this kind of blatant discrimination?

28 September 2005

I read Banned Books!

I've read thirty-three of the 100 Most Banned Books. What amazes me is that most of these are children's book, many of which I read in elementary school or in junior high. And for most of them I cannot understand what could be objectionable. A Wrinkle in Time? What on Earth is objectionable in that book?

  1. Scary Stories (Series) by Alvin Schwartz
  2. Daddy’s Roommate by Michael Willhoite
  3. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
  4. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
  5. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  6. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
  7. Harry Potter (Series) by J.K. Rowling
  8. Forever by Judy Blume
  9. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
  10. Alice (Series) by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
  11. Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
  12. My Brother Sam is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
  13. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  14. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  15. It’s Perfectly Normal by Robie Harris
  16. Goosebumps (Series) by R.L. Stine
  17. A Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Newton Peck
  18. The Color Purple by Alice Walker
  19. Sex by Madonna
  20. Earth’s Children (Series) by Jean M. Auel
  21. The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  22. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle
  23. Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
  24. Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myers
  25. In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
  26. The Stupids (Series) by Harry Allard
  27. The Witches by Roald Dahl
  28. The New Joy of Gay Sex by Charles Silverstein
  29. Anastasia Krupnik (Series) by Lois Lowry
  30. The Goats by Brock Cole
  31. Kaffir Boy by Mark Mathabane
  32. Blubber by Judy Blume
  33. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan
  34. Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
  35. We All Fall Down by Robert Cormier
  36. Final Exit by Derek Humphry
  37. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  38. Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  39. The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
  40. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Girls: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Daughters by Lynda Madaras
  41. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  42. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  43. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton
  44. The Pigman by Paul Zindel
  45. Bumps in the Night by Harry Allard
  46. Deenie by Judy Blume
  47. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
  48. Annie on my Mind by Nancy Garden
  49. The Boy Who Lost His Face by Louis Sachar
  50. Cross Your Fingers, Spit in Your Hat by Alvin Schwartz
  51. A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
  52. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  53. Sleeping Beauty Trilogy by A.N. Roquelaure (Anne Rice)
  54. Asking About Sex and Growing Up by Joanna Cole
  55. Cujo by Stephen King
  56. James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  57. The Anarchist Cookbook by William Powell
  58. Boys and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  59. Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  60. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
  61. What’s Happening to my Body? Book for Boys: A Growing-Up Guide for Parents & Sons by Lynda Madaras
  62. Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
  63. Crazy Lady by Jane Conly
  64. Athletic Shorts by Chris Crutcher
  65. Fade by Robert Cormier
  66. Guess What? by Mem Fox
  67. The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende
  68. The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney
  69. Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  70. Lord of the Flies by William Golding
  71. Native Son by Richard Wright
  72. Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Fantasies by Nancy Friday
  73. Curses, Hexes and Spells by Daniel Cohen
  74. Jack by A.M. Homes
  75. Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo A. Anaya
  76. Where Did I Come From? by Peter Mayle
  77. Carrie by Stephen King
  78. Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume
  79. On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
  80. Arizona Kid by Ron Koertge
  81. Family Secrets by Norma Klein
  82. Mommy Laid An Egg by Babette Cole
  83. The Dead Zone by Stephen King
  84. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  85. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
  86. Always Running by Luis Rodriguez
  87. Private Parts by Howard Stern
  88. Where’s Waldo? by Martin Hanford
  89. Summer of My German Soldier by Bette Greene
  90. Little Black Sambo by Helen Bannerman
  91. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
  92. Running Loose by Chris Crutcher
  93. Sex Education by Jenny Davis
  94. The Drowning of Stephen Jones by Bette Greene
  95. Girls and Sex by Wardell Pomeroy
  96. How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
  97. View from the Cherry Tree by Willo Davis Roberts
  98. The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
  99. The Terrorist by Caroline Cooney
  100. Jump Ship to Freedom by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier

The Amazing Mr. Book

My parents came back from vacation and immediately asked me how productive my week with the dogs and cat had been. The discussion went something like this:

Dad: How was your week?
Rebecca (calm): Fine.
Dad: How's your dissertation coming along?
Rebecca (agitated): Can we talk about something other than my dissertation? Please?
Dad (sounds puzzled): I just wanted to know how it's coming.
Rebecca (contemplating the accumulated mass of writing otherwise known as Chapter Three): It's going OK.
Mom: How long do you think your disser...
Rebecca (interrupting, and beginning to panic): Ack! Stop! Don't say the D-word! I can't handle it!
Mom: Can we call it something else?
Rebecca: No! It is what it is. Please can we talk about something else?
Mom: How about Mr. Dissertation?
Rebecca: Eh? What?
Dad: Or Mr. Book? It will be a book eventually, right?
Rebecca: Er...well...
Mom: How about "The Amazing Mr. Book"?
Rebecca: Amazing Mr...(trails off)
Dad: I like it. Your dissertation is hereby christened "The Amazing Mr. Book." So, how is "The Amazing Mr. Book" coming?
Rebecca: It's going OK....

I don't know a single grad student who actually likes responding to the question "How is your dissertation going?" It's right up there with "When will you be done?" I don't know if calling my dissertation something other than a dissertation will help me talk about it with any more ease, but I'm willing to try anything at this point. So, The Amazing Mr. Book it is. As nicknames go, that isn't so bad....

23 September 2005

Pages Written, Words Counted

New Kid on the Hallway posted a chart of her progress on a paper she's in the process of writing. I really, really like the chart idea.

I haven't been counting so meticulously on Chapter Three (title: "The Child of a Pagan is a Pagan...The Child of a Christian is a Christian": Baptism, Spiritual Kinship, and Race) but here's the rough progression:

Aug 1: about 21 pages
Aug 15: about 42 pages
Sept. 1: about 60 pages
Sept. 10: about 72 pages
*chapter is too long and makes no sense*
Sept. 15: drastic cuts, we're reduced to about 50 pages
*chapter still makes no sense*
Sept 23: chapter is holding steady at 45 pages and about 13,330 words
*chapter still lurches from argument to argument like a drunken sailor and still makes no sense*

But, the title is really cool.

19 September 2005

On Tribble, The Final Episode...

...although I'll be back with the sequel as soon as I've finished sifting through the more than thirty emails I've received from grad student and non-grad student bloggers.

For those of you who don't know about this effort, here's the short version: I'm interested in finding out if grad student bloggers really are at a disadvantage on the job market, as Tribble suggested. More than thirty responses is a lot, but I want more!!

Here's the survey--please take it!

I had originally asked for humanities and social sciences bloggers, but some correspondence with Bill Tozier convinced me that wasn't really representative or useful. So, science, math, and other non-humanities and social science bloggers, please report in for duty! If any lawbloggers read this site, I'd be interested in any professional harm lawbloggers have come to (something tells me lawblogs are an asset...)

Please, keep the responses coming! You all are awesome!

14 September 2005

Tribble Fall Out Part II

I've gotten many responses to my appeal for blogging information from grad student and faculty bloggers in the humanities and social sciences. You've whet my appetite for more! Please go to the survey and email me your response as soon as possible: rgoetz AT fas DOT harvard DOT edu.

If you've already taken the survey, please consider linking to it from your blog. I could sure use the help publicizing this. It won't do any good if I don't get a critical mass of responses!

My fellow Cliopatriarch Ralph Luker notes a number of Tribble-responses below. The Little Professor says that Tribble has created an academic urban legend. And the folks at Crooked Timber are getting into the act here and here.

In the comments of my original post, Manan Ahmed and Scott Eric Kaufman suggest drafting a statement of blogging principles which bloggers could "sign" and then put a button indicating they've signed on their blogs. The idea is this might help mitigate fears that blogs are only good for gossip. Please use the comment space here to help give us some idea what that statement might look like. I think it's a worthy idea.

13 September 2005

The Tribble Fall-Out, and what we can do about it

When Ivan Tribble published his response to the blogstorm following his initial column, I chose not to respond. I had said everything I had to say on the topic, and several commentators more eloquent than I had much to say on the topic, particularly fellow Cliopatriarchs Mark Grimsley and Sharon Howard. The consensus, after Tribble I and Tribble II, is that bloggers are very aware of the obligation they have to speak responsibly in the blogosphere, especially those bloggers who are not pseudonymous. Having recognized that, all of Tribble’s detractors had a variety of reasons why their blogs enhance their scholarship, their teaching, and other aspects of their professional and personal lives. I admonished potential employers not to fear the blog, but to embrace it.

I expected that Tribble’s poison would have little effect, but I was wrong. It is even worse: Tribble’s drivel has become even more twisted in the telling and is being peddled at job-hunting seminars. I was at a CV and cover letter writing workshop sponsored by Harvard’s OCS today, in which we were told that the Chronicle of Higher Education had reported that bloggers were not getting jobs because they wrote terrible things about their colleagues, and then job committees found out about this by checking the URLs bloggers had listed on their CVs. Actually none of Tribble’s victims had committed that particular blogging crime, but it seems that Tribble has trickled down in an especially anti-blog way that characterizes all blogs as career-destroying gossip sheets. In fact, it seems to be translating into an anti-web attitude completely: my cohort and I were further advised to google ourselves and attempt to get anything that looks less than appetizing “removed from the web.” (I’m not sure how one goes about doing that.) I’m checking with friends at other universities to see if an anti-blog attitude is prevalent in job-placement seminars away from Harvard as well, but I suspect that it is.

I do think bloggers, especially blogging graduate students, need to stand up for themselves now. So, I propose the following:

I would like to hear from all blogging graduate students in the humanities and social sciences, pseudonymous and non-pseudonymous. Please send me an email [rgoetz AT fas DOT harvard DOT edu] with the following information:

  1. Your blog’s title and URL
  2. Whether or not you are on the job market
  3. If you include your blog on your CV or other job applications material
  4. If you’ve interviewed before, were you asked questions about your blog? Did blogging come up at any other time in the process?
  5. Briefly or not so briefly, why do you blog?

Please let me know if I have your permission to blog the information you share with me (anonymously of course).

I will use this information to create a blogroll exclusively of grad students at (a)musings of a grad student. Beyond the blogroll, it is my goal to get a sense of whether or not blogging grad students are really at a disadvantage in the job process. I’ll share my conclusions in subsequent posts.

UPDATE Per Jonathan Dresner's suggestion from the comments at Cliopatria, I would also like to hear from professors who blog, pseudonymously or otherwise:

  1. whether or not your department knows you blog
  2. whether or not your colleagues have commented, positively or negatively, on your blogging
  3. whether or not your blog has come up in tenure or promotion reviews, positively or negatively
  4. briefly or not so briefly, why do you blog?
  5. anything else you feel is pertinent that I should know about

I won't be making a blogroll from this information. As with the grad students, all your comments will be held in confidence, anonymously, unless you specify otherwise. [rgoetz AT fas DOT harvard DOT edu]

Unless blogging grad students can communicate why we find blogging useful to our research, teaching, and professional networks, I am afraid that Tribble’s anti-blog attitude will become the accepted conventional wisdom. So I see this as a first step to gathering some material about what we do, why we do it, and how it helps us be better scholars and teachers.

12 September 2005

Bloggy humor

Mickey Kaus notes that he heard the original caption was supposed to be "They threw me out of the house when they read what I wrote about them on my blog."

If I were very clever I would propose a Tribble-related academic blog caption.

Clever people please suggest your own caption in the comments!

(link via Andrew Sullivan)

The New Yorker, 12 September 2005

11 September 2005

The reviews are starting to come in...

The Scotsman reviews Joss Whedon's new film Serenity.

The film is the continuation (conclusion?) of Whedon's 2003 series Firefly, which was infamously cancelled by Fox when it proved to be not Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Geesh. I recently netflixed the Firefly series, which is available on DVD with all the unaired episodes in the order that Whedon intended they be shown in (Fox aired episodes in a different order). Lo and behold, the series was actually easy to follow and the characters were better developed. And now it looks like early reviewers are liking the movie.

Serenity will open in the US on September 30.

Conferences, yet again

Another Damned Medievalist at Blogenspiel links to this site with, ah, suggestions about conference papers. Like ADM, I find that these kinds of things get my back up a bit. These read less like suggestions and more like personal pet peeves.

First of all, do you have a paper? I'm not joking. Is there a substantive discovery or a new (and correct) interpretation? Is there critical analysis? Is there an argument? If not?—no talk. The purely derivative, descriptive, or narrative will not do.

I really wish I knew what this meant. If all conference papers had to contain, in those 8-10 pages, a substantive discovery (whatever that is) or a new, correct (what constitutes correct, please?) interpretation, there would be very few conference papers indeed. I agree that all papers should have analysis and argument, but a conference paper is usually too small a space to fully elaborate more than one point—hardly enough space to fully explore a substantive discovery or a new interpretation. Instead, I think most conference papers suggest new avenues of inquiry, fresh arguments and interpretations that can be derived from known sources, new methodologies that might prove useful, or discuss new sources that have recently come to light. They aren’t intended to be polished, completely finished pieces of analysis. Instead, I like to think of conference papers as trial balloons: here’s something that I’ve been working on, here’s what my thinking is, and this is what’s new about it and why it’s important. Then, the audience can chip in and try to test it: does the idea work? does it make sense? where can it go? And that is the prime benefit of conferences: it gives you the opportunity to participate in a scholarly exchange and get the input of your colleagues without the pressure of going through a peer-reviewed publication process. If that’s what you’re going for, then you have a paper. It need not dazzle anyone with its substantive discoveries. And if it doesn’t work? Now you know and you can either set it aside or take another crack at it.

On saying “um” or having other verbal tics: yes, it would be great if everyone could deliver papers flawlessly, sounding like Martin Luther King, Jr. and leaving everyone in the audience breathless and inspired. But here’s a newsflash—not everyone is a great public speaker, and not everyone can be trained out of public speaking nervousness and other quirks (like fumbling through papers). If you’re in the audience, bear with the presenter and try to listen past the verbal tics. It’s the polite thing to do. If you’re a presenter, it is absolutely a good idea to practice your paper beforehand and to time it ruthlessly. Round up some of your friends and practice on them. I’m willing to bet, though, that even the best and most practiced of us have stood in front of an audience, very proud of our papers, and seen the Top Person in the Field sitting right in the front row. “Ummm,” she says, as she fumbles reflexively through her papers.

09 September 2005

An Aristocrats Joke

If you haven't seen the movie, this joke probably won't strike your funny bone. Actually, it won't strike your funny bone anyway, but if you're not familiar with the Aristocrats joke the significance will be lost.

In the movie, one of the comedians (it might have been George Carlin?) suggests that the Aristocrats joke, supposed to be the most disgusting joke ever, is really a class commentary. With that in mind, calling the Bush family and the series of Bush administrations and their collected disasters "The Aristocrats" suddenly resonates.

And, the number of deaths we can lay at the Bush family's door is more obscene than most versions of the joke.

05 September 2005

Welcome to the Early Modern Carnivalesque!

Carnivalesque Button

Thanks to all those who nominated posts! Sharon of Early Modern Notes was especially forthcoming with great early moderniana, and Another Damned Medievalist of Blogenspiel wrote two posts especially for Carnivalesque! I gathered the rest of the flotsam and jetsam below...but without further ado....

Good reads to delight your eyes, thrill your brain, and carry you through the beginning of the semester:

To begin our Carnivalesque experience, Another Damned Medievalist wrestles with the perennial periodization question: what is early modern? You can read the Quick and Dirty Version or the Long and Punch-Drunk Version. Those of us constructing syllabi and facing the dreaded question, “but when did the medieval end and the early modern begin?” now have a guide.

The Little Professor examines literature on the death of Anne Boleyn. Perhaps Anne Boleyn had Elizabeth’s birth caul preserved in the manner suggested in the V&A’s Tudor and Stuart galleries. On other news of early modern England, Sharon and her readers all have lots to say about duels.

For the History of Science folk among us:
Siris brings us an interesting and informative post about Nicholas Steno. Copernicus Sashimi points out some great history of science teaching resources.

At Giornale Nuovo, a great article about Swedish witchcraft. (Recently one early Americanist has suggested that understanding witchcraft outside of England and North America might help us better understand Salem in 1692.) Giornale Nuovo also has some good information about engravings.

If early illustrations interest you, the Library of Congress has an amazing online exhibit on woodcuts in early printed books called “Heavenly Craft.”

In addition to great engravers, the Low Countries also produced great artists. Chris Arlidge tells us all about Rembrandt. Other important Dutch stuff: a serious history of windmills from the folks who write the “Curious Orange” column at Radio Nederland Wereldoemrop. And, something fun about the man who tilted at windmills.

Lewis Hyde reminds us that intellectual property once had a different meaning.

On the survival of a language invented by the Jesuits to better communicate on the coast of Brazil.

Some great maps of eighteenth-century London

Piratical commentary courtesy of Snarkout and a reminder that September 19 is Talk Like A Pirate Day.

I HATED the Mel Gibson flick The Patriot. This post amusingly takes you through the whole movie, leaving no distortion, outright lie, or instance of bad acting un-commented-upon. In other mythbustings of American History, Jeremy Bangs tell us what the First Thanksgiving was really all about.

How was childhood in the late eighteenth century experienced? Two Dutch historians have unearthed the diary of Otto van Eck, who died of tuberculosis at the age of 17 in 1798.

Now, beyond Europe and North America:

The tale of a tale, stretching from the sixth to the nineteenth century, at Chapati Mystery.

Sphinx writes about the Ottoman Empire and its weaponry.

And, Frog in a Well tells us that Early Modern Japan will now be an online publication.

I wished upon many stars for more non-European posts, but received few nominations and was unable to find many on my own. Remember, the whole world has an early mod history!

The next Carnivalesque will be ancient/medieval, hosted by Alun on about 9 October. There will be a special theme. Email inquiries/nominations to carnivalesque AT archaeoastronomy DOT co DOT uk.

Truth Laid Bear UberCarnival

03 September 2005

For the Freshmen

Today's Boston Globe has a series of Op-Eds aimed at the college freshmen who inundate the greater Boston metropolitan area by the tens of thousands every fall.

On adjusting to life at Harvard, and how even the super-smart are sometimes lacking in common sense.

On the perils of admitting to a drug conviction on your application for Federal student aid.

On the perils of student credit cards.

And, on academic freedom. One wonders if David Horowitz has deplored the application of Hazelwood vs. Kuhlmeier to public university campus newspapers? Oh wait, that's right--Horowitz likes limitations on free speech, so long as his own ideology is protected. (I had my own run-ins with Hazelwood in high school and would happily see it go at thatl level as well.)

02 September 2005

Andrew Sullivan is spot-on

Today on the Daily Dish:

"'The good news is - and it's hard for some to see it now - that out of this chaos is going to come a fantastic Gulf Coast, like it was before. Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house - there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch.' (Laughter)." - president George W. Bush, today. Just think of that quote for a minute; and the laughter that followed. The poor and the black are dying, dead, drowned and desperate in New Orleans and elsewhere. But the president manages to talk about the future "fantastic" porch of a rich, powerful white man who only recently resigned his position because he regretted the failure of Strom Thurmond to hold back the tide of racial desegregation.

George Bush makes me ill.