“But I Am Their Professor”

“I am not their therapist, not their parent, not their friend. . . . Why should I have to take on any responsibility for them?”

Higher Ed in 2037

Let us imagine, with puckish conjecture, ten items from the Mindset List for the class of 2037, students born in 2015. Will irreverent prognostication breed constructive gadflies?

1. College survey courses have always come through podcasts from five or six major universities.

2. There have always been departments of transhuman studies.

3. The replacement of human beings by computers and robots has made job prospects, even for college graduates, increasingly difficult.

Professor, Say Hi to the Devil!

One week before Christmas Day, my fall 2014 medieval literature class came to an end when the last student taking the final exam turned in her work. I handed back her semester literary analysis paper, graded, as I had previously done for all of my other students.

Apparently the student in question was unhappy with the grade on her literature term paper. After I wished her a happy holiday season, she told me, “Say hi to the devil!” and darted out the door.

Social Inequality and the Access Myth

In September 2015, President Obama said, “The students I hear from every day remind me that if we can come together around the idea that every American—no matter where they grew up or how much money their parents have—deserves a quality education and a shot at success, then we can build a future as remarkable as our past.”

What Shakespeare Says about Sending Our Children Off to College

Every fall, millions of parents send millions of children off to college for the first time, and those parents must find something ceremonious to say. What do we say to the sons and daughters we’ve been able to mold, mentor, guide, and indeed save (often from themselves) as they step out of our control and into a world that—quite frankly—they don’t understand, couldn’t possibly understand?

Letter to Ashley Dawson

We write to you in regards to the articles and responses that appeared online in JAF on the topic of the Academic Boycott of Israel. We want to thank JAF for publishing essays that engage the public debate on Israel in the US academy. Volume 4 (2013) of JAF and the controversy that it has produced confirm the importance of these matters to a growing number of professors and students. In an academic environment subject to increasing external financial and political influence that seeks to restrict academic freedom, the JAF articles on the academic boycott of Israel exemplify how “struggles for academic freedom must work in concert with the opposition to state violence, ideological surveillance, and the systematic devastation of everyday life” (Judith Butler, "Israel/Palestine and the Paradoxes of Academic Freedom," Radical Philosophy 135 (Jan/Feb 2006): 17.

Assessment as a Subversive Activity

The 2011 volume of the AAUP Journal of Academic Freedom contained two articles critical of “the relentlessly expanding assessment movement.” Accompanying these provocative essays was a challenge for someone “on the other side of [this] question” to answer these criticisms. The essays by John Champagne and John Powell are packed with “philosophical, political, and pedagogical” concerns about assessment.

Teaching in the Corporate University: Assessment as a Labor Issue

When, in response to a call for papers for the 2008 conference of the Modern Language Association, I began to formulate an argument concerning the relationship between assessment and the corporate university, I assumed that writing such an analysis would be (and I hope I will be forgiven this admittedly masculinist simile) like “shooting fish in a barrel.” My intention was in fact to concentrate on something less obvious: assessment as a labor issue, and the ways the drive toward assessment is both explicitly and implicitly an attack on academic freedom. Imagine my surprise, then, when I read the spring 2008 President’s Column of the MLA Newsletter, with its defense of assessment (Graff 2008).


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