6.6.12

PROFSCAM: THE SEQUEL.

From time to time, an author makes some money writing about Radical Occupation of the University, or Lazy Professors at the University, or Administrative Bloat at the University, or Sports Corrupts the University.  It's possible that a papyrus burned by Napoleon or by the Romans at Alexandria might have made similar complaints about Pharaoh's Intellectuals.

Charles Sykes's ProfScam might be the prototype for the current series of such books.  It happened to come out about the same time that Identity Politics captured some disciplines, and Quantity-Dominates-Quality became the model for research visibility among weaker departments, and Falling Test Scores became a public issue.  The country's sports mania did not yet have Michael Jordan or the 'Niners or a strong Wisconsin football team as further evidence of misplaced priorities, although a lady called Camilla Parker Bowles occasionally appeared in tabloids in association with the Prince of Wales.

Naomi Schafer Riley recently offered an entry in the series titled The Faculty Lounges.  The most telling observation I can make in Book Review No. 16 is that my copy has no marginal notes, and no page numbers noted on the flyleaf, both common Cold Spring Shops practices as the books pile up in advance of the reviews being posted.  (I learned some years ago that "where did I see that passage" was becoming an inefficient random-access algorithm.)  An observation at University Diaries is spot on with why that is the case.

There is one lesson Ms Riley might have learned subsequently about the value of academic tenure, one of the Abuses and Ufurpations of the Profefsoriate that she would like to end.  About a month ago, she said some unkind things about Area Studies on a Chronicle of Higher Education site, and the Chronicle of Higher Education ... let her go!

One learns, in the course of earning academic tenure, not to take criticisms of one's necessary and sufficient conditions as personal attacks, and how to couch criticisms of other peoples' necessary and sufficient conditions as Improvements in the State of The Art.  Then, upon earning tenure, one is able to be a bit more aggressive in the criticisms of other peoples' analyses.  The lesson is left to Ms Riley as an exercise.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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