Running Out of Time

Following a December blog-conversation about Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal (occasioned in part by her own chemo), my friend Alison Piepmeier asked me to send her a contribution to her blog, Every Little Thing. It appeared there on Monday. I’m reposting it here now. In case you’re wondering, I got permission from the close relative (named below) to quote…

Advice for Aspiring Academics (in Inside Higher Ed)

Attention, graduate students, adjuncts with tenure-track aspirations, and recent tenure-track hires*! Always be publishing Believe in and doubt merit Do not define success according to academe’s terms … and 9 other pieces of advice in “Advice for Aspiring Academics,” published in today’s Inside Higher Ed. Regular readers of this blog may notice that this is the…

The Meaning of Life; or, How to Avoid the Midlife Crisis

Why do successes sometimes feel like failures? As philosopher Kieran Setiya points out in a wise new essay, “Our achievements, whatever they are worth, are always numbered” (10). Each time we accomplish something, it’s done, finished, and we must move on to the next thing: “the completion of your project may constitute something of value,…

Advice for Aspiring Academics: A Twitter Essay

I have long been wanting to write a general “advice” essay for aspiring academics — recent PhDs, graduate students, anyone pursuing (or considering pursuing) a career in academia. The problem is that my desire to mentor and to encourage always collides with my equally strong desire not to mislead people about how challenging (even bleak)…

In Search of Lost Time: Further Reading

With thanks to all who have read and shared my “In Search of Lost Time” (an essay on why academics work so much, published in Inside Higher Ed today), here are a few links for further reading. Most of these were embedded in the original piece, but didn’t make the transition to the Inside Higher Ed website….

How Much Is Too Much?

Though I often attempt to dispense advice from this blog, I now have a question of my own. How much is too much? There’s one request that I never turn down: when I am asked to write a letter on behalf of someone going up for tenure and/or promotion, I always say “yes.”  I don’t…

The Joy of Index

OK, “Joy” might be the wrong word — unless we modify that title to “The Anticipatory Joy of Finishing the Index” or “The Joy of Finding a Great Index.”  Creating an index can be a mind-numbing slog, and creating it while checking proofs (as I am doing right now) doesn’t make it any more fun.  But…

Not a Good Fit

            “It has been a long trip,” said Milo, climbing onto the couch where the princesses sat; “but we would have been here much sooner if I hadn’t made so many mistakes. I’m afraid it’s all my fault.”             “You must never feel badly about…

Tenure Isn’t the Point

In the Chronicle of Higher Education this past Tuesday, Professor Kathryn D. Blanchard reports “wallowing in ‘post-tenure depression,’” a phenomenon she discovers is more common than one might think. What, she asks, “can account for the feelings of despair and apathy that follow this milestone, the pursuit of which causes us to invest not merely…