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What can a department do to support research?

Submitted by syntaxfactory on February 7, 2012 - 8:11pm

So my department is in the middle of its first ever external review. As part of the review, we are supposed to come up with a five-year plan. We have statements about wanting new hires, about reviewing graduate and undergraduate, major and non-major curricula. We have statements about wanting nicer machines and cooperating with assessment.

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The State of Things....


Submitted by John W. Pell on January 26, 2012 - 12:52pm

I write this post having just completed reading the transcript of The State of the Union Address and an assessment of undergraduate education, specifically writing instruction, sent to me by a colleague at another institution. In both texts I found an interesting refrain: teachers and teaching are crucial to student success, but evaluating successful teaching is best done by external entities, which more often than not, are unfamiliar with either the profession of teaching or the discipline of rhetoric and writing studies.

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Footnotes for the Illiterate

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 8, 2012 - 12:57am

Jameson on Mao:

"Mao Zedong himself drew back from the ultimate consequnces of the movement he had set in motion, when, at the supreme moment of the Cultural Revolution, that of the founding of the Shanghai Commune, he called a halt to the dissolution of the party apparatus and effectively reversed the direction of this collective experiment as a whole (with consequences only too obvious at the present time" Ideologies of Theory, 207-8.

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The Moral Stench of the MLA

Submitted by Jim Aune on January 7, 2012 - 10:57pm

The MLA just gave its lifetime achievement award to a man who defended Mao's murder of millions (forty? sixty? one loses count) in China, proclaimed Cuba as the "only liberated zone in the Western hemisphere" at the time that Castro was piling GLBT people into concentration camps, and praised Black September. Oh, and he also wrote that Heidegger's Nazism was "still preferable" to liberalism. Liberalism is looking pretty good right now. Too bad the MLA doesn't believe in the only ideology that has ever protected it.

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What a syllabus meant in 1909

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 30, 2011 - 1:36am

Here. And my vague remembrance of my classical studies is confirmed here.

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The History of the Syllabus?

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 29, 2011 - 10:42pm

I'm starting to work on the syllabus for my graduate course this spring. (Yeah, I'm on a one-one load, so shoot me.) I also have been reflecting on my own undergraduate and graduate experience. WE NEVER GOT SYLLABI. Well, Zarefsky had one, but, you know. We got a list of books on the first day, or found them at the bookstore beforehand. There was maybe a one-page handout listing assignments, but not always. We were never "assigned" readings. If a book was assigned, you read it, at some point before the end of the semester. None of this "is it on the test?" bullshit.

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Unhappiness with Professional Associations

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 29, 2011 - 3:27pm

Seems that a lot of philosophers are unhappy with the competence of the APA. It occurs to me that the leadership of RSA as long as I've belonged has been highly competent in the years I've belonged to it. I've never belonged to MLA (NCA is best not discussed), but I know many Blogora readers do. Are these problems just inherent in large associations or not? What's been your experience?

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Advice on Tenure


Submitted by syntaxfactory on December 29, 2011 - 1:27am

Getting Tenure at a University
Neal R. Wagner

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7 Years Ago on the Blogora

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 28, 2011 - 6:18pm

Via the internet wayback machine, one of my favorite threads of all time on the Blogora. Scroll down to the "first time" post.

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Extremism in Defense of Liberty

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 24, 2011 - 7:51pm

With homage to David Horowitz's insistence that we "follow the networks":

1. Manhattan Institute (a neocon thinktank) has a webpage devoted to trashing universities.

2. An article on the above webpage by one Robert Weissberg, emeritus political science professor at Illinois. Weissberg is a regular contributor to the website, as well as to

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