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Sunday, November 11, 2012


A facebook friend, not an academic, commented on the negativity of my "What I gave up to be an academic" post. I didn't see that as negative at all. I have a pretty good life and comfortably inhabit my academic identity. If anything, too comfortably. True, I did mention some things about myself that I do not do well, like administration and negotiating for salary, but that is just standard self-criticism. Of course, since we are already extremely self-critical in this profession, so I did not see those comments about myself as particularly negative.

This perspective (my friend's) is useful because it allows me to see how negative the culture is about itself. Someone like Clarissa who embraces almost every aspect of the job with gusto is more unusual. More of us are at odds with fundamental aspects of our working conditions or identities.


profacero said...

Hm. The first post said you were happy with your job and did not feel you had made inordinate sacrifices to have it.

The second post suggested academia *is* disappointing. I wonder. Medicine, you have more mobility, but in a lot of ways you are just a technician, and there are bad jobs. Law, there are basements full of bar members reading legal documents at top speed for $17 an hour -- legal sweatshops for the unemployed.

The original post on Squadro. meant, what you gave up of your identity to become an academic and I can see what she meant, esp. for people weren't born this way (I was born to process theory and text) and for people who had to do a makeover, I have seen working class students go through this.

I also have friends with advanced degrees whose project it is to be themselves, just live their lives, they have a job and they are even interested in it, and put out their chapbooks and things, but they did not leave S.F. and their priority is just living, not constant achieving; go to a faculty event and see how many stiffs there are, one would often do better to dance out back with the servants. I think this, too, is what Squadro meant.

2 questions: (a) do people give up more than is necessary? I think so: you really can have outside interests and activities, it's good. (b) do you think the cultural norm of depression applies university wide or only in humanities?

Jonathan said...

Yes, it was the post I sd I was happy that seemed negative to my friend. He is an attorney. Perhaps he is responding to comments about my divorce and salary.

I think people do give away more than they have to. I know I did at certain times of my life.

I can't know if negativity extends beyond the humanities, to the same extent at least.

profacero said...

Still considering this. The people who were incredibly negative when I was in graduate school were the ones, students and faculty, from the Ivies and to some extent Michigan.

Much later on in my VAP life, I worked at two fancy places. In one, again, the people who were negative and thought they were above it were from the Ivies and I am telling you, we were at a nice place. In the other, the negative people were from Berkeley and UCLA!

In the other places I have worked, I wouldn't say the attitude is negative -- depressed in bad budget years, yes, but otherwise they are sort of, go team! So, the negativity, is it a luxury indulged in by those who can afford it (I think this would be Clarissa's view)?