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May 8, 2007
Although much that comes across the academic administrative desk shines with the bright light of pride and promotion -- expensively produced with high quality paper and commercial production values, creative layout and design, and magnetically attractive photography -- a few items arrive with impressive calm, quietly. In this case, it's a small book that looks like a scholarly journal in an obscure area of the humanities. The paper is soft, the cover appears faded; there are no pictures, no dramatic announcements, no claims of cosmic significance.
May 4, 2007
My mother and I were sitting in a booth in a J.C. Penney’s lunchroom, sometime in the late ‘60s or early ‘70s, when the store manager made an announcement on the intercom, and suddenly my mind began to work in a new way. I can still hear the tenor of the man’s voice and the slight echo from speakers at various depths in the store, but his words are gone.
May 1, 2007
My mother-in-law and I were discussing small-town life. She’s originally from Inverness, Scotland, which used to be smaller than it is now, and I grew up in Buckhorn, a town of 10,000 in Southern Illinois. We agreed it’s a common misconception that everyone knows everyone else in a small town, but we also agreed there are certain characters that everyone does know, who help forge the common identity of place. In Inverness, it was street-dweller Forty Pockets, named for the layers of clothing he wore, no matter the weather.
May 1, 2007
Everyone who lives the life of academic administration receives a steady flow of publications in their mail and email streams each day. Some of these items delight, some bore, and some outrage, but all prompt amazement and awe at the energy and literary achievement they represent. We receive magazines, journals, and endless reports from various alphabet agencies. Some we deserve because we pay their sponsor agencies a membership fee and some come in unsolicited.
April 27, 2007
I may have the best deal in all of adjunctdom. My teaching load is 3/3, and I have full health coverage. My pay is only $20,000 less than if I was on the tenure track at Hinterland, doing the same thing. If I were tenured, with my current time in service, I’d be making double what I am now. I’m often asked to teach 400-level independent studies, for free, and I serve on committees and constantly mentor university-scholar students in an attempt to be a good departmental citizen. I even go to the director’s bonfire parties, when tenured faculty don’t bother to show.
April 25, 2007
When I was accepted to grad school, I had a big problem: In order to get my fellowship, I’d have to teach. I’d always been terrified of public speaking. As an undergrad I talked my Speech-Comm TA into letting me write papers instead of making required speeches. (Convincing him took rhetorical skill, right?)
April 23, 2007
For those who don't know, I write somewhat regular dispatches for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. There's a new one up today. The earlier ones are all here.
April 20, 2007
It’s old news that many libraries suffer for lack of money. After September 11th, Hinterland’s investment portfolio tanked with the rest of the economy, and the state cut funds across the board. Some of that is coming back, but years of budget shortfalls and inflation have had their effect.
April 19, 2007
Some of you have written to ask how I, a writing teacher, feel about the creative writing connection in the Virginia Tech killings. I have many things to say but want to be very careful not to use this disaster to point fingers or advance a cause.
April 17, 2007
Our deepest sympathies go to those at Virginia Tech and their families. Violence on any campus is an attack on our own learning communities and a betrayal of the underlying hope that education represents. Please join us in offering condolences. 

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