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CASLL-L  March 1998

CASLL-L March 1998

Subject:

a reality check

From:

Graham Smart <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

CASLL/Inkshed <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 19 Mar 1998 18:34:22 -0500

Content-Type:

TEXT/PLAIN

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

TEXT/PLAIN (51 lines)

Folks,

>But I would like to think that we publish, especially in composition, in
->order to communicate, in order to influence our colleagues, in order to
->improve the quality of knowledge and the teaching/learning for which our
->discipline exists.

I've been suppressing a reaction to Rick's comment since yesterday; my
reaction has to do with the question of just who the "we" are.

Before reading it I'd spent an hour and a half in a session for new
assistant professors in the School of Liberal Arts here at Purdue in which
the Dean sketched out the winding, and very uncertain road to tenure.  It
appeared to leave people more than a little shaken to hear that the
success rate for recent cohorts in the SLA is well under 60%.  This
followed on the heels of a similar meeting with the Head of the Department
of English in which he described the typical profile required to gain
tenure:  a single-authored book and 5 or 6 articles in major, refereed
journals as well as a good record of teaching supported by favorable
student evaluations and a reasonable dollop of service.

I don't really have any problem with all of that, in that the expectations
are clear and the demands are doable (I hope).  But I do have to say that,
with this recent experience in mind, when I read Rick's comment I had no
trouble whatsoever situating Rick's view as originating from somewhere on
far side (from where I'm standing) of the great tenureship divide.

All to say that I think that there are a number of "we"'s at play here.
I agree fully with Rick when he suggests that the joy of disciplinary
conversation is one of learning and getting better at what we do (and
that's probably what keeps us in the game).  At the same time, though, it
rubs me the wrong way (today at any rate) to be told that it's suspect to
find oneself concerned about the issue of publishing when I know that I've
got to show up at the tenuring gate in a few years with about 8.5 pounds
book and articles. (I sometimes worry that I'm becoming more strident and
abrasive since moving down here, though to be honest, since moving down
here, I find myself worrying about that kind of thing less.)

(Rick, I hope we have the chance to talk more about all this over a few
beers in the company of some good stolid Canadians, both tenured and non.
Graham.)






>But I would like to think that we publish, especially in composition, in
->order to communicate, in order to influence our colleagues, in order to
->improve the quality of knowledge and the teaching/learning for which our
->discipline exists.

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