In Review

Quiz 1: All of the Above

Question One: Which of the following is the most toxic values of the AIC? As the title of this review section (all of the above) suggests, all of the answers in this section are correct. However, the toxic value that has currently made it impossible extremely difficult for me to be in the academy is: B. More butts in seats + temporary hires – secure academic positions = Successful Institution.

Question Two: Besides Academic Industrial Complex, what does the AIC stand for? Again, all of these answers are correct. However, the one that resonates the most with me currently is: C. ASSHOLES IN CONVERSATION with each other. As you will read throughout my accounts, engaged, meaningful and respectful/caring conversations are central to my vision of how to be in the world (and in the academy). Assholes have a lot of difficulty participating in these types of conversations. They want to “win” the discussion, to prove that they have the answers or that you don’t (and are therefore inferior). They want to control the terms of the conversation: who gets to speak, when and how. Frequently, they want to prevent any conversation from happening in the first place; they don’t need to discuss ideas, because they already have all of the answers. I must also admit that currently, as I’m writing this explanation in February 2013, I’ve been thinking more about assholes. For Christmas, I got (but haven’t had the chance to read), Assholes: A Theory. And, I’ve been reading about asshole academics online, both at The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Thesis Whisperer.

Question Three: This is an academic book.
A. Yes. Even as I try to break away from academic methods and approaches, I’ve been too trained and disciplined as a student for 33 years to avoid them. My tone is academic and my approach is as a scholar critically analyzing and reflecting on my own texts.

B. No. I’m using too many “I” statements for an academic text. There are no footnotes and hardly any sources cited. Plus, I’ve failed to be objective.

C. Neither. What does that even mean? I encourage to reflect on the idea that this series of accounts is neither an academic book, or not an academic book. I like to think of it as a buddhist koan (an unanswerable question that encourages you to meditate, reflect and lose the desire even to find the answer to your question).

D. Both/and. Yes! This is the “correct” answer. Although, you will note that I’ve titled this review section, “All of the Above,” so all of the answers are correct (but not proper). One key value that was instilled in me as a student of feminist, queer, and critical race studies, was the idea of both/and, where binaries of this or that, yes or no, either/or, were rejected in favor of living with differences and contradictions. We don’t always need to choose between, we can imagine new ways of embracing and understanding both. In the case of this question, I imagine my book as both an academic book, because it draws upon my training and the insights I’ve developed as a student, and not an academic book, because it deliberately rejects and troubles academic methods and approaches.

Quiz 2: Are you a Philosophy Boy?

In this review, I decided to play around with my theories on the graduate student archetype: the philosophy boy. If you’re curious about how I rated on this test, let’s just say that I’m not, but I (almost) could be one…if I’m not careful.

Quiz 3: Should You Apply for this Job?

I wish that someone would have made me take this quiz before I applied for some (but not all) academic jobs. But, would I have taken it seriously? Probably not. I was so scared that I was only qualified to have an academic job that I was willing to apply for (almost, but not quite) any job for which I seemed qualified.

Quiz 4: Because!

The Question/Answer combo, Why? Because!, bothers me almost as much as the One Question/Multiple Possible Answers/Only One Correct Answer approach. Both types seem designed to discourage curiosity and openness to new ideas and ways of thinking.
In this Because! quiz, I decided to focus on questions that the AIC doesn’t want to answer because the answers are too damaging to their myths of meritocracy and the academy as a noble space for the free exchange of ideas.

Quiz 5: Academic Burn-out Test

This academic burnout test comes from PostAcademic and a 2006 New York Magazine article.