Danger: Rage Level Rising
Issue #1: the not-new but consistently unbelievable situation in which people who work together have no respect for each others' disciplines, even as they profit from the involvement of those same people. Somewhere down deep, my code of ethics simply requires that I have a baseline (no matter how low) for a modicum of belief that my colleagues do something important. Even if it's not important to me, per se, it's important. That seems like a given, right? But this week, I got an earful from a school colleague who talked to a member of the granny mafia, and she gave him an earful about how useless--nay, detrimental!--mine and Yogini's research and teaching foci are to the field. Meanwhile, our department rolls out a new concentration in said field, and when the administration asks: "what's new and exciting in your department?" my colleague brings up this minor every chance she gets. Damn! That's cold as ice!
Issue #2: The students in my media class are moving into their final group projects. For the past 12 weeks, we've been viewing, discussing and writing about the conventions of a genre, and discussing what makes that genre work. Each week, there is a specific individual assignment wherein the students analyze the relationship between the viewing and the ideological impact of the text. As they design their final projects, then, we've been talking a lot about the ideological message they want their film to put forward. Now, after two conferences, I have a group that is simply making an incredibly homophobic project. Under the guise of "social critique." If it's social critique, then I'm going to have to go back and re-examine Amos and Andy. They insist that it won't come across that way when they actually make it. Sigh. [Senor Fluff's solution is to suggest to the group that it's reflective of their own deepest fantasies. Tempting...]
Issue #3: I've been having a long-standing conversation with a student about her research paper. First she couldn't come up with a topic; then she couldn't arrive at a text. Throughout, I encouraged her to come and meet with me. No dice. After several concerned emails and draft comments in which I essentially wrote three sample arguments based on her meandering thoughts collected from informal writing over the course of the semester, she locates a school of critical thought and a primary text. But we're not out of the woods yet! Multiple emails and questions about sources. The school of thought that she's interested in (we'll call it shmeader shmesponse) has a 30 year history, give or take. Yet she can't seem to find any sources on it. Or on gender criticism. Or on the author of the text. I just read another draft of her paper, which gives me six pages of her own ideas of what shmeader shmesponse is, with absolutely no reference to the critics or their theories. Because she still can't find sources---"do you have any more ideas for search terms?" The good news is that this is the capstone course, so the fact that she's so lost means that she's learned nothing in the program, and that she'll soon cycle out of it. Except that she's registered for another of my classes in the spring. Wherein I had planned to recycle a lot of material from this course.
God help me if there is some sort of Hegelian synthesis at work here. I prefer to think that they are isolated and passing incidents (except for the first, which is consistent, long-term, and unsurprising). But man, if someone has a ray of hope to shine on my swirling pit of rage, bring it the fuck on.