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Clarissa's Blog

An academic's opinions on feminism, politics, literature, philosophy, teaching, academia, and a lot more.

Archive for the day “February 11, 2018”

Online College

Southern New Hampshire University has fired an online adjunct professor and apologized to an Idaho student after the professor gave the student a failing grade and insisted that Australia is not a country.

Maybe this will teach people not to waste time and money on online diploma mills.

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Book Notes: Fernando Aramburu’s Patria

This is the cutey-cute 650-page bestseller novel about Basque terrorism that I mentioned before and that I read twice in a row for work. Yes, the degree of tear-jerker sentimentality in the novel is through the roof. The happy ending is sugar meets artificial sweetener meets honey.

But hey, 27 editions in under 2 years, and there’s not a single sex scene or even a chaste love story in this doorstopper of a book. There’s got to be something to it if people are so eager to read it. I mean, I actually had trouble buying the book. Amazon regretfully had to inform me it wasn’t able to fulfill the order because it had run out of copies. This literally never happened before with a book I bought.

I’m going to write my next article about this novel. My best pieces have been about novels I don’t massively admire. Patria is not a great work of art but I enjoyed reading it and I do recommend because it’s a pleasant read and Aramburu is very good at holding the reader’s attention.

The Sunday Newspaper

I always wonder, when people tell these stories, do they invent them to make a point, or is this something that actually happens to them?

As the mother of a child in the French educational system, I was aware of how positive reinforcement and encouragement is frowned on in Europe. “Oh you Americans, always saying, ‘Good boy!’” one of my son’s teachers once told me. “We don’t believe in doing that.”

I can’t imagine anybody taking this tone with me. I just can’t. And they don’t. Even the notoriously rude Russian speakers choose not to engage.

If you see the linked article, though, there’s a valuable insight on how much easier mobility is in the US than in Europe.

Inconsistent

If anybody should be horrified at the idea of open borders, it’s academics in the Humanities. We all know people like my colleague from Peru I wrote about the other day. She teaches 10 courses per semester. Grades 400 essays. On her own. The essays are long and as poorly written as the ones we get from students here. Is there any doubt that for her teaching not 10 but 8 courses for the same salary would be an enormous improvement in labor conditions?

I’m driven nuts by folks who rant against the injustice of having to compete on the job market with candidates who have a PhD from an Ivy, an independent income, a supportive spouse, a helpful thesis director, etc. And in the same breath, these very folks loudly denounce the nation-state and call for open borders, which would mean that thousands of talented, hard-working colleagues from Peru and everywhere else would be on that same market immediately, willing joyfully to take on conditions of labor that none of the current contenders would be able to survive.

I mean, they are not insane, are they? They got to know that their position is total BS, right? There is nothing standing between them and the working conditions of my Peruvian colleague but the nation-state. And it’s obvious to anyone that capital would love to move us all towards the working conditions of Peru. And yet they wail, “bad nation-state, bad parade, bad wall.”

A famous academic in my field just released a book that very pompously argues that the nation-state model is garbage and to hell with it. And his is the accepted, the widely shared position. OK, so he’s unique, he won’t be substituted. But how about people who are not as special?

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