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Saturday, 23 February 2008


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"I admire your candor!"

Really though, I do.

John Emerson

"It is not written deliberately—with the care a graduate student would write a seminar paper or a law student compose a sample brief—but in bursts of research crammed in between unrelated coursework."

Unrelated coursework and partying, hanging out, and sexual excess.

I hope so, anyway. Because if not, Obama will not get my vote.


People whose views and intellectual frameworks never change scare me. People who don't understand that other peoples' views and intellectual frameworks can change without it being evidence of weakness annoy me. People who assume that their intellectual path and opinions represent a final or optimal position on anything ... often get really well-paying gigs commenting on the frailties of other people.

I got out without writing a senior thesis, and actually managed to avoid having any of my writings archived until late graduate school. Then I started blogging, and all hope of a political career was shot to hell!

Naadir Jeewa


I'm sorry, Michelle Obama lost my vote months ago.

John Protevi

If you're not careful, Scott, I might just pull out your senior thesis and do a reverse fisking, showing it's not as bad as you make it out to be! Il faut pas exagérer quand même!



Thanks ... I think.


I defy you to find anything redeeming in it that's not directly attributable to your, Pat or Water's influence.


Then I started blogging, and all hope of a political career was shot to hell!

You know, I've been thinking about this in regards the market and tenure, and I wonder whether it's true. You can just as easily overwhelm someone with oodles and oodles of facts, muddying the waters with, well, thousands of particles of silt. (hilzoy's recent post detailing Clinton vs. Obama's legislative records comes to mind. I mean, how many people do you think looked through all that?)

Florida Prof

I enjoyed how Kavulla mocks a college student for a grammatical error, then hyphenates "African-Americans" when he uses it as a noun. Good stuff.


how many people do you think looked through all that?

If you mean Hilzoy's posts, I did, actually. I thought it was a draw, mostly.

With regard to the larger point, though, it's true that you can sometimes overwhelm an unengaged audience (and many tenure/hiring committees qualify) with masses of acceptable if unexciting material, but engaged ones (and it seems like there's always one in a committee) will have certain things they're looking for -- what touches their interests, or inflames their passions. They will fix on those details and make snap decisions based on them, reinterpreting all the rest of the material in that light. And you never know what it is, usually: I've seen job candidates derailed by offhand comments in a campus visit, things I'm sure they don't remember saying.

Sometimes it's a good thing, obviously: you can make someone happy almost as quickly as you can make them unhappy. And we're approaching -- I fervently hope -- a tipping point where technological and public engagement will be seen as more of a positive than a negative.


Wow... I always did wonder who that "clever neophyte imitating his superiors and learning the trade" from Bauerlein's introduction was.

Or was it Michelle Obama?


I ran across your post by accident and had a good laugh. Your comments about undergraduates who trot out theoretical frameworks in order to justify their own perspectives hit close to home for me. I just finished my undergrad career a few weeks ago, and I spent the fall flinging Butler and Foucault at one of Cormac McCarthy's novels. I think I'm very familiar with the topic you discuss, but I still would like to believe that what I wrote was solid.

I'm thinking of giving Bauerlein's book a read just to hear what he has to say. I did some digging, and read this, an article he wrote a few years ago. I think his book could be interesting:

Thanks for pointing me to his book. I'm looking forward to reading it.

Ben Alpers

Just one, very small update to this post: Jim Zeigler is no longer a Visiting Assistant Professor at SMU, but a tenure-track Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma. He's been a great addition to the OU faculty!

Johan Brahme

Though I'd hate to be judged by my senior thesis, I am concerned that MO repeatedly states that this is the first time she has been proud of America. This suggests to me that the premise of her senior thesis has not been abandoned.


As for that last bit, I remember watching some PBS special back in 1986 around the Statue of Liberty's centenary, and, in the what does "liberty" mean section at the end, hearing James Baldwin be the only one with courage to point out that for most Black Americans liberty was at best a promise denied. Anyone confused by any ambivalence Michelle Obama might have felt regarding feeling really proud of America has no understanding of what it's like to be African American or indeed of American history.


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james suhr

Your description of your senior thesis and how you thought at that time is scarily reminiscent of my same adventures in art and animation. I find comfort in knowing other artists (and particularly a brilliant person like yourself), has had the same fears and stumbling blocks. Sorry for commenting over a year after you posted this, but there is alot on this site to read, and I'm a slow reader.

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