Re: Discussions

1

That my kids will get the idea that being black is to live in a Dickensian nightmare.

Sooooo true. They have to clean their rooms AND the mess they made outside and it's totally not fair because they aren't even the ones who MADE that mess, really!

This article might be a good complement, and I'll stop joking. Probably.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:39 AM
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So you're raising them white?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:44 AM
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It's basically a workhouse is my point, or so I hear.

Anyway, Nia TOTALLY knows how to follow call-and-response songs at church and to manage "God is good / All the time / All the time / God is good" and is understandably proud of herself for this.

Selah, on the other hand, behaved admirably for the first hour at church and then got a little too excited during the visiting pastor's sermon and when he said something about "I just can't stop thinking about this. Who was the demon (which I think he meant metaphorically) who got into Dylann Roof's thinking and made him believe he had to do this?" and she shouted "ME!" at the top of her toddler lungs. Luckily everyone cracked up and the woman who thinks I'm a demonic influence wasn't there to judge. Mara still wiggles and whines and wants me to cover her ears when there's music and hold her the whole time we're at church, which is not really culturally competent but whatever.

I actually have a lot of thoughts about culture-keeping and the extent to which I am raising them white and the extent to which any of my thoughts matter. Also thoughts about how I'm not thrilled Lee bought them a Cosby Show boxed set AFTER she should have known better and that they're now obsessed, but on the other hand what else would I have them watch? etc. etc. etc.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:52 AM
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But they claim they can do the Nae Nae AND The Whip, which I didn't even know was a dance. That's all a diverse-schools thing.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:54 AM
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White people church usually only has one hour. Except for the Orthodox, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:54 AM
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Yeah, I now decide how long I'm going to be there and just stay that long. We did 90 minutes this week (arrived late, left early) and I would have liked to have heard the whole sermon, but Selah was getting way too chatty. The trouble is that Nia likes the music and Mara likes the sermons, and this week there was a dance portion in between as well as the offering, and so we only got a small portion on either side. Church = no one wins, everyone complains. That's a good life lesson, right?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:56 AM
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Instead of calling it the offering, they now say "make it rain."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:59 AM
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Selah, on the other hand, behaved admirably for the first hour at church and then got a little too excited during the visiting pastor's sermon and when he said something about "I just can't stop thinking about this. Who was the demon (which I think he meant metaphorically) who got into Dylann Roof's thinking and made him believe he had to do this?" and she shouted "ME!" at the top of her toddler lungs.

That is hilarious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:03 AM
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Hilarious when it isn't your kid. Otherwise, it takes a few years to become funny.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:12 AM
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Nah, it's totally hilarious. I think I'd dine out on that story for years.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:19 AM
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11

But self-reported demoning isn't a misdemeanor where you live.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:29 AM
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12

In some eras, a kid could get burned at the stake for that kind of comment.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:31 AM
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No, it was funny, as was her insistence that she had "questions" for me and needed to write down my answers on a clipboard at my parents' house later, which was clearly "not funny, Grandpa!" Seriously, she is super fantastic and everyone who meets her loves her, churchfolk definitely included. No regrets!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:43 AM
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That's so adorable, at least if it's someone else's kid and you have an understanding community.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:47 AM
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I think I mentioned the time my son took to drawing swastikas (thanks Falun Gong protestors). They were backward ones, but still, I found it funny only after he stopped.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:50 AM
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I think one part of this discussion is that it has to be about you, and the children, and your culture, not about the others. My own kiddo has complained about the discussion in schools, which seems to cast racism as an entity that exists apart from people (and, in their almost 100% white environment, as something that affects others), a force of its own (operating on others). But it's a behavior of instincts and biases and choices made by people (including us, our children, our parents and grand parents).

In our own discussions, in our family, we are even more complicated (a bi-cultural family of socioeconomically over-represented minority immigrants) but, we still try to describe the biases and choices we ourselves have, the responsibilities we and our peoples have for the events that have happened in the past.


Posted by: bj | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:52 AM
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One thing I do a lot of is taking the girls to the art museum to look at religious art and artifacts from all over the world and try to contextualize them and the history of the places their various friends are from. This also lets me do a lot of the "Some people believe" bracketing that makes me okay with talking about Jesus and St. Sebastian and Bastet and Krishna without having to have strong feelings about any of them. They're young enough still that it's mostly about making loose connections than having a deep understanding of any of it at all, but I'm trying to give them as many data points to rearrange for themselves as I can without overwhelming them. Also various culture fests and food.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:05 AM
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The concern in the original post seems misplaced to me. That is, I get not feeling competent to be the voice of black/Latino/any other minority culture, I'm certainly not and would be very uncomfortable trying.

But talking about racism doesn't mean talking about being black being a Dickensian nightmare, if you're talking about racism you're mostly talking about white people, not black people. I mean, the conversation we're always having here about schools is a conversation about racism, that's about sort of ordinary, non-obviously horrible or epithet-spewing white people, making decisions for partially racist reasons, that have importantly bad racist effects. And it's a conversation that's about schools, which are the institution kids are most familiar with, so it's pretty easy to make it kid-appropriate.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:11 AM
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talking about... St. Sebastian

Is that really age-appropriate?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:12 AM
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Yesterday my 10-year-old asked whether a vampire who bit a black person would become black.

I was concerned that this mean he had absorbed some bad ideas about race, but then he started prattling on about how if a vampire bit your brother, the vampire too would now be your brother, which makes me think he has mostly just absorbed some weird ideas about vampires.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:24 AM
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21

"Blood relatives" seems like a starting point for that kind of confusion.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:26 AM
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20: Is it possible that he thinks vampires are pod-people? I think he's old enough for "the talk" differentiating between various monsters.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:28 AM
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23

My son named one of his Pokemon "Hitler."

I had a word with him about it, but he didn't really understand until I used a Voldemort metaphor.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:35 AM
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Hitlermon?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:44 AM
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White people church usually only has one hour.

If that. My parish growing up had a priest known as Father "Fast" Eddie C. I distinctly remember a homily that went like this: "The bad news is, the Bears are on early today. The good news is, we'll all be out of here in plenty of time to watch it. Thanks be to God."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:44 AM
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18: Yeah, I feel as if our discussions of racism are mostly about ways in which white Americans (and the institutions we've created) screw over minorities, with a followup about subconscious racism. It's helpful to be able to tie this into feminist discussion, since Iris experiences junior grade sexism in her life, and Kai is as aware as a (nearly) 7-y.o. can be that patriarchy hurts men, too.

RE culture, I think it's probably helpful on some level that we discuss Christian culture as an other*, although only one family of our good friends is very religious, so I suspect Iris thinks that our irreligious cum atheist family is the norm, not an oppressed minority. But she'll learn about that.

*it's all a funny dynamic, because I was raised Catholic and know quite a bit about the Judaeo-Christian tradition (including a fair amount about Judaism, for a Gentile), but am also more firmly atheistic than AB; she really knows nothing about religion, but is less willing to treat it as a mere cultural artifact (that is, to talk about Christianity the way we'd talk about Mithraism). Plus, of course, we do celebrate Xmas, complete with creche.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:46 AM
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23: "Hitler: The genocide pokemon"


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:53 AM
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Yesterday my 10-year-old asked whether a vampire who bit a black person would become black.

The one-drop rule in action, right?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:54 AM
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29

"Hitler: The genocide pokemon"

I'm sure this was discussed in the archives somewhere.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:59 AM
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30

His "Invade Russia in Winter" attack is somewhat questionable. Napoleonomon has the same problem.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:07 AM
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One thing we have to be wary of, is that there's a bunch of older boys who live round the corner, and use the little kids' park in front of our flat.

They tend to be noisy, and fairly badly behaved, and can be dicks when there is toddlers around.* So xelA thinks of them as 'the naughty boys' and he talks a lot about them fighting or being naughty. They are mostly black.**

We need to be careful about him not developing the wrong associations.***

* Sufficiently so that if I could work out which one lived in which house, their Dads would be getting a polite visit from me.
** Somali in origin, rather than Caribbean/Black British.
*** several kids in his nursery class, and several of the workers, including the manager, are black, so maybe we are worrying too much, as he's also formed positive associations, too.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:07 AM
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32

Napolemon?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:08 AM
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33

I worry a lot about my sobrinos, who are growing up in two of the whitest suburbs Philadelphia has to offer. They make it to the city to experience various activities (zoo, museum, sporting events) but their substantive interaction with non-white people is extremely limited.

So far my efforts have been:
- Give copious amounts of books focusing on every possible culture and aspect of American history (thankfully, they all read a lot)
- Make sure to reference white people's races when telling stories (so they don't pick up the idea that only nonwhite people have a race)
- Invite them to activities where they will interact with a broader swath of humanity

They're all still quite young, so I haven't stretched beyond this very much.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:12 AM
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The six-year-old did recently ask her mother "Why do brown moms yell at their kids so much?" which I think is a reflection of smallness of her sample size in witnessing such interactions (i.e., strangers at the park or something).

This weekend I had the four-year-old at an art museum in the city, which she loved (obsessively studying oil paintings -- we don't know where she gets that interest from). Afterward we went to the park, which was full of people and had about as much diversity as you could imagine.

I was sure I was going to get barraged with questions about the five young African-American Muslim girls/women (ages 10-16) who were hiking up their skirts (revealing full-length pants beneath) in 90-degree heat to play in the fountain. Nope. Not a word. Apparently she did get home and tell her mother a tall tale about the "changing rooms" we had used at the park (there were none).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:18 AM
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35

I think I'd dine out on that story for years.

Is buying drinks/food for someone telling an amazing story still a thing that happens? Was it ever a thing that happened?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:25 AM
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36

According to Arthur Conan Doyle, you need to at least lose a thumb.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:25 AM
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37

Napolemon?

Yes, Janet Napolemon.


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:29 AM
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35: WILL RECOUNT AMUSING ANECDOTES FOR FOOD


Posted by: My Alter Ego | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:30 AM
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39

Before smartphones, you needed companions to talk to while eating.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:33 AM
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40

My son named one of his Pokemon "Hitler."

Obviously he just needs to name a different one Stalin and then have all the others choose sides.

Pokemon: The Eastern Front.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:35 AM
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41

Pokemon: The Eastern Front.

Zhukochu.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:45 AM
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42

41 is great.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:03 AM
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43

42 is me.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:03 AM
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44

I'm 43 for a another month.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:05 AM
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45

which I think is a reflection of smallness of her sample size in witnessing such interactions

I don't think this is quite right. To generalize, yelling at children in public is mostly a thing of lower SES mothers (possibly fathers of all SES, or maybe I'm projecting). But most of your young relations' interactions with white mothers are of the upper SES type, such that what few (I'm betting) low SES white moms yelling at their kids they've seen doesn't make a big impression. Whereas, given general economic realities, a fairly high percentage of "brown moms" they've seen have been of the lower, yelly SES.

Living where we do, our kids have seen far, far more lower SES blacks than whites, although there are plenty of the latter in other neighborhoods, yelling at their kids to beat the band (one of the hesitations we had about buying in the now-hipster neighborhood 15 years ago was that its parks were filled with yelly (white) moms and dirtbag fathers, and it didn't seem like the ideal environment. Snobbish but true. In the event, our parklet has its share of that).

I mean, it's all to do with racism and particularity (every white an individual, every black an exemplar), but I don't think the sample size is the main driver, because I think the odds are that yellers are a higher percentage of brown moms for the same reason they're overrepresented in other poverty indicators (there may also be cultural aspects going back to Southern roots*, but I don't think that's super-important).

*now I don't recall where the consensus came down on corporal punishment when there was the whole thing with Adrian Peterson (?): was it that Southerners of both races really are more corporal-friendly, or that there's no real difference, just perception stuff? Oh Hai, OP.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:15 AM
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46

My country is so far from diverse that it seems laughable for me to offer an opinion. (We now have as well as local-born very pale white people and a teeny-tiny percentage of others both local-born and not, some other-European-born still fairly pale white people and a less tiny but still small African-born percentage. I often see mixed groups of teenagers, which is pleasing.)
However I will just say that some of Alameida's posts have drawn my attention to how much of Southern culture is really black culture (food, influence on music) - I suppose Hispanic culture has had a heavy influence on Texas in similar ways?


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:30 AM
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However I will just say that some of Alameida's posts have drawn my attention to how much of Southern culture is really black culture (food, influence on music)

I'm not sure this is true, for food at least. It's kind of the reverse... food associated with black culture throughout the country is "soul food" which came from the South. Because in the mid-20th century there was a great migration of African-Americans from the South to the North, but there was not a great migration of Southern whites.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:38 AM
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To the OP, I have recently gotten a pretty generous dose of being around young people who were raised white in white neighborhoods by liberal white people who really earnestly want their kids to understand "white privilege," and what it seems to amount to is a bunch of white kids sitting around literally crying on a regular basis when they think about those poor black kids and the extreme poverty and sorrow that constitutes their waking lives.

This is not unrelated to the various tears I've absorbed from colleagues who have, like, heard about those sad oppressed sexual minorities out there, and can't imagine how sad and lonely and miserable it would be to live every day without the comfort and joy and love of a nice heterosexual partnership with the blessings of marriage and kids.

I wish I were kidding. But this seems to be one of the weird effects of social segregation. The possibility that black people or queer people might have communities, joys, music, love, humor, knowledge, art, sex, culture--all of that gets lost because aren't we supposed to just cry all the time that they don't have what "we" have?

That seems to me to be the thing that gets lost in these Tumblr-y "privilege" conversations. I've met a lot of students of color here who say they had no idea their lives were nothing but a pitiable nightmare from beginning to end until they came here. And I certainly didn't think of queerness as a sort of tragic loveless celibate misery until I came here. Segregation creates a culture in which some people in the majority look down and say "Ha! My life is better than yours!" and others say "Oh it's such a terrible shame that my life is better than yours!" but people don't seem to recognize that other people live in different kinds of communities that do more than sitting around wailing that they're not white or straight.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:38 AM
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49

47: Yeah, but who was doing pretty much all the cooking in the South in the 19th century? I learned to cook from my white mom and grandmother, and it's mostly the same as what in the north is known as "soul food." But a lot of those ingredients and techniques are from Africa or invented by enslaved Africans.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:41 AM
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Ta-Nehisi Coates has said that he has no idea what the hell "white privilege" is about, other than that it's a way to talk to white people about white supremacy that makes it sound like you're paying them a compliment.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:48 AM
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47: But fairly large parts of soul food (though not all by any means) are clearly African food, or tweaked versions of African foods using the crops available to very poor people in the south. So there's a pretty easy connection to be made there.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:48 AM
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If you live somewhere with reasonable levels of diversity nearby, it seems like an easy way to expose kids to positive aspects of other cultures would be to experience those cultures directly. Go to restaurants, festivals, neighborhood events, sporting events, parks, public libraries, concerts, art shows, etc. in places where white folks are likely to be in the minority.

These events don't need to be (and probably are better when they're not) racially based--this isn't about going to Cinco de Mayo to see Hispanics in their natural environment.

But if a Hispanic neighborhood has a summer festival, or a public library in the black part of town has story time for kids, or there's a restaurant where lots of immigrants from (insert likely origin nation here) like to eat, go and participate in those, rather than going to your own neighborhood festival, or story time at your local library, or the same trendy (and filled with white people) sushi place you've been to a hundred times.

This can feel a little like racial tourism at first, but if you know how to shut up and listen, to observe, to participate just as everyone else does without making a big deal of it, it can be a good way for kids to see non-white people, strangers, in their own communities, doing things that people do, without it being a Lesson About Race. No Dickensian nightmares necessary!


Posted by: Roadrunner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:48 AM
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Ooh, 52 reminds me how much I liked this article on how black a restaurant can be before it becomes too black for white patrons, which JRoth shared in the other place a while ago.

In some ways I think I'm going to have more trouble with explaining class than race, in part because of things like 45. Nia said a few weeks ago, "Wow, there sure seem to be a lot more white people getting poor these days!" as I was driving to school on exactly the same route we've taken for years, but it's just that she's figured out the markers for poverty and extrapolated from the familiar ones she lived through and then eventually started seeing white people having those experiences too. The homelessness discussion we have to have is about how no, your homeless auntie just stays on people's couches and doesn't ever hold a sign on the side of the street, etc. That part has so far been more painful to talk about than race relations.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:04 AM
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48.1 makes me glad my own parents mostly focused on generalized respect and politeness and I filled in the rest with reading and under-aged drinking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:07 AM
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55

David Hackett Fischer found "mess of greens," at least, attested to historically from the English regions that emigrated disproportionately to the South.


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:15 AM
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This is a great thread. I have nothing to add, but I'm reading with interest (and Thorn's links in 1 and 53 (thanks JRoth) are both good).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:18 AM
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I thought I would wait for other people to chime in who knew more what they were talking about, but Southern food is closely enough related to Caribbean food that it seems likely that the common factor, people of African descent, was a huge influence in both of their developments.


Posted by: Tia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:18 AM
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AWB's comment reminded me about that blog post that made the rounds where the slim white young adult was so sorry for the heavyset black woman who had attended her yoga class and must have felt terribly awfully so so jealous of the slim white blogger. Her heart was sort of in the right place.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:23 AM
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If only Lulumon clothing was thin enough for the wearer's heart to be visible.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:25 AM
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One important lesson about moving from the North to the South: grits really are a thing, and not just part of My Cousin Vinny. This is important, because if you're in the south and you think you see some delicious mashed potatoes, you have too look carefully to make sure it's not vile, disgusting grits.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:33 AM
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I can add a bit of perspective to AWB's description of that college: my son graduated from there last month.

I know I've commented before that the typical student attitudes AWB describes are treated as recurring comic situations by my son and his friends; they may as well laugh. My son's roommate, who's been staying with us for much of the last month while his family's issues got sorted out, and is definitely of color, had a discussion with me about this just the other day. We were talking about some book of mine—he's always borrowing books from our basement/rec room, where he sleeps— and he broke into a comedy routine about how a challenging book is dealt with in class discussion. Just like AWB has described, but maybe meaner.

It used to surprise me that more kids like my son and his friends from HS weren't present in the mix. They, products of an urban selective public school like the one LB's kids attend, were heavily recruited and got plenty of financial aid. The college is trying, and has money to spend, but it's an uphill fight. The parent listserv is a window into the world of the typical parent, and it's not pretty.

Lots of kids grow up and wise up while there, although many don't, but when they first arrive, often from affluent suburbs, they have very little real experience of minority people in any capacity, let alone neighborhoods where they live in any numbers. My kids' cousins, who went to Ogged's HS, always seemed to treat visits here as if they were on safari.

I have no suggestions what can be done about the education of kids from that background, except the unhelpful "Don't live there."


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:34 AM
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Grits are o.k. if you put cheese on them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:34 AM
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AWB is right and it's now nondisabled people talk about/imagine people with disabilities too.

Heebie do your kids have nonwhite school friends? That seems like the easiest solution. Set up a playdate or whatever.


Posted by: E. Messily | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:35 AM
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63.1: Yes, totally, and in the case of disabilities, it's especially infuriating because there are usually some fairly obvious and easy things that could be done to make communities more inclusive and accessible. Like, you could cry and pity the guy in the motorized wheelchair who has to drive half a mile out of his way to get to work, or you could, you know, add a curb cut and a crosswalk.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:42 AM
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I cannot imagine trying to describe the positive parts of black culture or Hispanic culture or any other culture without sounding like I'm either rattling off stereotypes or applying for a job with the United Colors of Benetton. No.

Something about this feels way off to me. I mean, I agree you shouldn't rattle off stereotypes or sound like a Benetton ad. But:

1) This problem actually is a problem that reasoably diverse schools/encounters can solve. I mean, I agree that diverse schools don't do much to stop people from turning up one's nose at things that look different. But it's literally impossible to go to a school that's plurality, or even significantly, non-white and come away with the impression that all non-white people live lives of misery pining to be white, caused by oppression.

2) I mean pretty much the only way you'd ever actually come up with the "all minorities are miserable" impression would be to live as a white liberal in an absolutely lilly-white suburb and then only go occasionally to the most grim parts of the ghetto when you encounter a real-life minority. And some people do live like that, I guess, and give birth to AWB's students. But there's no real reason to.

3) There's actually a lot -- a ton! -- of absolutely available, if not ubiquitous, cultural products of black and Latino America that you can, you know, buy or consume yourself, as well as near-ubiquitous racial images of actually-existing racial minorities who are not miserable. Like, I dunno, the President of the United States. Or, Dora the Explorer. You have to try pretty hard at least in most places in this country to ignore racial diversity being given a positive spin.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:44 AM
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how a challenging book is dealt with in class discussion

I can imagine. The amount of care and delicacy that goes into discussing race and class here is FUCKING HILARIOUS. I do not employ that kind of language, and so I get the joy of hearing every single day how incredibly painful it is to learn the truth about history. I am not exaggerating when I say that every single one of the students in my seminar this semester cried every single class period. Some of them started drinking really heavily and said my class forced them to do it because it hurt so badly to learn these things that they couldn't sleep or concentrate. I'm not talking about snuff porn or torture descriptions; I'm talking about pretty standard mainstream literature that talks about the history of labor and trade. One might be tempted, as I was, to suggest that The Greatest Suffering of All is not actually being an upper-class white college student reading a book, but we all come to these truths at different stages of life, if at all, and late is better than never. Most of our students really do graduate thinking that the most relevant thing we could possibly discuss about, say, racist police brutality is how, as upper-class white people, to process Our Rage and not be overwhelmed by it. (To one such young lady, not my student, I said maybe she should make her life about her rage and stop trying to wash it away. I was chastised by my superiors for hurting a young rich white woman's feelings.)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:50 AM
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I was thinking about the 'diverse' public schools thing, because we haven't had the experience Heebie talks about, where the diversity just turns into in-school segregation, but I can see how that could happen. Part of it is, I think, that our schools have a really ethnically blurry population. If you're breaking up the kids into Latino/not-Latino, that's one set of lines. Black/not-black breaks in a different place, what with all the kids who are depending on context both Dominican/other Caribbean and black. And Latino isn't really a cohesive group, because there are so many countries of origin. White/non-white breaks with Latinos on both sides as well. Asian and South Asian kids are a smaller group, but kind of blend in as non-white. If you had a population where kids were mostly clearly identifiable as either white or black, or either white, black, or a particular nationality of immigrant, I think you'd get more in-school social separation.

There's not no racial sorting: like, in a class of 130, I think there's about ten white kids, and they're mostly in Sally's social circle, which wouldn't be the case if the social world were totally colorblind. But there's really not the kind of lunchroom-sorted-by-ethnicity thing you hear about.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:55 AM
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Agreed with 65. I went to a fairly integrated school, grew up in friend groups that were never all-white, considered literature and cultural products by and about non-white people as being interesting or good on their own merits. Even my fairly racist parents will gladly choose to watch Selma or Night Catches Us because they're good movies, and not because it's White-Guilt Reflection Hour. It wasn't until I went to college that I met white people who only surrounded themselves with white people and white ideas as if that was normal, and anything else was tourism.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:56 AM
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65.2: There are reasonably large stretches of the country that are over 98% white, even if they aren't really suburbs. These areas are disproportionately adjacent to AWB's university. My own home county is .03% black. I did not mess-up the decimal and that is not out of line with the surrounding counties. The entire Congressional district in which I was raised is now up to 1% black.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:56 AM
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66: This is like hearing the Origin Story of the hyperactive ragebunnies that haunt tumblr...


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:58 AM
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Even the most lefty white students at this college will happily trot out the explanation that black kids sit with black kids and Asian kids with Asian kids because, you see (they tell me), people prefer their own kind? It's a psychological principle called "homophily"? So it's like science? When I ask them if the most important thing about their identity group is race, they choke a little.

The students of color claim they tend to sit with people other people of color because white people are fucking ignorant as shit and get their feelings hurt when you point out that they treat you like a zoo animal or a kid in a charity pamphlet.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:02 PM
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69: Well, right. Given that white people are still at least a plurality in the US (bare majority? Slightly more than a bare majority?) and other ethnic groups are for reasons both pernicious and not highly geographically concentrated, there are plenty of places to live that are going to be super white even without the locals having sought them out deliberately for that purpose.

It's just going to be harder for people who live in places like that not to be clueless about race.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:05 PM
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46: The relationship between white southern culture and african american culture is one of those perennially debated things. I suspect that you will see different answers depending on whether you are talking about food, language, or music.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:05 PM
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I feel like the 70's era Sesame Street, Free-To-Be-You-And-Me approach to this stuff was reasonably healthy. Has it all been purged from the culture by backlash since I was growing up?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:06 PM
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I'm still waiting for the gritty reboot of Super Grover.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:07 PM
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74: A reasonably healthy way to raise the topic for young kids, I meant.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:07 PM
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Census says nonHiipanic whites are 63%, whites including Hisp are 77%.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:11 PM
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Let's not forget to add .0000003% to account for Dolezal.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:13 PM
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Sure. And you count as Hispanic on account of that sailor from the Armada. Those sailors?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:15 PM
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You can go by self-identification unless your parents go on tv and say, "WTF".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:17 PM
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59: Lulumon is the Pokemon with the strongest core.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:26 PM
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That's just brilliant.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:26 PM
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What if you applied that talent to making people want to install curb cuts?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:29 PM
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White-Guilt Reflection Hour

Someone, please start this podcast.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:31 PM
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or you could, you know, add a curb cut and a crosswalk.

Most municipalities frown on DIY infrastructure.

In the last year or two, our city must have found a raft of funding for curb cuts and such, as they've been getting added/upgraded at a pretty rapid pace. Possibly under threat of lawsuit, although such threat hasn't made the papers (and the local threateners tend to be very local).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:38 PM
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I get the joy of hearing every single day how incredibly painful it is to learn the truth about history. I am not exaggerating when I say that every single one of the students in my seminar this semester cried every single class period.

Every single student you have would leave every single class you taught in tears? Good grief. Unbelievable. What the hell is wrong with them? Are they alcoholics like Boehner? Are they seven years old? Do you scream at them and beat them with sticks?

Healthy adults should not be responding like this to a conventionally taught seminar on the history of trade!


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:39 PM
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I mean, it's pretty clear that you bitterly despise most of them, but presumably you're professional enough not to let that show in class.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:41 PM
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85: In my part of town they did a bunch of them starting about five years ago. According to some half-remembered article in the paper, it was because of federal highway funds, even for the parts that are not actually on the highway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:47 PM
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71: By contrast, at my decidedly non-liberal [artsy] institution, the white kids (at least the well-meaning ones) were kind of baffled that the non-white kids self-segregated, leading to occasional pieces in the student paper explaining, basically, 71.2. Not exactly the charity case part, but just the general, "being one of the few POC in a given classroom makes it really imperative to vent to fellow POCs afterwards. It's not (directly) about you, it's about our needs."

My dept was almost all-white with a chunk of east Asians, so we sorted along prep school/public school lines like good children of John Hughes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:47 PM
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89.2 isn't strictly true, but it's true enough to amuse me. Certainly I'm not in touch with a single one of the prep school kids, but I'm not sure how many that actually covers (as opposed to kids who just acted like they went to a snobby prep school).


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:49 PM
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I don't actually despise them. They're very very lovely thoughtful young people. They're just incredibly deeply sensitive, to the point that their own hurt feelings often get in the way of their ability to learn. This is pretty par for the course for anyone working with college students these days, especially upper-class white students.

One of my very favorite students at a previous job was a young man who became totally enraged with me after I assigned for him to watch Blue Velvet, because clearly I have no idea what it's like to be a 20-year-old man, and he was SO hurt by the mocking way the Kyle MacLachlan character was represented. I felt really bad, until, a few years later, someone responded to that story by saying, "Yeah, but aren't you a survivor of domestic violence, and Isabella Rossellini is literally raped and beaten throughout the whole movie?"

I've wrestled with my response to these things because I feel that I can't do my job effectively unless I have some compassion for the sensitivities of people to whom nothing bad has ever happened. But in my personal emotional life, I wouldn't tolerate that kind of behavior in my friends and coworkers. It's one of the things about being a professor to being a therapist. The people you're serving might raise emotional resentments for you, but part of your job is working lovingly with them as best you can. I don't coddle them, but I try to have compassion for their reactions.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:51 PM
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They're just incredibly deeply sensitive, to the point that their own hurt feelings often get in the way of their ability to learn.

That might be specific to certain departments.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:53 PM
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the sensitivities of people to whom nothing bad has ever happened

As someone in this demographic, I feel judged.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:53 PM
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(And yes, I really wish I were exaggerating about the everyone crying every day part, but I am not, even a little bit. Every fucking day, every student. One of them got so drunk after class she ended up in the hospital, where she started emailing a professor friend of mine asking him to please tell me for her that she wants to be a good student but can't because she feels so bad about being white, etc.)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:55 PM
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(Not really, you just hit something that I occasionally think about myself. Literally nothing seriously difficult has ever happened to me. I sort of wonder how I'd cope.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:56 PM
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There's a Mighty, Mighty Bosstones song about that, which may count as something bad, depending on your taste.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 12:58 PM
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95: A suggestion for your official theme song.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:05 PM
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I recognize that rich white people often have other kinds of struggles (and certainly the drunk student is one of them). But I do often have to swallow my gut reaction to people making discussions of discrimination all about their own feelings about it. Another not-my-student threw a very public tantrum about the fact that the college didn't close its doors, cancel all classes, and hold a mandatory meditation vigil on the day the non-indictment came down in the Michael Brown case. She was really personally offended that she would be expected to do homework and go to class when clearly her mind and heart were elsewhere. My reaction to that also merited chastisement from my superiors, who thought that "Where the fuck have you been for the past 400 years of white supremacy? Just hearing about the reality of other people's every lives for the first time doesn't make it a fucking national holiday" might have been a bit much.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:05 PM
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91.2 That's really over-sensitive. I saw it recently in a packed theater with a lot of 20-somethings in the audience and they laughed at all the right places (mainly, the way Kyle MacLachlan was represented), and a few wrong ones.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:06 PM
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every sb everyday


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:06 PM
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I wonder if anybody's started a gay-friendly yogurt place called Fro To Be Mo and Yo


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:08 PM
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I thought the linked article was good to the extent that it explained that attempting to make children 'colorblind' doesn't solve the problem of structural racism.

One problem is that without contact with people of other race/ethnic groups, it's very easy for someone to assume that what is true of a group (e.g., less access to economic opportunity) is true of an individual. Example: a black colleague who hears from well-meaning white acquaintances about how she must have had to overcome so much; the colleague in question is from a prosperous suburb of SLC.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:08 PM
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The phrase "the wussification of America" comes with considerable baggage, but how else to describe what AWB is talking about?


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:09 PM
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I really wish I were exaggerating about the everyone crying every day part, but I am not, even a little bit. Every fucking day, every student.

I'm still boggling at this. Has something like this dynamic occurred in more than one class, or is it just one specific group of students?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:11 PM
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Oh, I don't think I've announced it here, but I am leaving Wolf Cub U. for a very sturdy workmanlike TT position that allows me to move back to the Glorious Urban Homeland.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:12 PM
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Does anybody else talk to undergraduates? I don't really, unless they step on my foot or something.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:13 PM
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BOGF resented greatly that nothing bad had ever happened to me. When I pointed out that my mom had been badly hurt in a car crash and would never come home again, she basically said that didn't count because I handled it well. I then pointed out that I don't complain about things, am generally upbeat, and try to be generous to everyone, but that didn't help either. I'm not sure what she wanted, really.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:13 PM
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I talk to undergrads. I had one cry at me, once, but that was because she got a B.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:14 PM
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GUH?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:14 PM
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Also, congratulations on the new job.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:15 PM
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105: Congratulations!


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:15 PM
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BOGF resented greatly that nothing bad had ever happened to me.

She saw a problem and, instead of crying about it to her professors, she went and solved it.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:16 PM
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Congratulations.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:17 PM
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I simply cannot believe that you could pick twenty random American teenagers and all of them would be reduced to tears by having to sit through a seminar on the history of trade. (Tears of boredom, maybe, if it were badly taught.)
I also can't help thinking that reducing your students to tears in every class is probably a sign that, however honestly you are trying to respect their delicate sensitivities in line with your duty of care as a teacher, you are not in fact having much success and it might be worth trying a different approach.
In my occasional outbursts of teaching I have to deal with a few fairly tricky and subjects (such as sudden traumatic injury and death, its - literally - gory details, and the likelihood of it happening around my students in the near future) and if one or two of my students burst into tears or fainted I might be able to believe that it was due to weakness on their part, but if they all did it every time then I would probably start to think it was me.



Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:17 PM
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104: I have had tearful, anxious, emotional, intense students before, but this was a really tight-knit group of best friends, 2/3 of whom were graduating and having intense feelings about it, all of whom were white suburbanites, and the class was 4 hours a week of reading historical authors who are very frank and non-theoretical. I wasn't offering them a bunch of theory, which is what they're used to. It was all first-hand accounts, descriptions, dialogue, etc. I can see why it was so intense for them. It was just really hard for me to sympathize with their tearfulness because I grew up knowing about slavery and racism.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:18 PM
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I've never had a student cry in class. A few times in my office, but that's usually after I say something like "so tell me about this cut-n-paste job you handed in" or "have you ever seen a grown man naked."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:20 PM
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reducing your students to tears in every class

It wasn't my fault! They would work themselves into tears by just talking about the reading. My input was mostly "how can we think about this?"


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:21 PM
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I mean, for real, they would get talking about something and then the person next to them would reach across and hold their hand and they'd both start sighing. Mostly it was like one tear per eye per class, not bawling.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:23 PM
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Congratulations, AWB, on the new job.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:23 PM
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Maybe a quick "Whoa, hey, calm down" (or "man the fuck up") when they start to get a bit sniffy might nip it in the bud?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:23 PM
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Congratulations! If this job were an animal, what kind of animal would it be?


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:23 PM
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Far, far from "random American teenagers"


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:24 PM
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American teenagers, the problem with multicolinearity.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:28 PM
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122 is the truth. WCU students are mostly a strange combination of being excessively obsessed with social justice and also having lived their entire lives massively insulated against any actual contact with humans experiencing injustice.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:28 PM
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Screaming at them and beating them with sticks, as suggested in 86, might go a long way towards toughening up your students.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:31 PM
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120: DON'T THINK I DIDN'T TRY. I think a large part of what they were crying about was realizing how ignorant they've been. Seriously, it isn't their fault that their parents raised them never to learn these things, and it's to their credit that they chose an elective course that does teach these things. But if it hurts to learn about slavery when you're seven, imagine how much more it hurts when you're twenty-two.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:32 PM
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125 -- Bow to sensei as you enter White Guilt Dojo! You will hold back your tears!


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:32 PM
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"Regression Analysis with Clustered Data: Late Teens in a University Setting."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:33 PM
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Whose brother-in-law found out about the Holocaust as an adult and was outraged? That was impressive.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:33 PM
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I think that was our resident Texan.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:35 PM
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"Wet Hot Auto-Regressive American Summer."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:37 PM
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Whose brother-in-law found out about the Holocaust as an adult and was outraged? That was impressive.

Melanie Griffith?


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:38 PM
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Congrats!!

121: If urban homeland means what I think it means, than surely it's a rat. Or maybe a pigeon?


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in." (9) | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:38 PM
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I barely did any teaching as a grad student, but the discussion I was least prepared for in terms of anticipating student reactions was the day we discuseed the Bedford books edition of selections from proslavery
writings. Nothing, not the narratives of Frederick Douglass or Harriet Jacobs, nor anything else we'd covered about slavery prepared them for seeing the world through slaveholders' eyes.

No one cried (in class, anyway) and discussion plodded along - I'm a pretty poor discussion leader in any case - but a lot of the class was in shock from the start and said so. You could sum up the reactions as "American history, WTF?! Did people really believe that? How could people believe that? How did we not learn this earlier?"

The class was mostly, but not entirely white, IIRC. US 19th century survey, not specifically on the south, African-American history, Civil War, slavery or anything where you'd expect more detailed prior knowledge.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:39 PM
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133: No, I've already defined your graduate institution as Pigeon U. Calling a nearby university a pigeon would be unnecessarily confusing.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:41 PM
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We have to maintain tidiness in the insane academia code language.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:42 PM
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It could be a Honing Pigeon.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:42 PM
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I probably threaten to cut people too often. But I'm thinking it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:43 PM
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It's O.K. Nothing much bad ever really happens to me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:44 PM
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No, my graduate institution is a particularly adorable bear. But I see what you mean, and you're right that a pigeon won't do. Rat it is, I guess.


Posted by: Unfoggetarian: "Pause endlessly, then go in" (9) | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:46 PM
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If you want your seven year old to identify really deeply, somewhat disturbingly,* with the experience of slavery, I suggest these books. As I've mentioned before, they led to demands to play the "slave game" where I would pretend to be the evil master.

*Semi-topically, I had a political conversation with the 7 YO daughter this weekend, that went like this:

D: "Daddy, I hate it how there are boy toys and girl toys. Everyone should just be able to play with whatever toys they want to. I hate that thing that's called, what is it, that makes companies try to sell kids things in the boys section and girls section"
Me: [swelling with pride, glad that my half-assed attempt at feminist parenting is working] "I think you mean marketing? Or sexism? And you're totally right, I agree with you. Boys and girls should be able to play with any toys that they want."
D: "Yeah, like if a boy wants to get a comb and comb a pony's hair, he should be able to. And when I want to get a shotgun and just start killing people, I should be able to do that."


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:48 PM
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It's only if she suggests using a rifle with a large capacity magazine that you need to take her in for the special test.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:49 PM
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They're just incredibly deeply sensitive, to the point that their own hurt feelings often get in the way of their ability to learn. This is pretty par for the course for anyone working with college students these days, especially upper-class white students.

Honestly, I have seen very little of this, as a student and as a teacher at several different universities, so I'm not willing to believe it is universal. However, I was pretty alarmed by the strong emphasis on first-person narrative and journaling in my dad's high school's other English classes (he taught AP and stuck to more traditional stuff). As an incredibly deeply sensitive person who can't handle this comment thread, I think having to do that much public journaling for credit would have made me even more insane, and probably would have primed me to think that there was some pedagogically obligatory role for my feelings to play, whether or not I had any idea WTF it ought to be. Institutionalized holistic education of the whole person is a bad deal.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:55 PM
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141.last:

You... go... girl?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:56 PM
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Heebie do your kids have nonwhite school friends? That seems like the easiest solution. Set up a playdate or whatever.

Our social group includes a couple Hispanic families with kids. I don't think there's anything about their households that would jump out at her (or me) as something they all have in common, besides that they speak Spanish, though.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 1:59 PM
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So? I mean, people who actually are Hispanic are Hispanic enough to familiarize your kids with being Hispanic. If you see what I mean.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:00 PM
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141: 7YO seems to be even more Halfordismo than Small God-Daughter, and I have been doing my best. I guess she's getting it straight from the source and SGD is just getting it second-hand.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:04 PM
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Also to 65/66/et all about whether or not a diverse public school is a solution or not,...I'd like to sort of back away from the OP a bit. I was just kind of throwing together a reaction to the linked post, and came off sounding more hand-wringing than I actually am.

That said, my personal evolution of talking about race went: no talking about race at home -> get to middle school and all of a sudden I am just chock full of racist observations about THOSE kids being like THIS whereas THOSE OTHERS are like THAT -> get to high school and be overcome with white guilt and other embarrassing tropes infantilizing minorities or whatever -> eventually become a regular adult.

So I didn't exactly fall prey to the Dickensian concern in the OP, but maybe I can pave a less embarrassing path for my own kids to being regular adults on the topic.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:05 PM
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146: Oh sure. I'm backpedalling away from the OP lest I sound like I'm not cool and laidback.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:07 PM
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Institutionalized holistic education of the whole person is a bad deal.

I'm thankful how little of it I received, and how traditional my education was.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:08 PM
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The grand prize for WCU hypersensitivity was the woman who, in the midst of an entire semester of her trying to get me fired for offending her, demanding completely unreasonable accommodations (she should be able to read "children's" abridged versions of all the texts, etc.), spreading lies about my unspeakably perverted sex life, etc., the most hilarious demand was that no one in the class, especially me, should be allowed to use the word "object" in any context because, TO HER, the word "object" means "raped and killed women" and every time anyone says it, she is being personally raped and killed in the classroom. I got the college involved and they mostly sort of had my back, but there was about a month when, every single day after class, she would come to my office and bawl and scream about how I had raped her that day. No one at the college seemed particularly concerned with my objection that, as a victim of literal actual rape, I might consider this to be a form of harassment. Students can't harass professors! That's unpossible!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:08 PM
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eventually become a regular adult

Citation needed.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:08 PM
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no one in the class, especially me, should be allowed to use the word "object"

She's going to have a hell of a time after she gets through law school.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:10 PM
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151: You should have slapped her, like Bogart as Sam Spade.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:10 PM
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It can't be assault because you're a woman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:12 PM
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I'm seeing it more as Zero Mostel and Gene Wilder.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:13 PM
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156: That student sounds too sensitive to really appreciate "Springtime for Hitler".


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:15 PM
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155: But I'm a queer, so I'm a traitor to my gender. She tried to get me fired by convincing someone on the review committee that clearly my personal desire to objectify women made me unfit to teach literature because it would make me side with all the rapists and murderers of women. The review committee member pumped her for details (hates me, thought it would be a quick way to get rid of me) and brought a case to my review (closed doors, without me there) saying that my personal life sure is a mystery, and that probably I'm up to something rapey and violent since I don't have a husband. There's your nice liberal college for you.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:15 PM
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87, it seems like AWB despises everyone she encounters IRL from the way she describes them here, but over the years I've realized it's a sort of entertaining ethnographic writing style like what you see at The Awl, Vulture, Slate etc. I regret having lashed out at her about it a while ago.

One important lesson about moving from the North to the South: grits really are a thing, and not just part of My Cousin Vinny. This is important, because if you're in the south and you think you see some delicious mashed potatoes, you have too look carefully to make sure it's not vile, disgusting grits.

Northerners may also be able to choke them down if they realize grits are exactly the same thing as polenta.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:16 PM
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With the blog's connections to WCU moving out, what can take its place?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:22 PM
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151: good grief. The worst I had was a student who tried to file a complaint for racial intolerance, which led to this conversation:
"X says you discriminated against him on racial grounds. "
Me: "On _what_? "
"He's Ethiopian. "
Me (honestly surprised) "Is he? Seriously?"

So there you go. Apparently I don't even see race.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:22 PM
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I've had a really hard time for the past three years. My students--especially the crying white-guilty ones--are among the closest things I've had to meaningful relationships here. My colleagues are much much worse. I had like two friends this year, and one of them sort of dropped me when she got a girlfriend.

I've had about four or five students during that time who have actively harassed me (tried to get in my house, screamed at me for not accepting their weird date-like social invitations, spread homophobic rumors about me, etc.) but the rest are really fine, and going through stuff that I imagine is pretty common as a set of side-effects from well-meaning liberal white bouregois parenting. I don't hate them at all. I'm just baffled by how naive and narcissistic they can be.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:22 PM
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Oh, and two of my very favorite students wrote columns in local media about what an elite snob I am for wishing our community were more racially diverse. I wasn't named, but "a certain snobby elite east-coast professor" with direct quotes and analysis of why I am a bitch were pretty recognizable. I can't hate them. They also take my classes and write me thank-you notes and ask me to meet their folks at graduation. They're just young. It would hurt less if I had my own community here.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:27 PM
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To be fair to them, I don't have a husband and I once objectified a woman.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:28 PM
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AND rumor has it that someone made a pornographic movie about me and spread it around campus. Freedom of speech for thee but not for me!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:31 PM
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Anyway, a small town you aren't accepted in is hell and it is good that you can leave regardless of how wrong the reasons for not being accepted.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:31 PM
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Only one of your students I've ever known to be such thinks you're great.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:34 PM
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It is a tremendous relief to be leaving. With that is coming a lot of repressed anger, but I'll be over it five minutes after arriving at my new apartment.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:34 PM
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it seems like AWB despises as her moral inferiors everyone she encounters IRL from the way she describes them here, which is the odd part of it. AWB, did you not attribute this conviction of personal rectitude once to your good Baptist upbringing? I don't know if I can find it in the archives. I might be misremembering. And because I can't help but wonder: were you 100% on Laura Kipnis' side in that recent dust-up, or did you have a more complicated response? I'm also delighted to hear that you've found a way out. I'm sure you lasted longer than I would have.

(Christ, why is procrastination so calming? I'm actually going to snap in an hour if this continues, but it's also the first peace of mind I've had in days. Goddamn it.)


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:35 PM
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I'm a longtime fan of vitriolic AWB, one vote here for more please, even if she's not 100% fair at all times.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:35 PM
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167: Thanks, idp. I do feel appreciated by many students here. I just need to be around people who are more like me. (Homophily is real!)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:36 PM
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Let's not completely abandon repressed anger. It's done loads for me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:37 PM
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169: 100% anti-Kipnis here. If your fetish is for undergrads, fuck someone else's.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:37 PM
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ANd congratulations on the more favorably located gig!


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:37 PM
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165 is also nuts. I am now sincerely impressed that AWB has managed to make it through three years without going stark raving mad.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:39 PM
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Northerners may also be able to choke them down if they realize grits are exactly the same thing as polenta.

Soft-cooked polenta swimming in butter and salt. Mmmmm, totally vile and disgusting.

And easily mistaken for mashed potatoes, by people who are completely new to mashed potatoes.

(Huh, you know, grits with gravy couldn't possibly be bad, either, now that I'm thinking about it.)


Posted by: Swope FM | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:45 PM
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My point about Kipnis, to be more nuanced, is that one has a professional obligation not unlike a counselor. It's not about age or consent or any of that; it's about professional ethics. When you violate those professional ethics, you create a difficult situation for all of your colleagues. Students who have formerly had sexual relations with professors have a hard time trusting, later, that they're actually being evaluated based on their work and not their sex appeal.

I feel this way not only because (a) I personally felt very different about doing work for a professor after he propositioned me, despite the fact that, before the proposition, the feelings were mutual. (b) Several good friends in grad school described to me the difficulty of taking themselves seriously as intellectuals with the backdrop of having been recruited into academia by their undergraduate professor/lovers. (c) I have had three or four students sexually harass me because I intellectually intimidated them, and the way they got through this with some of my colleagues was through offering sexual favors.

I'm not for infantilizing students or acting like the age of consent should be 35 or something. I don't care about the age difference. (When I was 24, my boyfriend was 43.) I don't care about the gender dynamic, as if women are all victims and can't make up their minds. What I care about is that the classroom at least should be a place where my students can trust my judgment and not be thinking about whether they're hot or not. And yes, I have explained all of this to several perfectly lovely young people who have tried to turn our relationship into a sex thing. It's like if my therapist wanted to fuck me. It's not inherently rape or anything, but he really wouldn't be a good therapist anymore.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:45 PM
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As a very good friend from grad school used to say, "AWB, you've taught me that it's not just that orgasm is a text, but that *your* orgasm is a text." My undergraduate classes aren't quite that intimate, but almost (I teach pornography in some classes) and I wouldn't be able to talk about those things with my classes if there were even a hint that I had a personal sexual investment in particular students in the room. Most of the people I know who do sleep with their undergraduates are the sort who get really horrified that anyone would ever discuss sexuality in the classroom. Ew gross!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:52 PM
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Encountered grits first time in the army, and liked them. Had eaten various porridges growing up, some with butter, so not too unfamiliar.

I've actually wondered if Canadians have an affinity for Southern things.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:57 PM
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177 is totally fair, but I was wondering more about the Title IX complaint and the debate about the merits of that process. A close friend seemed to take Kipnis' side there; I felt more sympathetic to the complainants, but I can see it both ways. I feel comfortable disclosing that reading Kipnis' whole original article about sex and students seemed unlikely to be worth my time.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 2:58 PM
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The current state of Title IX is a nightmare. I don't have very clear pro/anti feelings about particular cases because of my own history, really. I was raped repeatedly by my very violent college boyfriend, and I retaliated by raping him back. (Yes, I do consider it very possible and very wrong.) I never reported him to the police or to campus, and he never reported me, though we both told our friends and probably some people who would now be mandatory reporters. Did my college have a responsibility to get involved in that relationship, to expel both of us? Does the university have a responsibility to provide a safe home for abused people? We're so fucking far from that, even now, that getting there is going to be a process.

Right now Title IX is a battle between administrators who are in bed with the PR people and students who are either very publicly demonstrating about their rapes and naming names or very publicly demonstrating about having been falsely accused of rape and naming names. Gag orders do nothing on any side. "Bystander" training doesn't do shit in most cases, in which the event takes a nasty turn while already in private.

I don't know what to make of any of it, except that I teach my students to ask themselves why so much of pornographic fantasy is about explicit, radical, verbal consent (even or especially in BDSM) but we don't feel comfortable asking for explicit consent when we're actually fucking.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:08 PM
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no one in the class, especially me, should be allowed to use the word "object"

In the sitcom in my head, next semester she will take a seminar on Kohut and Winnicott.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:09 PM
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Sorry, I killed the blog with 181. Feel free to redact it and/or ban me. I was a really angry 19-year-old.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:27 PM
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Maybe you should go to the other thread and give advice about what to do when your co-worker asks for a sex toy.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:33 PM
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The blog is killed daily around this time by dinner and people's incomprehensible need to get some work done before the end of the day. I agree with what you say at the end of 181.1, and I don't know whether or not to be hopeful. The giant bureaucracy has strengths and weaknesses.

I was a really angry 19-year-old.

Me too (but two years older), but I was a lucky one too. I'm sorry that, even after you suffer through an experience like that, the bullshit never seems to end. I hope your future students are more emotionally stable and (at least) less hostile.


Posted by: lurid keyaki | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:47 PM
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Both 177 and 181 seem absolutely and obviously right to me.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 3:51 PM
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I love grits.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:07 PM
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How do you feel about mashed potatoes?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:12 PM
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Yum. And I can do the twist.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:15 PM
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I don't know enough (actually, anything) about the bystander vs self defense debate but there's quite the opinions about it expressed here: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/column-59-show-us-the-money

Once a coworker whose kid attended a very expensive private school went off on how the school's "everyone pretend he/she has a disability today" event was scheduled on a day her kid couldn't attend and this was clearly awful because her child would miss out on this amazing experience and I have rarely felt less able to show a polite minimum of understanding.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:19 PM
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Yum. And I can do the twist.

But do you love Bootsy Collins?

(Just making the joke explicit)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:20 PM
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190.1: Right, and because I teach courses on the history of sex and consent, everyone including the VP of the college, colleagues across the hall, student victims and perpetrators, every single fucking person needs me to assert in every conversation that their own personal way of thinking about rape and rape prevention is the only sane thing any human being could ever think. I lost one of my only colleague allies on campus because she was leaving stickers under my door that she wanted me to wear that would align us with a very particular second-wave feminist group whose approach I find problematic. I lost another colleague-who-used-to-be-a-friend because he would sit me down to a friendly beer and then neurotically circle back, over and over, to the important question of whether, when you think about it, it isn't the perpetrators of rape who are the *real* victims, you know? One of my students in a totally-not-about-sex course asked for my personal home phone number so I could counsel her about what was the "right" thing to do in the situation of a campus protest against rape in which she disagreed with the tactics of the group but also was opposed to the administration. Another student needed my advice about what to do when he received threats about printing stories about rape and rape prevention in the student paper, both from admin and from perpetrators and their families, while also getting threats from victims and allies about his refusal to publish perpetrators' names. Everyone wants my approval for their totally messy and half-baked ideas about this shit, but no one is actually listening to me or backing me up in my ideas. They just want the rubber stamp from someone who seems to know something about rape. P.S. Fuck this, I'm outta here.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:29 PM
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(And it's no coincidence in the least that there is no attempt whatsoever to treat queer faculty or faculty of color with any more than a zoo's interest in diversity.)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:31 PM
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Selah's call way up there is truly brilliant.

Meanwhile, 178, does that mean it has to fit in 160 characters?


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:36 PM
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My orgasm is, ironically, not a sext!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:38 PM
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It should use the full bandwidth available in LTE-Advanced carrier aggregation across the 800, 1800, and 2500MHZ bands. Laydeez.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:44 PM
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I like my orgasms like my texts: delivered wirelessly.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:51 PM
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I like my orgasms like my texts: coinciding with a brief 'buzz'.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 4:52 PM
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Something something star 69.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:04 PM
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I like my orgasms like I like my texts: in a movie theater annoying the other patrons.


Posted by: tia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:09 PM
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|| OK, so I had a coloscopy early last week, and they seemed to have flipped a switch of some kind so I'm really not able to keep food in for more than an hour or so. I've started drinking buttermilk, as suggested by my mom; not eating much all day seems to be the most effective approach, but doesn't seem sustainable. The doc isn't returning calls. No other symptoms, sfaict. So, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a panic should I be in here? |>


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:15 PM
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Acknowledgement of funnyness of 200.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:18 PM
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If you're keeping liquids down, there isn't immediate danger as far as I can think of.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:18 PM
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But that's way too long to not seek medical help.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:20 PM
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If you aren't keeping fluids down, have somebody drive you to the ER now.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:20 PM
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Fluids staying down.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:21 PM
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Yeah, your mom's suggestion for fermented foods seems right. As does Moby's water comment.

I am the helpfullest!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:22 PM
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The entire problem is down, rather than up.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:22 PM
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Guts are fussy about being cleaned out. Lots of yogurt, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:27 PM
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Guts are fussy about being cleaned out. Lots of yogurt, etc.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:27 PM
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I can't keep things in either.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:28 PM
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Doctor not returning calls is no good. Is this your primary care doctor not returning them, or the gastroenterologist or what?


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:28 PM
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Maybe your kidneys/liver are still trying to flush the "prep" they gave you? I don't know what to do to protect kidneys....


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:29 PM
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And sorry Charley, that's no fun at all.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:29 PM
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208: Oh. I missed that and got the direction wrong.

Have you tried Imodium?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:30 PM
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212 The guy who did the procedure. 215 Yes; unimpressed.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:32 PM
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I got no idea, but if you aren't in danger of dehydration, I can't think of why you'd panic (as opposed to making sure you saw somebody in the morning).


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:33 PM
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Once again, I reflect that I would like to see AWB's syllabi, both porn and trade. I would totally take a class with you, AWB, and though I might be an annoying student at least I would not cry about how sad it is to be angry about racism.

In the class/book-group thing I facilitate (I mean, I take it pretty seriously, make a syllabus, prepare for class, etc)...wow, I often feel unhappy with how we end up talking about race, and I think the basic problem is that it's an almost-always-almost-all-white group. We/they are a pretty smart, age-and-class diverse group who would, I think, be basically socially acceptable to the Unfoggetariat and able to make pleasant, non-anarchist-harangue conversation at the bar. Things that happen:

Actual participants of color made uncomfortable by the intense caution/white self-flagellation in the room. We don't do that thing of "oh, this is about black people, let's all look at the Black participant", but we're not always that much better.

White people policing each other in weird ways to make sure that we are verbally anti-racist enough. It's not that white people trying to hold each other accountable is a bad thing, but we all have pretty similar politics, tend to go to solidarity protests and raise/donate money, etc, so the logic-choppy thing feels really weird. It's not oneupmanship, it's guilt and anxiety; this is a good group and no one is trying to put others down over this stuff.

Problematic stuff about the race of writers. We got into this whole thing about a white writer who wrote (in the eighties) a really quite good novella about John Brown, and the group was pretty much sketched out that a white man (!!!!) should have written about this serious issue, why are we reading a white guy when we could read a Black writer, what kind of awful person would assign this novella, etc. Of course, we're reading it because it's an important book in this genre and from a writing-in-the-eighties standpoint, and in fact the book is generally pretty well regarded by Black critics.

We also have this tendency to read all Black writers as Constantly Writing About Racism and sort of....as if they are all writing as spokespeople for Black people in general - everyone loves Octavia Butler (rightly so!), for instance, but tends to ignore what we read from her memoirs about her actual ideas about race, her own sense of isolation as a human in general and how she thought her own writing related to colonialism. Basically, Butler has some idiosyncratic ideas about race that don't match neatly up with current best-practice racial justice white activist thinking (because she is an actual complex person) and we have trouble getting at that because of the pressure to read Butler as a sort of Generic Black Social Justice Writer.

I have some strategies for addressing all this, but they mostly have to do with moving the class, promoting it differently and myself attending some multiracial reading groups both to learn some discussion methods and to meet people....I feel like I'm not necessarily doing anyone a favor by having this class (last year we read slightly over 50% writers of color; I really do prioritize work by POC whenever we're reading sorta-contemporary SF or literary theory) where we read writers of color but we read them in a dumb way.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:50 PM
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Er, sorry about the GI stuff; I was reading this earlier and forgot to refresh the page, and I see the conversation has moved on.

That seems awful. I did have something similar for about a week after a bad, bad - unbelievably bad and gross and far more info about gastric processes than I ever wanted - stomach flu, and I would say that I wasn't back to normal for about two weeks. I drank fluids during the day and ate BRAT when I was alone and could be ill in private. No fun at all and I hope you hit a turning point really soon.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 5:55 PM
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The doc just called -- I'm headed out to Walgreens to get a pro-biotic, and if that doesn't work, maybe come in Thurs/Friday.

Maybe I should also pick up some brats for the grill . . .


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:04 PM
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I would totally take a class from AWB as well.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:05 PM
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Citrucel! Yogurt! Bananas! Rice! Toast!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:15 PM
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Butler has some idiosyncratic ideas about race that don't match neatly up with current best-practice racial justice white activist thinking (because she is an actual complex person) and we have trouble getting at that because of the pressure to read Butler as a sort of Generic Black Social Justice Writer.

I tend to not worry too much about the whole I Fear My Students meme but this seems like a common casualty of Our Fallen Age.

Clearly I have trouble taking Creeping Political Correctness as a issue serious enough to warrant abandoning Ironic Title Case.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:31 PM
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91: This is pretty par for the course for anyone working with college students these days, especially upper-class white students.

Respectful disagreement. I have been teaching undergrads here at Robberbarron Bloodmoney University for ten years now, including working very closely with them in small reading courses, senior theses, research assistants, etc., and they have indeed been mostly upper (or "upper-middle") class white students (though with large East and South Asian minorities). And I've not seen anything like this. I think part of the difference may be that RBU is known for its tech-y programs (whereas I gather Wolfcub U is a small liberal arts college), and I teach in a STEM subject. I have certainly had to deal with my share of late-adolescent drama — I've had them cry before, during and after exams; I've had them cry in office hours; I've had (apparent) compulsive liars; I've had (distinct!) students struggling with depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol abuse; I've had flagrant self-righteous plagiarists; I've been on the receiving end of student crushes (including one who came to office hours in outfits leaving little to the imagination and wanting to talk about Fifty Shades of Gray — did I mention this was a math modeling class?); I've held hands (metaphorically!) through crises of conscience about the unethical applications of the subject, etc., etc. — but the sort of sensitivity AWB describes is quite alien to my experience.

And thankfully, because I have no idea how I would even begin to deal with it. (Probably not well.)


Posted by: not feeling very nymous | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:53 PM
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And seconding 218.1.


Posted by: not feeling very nymous | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:56 PM
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When people say clothing leaves very little to the imagination, that's because almost everyone is seriously contrasted by scale in how they imagine bodies.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 6:58 PM
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"contrasted" s/b "constrained".


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:01 PM
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224: Yes, it's probably much more this way in liberal arts subjects/colleges than not. I've actually heard it's much worse in, say, sociology and gender studies than in literature. Some of my colleagues in those subjects have had to call security on a number of occasions because of students having literal shaking/screaming fits in class due to the stress of being asked to sympathize with men or people of color. A colleague who taught an essay by a male person of color about his experience of prison rape was accused by students of doing it to belittle "real" rape victims, who are apparently exclusively white women not in prison. I've had it pretty easy compared to many professors here, and it's been awful for me. There's a weird fragility here, as if there's only a tiny little amount of oxygen for victimhood and someone might take your portion away. I feel it too, the panic that no one is noticing that my life is being made unpleasant by other people. But I think what's going on is that out here in the middle of nowhere, it's actually true that no one gives a shit about you at all. I too feel like my feelings get tragically hurt over stuff that I would have laughed at in other environments.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:10 PM
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||

If a grad application asks for all previous transcripts, and a student owes 1K to a school where they were non-degree-seeking and bombed dramatically, and they would not be used for admission decision purposes, is the student obligated to settle up with the former school and send the transcript to the new institution?

As a practical matter, I assume the new school would never know, but is there any reason that I - as the advice giver - should give a more complex answer?

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:12 PM
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it's actually true that no one gives a shit about you at all

I have often found this a calming and even comforting thought.


Posted by: not feeling very nymous | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:30 PM
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||

The private lender I transferred my loans to just sent me a package. It contains a t-shirt, a postcard on the charity they support, and a book on one of the topics of interest I named in an intake survey - hand-wrapped with a handwritten note. Christ.

|>


Posted by: Minivet | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:48 PM
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Earnest?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:53 PM
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They must really like you. Stop paying them.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:53 PM
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228: This is really, literally true? Not just one of those things that people exaggerate for sympathy such that there was perhaps crying and fussing on one occasion? What did security do? Why was security needed, come to that?

I was a special-wecial snowflake at a private liberal arts school and while I can remember saying a few fool things my first couple of years, I can't imagine pulling any stunt even remotely like that. I add - to boost everyone's tolerance of anarchists - that for all our various failings, you would not get very far with any kind of "it is so painful for me to read these stories of suffering, I can't go on" or "you are making us read this in order to make light of women's suffering".

What do you do to try to manage this stuff in your classes? Do you scaffold in a sort of "what does it mean to focus on the content of our readings? what might be challenging about these readings" way?

Also - and I'd take advice from anyone - what do you do when faced with two students who hate each other? Like, who spar and make petty remarks? I have such kind of situation - each one is bright and interesting but man do they bring out the worst in each other - and I am just at a loss. Nothing has been so rude as to justify publicly humiliating or banishing a student, but both have approached me and said that they hate each other and why must the other one even be there, etc.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 7:58 PM
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I've only ever taught one class, but I have seen lots of movies. They're in love and won't discover that some kind of crisis forces them to work together.

(You did say 'from anyone'.)


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:04 PM
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234: That...would be amazing. I'll have to suggest this to the one who would not immediately rip me limb from limb for even thinking such a thing.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:09 PM
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236 to 235, actually.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:10 PM
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Seeing Frowner comment: a while back I recommended* "The Song Of The Old Communist" and I've been meaning to mention that when I looked that up on youtube** there was a link to another Leon Rosselson song which I hadn't heard before and which I've come to really, really like.

Appropriate to this thread, it's a song about his sense of Jewish identity titled, "My Father's Jewish World." As it happens I decided today that I liked it enough to transcribe the lyrics, and doing so made me even more impressed by how good a writer Leon Rosselson is. It's a song that covers a lot of ground both person, historical, and philosophical and to me is very moving. Here is my transcription (with some missing words and I'm sure some mistakes as well).

My Father's Jewish World
Leon Rosselson

My father came here as a boy from Czarist Russia
And built ... in the pale his reservations for the Jews
His schooling was the Talmud and the Torah,
the writings of the rabbis and their laws.
Music was his door to freedom, Yiddish was his mother tongue,
And home was just a dreamland in a song.

He told us stories of his gentle Rabbi father
And of his mother who was fearless in the hardships that they faced
And when the drunken pesants got together and yelled
"Let's kill the Jews for killing Christ"
His mother grabbed the rolling pin she used to make the Sabbath bread,
and ran to crack their skulls, my father said

[chorus]
It's not a nation, not a religion.
This Jewish spirit is still unbroken.
It's like the candle that mocks the darkness.
it's like the song that shatters the silence.
it's like the fool who laughs at the dragon.
it's like the spark that signals rebellion
It's like the dance that circles unending


He lived in England half .. half a stranger
Always feeling much as I do, on the outside looking in.
In time he grew to be an unbeliever,
Religion had become a mental chain
Abandoned God, became a Jewish atheist
and then, with pride a communist until the day he died

So no more bible, but instead the Daily Worker
people came and people argued asking questions, "how" and "why?"
Revolution staring Trotsky, Soviet Russia
"Two Jews, three opinions" so they say.
"God loves the poor and helps the rich," the Jewish father tells his son,
And so you've got to chose which side you're on.

[chorus]

He read the books of Jewish rebels like Spinoza
He sang songs that laughed at rabbis in a language that's not mine.
He loved the Yiddish stories and their humor.
Humor born from poverty and pain
"Sleep faster, for we need the pillows" how else could the Jews survive
And keep their tattered dreams and hopes alive?

Now my father's Jewish world is lost forever
burned in the flames of hatred, nothing is left but ash and dust
and Yiddish lingers on our ... nostalgia
How can I make some meaning from what passed
The state they say is Jewish carved from stone and land
Brings only shame by torturing and killing in our name

[chorus]

Now it's my father that meets me in the mirror
and I wonder what to me his Jewish legacy has been.
The state of always being an outsider
of asking why, then asking why again.

That precious strand of Jewishness that challenges authority
And dares to stand against the powers that be.
Emma Goldman, Rosa Luxumberg, ...
The Jewish anarchists and socialists who fought to free the poor
The ones who meet injustices with anger and will not let their dreams drown in despair.
Who speak up for the refugees, defend the weak against the strong
It's for these rebel Jews I sing my song.

[chorus]


* I'd link to the thread, but neither google or bing is being helpful.

** For a long time (almost) none of Leon Rosselson's songs were on youtube, and I assumed that was a deliberate desire on his part. I don't know if he's changed his mind or if the number of people (and automated processes) that are uploading content to youtube has increased to the point that it's just too hard to stop.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:11 PM
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Some of my colleagues in those subjects have had to call security on a number of occasions because of students having literal shaking/screaming fits in class due to the stress of being asked to sympathize with men or people of color. A colleague who taught an essay by a male person of color about his experience of prison rape was accused by students of doing it to belittle "real" rape victims, who are apparently exclusively white women not in prison.

I'm afraid I can muster no more intelligent reaction to this than "What is this I don't even". (Not that I doubt you.)


Posted by: not feeling very nymous | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:17 PM
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My personal gripe about the white liberal interpretation of racial diversity is that it often boils down to sympathizing with other races when they can be viewed as victims of oppression, and having no interest otherwise.

Or, to put it more bluntly (and I know this is an unfair caricature), if you're an underrepresented minority, they love to pity you; but once you're represented at the correct percentage, they want nothing more to do with you.

(I think I'm basically agreeing with Heebie's original concern here.)

What is missing here is any actual interest in the non-suffering aspects of other cultures and ethnicities. Now, I wouldn't necessarily find fault with this, except that it is often considered a fault when someone from a minority culture fails to show interest in assimilating, i.e., in adopting mainstream American culture. I think in an ideal world, this interest in other cultures would be mutual.

I don't think one should try to teach kids the definitive knowledge of What Other Cultures Are Like. That seems bound to go horribly wrong. But it would be nice to at least make a suggestion that other cultures can be interesting.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:29 PM
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I dunno, to the OP, I wonder if it wouldn't just make the most sense to say "Hey kids, racism is really bad and harmful. Don't be a racist." and then model that behavior as well as you can. They'd be ahead of at least 50% of the population that way. Ahimsub, my father dropped the "every-white-person-basically-grows-up-racist" line on me when I was 7 or 8, I think. And I had some really productive discussions with my mother about feminism at the same age. So yeah, not that I'm so perfect, but that kind of talk sure motivated me to put a lot of time and energy into activism later on.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:57 PM
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Also, it is hard to grasp just how sheltered some people are until they get to college. I had an intern awhile ago who was really stoked that I invited him to sit in on a meeting, because he'd grown up working in his family's restaurant, so any time there was a meeting, he would have to hang out in the kitchen, working, while everyone else met.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 8:59 PM
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And I had some really productive discussions with my mother about feminism at the same age.

It must have worked. When you were eight or so, women were earning about 58% of what men earned. It's now up to 78%.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:17 PM
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Also, Geraldine Ferraro was running for vice-president, and now we have Hillary! Thanks, Obama!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:51 PM
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Man, I really miss the Cold War. But hey, if no more Cold War was the price of freedom and democracy coming to Russia, then I guess it was worth it.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:55 PM
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I used to love newspapers, and now I only pick one up occasionally. I'm already a dinosaur.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:57 PM
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I used to love newspapers, and now I only pick one up occasionally. I'm already a dinosaur.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:57 PM
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Well, maybe two if they're right there together.

"there/their/they're" is one of those words where repeating it over and over and over again starts to make the phonemes sound frightfully queer.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:59 PM
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234.1: Literally true! In both of the cases mentioned (security called about a fit over a lesson on black masculinity, formal complaints filed about prison rape), the instructors were people who, in my personal opinion, are a bit too high strung and defensive in ways that do tend to trigger this kind of behavior. There is a real tug-of-war between trying to decide whether these are special needs that need formal institutional accommodation or if it should be decided that the professor is doing something actually wrong in presenting material that upsets students. I've had students come to me and say, hey, incest rape is a bit of a thing for me; can you give a shout if that's going to come up in the reading for the next day? And I'm like, sure thing. That is a thing I can do. The student still does the reading, but wants to be alerted so as not to be reading in public in case it's upsetting. Cool. But students who find the whole process of learning pretty basic stuff about their own area of study to be traumatic, scarring, tantamount to publicly being actually raped--that's something I don't think I ever encountered as a student and am now regularly hearing my colleagues be accused of. (I've been yelled at to my face to this effect, but no charges were brought against me because I went to admin with my concerns first.) OTOH, I am aware that some of my colleagues actually do use course material to traumatize students on purpose, and talk about it that way. They're going to shock them out of some imagined state of complacency or dogmatic slumber using this here holocaust snuff film, etc.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 9:59 PM
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(I.e., my life here has been wading through a fetid cesspool of rage and resentment, punctuated by getting to read some really nice earnest papers.)


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:02 PM
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As my advisor liked to say: "Everything basically comes down to who we fuck and who fucks us."


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:04 PM
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Relevant to OP?


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:13 PM
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I must say, this thread has instilled in me a deep and abiding desire to prevent my children from studying the humanities.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 10:40 PM
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253. Or at least to make sure they study them at some very conservative and old fashioned place where this kind of thing is unthinkable.
249. last is grotesque - students are not well served by deliberately tormenting them in furtherance of some peculiar political agenda of one's own.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:07 PM
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I remember during TA "training" - or something like that - one of the professors who came in to talk about pedagogical approaches held the view that it was their duty to shock their students and challenge their worldviews. I don't think the professor explicitly talked about offending students on purpose, or called them complacent, but I definitely got the sense they meant "challenge" in that sense, rather than just being challenging in the sense of asking them to do things that require effort. Anyway, it came off sounding smug and condescending. I came away thinking I was glad that I was a grad student who'd never take that class.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:18 PM
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Yeah, I've especially encountered it from people who hate religion. When that stupid "God Is Not Dead" movie came out, I was scoffing that any professor would sacrifice so much valuable pedagogical time to do something as irrelevant as trying to get students to denounce religion, but on second thought, yeah, I can name about 20 different professors (not all at WCU) who do that kind of shit. I've been asked whether I think it's even worth recommending this student for grad school because come on no one should ever take someone from her religion seriously in this field (with no actual complaints about the student showing an inability to do great work). Academia is sort of the worst.

But also the best! When we do what we do well, it's great, and I learn alongside them and all that. I just hate that, just like campuses are not "safe spaces" free of rape, they are also not "safe spaces" free of national/gender/racial/religious/sexual/ability/class/etc. discrimination, for students or (perhaps especially) for professors.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-22-15 11:27 PM
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I sometimes wonder reading these descriptions if US undergraduates are, literally, members of the same species. It's more alien than reading about, say, first-contact hunter-gatherers.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 2:19 AM
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I hereby fully endorse 257. Perhaps at less isolated institutions they approximate more closely to the human condition. For her sake I hope that's true of AWB's new place (Coywolf U.?)


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:57 AM
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Maybe AWB is the only human being left on campus. The rest of them are all pod people trying their best to blend into humanity and, thanks to her superhuman tolerance of their weirdness, convinced they are doing an awesome job. ("We've totally fooled her, guys! Well done! High five! ")


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:05 AM
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LOOK PROFESSOR HUMAN PERSON WE ARE HUMAN TOO. LETS WEEP AND TALK ABOUT OURSELVES AS HUMANS DO.
-- WE HAVE INTERCEPTED YOUR DAYTIME CHAT SHOWS AND UNDERSTAND YOUR CULTURE PRRFECTLY.
-- UNDERGRADUATE KODOS IS OFFENDING ME. I WILL DISPLAY APPROPRIATE HUMAN EMOTION.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:08 AM
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I'd totally take one of AWBs classes. Probably bawl too, just to fit in. I can do a pretty good cry on command, so it shouldn't be difficult.

I'm not quite as surprised as most seem to be at the tales AWB is telling. I knew people that naive and delicate as an undergrad. Nobody I can think of retained that delicacy through senior year, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:29 AM
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260 reminds me of the episode of Futurama where earth is visited by a race of aliens whose only knowledge of humans comes from intercepted transmissions of Ally McBeal.

I interact with undergraduates to a limited degree (mainly students who want to do research projects), but none of them have resembled the pod people described by AWB. I don't think this is related any any bogus science vs humanities stereotype...maybe it's because both campuses at which I've been a faculty member are located in large cities? I don't know.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:39 AM
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Oh I'd take one of AWB's classes in a heartbeat. But I think I'd find my fellow students, if they weren't all the commenters who have signed up above, frankly alarming.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:49 AM
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My academic background is humanities -- both lit, and philosophy -- but I've taught science students, too.* I don't think I've met a single person who even remotely resembles that description.**


* philosophy of science for scientists stuff.
** not meant to cast aspersions on the accuracy of AWB's characterisation. I expect northern Knifecrimea, and Oxford are not good proxies for undergraduate America.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:49 AM
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My personal gripe about the white liberal interpretation of racial diversity is that it often boils down to sympathizing with other races when they can be viewed as victims of oppression, and having no interest otherwise.

I know I've said this before, but I think one thing that helps in talking to kids is to focus on people of color as agents in their own history. Most Jewish families I know don't initially talk to their children about the Holocaust as just something horrible that was done to Jews but something horrible that Jews resisted and survived to the extent they were able. So slavery can be described similarly rather than as something white people did to black people and then stopped doing to black people. In my experience, kids get plenty of the idea of basic historical oppression in school. What they need is the other side of the story, the parts that are about survival and celebration. (And now I'm sad about Mother Emanuel again and I'll stop for now, with the additional side note that I'm sorry I stopped at talking black/white again because many of my non-white friends are also non-black and I think my efforts to help the girls be sensitive to and open to their friends who are also "people who got brown skin" as Mara would say but aren't black are similar to what heebie's talking about. But first I'll just sit here a while.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:53 AM
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--WE HAVE MADE YOU PORNOGRAPHIC MOVIE IN TOKEN OF APPRECIATION.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:56 AM
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SMOOTH MOVE FELLOW HUMAN UNDERGRADUATE. THE LADIES TOTALLY LOVE THAT.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 5:28 AM
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Right, so action plan is:
togolosh and chris y to sign up for AWB's classes to add an element of sanity;
ttaM to watch carefully from some sort of hide or duck blind with a view to using his philosophical skills to determine whether the other students are conscious humans, aliens, p-zombies, zimboes, Chinese rooms, brains in vats or what;
LB to accompany ttaM in close protection role in case students work out what is going on;
issue identified by Thorn in 265 to be addressed by compulsory viewing for all students of Colonel Tye biopic scripted by Natilo, to be followed by Halfordismo consciousness-raising session;
AWB to take advantage of distraction caused by all this nonsense to escape town and never return.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 5:41 AM
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Having gone to a flagship state university (and a third tier SLAC for one semester) I know the kind of people AWB is talking about, but I only ever experienced a preponderance of them in certain theory-heavy upper division courses. I think your average US undergraduate is still the undifferentiated bro or bro-ette with very little in the way of political opinions of any sort. Certainly, it does seem like in the last few years people are significantly more willing to make obvious and overbearing appeals for sympathy, but that seems more like a socio-emotional norm shifting rather than anything conscious around "victimhood" or whatever.

Having known quite a few alumni of AWB's school, my sense is that there is quite a lot of privilege there, and much of it likely unexamined until matriculation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 5:42 AM
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I sometimes wonder reading these descriptions if US undergraduates are, literally, members of the same species. It's more alien than reading about, say, first-contact hunter-gatherers.

As you might expect, my students at Last Chance Community College aren't much like AWB's students either, if only because most of them don't need to learn in the classroom what it is like being poor.

But then again, my students at Stuffwhitepeople Like University weren't entirely like AWB's students either, even though they came from a similar background. They were students coming from a privileged background and often learning about the hardships in others lives for the first time. More than a few get deliberately politically radicalized by the faculty. But this process did not involve, to my knowledge, tears or protests that exposure to such things is traumatizing.

Some of this might be that I don't really come off as the kind of professor whose office you cry in. It may also be that students from this background have just gotten more sensitive in the last half dozen years.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 5:44 AM
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249: All of that is very disturbing. And the whole "So-and-So is having a freak-out to the extent that we need to call campus security" business can't be good for the other students, or good for their relationship with So-and-So.

What I hope is that this is some kind of transitional moment for studenthood, where what's happening is that students are quite rightly starting to feel that it's okay to complain when professors are creepy/abusive/choose offensive material and handle it poorly but there is no real norm for how to consider carefully these questions of injury and emotion.

I keep trying to think about all of this, because I'm sure it's going to come up in one form or another in my reading group/class thing. Since mine is, of course, much more informal (and of course, even if you've been doing it for a few years, a weekly event just doesn't give you that much teaching experience, especially if you're never re-doing the same material).

For my particular group, I think it seems clear that I need to structure our readings more carefully and conduct a discussion about the general issues in play before we even begin reading. I think this will be helpful in general, because we also encounter perfectly legitimate stuff, as when we're reading seventies feminist SF (like The Female Man, which is a terrific experimental novel and very funny) which contains stuff that is at best really trans-ignorant (like The Female Man, which has a section that...is a problem. It's not meant to be about trans women and Russ later apologized for writing it in an unclear way, but to contemporary readers it is very difficult not to read it as 'I am talking about trans women, who are really men in dresses because patriarchy'). Not only is this unappealing on the face of it, but there are a couple of out trans women SF fans who participate, and it's legit to try to talk through how we're going to deal with this kind of material.

(Funnily, I remember that my very, very favorite professor ever - now tenured somewhere in the Great American West, then on a two-year hitch at my midwestern SLAC - got huge and upsetting pushback because she was teaching a class on some kind of science history thing and she had the students read part of Moby Dick as a way of talking about race and transatlantic cultures. This was right around the time that The Black Atlantic came out, and that came into things too. It was my senior year and we'd progressed to being friends in a mentor/mentee way and she asked me what I thought about the students' complaints and if I thought her lesson plan sounded appropriate. This prompted me to read Moby Dick and The Black Atlantic, both of which were really educational for me. But anyway, the students felt that talking about racism in a history of science class was not appropriate, and Moby Dick was also too difficult. They were bad people who are no doubt all the most unsavory kinds of investment banker now.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 6:54 AM
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My students are not like AWB's either, but it's a very different demographic. More privileged than Rob's students, but some intersection.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 6:58 AM
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But hey, back to 229: Does a student need to send in all prior transcripts, if one of them costs $1K to settle and is really bad anyway?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:29 AM
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Don't listen to me, because I know nothing, but I'd want to know how topical it was. Like, is it a really bad first attempt at a degree that later went better, or is it a failed art history degree for someone who's now applying to chemistry grad school? I'd feel sketchy about omitting the first, unbothered about the second.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:34 AM
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The student should offer ten cents on the dollar to get the transcript.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:36 AM
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234.last: Do you know why they hate each other? Is it that they're trying to occupy the same position in the discussion group (eg, person who is eager to contribute deep, meaningful thoughts) and they step on each others' toes? Did they know each other outside of your group and have a problem that predates the group? I think the why is important. If it's jockeying for position, you can probably do more to ameliorate that as a leader. If they just hate each other because someone slept with someone's girlfriend five years ago, I think telling them each to behave professionally, neutral expression when the other speaks, do not directly engage, is probably the best you can do. (Under-the-breath comments and eyerolling must make other people in the class uncomfortable, so you can frame it like that. It must make others wonder whether they'll get a similarly hostile response.) Surely they can manage to be polite for a couple of hours a week, and a reasonable effort should at least lower the levels of outright hostility.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:39 AM
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It's a student who had major maturation issues who was trying to go straight to grad classes at a local university and bombed the semester. Since then, he's waited a few years and gotten married and is possibly more ready to deal with authority figures. It doesn't reflect his ability to grasp the material, but it does reflect his past difficulties with authority. But his undergrad transcript also has PLENTY of evidence of that, so it's not something the admissions committee will be unaware of.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:41 AM
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273: I have no idea, really (would they be caught out somehow by a simple Google search or a chat with an advisor?), but it seems ethically fine to omit that transcript, even if it is in the same field. I think the "non-degree-seeking" matters a bit, too. I mean, if I started taking German at a local CC for fun and then applied to med school, I wouldn't feel at all like I should include that transcript.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:43 AM
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Also - and I'd take advice from anyone - what do you do when faced with two students who hate each other? Like, who spar and make petty remarks? I have such kind of situation - each one is bright and interesting but man do they bring out the worst in each other - and I am just at a loss.

I've had this! But I don't know if my advice will translate. If the students are sabotaging things whenever they're able to interact, I switch to small group work and make sure they're in separate groups. (I do a ton of small group work anyway. Not projects, but more wrestle-with-this-concept in a small group during class.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:43 AM
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A good friend of mine teaches a specific subgenre of writing* at a tiny liberal arts school here in the mid-sized city, and while she hasn't reported any of this emotion (it's not a deeply emotional topic, although it is one we here spend a lot of time on), she does marvel and occasionally rant at just how delicate these Kids These Days are. AB teaches at the largest U in town, and there's little to no in-class drama, but the outside of class stuff, and the student requests for accommodation, are pretty breathtaking.

There are times when I fear that the reason societies always seem to regress toward authoritarian, majoritarian intolerance isn't that, when shit breaks down (and shit always breaks down eventually), that's who wins, but that the tools that enable egalitarian, tolerant conditions are also the tools that lead to, not exactly breaking society, but fraying it in some way.

Apropos of this discussion, I'm thinking: we were tougher than this because nobody would put up with this kind of crap; but that also meant that people with needs were ignored/dismissed. So the price of people with needs being properly handled seems to be that people with no needs think that they need to be coddled. It shouldn't have to be true, but it sure seems like it might be.

*naming it would be too identifying; it's a small and newly academicized genre


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:48 AM
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268 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:50 AM
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268 gets it exactly right.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:50 AM
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277: Straight to grad classes from high school? Or from undergrad? My answer's still the same, but it seems like more of a risk for himto omit it in the latter case. That sounds like he might have been a pretty memorable student, and if someone at his new programs learns about that omission, I'd think he might be risking dismissal unless he's charmed everyone important in the new program.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:52 AM
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From undergrad. And there is no way he will charm everyone. Ok, I'll recommend that he send it in.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 7:54 AM
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284: Probably smarter for him to be covered. I know a bunch of people who've dropped out of grad school after a semester who'd never be discussed between professors, but he sounds like the kind of guy who might come up in conversation.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:00 AM
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280.1: Professor of blog commenting?



Posted by: unimaginative | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:02 AM
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On AWB's students -- I wonder if they've somehow picked up a sense that a performance of being wildly personally affected by the material is something that they're sort of supposed to be doing, academically? That unless they're weeping and protesting, they're not really 'getting it'? I don't mean that the fragility and upset is exactly insincere, but that they've created or picked up a norm somehow that in this kind of class, they're supposed to perform their feelings as powerfully as possible?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:03 AM
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286: They keep rejecting my grant proposals.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:07 AM
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276, 279: They hate each other, truth be told, because each one is oblivious to the ways in which they are rude and very sensitive to the ways in which the other person is rude. One is given to terrible attacks of the frankies ("I know I've read more theory than others in this group [which is true] so I know that I'm more familiar with this particular critical vocabulary") and a lot more vigorous cut and thrust of academic debate than is appropriate in an amateur reading group where most people haven't read, like, Agamben. One is prone to leading with all the things they hate about the reading for the week, articulated in very strong, sarcastic terms; they also feel that being familiar with the author's rhetoric isn't important, so that if we're reading a non-US author, etc, we should start from the same place that we'd start from in reading someone from, like, the American Midwest. Both come from social circles where their behavior is totally okay, but the other's is not. Each sees themself as behaving totally reasonably while the other one is rude, mean, etc.

I wish they'd both adhere to group norms a little bit more, but both are from very unusual - but very different! raised by wolves versus raised by large aggressive birds, maybe - social backgrounds where they haven't had much experience with ordinary bourgeois behavioral stuff.

I like them both and although their in-class behavior bugs me, I've been dealing with it by moving the class along whenever someone starts acting up. But at this point, each is so sick of the other that this isn't working.

I'm thinking that we should take a break as a group and return with a tightly structured syllabus and lots of small group work.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:08 AM
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229, 277. I can't advise you on what your student should do. But that sounds very much like my situation. Plus a couple of decades so standards of scrutiny may have changed.
Since I didn't get a degree from either 1.) The college I got a 0.0 in right out of high school, or 2.) The community college where I had a spotty on again off again record in subsequent years and whose completed credits transferred to the university where I eventually got my bachelor's, I just ignored the "all transcripts required" request and provided transcripts for the schools I where I had. I've since completed several graduate degrees and applied for jobs doing this and no one has ever asked me for my community college or first college transcripts.


Posted by: President Blutarsky | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:09 AM
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a specific subgenre of writing ... a small and newly academicized genre ... one we here spend a lot of time on

It's about time that deliberately misinterpreting someone in order to make a joke gets the recognition it deserves.


Posted by: Todd | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:10 AM
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290: I personally wouldn't pay $1,000 for a transcript of a class I never finished.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:17 AM
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I you apply for a federal job or clearance, you better mention that you went there. Because they will toss you over for that. But I don't know if they would demand the transcript.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:19 AM
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Well, Moby hasn't announced his change of (official) field, so I didn't want to steal his thunder...


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:20 AM
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293 Maybe best to follow ydnew's advice then.


Posted by: President Blutarsky | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:21 AM
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287: This sounds right to me. Or at least, the kind of people I know who would act this way would be doing it from that semi-conscious motive - the idea that if you're not strongly moved and upset by these terrible things, then you are a bad person. I dimly remember when I was an undergrad feeling sort of worried by situations where we would watch something very serious (all of Shoah, for instance) and being unable to react as strongly as I felt the material warranted. I do remember pushing myself to feel when I didn't. (In retrospect, I got a lot out of watching Shoah and I don't think that weeping and flailing are necessarily the reactions it's trying to elicit, but when I was twenty I didn't know how to think that through.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:21 AM
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294: Will work for grant funding or consulting fee.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:24 AM
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287,296: This seems to mirror what goes on in various online progressive spaces, where everyone seems to be frantically performing outrage for each other. I wonder in which direction the main current of influence goes; online --> real life, or the other way around?


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:26 AM
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You can diffuse it with puns online, but not IRL. You can't diffuse anything with puns IRL because people can hit you.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:28 AM
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Is it possible for this guy to explain the situation to the appropriate person in the department(s) he's applying to, and see if they really insist on him spending this kind of money on something that adds little if any information? Maybe they won't care, or maybe they'll accept some kind of unofficial record? I'd certainly do that before just writing a check. But I would definitely want to disclose in some fashion. Probably professional paranoia but I'd be nervous about the small but high-consequence possibility that somewhere down the road someone would get the idea that I'd engaged in a material misrepresentation of my academic record and potentially unwind everything I'd done in the meantime.

Speaking of which, NMM to Michael LaCour's job at Princeton.


Posted by: potchkeh | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:28 AM
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I like the question posed in 187 too, whether what's on display is a style of learning/reacting.

I think LK's 143 was getting at something along the same lines. concerning the premium placed on the personal reaction. It's not the only way, and may not often be the best way to engage.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:35 AM
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298: Which makes me wonder if a way to approach this - if the particular group of students seems to be reacting this way, and if they seem like a group which would be amenable to the discussion - would be to talk, maybe in small groups and then as a class, about the range of reactions that people might have. You could try to elicit something from them to the effect that you don't need to weep and tremble in order to be deeply moved by something, and that you can't always understand how others are reacting to something through what they say in the moment. It might also be worthwhile to elicit some stuff about how We Are Allowed Openly To Have Different Politics From Each Other, and how this differs from being dismissive of the material.

It would be interesting to see if giving "permission" to react in a measured way would help. Or maybe do a short in-class reading of one of those blog posts that are all "don't make it all about you white people, stop crying all over the place".

Although this would not deal with the students at the College of AWB who can't seem to handle empathizing with men of color. (Which is still, even after a good night's sleep, a total WTF thing for me.)


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:36 AM
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The more I think about this, the more I wonder if our students are just confusing ethics for morals. I'm trying to talk about human rights as ethics, in the sense that we need to establish common principles that should not be violated even in the case that we don't *feel* particularly sympathetic to the person (because of prejudice, or even because they're an asshole or did something terrible). I have said many times, I don't just want human rights for cute funny smart charming people. I want them for terrorists and dickheads too. If we really want to ever mean something like "rights," then they can't be based on how I subjectively feel about the person.

But for them, demonstrating moral sentiment is what they base their entire community here on. This person wasn't angry enough, or that person was too smug, or you didn't cry when I said the kale wasn't locally sourced. They're like the fucking Gestapo of moral sentiment.

I don't know if that's a distinction they were willing to accept from me. I have really moved away from moral thinking over the past few years, and this white-liberal-tears thing is a big part of it.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:37 AM
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302.last: I have never encountered that problem personally, but it's a big one for friends in social sciences. I have a hard enough time trying to get straight white women to stop coming into my office to tell me all about this project they just thought of in which they're going to prove that porn is like really really violent and bad because, you see, it objectifies women. (These aren't my students. Other profs send them to me because they don't want to talk about it.) So I ask them what porn they're watching, and they say none. I ask what period or genre of porn they're interested in studying, and they say none, or all of it, or "mainstream," or "I don't know." I ask them if what they're saying applies to gay/trans/lesbian porn, and they say of course not--those are always fine. They just came to me thinking I'd rage out with them at the concept of something they know absolutely nothing about. So I say it's complicated and I send them a few essays and accounts of people's careers in porn and the often-conflicted feelings they have about what they do, and they never speak to me again. They wanted to have a ragey feeling, and use academic work to make themselves feel validated in being outraged!


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:43 AM
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It's funny (and not at all an original observation) how much this sort of behavior looks like displaced religious instincts. The students are guilty of Original Sin (white, privileged, & etc.) and they're engaged in this sort of anxious Calvinist quest for outward signs that they are among the saved.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:46 AM
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305 is probably on to something. I saw none of this stuff at college, but most of the people I was in school with were practicing Christians (though often barely) or had been until their parents dropped them at the dorm.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:50 AM
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305: Absolutely correct. They would be horrified by the comparison, but it's dead-on.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:51 AM
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It's funny (and not at all an original observation) how much this sort of behavior looks like displaced religious instincts.

I was tempted to say something similar, although in a slightly different direction, social rather than individual. To me, as a total outsider to both phenomena, what AWB's describing sounds a lot like socially-mediated and encouraged ecstatic religious experience, speaking in tongues, for instance. Something that makes sense only in the context of particular communities.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:53 AM
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Well that converged rapidly!


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:54 AM
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But anyway, since I have no experience with either situation, and it was an analogy, and I have 3 hours of work to do in a half hour, I ban myself.


Posted by: x.trapnel | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:55 AM
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305:

While ordinarily I bristle at references to Calvinism and religious instincts, because even when associated with the cultural habits in question the actual religious thinking has nothing to do with it, I think you're on to something here.

It reminds me of Christopher Lasch's portrait of Jane Addams in college, in a midwestern SLAC a hundred and fifty years ago, where her moral intensity, closely shared by her friend and longtime collaborator, was strikingly similar to some of what we've been describing.

Now Addams was a remarkable and effective person, and Lasch clearly admires her deeply. She comes off best among all the progressive-era intellectuals he surveyed. But he also felt that the tension between her vitiated understanding of the religious heritage which formed her attitudes, and the intensity of those moral impulses in her caused her endless, unnecessary grief.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 8:56 AM
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I don't think I know any actual Calvinists.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:06 AM
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I think the general "this is the expected reaction and not doing it shows that they aren't really getting it" (287, 296, etc.) suggestion is dead on. I also suspect that if you're teaching classes in a department/area (or on a topic strongly related to one) where a lot of the professors see themselves as moral missionaries bringing enlightenment the savage white privileges* that's probably going to be something that really is expected and potentially required of them in those courses. So showing up reading to do it probably isn't that strange, and I wouldn't be surprised if they would be stoic analysts resigned to the bitter sadness of the human condition in other contexts.

*Oh my god did I ever hate these professors in college, hate hate hated them. It took me years to realize that I genuinely was interested focusing on ethics after my undergraduate experience with this nonsense.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:07 AM
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I hated them too, MHPH. The idea that I'd be evaluated based on my feelings rather than the quality of my work made me (and makes me) insane. There are ways this persists in literary studies, in that one is expected, as a woman, to have certain feelings about certain novels and not others, and trying to buy off by pleading working-class-queer doesn't seem to help because IT'S UNIVERSAL.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:11 AM
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312: I feel like a Calvin and Hobbes joke is appropriate here, but I'm coming up empty.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:12 AM
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I'm feeling better now about how big of a flippant asshole I was in my undergraduate English classes. I still feel a bit bad about the time I gave a speech on the history of bourbon whiskey right after another guy gave a speech about the pain of growing up as the child of an alcoholic. Not that I had any way of knowing what the other speeches were going to be. Also, I feel a bit bad that when asked to make a guess as to the gender of the author of a certain short story, I said that I knew it was a woman because there was too much about feelings in it. That one was sexist and I apologized for it, but that kind of thing really does remove the risk that anybody would ever try to confide in me or expect me to have the proper emotions.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:18 AM
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As much as all this Calvinism-whatever in the classroom isn't productive, I would be interested in how to talk about Not Gratuitously Hurting People's Feelings In Class. Surely there's some kind of middle ground between "we all have to perform penitent privilegedness" and "I don't have to think about the wellbeing of my fellow students before I break out with the 'but what if trans women really are just men in dresses'" or whatever.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:21 AM
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Good Lord, I hope this doesn't become the thread wherein we confess our [academic] undergraduate sins.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:22 AM
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You can do that or post your SAT scores.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:25 AM
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I'm still harboring resentment about having been told to stop being so mean to a classmate in a sociology class. She had just said that she was a Catholic, but believed all religions were equally true, and started asking about whether she believed in the Olympian gods in the same way she believed in the Christian god.

In retrospect, I suppose I was being a huge asshole. But it still seems like a legit question.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:25 AM
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You should have asked about Xenu or whatever Tom Cruise does.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:27 AM
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311: "smothered and sickened with advantages"


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:32 AM
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317: I guess it isn't clear to me why having professional/academic ethics isn't an option. I've brought this up with colleagues and students many times, partially in response to the Kipnis article. Can we just say that there are only a few things we as a community have decided to do or not do, and we will do or not do them no matter if we're feeling really irritable today, or really horny, or whatever? My colleagues who sleep with students always have some story about how, well, you see, in this particular very special case, I really felt like this student was very sexually attractive to me very much. Or students have said they said that really assholish transphobic thing because that transguy in class was just really getting on their nerves. Moral feeling is swayed by all kinds of momentary swells of hormones or projections from past traumas. I'm more likely to set up a really clear set of expectations, at least in my classroom, that there's shit you shouldn't do because we've decided we don't want to be in a community that does those things, even if you really really feel like it.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:33 AM
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I still feel a bit bad about the time I gave a speech on the history of bourbon whiskey right after another guy gave a speech about the pain of growing up as the child of an alcoholic.

This is hilarious. Would it have been worse if you'd gone first?


Posted by: ajay> | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:34 AM
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AWB, I've taught lit most years since 1990 at five very different five North American institutions--but none of them were small pricy liberal arts colleges. (One Ivy.) I've taught plenty of shocking material. I've had NOTHING like your experiences; the most dramatic things that I've been involved in would be too dull to type here.

I'm not gonna say "It's you!" Obviously gender presentation affects this stuff (& I've felt my white guy image functions as some kind of active classroom emotion suppressant)--but I think this is a very specific genre of privileged lefty white kids you're seeing.



Posted by: dammit jim I'm a lurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:34 AM
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Wasn't performing sensitivity itself a characteristic of the period that AWB teaches? (Or a nearby period?) It's probably giving the students the wrong kind of credit if they're adopting that instead of just realizing it. Or maybe there's something interesting to write about the pendulum swinging back in that direction.


Posted by: Nathan Williams | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:36 AM
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Good Lord, I hope this doesn't become the thread wherein we confess our [academic] undergraduate sins.

I never wrote the final paper for a graduate-level class I wasn't really qualified to take, "Resemblance and Family Resemblance". It was kind of a mess of a class, though, AND one of the professors (it was taught by two) never returned my copy of SICP, which I'd leant him because of the composite photograph of the authors (one of the parts of the class was on Galton).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:36 AM
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specific genre of privileged lefty white kids you're seeing

I have never denied it. When I was looking at colleges, I considered this one for a hot second before realizing that anyone who would go to a school like this would be both incredibly self-righteous and also terrified of the real world.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:37 AM
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326: Sure. Moral sentiment is like the whole thing. But they do the emotional freakout a lot less in my class than in their social science classes.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:39 AM
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328: idp's offspring and several others excluded, of course.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:40 AM
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Oh, speaking of weeping and flailing: "Housekeeping is the type of novel that I sometimes teach simply by having my students incant the language aloud. When we do so, we often cry, together, inevitably under the fluorescent lights in a bleak seminar room."

It was at roughly that point in the review that I stopped reading, on the grounds that there is an unbridgeable aesthetic gulf between me and anyone who would submit those sentences to be read by other people in an ostensibly serious essay.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:40 AM
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305 -- don't blame the Calvinists, this wailing and crying and moral performativity is some kind of Baptist something.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:41 AM
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There are so many reasons I like teaching math.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:42 AM
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I have known Baptists, but I've never had one for a close friend or colleague.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:46 AM
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I wish the author of the bit linked to in 331 had included more detail about the crying. Was it from the emotionally affecting beauty of the book, or from the excruciating boredom of having to spend over an hour listening to people read aloud from a book that you probably already read? I assume the author thought it was the first, but honestly the second seems way more likely to me. After an hour or so of that I'd probably be at the level of hysterical boredom where any emotional reaction whatsoever would be a relief. Also apparently she should open the windows in her seminar room or go outside or something. The things don't have to be dungeons.


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:46 AM
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331--holy shit. Had a Jonathan Franzen character said such a thing, I would have called it too on-the-nose...


Posted by: dammit jim I'm a lurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:47 AM
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I am Baptist. My students are completely ignorant of religion, with a couple of Catholic and Muslim exceptions. The rest are just culturally midwestern-protestant without knowing it. It's like if you were culturally Jewish, but with zero awareness of Jewish history or religion.


Posted by: AWB | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:48 AM
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I would like to thank the French government for providing the old-fashioned, emotionally suppressed education my child has greatly enjoyed these past 9 years, please don't change for the next four, thanks. Also will continue to take the line with child that the default position is against all private higher education and if he wants that he'll have to make a very strong argument to overcome parental antipathy.

Whatever gave rise to the Salem witch trials has come to mind.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:48 AM
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Actually, we had quite nice seminar rooms. Most of them had plenty of natural light in addition to the fluorescents.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:49 AM
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I mean, would Jean Calvin or John Knox have put up with tears in the seminar room? Fuck to the no.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:54 AM
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What is the "inevitably" doing there, I wonder?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:54 AM
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listening to people read aloud from a book

Please. Incanting form a book.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:55 AM
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Introducing a subordinate clause.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:55 AM
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I was talking with them this morning&mdas;my son and his roommate are leaving today for a summer job they both have—and without mentioning this discussion, which I consider confidential, was trying to get their explanation for what separates their friends from the sorts described here.

They think of it as just affinity, because some of their friends do come from all-white backgrounds and have had to overcome awkwardness and inhibitions because of it.

I've noticed other patterns, though. Nearly all of my son's friends are in important ways self-motivated. They either have no home support of the helicopter kind, or they took charge of their college choices in a decisive way. A surprising number are not UMC, the others have enjoyed substantial autonomy in their lives, and tend to do things their own way.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:56 AM
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I mean, would Jean Calvin or John Knox have put up with tears in the seminar room? Fuck to the no.

But Jean-Jacques Rousseau would have loved it, and he was born in Geneva. So there's your connection.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 9:59 AM
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Seriously, though, this sort of (almost) mute testimony to the aesthetic is what lit classrooms are supposed to be FOR. "Inevitably" lets the reader know that literary academics don't need more money or better working conditions, indeed there's no politics, because aesthetic transcendence!


Posted by: dammit jim I'm a lurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:05 AM
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I've felt my white guy image functions as some kind of active classroom emotion suppressant

Easy solution then. AWB just needs to wear a false beard.

this sort of (almost) mute testimony to the aesthetic is what lit classrooms are supposed to be FOR.

In an unlit classroom it's too dark to read.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:09 AM
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Also, call me old fashioned, but I thought that the whole point of discussing difficult topics in a social science or humanities (or, for that matter, law school) setting was to learn to do talk about difficult subjects in a professional, "objective," rational way and to train your mind to separate out a reasoned response from an emotional one. I realize that there may be problems with having that emotional/professional distance be a pedagogical goal, and I don't think that alone justifies needlessly being a jerk but, while sitting around talking about how much we feeeel is powerful and can be instructive and is appropriate for some settings, like an AA meeting or a prayer group or a group therapy session, a University classroom doesn't really strike me as one of those places.


Posted by: Roberto Tigre | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:11 AM
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I find myself wondering if these theoretically UMC-and-helicoptered students may simply have no idea what emotional response is appropriate because they've always been in situations where someone basically made clear what the response should be.

Looking back on my own experience, which was not UMC but was pretty decisively parentally-controlled, I think that one reason I was sometimes pretty self-righteous in the classroom (although nothing like what AWB reports, just average bright-student obnoxiousness) was because I had a lot of trouble identifying my actual responses. My parents are really very good eggs and made a lot of sacrifices for their children's wellbeing, but they were very much of the "here is what you should feel in this situation, don't even think of evidencing any other feeling because other feelings are a moral failing" school. It took me many years (and therapy!) to be able to identify what I was feeling in any situation which had a moral dimension, because what I had grown up doing was determining what a good person would feel and then pushing myself to feel that as hard as I could. (Admittedly, this might even work if one had more than a teenager's understanding of what a good person might feel in a given situation.)

So anyway - these kids in the classroom, maybe they've just been brought up in such tightly controlled situations that they're not sure how to have a feeling and they overcorrect?


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:11 AM
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347-you outed AWB as white and you won't even use a name!?


Posted by: dammit jim I'm a lurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:11 AM
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"Inevitably" probably means "Keep reading! Class doesn't end until I see some tears!"


Posted by: MHPH | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:13 AM
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350: that was me and no I didn't, based on my lived experience* wearing a false beard codes as white.

*which is the only thing that counts STOP OPPRESSING ME (dissolves into tears)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:16 AM
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348--Try reading the second sentence of 346 again, as rationally as possible..


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:16 AM
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Also I would really hate it if I had to "incant" a novel in class until we all cried. I mean, that sounds kinky in a weird way and I could see someone being into it from some kind of BDSM-without-orgasm angle, but not for me thanks.

I took some literature classes but we just had nineties-style arguments about multiculturalism and the canon.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:17 AM
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350: Outed? Don't you know what AWB stands for?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:17 AM
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I think there was supposed to be a further comma after "inevitably", making the crying both communal and inevitable, when as written, the crying's location under fluorescents lights is what's being called inevitable. Maybe? I don't know. It's a disaster.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:17 AM
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Also I would really hate it if I had to "incant" a novel in class until we all cried

"The Code of the Woosters" would be a particularly tough one.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:18 AM
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That was before "the canon" came to mean "what Rowling wrote in the books."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:18 AM
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Also I would really hate it if I had to "incant" a novel in class until we all cried. I mean, that sounds kinky in a weird way and I could see someone being into it from some kind of BDSM-without-orgasm angle

Reading 50 Shades of Grey out loud until the entire class is in tears sounds like a risky move unless you have tenure. You'd probably end up in some sort of trouble with the administration.


Posted by: AcademicLurker | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:22 AM
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358: Moby, you are clearly not down with the gente, because "the canon" is the canon. What Rowling wrote in the books is just canon. "Headcanon" is where you believe that Ron Weasley is really a time-traveling Dumbledore or that Professor Sprout and Luna are totally doing it.


Posted by: Frowner | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:23 AM
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There was a period in or near 2005 when I really did believe that Ron Weasley is a time-traveling Dumbledore.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:26 AM
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We read good hunks of Le Malade Imaginaire aloud in an undergrad class and it was ridiculous fun. Most of my fellow students were pretty bad, monotonous monotone boooooring and inhibited because foreign tongue, but there were like 2 other hams and did we go to town! There might have been tears of helpless laughter ... We also read that Balzac novel with the incest AND the spontaneous combustion AND the hemophiliac kiddie bleeding to death in front of mute paralyzed granny. Balzac - value writer.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:26 AM
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363

And head-cannons are what we are all getting installed in the post-apocalyptic cyborg future.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:28 AM
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364

There's a review of 50 SOG read aloud on the LRB website by some dude with a (I suspect exaggerated for effect) Scottish accent that is hilarious. I kind of suspect I would find the dude annoying in other contexts but here it's perfect.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:29 AM
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365

It just fit so well.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:29 AM
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366

Found it!

http://www.lrb.co.uk/v34/n14/andrew-ohagan/travelling-southwards

Highly recommended.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:31 AM
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367

Didn't Bobcat Goldthwaite read parts aloud?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:31 AM
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368

Or ... a different comedian.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:31 AM
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369

I can't remember ever crying in class. Maybe if we were watching a movie?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:33 AM
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I knew you hated watching movies, heebie, but that seems kind of extreme!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:38 AM
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I cried when they shot Old Yeller. Or maybe that was during The Ghost and Mister Chicken. School movies kind of blur together in my mind.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:41 AM
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I cried when Charlotte died. But that was in 2nd grade.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:43 AM
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373

I just hate movies that are longer than 90 minutes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:43 AM
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374

373 is right.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:44 AM
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373: I don't get the hate. I just fall asleep. That's pleasant.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 10:46 AM
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In 8th grade we made fun of our (sweet, earnest, young) history teacher for crying when they whipped Kunta Kinte.

Eighth graders are assholes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 1:07 PM
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re: 364 / 366

What makes you think that's exaggerated? That's what I would think of as a fairly soft educated West Coast (of Scotland) accent. In the short excerpt I listened to, that's O'Hagan's normal voice.

My accent, or at least my original accent, is stronger.*

* and mine was always quite mild for where I'm from.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 1:18 PM
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It isn't the accent per se, it's the guy - strikes me as a bit of a chancer, but hey don't know him so probably unfair. And his review was funny! The interminable article he wrote about assange was also amusing to me but I suspect unintentionally so.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:13 PM
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"The time is now and the place is Vancouver, USA."

?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:35 PM
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We debated on Sunday morning whether the wet grinder sounds more like a maserati or a rolls royce, decided on RR. It purrs, rather than roars. Also purring effect currently heightened by increasing sounds of distress coming from the bench mixer, I'm virtually certain it won't survive cake madness.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:47 PM
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377/378: If it were exaggerated I'd expect a much higher and rounder vowel in his pronunciation of "fucking". Doesn't sound much different from what I'd hear from Scottish correspondents on BBC podcasts.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:52 PM
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We debated on Sunday morning whether the wet grinder sounds more like a maserati or a rolls royce, decided on RR. It purrs, rather than roars

TMI, lady.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 3:56 PM
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We had the idli last night and they were delicious.

I disclaim any knowledge whatsoever re Scottish accents! It was the dude, not the accent!


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:17 PM
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What kind of sandwich sounds like a car and why would you get it wet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:22 PM
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Because of all the sand which is there!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:33 PM
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Hey, speaking of linguistics, I was eavesdropping on two young men on the bus this morning. Apparently one of them had just been violated on his parole/probation, and was anticipating his court date and where he would be sent. He mentioned two prisons, both of which are minimum-to-medium security places, where nothing newsworthy ever happens, and he averred that at his preferred destination "they cook up every night." Ordinarily, I would interpret "to cook up" as referring to heroin, but I was thinking maybe he meant pruno or something, but you wouldn't really do that "every night". It was somewhat confusing.

Anyway, it was a hella depressing conversation.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:39 PM
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http://www.innoconcepts.com/grindplus.htm

It's for grinding rice and dal to make idli and dosa, and it has the most marvelous granite grinding hunks and a lovely powerful motor when it's on it feels like the house is going to take off. As opposed to my sad little 5 qt bench mixer sounds like someone should just put it out of its misery. A very generous person is going to lend me one of her 8 qt mixers, yay! And I've *almost* got the chocolate layer recipe where I want it, plus butter layer recipes have all been successfully scaled.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:44 PM
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Can one fit one's nose in?


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 4:48 PM
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A dosa? Yes, obvs.
An idli? They're light and fluffy when properly made, but no.
A wet grinder? Sure but be careful! Ouch!
A cake layer? See answer re idli above.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 5:38 PM
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I think Neb wanted to apply his nose to the grindstone


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06-23-15 11:08 PM
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326: late but fascinated... Are AWB's students Burnt Over, or affecting Greek haircuts and the German flute?


Posted by: clew | Link to this comment | 06-24-15 12:09 AM
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I'm surprised nobody has picked up on the point that AWB's students behave just like they do on Twitter.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 06-24-15 2:42 AM
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He'd be welcome if he'd apply his appetite to some cake. Thank god for the inexhaustible maw of the office break room.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 06-24-15 10:57 AM
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