Winning research support is tough for faculty members in all disciplines -- and makes or breaks careers, especially at research universities. For those in the sciences, competition from many federal agencies has grown more intense in recent years, but there are still billions given out annually and even relatively junior professors can hope to land grants of significant size.
At last year's annual meeting of the Modern Language Association, Elisabeth Ladenson found herself in discussion with a bus dispatcher while waiting for a shuttle. "You all have that look," the dispatcher told Ladenson, an associate professor of French at Columbia University.
He may not be Thomas Jefferson, but that does not seem to matter to his supporters. Charlie Wilson, the notoriously fun-loving former Texas Congressman, may soon have an endowed professor’s chair named in his honor, to the dismay of some professors at the University of Texas at Austin.
When professors publish their memoirs, what do their stories say about themselves, the state of academe, and their disciplines? These are some of the issues addressed in Academic Lives: Memoir, Cultural Theory and the University Today (University of Georgia Press). The author is Cynthia Franklin, professor of English at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Franklin discussed her new book in an e-mail interview.
Q: What drew you to the topic of academic memoirs?â€¨â€¨
For social scientists starting their careers, creating research models that work is crucial. A new book suggests that they may be unaware of problems they face in part because scholars don't share stories of what didn't work on their projects, and how to deal with particular challenges.