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Essay on how faculty members seeking tenure should prioritize service requests

Ellen Mayock reviews how to set priorities, and how that should lead you to reject most -- but not all -- service requests.

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Advice for a young black woman in academe about not being called Doctor

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A young black female academic notices that students call her colleagues Doctor or Professor, but she is addressed by her first name. Kerry Ann Rockquemore reviews her options.

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Essay on staying healthy on a crowded campus

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Eszter Hargittai shares tips, realizing that academics can't isolate themselves from people, some of whom will be sneezing and coughing.

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Rhodes College professor finds himself targeted by ISIS

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Academic at Rhodes College, who in the past has been criticized by right-wing American groups, is featured in magazine of the Islamic State as example of an apostate who should be killed.

Essay on how academics can gain control of their e-mail and their time

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Kerry Ann Rockquemore writes that you can gain control of your e-mail and your time, which is essential on the path to tenure.

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Essay on pregnancy issues in academic job searches

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Joseph Barber considers the questions about when a job candidate may want to reveal and what to say.

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Essay on why faculty members should seek jobs as administrators

Elizabeth A. Lehfeldt writes that it's important for faculty members to consider and go after jobs as administrators.

 

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Essay on importance of working a little fun into your academic work schedule

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You don't need to spend every waking minute on work, and doing so may not help you achieve your goals, writes Kerry Ann Rockquemore.

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A '50 Shades' for the scholarly set (essay)

I hate my hair. Really. It refuses to behave. I try brushing it into submission, but it refuses, springing out from its confinement in hair band and bobby pins. I hate my roommate more. Why is she sick? Now I have to go interview Dr. Christian Black for the school paper and I am too nervous and scared of him to even begin to make sense.

Everyone knows about Dr. Black. He is the youngest Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard, graduating at 24 with distinction. Now at 29 he’s at the top of his game, an endowed professor teaching social theory here at Anonymous U. And he’s rich, too. They say he has his own private helicopter pad on the top of his penthouse apartment.

Who am I to interview him? Sure my name, Anastasia Irons, makes me sound like a princess, but I’m just the daughter of a lumberjack and a secretary. It’s crazy that I even got into AnonU and even crazier that I majored in Social Theory.

I mean, Social Theory is for intellectuals. People who have time to sit around and think deeply about the sort of post-Marxian reimaging of capital done by the likes of Pierre Bourdieu. I’m just a poor girl from the backwoods who works at the local hardware store and is too skinny to be anything but a guy’s best friend.

Speaking of best friends, mine is José, who is poor, too. And not white. That’s not important, but I’m not going to marry him, even though he’d like to marry me and our fathers are best friends. But as Bourdieu says, class classifies and it classifies the classifier and my racial and social capital just hasn’t given me a “taste” (in the Bourdieuean sense) for a poor Latino. I’m going to marry a prince, someone rich and white who will sweep me off my feet.

Just kidding. Of course a modern-day girl like me doesn’t believe in fairy tales. I’ve read my Eva Illouz.  I know that “love hurts” and the trope of modern romance is irony.

Oh shoot, I’m late. I have to be at Mr. Black’s office in five minutes.

***

I arrive, panting, a flush on my face. Mr. Black’s secretary, a perfectly dressed blond with well-behaved hair, ushers me into his waiting room and asks if I would like some water or a paper towel to wipe the perspiration off my face. I want to disappear. Why did I sprint across campus?

“Ms. Irons? Come in,” says a voice as smooth and velvety as a panther. I look up to see the most beautiful man I have ever encountered. His eyes blacker than black. His hair a golden brown swept back from his brow. And his lips, oh, those kissable lips, full and red and pulled into something between a sneer and a smile.

I walk across the room, trying not to tremble in his gaze. I move past him and electricity circulates between our bodies.

And then I trip, flat onto my face.

Mr. Black reaches out his arms, trying to break my fall, and our bodies are pressed together. It is more than I can take. I let out a gasp.

***

Mr. Black’s apartment is everything cold and sleek and modern. It is bereft of clutter. White walls, abstract paintings, utilitarian light fixtures more suitable to a theater than a home.

I sit on the white leather couch, nervously chewing my lip and looking up at him.

“Ms. Irons,” he says, “if we are going to go any further with this relationship there is something I need you to sign.”

He hands me a contract.

I look at it. 

  1. The submissive will only touch the sacred objects when instructed to do so.
  2. The submissive will refer to the dominant as Dr., Sir, Professor, or Herr Doktor at all times.
  3. The submissive will stay thin, pale and trembling at all times, awaiting the dominant’s touch in order to truly understand her desires.

There was more.

“This is sexist!” I throw the contact on the ground, petulantly, like a small child.

“Careful, Ms. Irons. If you act like a child, you might get treated like one,” he says, a sharp edge to his otherwise sexy voice.

“What does that mean?” I ask, a tingle running along my spine.

“If you sign, I’ll explain everything,” he purrs.

I sign. What choice did I have?

***

I’m kneeling on the floor before him. I have never felt more afraid and more excited.

“So,” he asks, “what do you think of my secret?”

His secret, his secret room, his read room of pain(ful) abstract thought.

“Can I touch it?” I ask, stretching out my fingers toward what lies between his hands.

Slap!

Ouch, that hurt.

“No, you cannot touch my 1939 German edition of Norbert Elias’s The Civilizing Process,” he snarls.

Suddenly my arms are pinned over my head. He snaps the handcuffs shut and takes the key and puts it into the pocket of his faded jeans. Oh, the beauty of his body, the loose jeans, his eight-pack abs, his alabaster skin.

“You have no idea how valuable this is. Without this book, Foucault would never have written Discipline and Punish!” he says as he rubs a 1975 original edition of Surveiller et punir over my quivering body.

“Please, Herr Doktor. Professor. Sir?” I moan, unable to contain my desire to get my hands on all the beautiful books around me, the Zizek, the Butler, the Derrida. Oh, the Derrida.

***

The next morning as I walk across campus, what should be the walk of shame transforms into something that makes me glow from the inside out. Oh, the read room of pain(ful) abstract thought. My beautiful lover’s dirty little secret. And now my dirty little secret, too. I can’t wait to go back.

Laurie Essig is associate professor of sociology and gender, sexuality and feminist studies at Middlebury College.

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Essay on how those starting academic careers should respond to criticism

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Kerry Ann Rockquemore offers advice on what to do when you have received negative reviews of your work.

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