August 11, 2004


may be posted here

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:26 PM | Comments (29)

May 26, 2004


I plan to take this site down two weeks from today (i.e., Wednesday, 9 June).

UPDATE (June 4):

I have received many requests to keep the blog up, or at least to allow mirroring. I haven't yet decided what to do.

In any case, the site should eventually be archived at the Internet Archive. I requested a crawl over two months ago and I know the Alexa crawler has since visited my site. The results do not yet turn up, but apparently this can take several months.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:48 AM | Comments (52)

March 23, 2004

Signing Off

Gentle Readers,

A few months ago, I made a vow to myself that this would be my last semester as an invisible adjunct. Since Iíve failed to secure a full-time position in my final attempt at the academic job market, what this means, of course, is that I made a vow to leave the academy. Six more weeks of teaching, and I head for the nearest exit.

Though I must inevitably feel a sense of loss and sadness, itís thanks to this blog and its readers that I donít feel the kind of life-twisting bitterness that I might otherwise have experienced. Iíll take with me, among other things, a knowledge of XHTML (which I never thought I could learn!), an undiminished passion for the Scottish Enlightenment, and a heightened sense of lifeís possibilities.

In the meantime, Iíve decided to give up the blog.

I do so with both a good deal of reluctance and a certain sense of relief. Writing blog entries and reading and responding to comments has become such an integral part of my regular routine that itís very difficult to walk away. For the next few weeks, at least, Iím sure I wonít know what to do with myself (novel-reading? I just finished rereading all six of them). But this weblog has always been a labour of love, and lately I find that my heart is no longer in it. I think the time has come to focus my energies elsewhere. Anyway, I guess Iíve pretty much said most of things that I wanted to say, and then some.

Iíve also received more support than I ever could have imagined or expected. Indeed, the response to the blog has been, quite simply, overwhelming. Since I canít even begin to express what this has meant to me as I've struggled over the past year or so to make sense of my experience in the academy, I wonít even try. Instead, Iíll just take this opportunity to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who participated in the transformation of what began as ďyet another me-zineĒ into something like an online community. To everyone who has read, linked, commented, and emailed: I thank you.

Yours sincerely,


Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:24 PM | Comments (212)

March 13, 2004

Fly Away with You

Spread your tiny wings and fly away,
And take the snow back with you
Where it came from on that day.
The one I love forever is untrue,
And if I could you know that I would
Fly away with you.

-- "Snowbird," Written by Gene MacLellan, Immortalized by Anne Murray

Does it get any cheesier? My sisters and I once read an interview with Anne Murray (in a Canadian tv guide, maybe) in which she emphasized her down-to-earth quality by insisting, "I'm not the glamour puss that you see when I'm on the road." Well, I can't remember exactly how she said it, but she did say "glamour puss." Glamour puss? Anne Murray? We found this highly amusing.

Off to Florida to visit a colony of snowbirds, in the midst of which can be found my parents. Since area restaurants cater for these seasonal migrants, I may be able to order vinegar with my fries.* Blogging will resume next weekend.

*Why don't Americans put vinegar on their french fries? This is a serious question.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:05 PM | Comments (74)

March 07, 2004

What does Chun Mean?

That question has been raised more than once in the comments at this weblog. The Little Professor now has the answer (for background, see Chun).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:05 PM | Comments (8)

March 03, 2004

I'd like to thank the academy...

...and the post-academy, and the would-be academy, and the anti-academy...*

Ogged notes that Unfogged is "one year old, as of sometime last week," and issues thanks to his readers and commenters.

Which reminds me that I should do likewise. Invisible Adjunct was a year old on 28 February. Sincere thanks to all those who read, comment, link, and email.

*As I write this entry, I must confess that I am not glamourously but tastefully attired in a ready-for-the-red-carpet ballgown. I was left in the lurch when my stylist eloped with my Pilates instructor, and I just couldn't decide between the Vintage Chanel and the Versace.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:05 PM | Comments (8)

February 24, 2004

Blogging Break

I'll be away for the next week. I may pop in to check comments (please may I not find fifty pieces of spam), but I won't be posting any new entries until next Tuesday or Wednesday.

I leave you to contemplate the following:

In response to the question "How rich was Darcy?" the blogosphere has determined that he was, in the words of Belle Waring, "rich as a mother****er." Quite right. Brad DeLong has the specifics.

But how repulsive was Mr. Collins? Or to put it another way, since this is a question that does not lend itself to quantitative calculation, Mr. Collins was repulsive how?

My answer next week.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:23 PM | Comments (4)

February 22, 2004

Comments Closed for Older Entries

I've decided to close the comments for entries older than 30 days. This in an attempt to protect the blog against another flood of auto-generated comment spam. I don't want Viagra, and I don't ever again want to see the same Viagra ad dumped into 220 separate weblog entries.

It's rare that anyone (anyone but a spammer, that is) leaves a comment at an entry that's no longer on the front page. But if you'd like to post a comment to one of the older (and now comments-disabled) entries, please email me at ia at invisibleadjunct dot com.


Is there a script that will automaticaly close comments after n days?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:05 PM | Comments (7)

February 18, 2004

Movable Type for Beginners

What does "Syndicate this Site" mean?

I've been blogging for almost a year, and I still haven't a clue. But the answer can be found at Learning Movable Type.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 05:49 PM | Comments (8)

February 06, 2004

My Crankiest Post Ever

Welcome (or welcome back) to this my personal weblog. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I've been thinking about taking an extended break from the blog. And if you've visited in the past few days, you will have noticed that I've decided against this kind of hiatus, at least for the moment.

So I'm back in business. Yay or nay, depending on how you view this blog (more on this below). But now I have to say that I'm already rethinking my decision to continue.

Basically, yesterday's brouhaha (see the comments to "Reduced Salary, Reduced Effort?") has left me feeling cranky. How cranky? Well, too cranky. I took a break and came back full of things to post, and right now I can't see my way to posting them. I'm just too darn cranky. I mean, I haven't felt this irritated since a certain exchange with a certain Department Chair, which was quite some time ago.

To add to my crankiness, I've just received an email from someone who seems to think I am responsible in some way for my readership, which readership this person seems to view in the light of a class of recalcitrant, and not especially promising, pupils. This person thinks I could be a voice for these unfortunates, and is concerned that I say the right things on their behalf. Said person also urges me to out myself, on the assumptions that a) this would be liberating; and b) if I had the courage of my convictions, I would stand up for them under my own name.

So yeah, now I really am "moaning" and "carping" and "whining." If you don't want to hear me carp, and moan and whine, please read no further. Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars (note: if you do pass go, unfortunately you will not collect two hundred dollars, at least not from me).

Right then. You've been duly warned. Today I am seriously cranky.

What I want to do here is to say something about what I think this blog is all about.

This weblog has variously been described as "partly sad but true, part pitty party," as "an incredibly smart blog on academia," as the "ranting of an anonymous and bitter person" (this from a personal email, so no link), as "required reading for all doctoral students," as an expression of "a sense of structural victimization and perpetual self-pity," as one of the "top ten blogs deserving wider recognition," and etcetera and etcetera. In other words, responses are mixed. Some people like it, some people don't. That's only to be expected, and indeed, that's only how it should be. I can't please everyone, and I wouldn't want to please everyone even if I could.

So different people have different notions of what this blog is or isn't, of what I should or shouldn't cover, of what I must or mustn't say. Some people express dissatisfaction when I post about certain topics (politics, for example). Other people express dissatisfaction with my failure to post about certain other topics (community college teaching, for example). Again, that's to be expected, and pretty much how it should be.

What I want to say is this: This is my personal weblog.

I guess I could leave it at that -- but if I were someone who could simply leave things at that, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have a personal weblog.

When I first started the blog, I said that I wanted "to think of my own predicament, and that of countless others who are in my situation (ie, unemployed or underemployed PhDs), in relation to a range of broader problems and challenges both within and outside of the academy." I also wrote that I was looking for "a space that is somewhere between the level of the personal and the level of policy," and suggested that this blog was "my small, my very small, attempt at carving out a space that I otherwise do not find." In other words, I was hoping to do something that falls somewhere between a highly personal online journal and a highly impersonal website on academic employment (with pie charts and graphs and all kinds of stuff that's basically beyond my ken).

Well, okay, that's pretty much how I saw the blog when I began, and it's pretty much how I see the blog today. The main difference, I think, is that I've moved even further away from the personal than when I first started. I used to post the odd entry in what I call "me-zine mode," and this I no longer do.

I no longer do this because I now have readers. Many more readers than I ever expected to have. Which is a good thing, obviously, and just what I had hoped to acquire: after all, who the heck sends stuff into cyberspace for anyone and his dog to read without hoping that anyone if not his dog will indeed read it?

One of the things I've learned about launching one's observations into cyberspace is that it takes a thick skin. It's pretty much a given that sooner or later someone or other is going to take strong exception to something or other that you've said or to something or other that you've failed to say. And of course you can't control the responses that you elicit. You have to be prepared to be quoted and misquoted, cited and cited out of context, interpreted, overinterpreted, misinterpreted, and so on.

Well, that's the public sphere. And if you could control the responses you elicit, what would be the point of eliciting them? And if you don't want responses, and are not prepared to deal with them, why publish on the internet? Get yourself an old-fashioned diary, write your thoughts in private, and keep it under lock and key.

I'm fairly certain I don't want responses on anything too personal, which is why I no longer do me-zine mode. But what about all that other stuff that I post about regularly? I guess the question I'm really grappling with is: am I still prepared for the responses or am I ready to pack it in?

Now, what's irritating me, and what seems at the moment like so much noise that I don't want to hear is not disagreement and counterargument in relation to some argument or other that I happen to have made. I like to argue and debate. I want to hear and learn from other perspectives. I wouldn't want my posts to be greeted with a chorus of yays.

No, I'm talking about another type of response altogether: the kind of comment that seems to take issue with the very existence of this weblog. This type of comment generally combines wholesale dismissal of the site and its purpose with heavy-duty psychologizing about the motives of anyone who would run, and of anyone who would participate in, a site called Invisible Adjunct. That is, it basically says, you're posting on academic issues, and doing so as an adjunct, and therefore you must be doing X and you must be saying Y and you and your readers must by definition be Z. This type of comment is often accompanied by the complaint that "You shouldn't say X and do Y or be Z [never mind whether or not I really am doing X and saying Y and being Z], because I don't want to read X and I don't like it when people do Y and I don't like people to be Z."

Now, what I want to say to people who make this kind of comment is something like this: "Look, if you don't like what this blog has to offer, don't visit the blog. Don't touch that dial, don't click that link. I mean, you know, I didn't come to you, you came to me. And if the very existence of this weblog offends your sense of decency, you notions of propriety, your idea of what should and should not be, do yourself and me and my readers a favour and just stop visiting already." But then I do have to say to myself, "Look, given that this kind of response is inevitable, no matter what you say or how you say it, if you don't want or can't deal with this kind of response, then don't run a weblog and publish your stuff on the internet." If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. It cuts both ways, doesn't it?

So I'm going to go away again and think this over and basically discover what feels right.

Meanwhile, since you're here, and I'm not done, I want to take this opportunity to emphasize again that, at the end of the day, though I don't post much about my personal life, I do see this site as my personal weblog. I don't claim to speak for The Adjunct, or for any other adjunct but my own cranky self, though I obviously do try to provide a space in which adjunct faculty members can speak for themselves. I'm not affiliated in my capacity as Invisible Adjunct with any professional organization or institution, though of course I often link to and comment on the doings and sayings and goings-on at any number of academic organizations and institutions. I'm obviously not trying to compete with the Chronicle, and don't even pretend to offer comprehensive coverage of issues pertaining to academia. What I'm doing is offering my own observations on academia and on whatever else strikes my fancy, by myself, on my own, from the privacy of my own home.

Well, but not quite on my own, after all. I also want to say something that I've said before, which is that this blog's readers are a very important part of this blog. So much so that I would shut down the blog altogether before I'd close down the comments function. Without you I'm nothing, at least insofar as I'm Invisible Adjunct. That said, I hope it's clear that I don't pretend to speak for my readers (they don't need me to do that, they do a pretty good job of speaking for themselves), and that my readers do not speak for me.

Which brings me to another point, which is really just the same point yet again (well, hey, I warned you...). Here are just some of the things that I think this weblog isn't:

*It's not a leaving academia site. I don't claim to offer advice on how to get out (or on how to stay in, for that matter). If you are thinking about leaving the academy and are looking for practical, concrete advice on how to make the transition, I recommend WRK4US and Beyond Academe.

*It's not a pro-adjunct teaching site (that is, it's not a site that recommends adjunct teaching as a viable career path). I would have thought this was blatantly obvious, but some of the comments in yesterday's brouhaha indicate that it's not. If you are looking for such a site, I suggest (which is not to say recommend) Adjunctopia.

*By extension, it is also, of course, not a Horatio-Alger-for-Adjuncts site. If that's what you're after, you can visit Adjunct Solutions, where Jill Carroll offers entrepreneurial strategies aimed at "building careers, one class at a time."

*It's not a union hall, though I do sometimes post on adjunct unionization.

*It's not the official or quasi-official organ of any group or body whatsoever, and not an official publication in any way, shape, or form. As I've said before, when you visit this weblog, you're not exactly hobnobbing with the academic power structure. Despite my google warning, rest assured that most people in academia have never heard of or visited, and never will hear of or visit, this weblog.

Point being, there's no party line, no official strategy, no organizational impetus to be found at this site. This blog is not intended to help people launch themselves into rewarding postacademic careers or organize their fellow faculty members into a collective bargaining unit or achieve unheard-of success (fame, fortune, and a table at Balthazar) as adjunct-entrepreneurs. To put it another way, while I'm more than happy to debate and argue about anything I post on this site, I'm not going to take responsibility for things I haven't said and for things I not only don't do but don't even claim to be doing. Still less am I inclined to view myself as in any way responsible for my readers: not what they say at this site, and certainly not what they do with their lives.

Again, this is just my personal weblog, where I post my observations and encourage others to post their own comments and observations in response. It's a free and voluntary effort all around. I am free to post, you are free to read and comment, or to not read and not comment, as you see fit. Of course I am also free to not post, which is precisely the question I am considering.

Okay, this really is the crankiest thing I've ever posted, which may be an indication of how I should decide the matter of whether or not to continue. And it occurs to me that after posting this entry, I may lose so many readers that my dilemma will resolve itself without any further effort on my part :)

If you've come this far: thanks for reading, and sorry I can't give you two hundred dollars.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:30 AM | Comments (53)

January 30, 2004


Earlier this evening some !@#$%&* dumped 220 pieces of comment spam onto my weblog. Well, the same piece of spam, from the same IP, but at 220 different blog entries. I had to delete them all by hand.

Okay, it's time to finally install MT-Blacklist. I've put it off because MT plugins make me nervous: I'm afraid I will do something wrong and mess things up completely. And for the past few months, my comment spam has been more or less manageable: just the odd piece every few days that I have been able to quickly delete. But 220 is not manageable. And 220 makes me feel downright cranky.


Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 11:04 PM | Comments (7)

January 20, 2004

Blogging Break

For the past month or so, I've been thinking seriously about taking an extended break from blogging. I hesitate to do so for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which are the regular readers of this weblog (I love you guys. Sniff). But there's a lot going on right now in my other life, and I really need to focus my energies there in order to get some stuff done.

I've decided to take a two-week break, during which period I will decide whether or not to take an even longer (one or two-month) hiatus.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:45 AM | Comments (22)

January 11, 2004

Everybody Googles Everybody

Well, not quite everybody. Not quite yet.

But people do google people.

This came up in the infamous MLA thread, where an Anonymous Member of a Job Search Committee warned:

I'll be interviewing people at MLA, and, trust me, we've 'Googled' every job candidate to establish whether they are a good 'fit' for our institution. Watch what you say.

Not surprisingly, a number of people expressed dismay at the practice. But as Anonymous Member of a Job Search Committee pointed out, "It should not surprise any of you that departments google job candidates." Prospective employees, potential dates, long-lost high school buddies: people google people.

And I suppose it was only a matter of time before the trend went corporate. This article recommends "counter-googling" as "an integral part of corporate 1:1 marketing strategies." As an example, they note that

The Bel Air Hotel in LA already Googles first-time guests upon arrival, based on their reservation details (name and address), leading to personalized services like assigning guests a room with morning sun if Googling shows the guest enjoys jogging early in the day.

Just a reminder: when you post something on the web, you leave a record. If you're planning to stay at the Bel Air Hotel in LA and you don't want your name to come up in connection with this site (they might greet you at the front desk with the latest dispatch from the Chronicle), please use a pseudonym.

Light blogging ahead as real life intervenes.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:47 PM | Comments (40)

December 27, 2003

Teach Yourself Movable Type

Way back in April, I posted an entry called Movable Type for Dummies?. I still get the occasional email from a reader desperately looking for just such a guide.

In the comments to that entry, reader Liam recently provided a link to Sams Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 Hours. Does that mean 24 hours straight? I wonder. When I think of how many months it took me to get comfortable with MT, I believe it might almost be worth pulling an all-nighter...

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 05:53 PM | Comments (0)

December 26, 2003

New Year's Resolution

If you're like me, you don't back up your data quite as regularly as you should. Liz Lawley says, "Back up your blog!" And all other critical material too (email, curricular material, research notes, etc. etc.).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:55 PM | Comments (0)

December 08, 2003

Blogged Down

Real life intervenes. Hope to resume shortly.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:02 PM | Comments (1)

December 03, 2003

NYTimes Link Generator

Via ampersand at Alas, a blog, the New York Times Link Generator offers stable, weblog-safe links. I hope more online publications follow suit.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:58 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2003

Do Not Adjust Your Sets

Blogging will resume after the holiday weekend. I'm leaving town with half-finished entries on Kimball on Enlightenment; capital punishment; and Stanley's Fish's latest call to arms. To be posted next week, along with a new poll (suggested by Another Damned Medievalist) on academic identity.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

Click below to see cute photos of my son.

Gotcha! (click thumbnails to enlarge):

Raffish (or; every toddler is at heart a rake):

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 11:21 PM | Comments (4)

November 08, 2003

Help me design my next poll

My recent "Are You (or Have You Ever Been) an Academic" poll indicates that 66.5% of the readers of this weblog are currently academics, 22.5% are former academics, 6.3% have never been academics, and 4.7% agree with the statement "I am not and never will be an academic."* Meanwhile, my controversially titled "Gender Poll" suggests that almost two-thirds of the readers are male, while just over a third are female (4 readers, or 1.7% of respondents, selected neither "male" nor "female" but "other;" I believe at least 2 of the 4 were protest votes).

I've also learned that when it comes to shampoo, many readers of this weblog just buy what's on sale; and, more broadly, that a surprising number of readers are, if not eager then at least willing to talk about personal grooming products.

Next up: I'd like to run a poll on deodorant preferences academic position. Something along the lines of, If you are currently an academic, what is your rank/title/position?

But how to design the poll? Though I don't aspire to anything that might be described as "scientific" and I wouldn't pretend to have a research design or methodology (see below*), I would need to come up with a manageable number of possible responses. Now, if I wanted to keep things simple, I could have five options: graduate student; adjunct; tenure-track professor; tenured professor; and other.

Problem is, there are an awful lot of potential categories that might fall under the heading "Other." Postdocs, for example. And visiting assistant professor, which designation seems to have at least two different meanings. Then, too, "adjunct" can refer to several different types of position: though many think of it as temporary and part-time, there's that permatemp phenomenon to consider, and of course many adjuncts work the equivalent (or more) of a full-time teaching load. And come to think of it, maybe "adjunct" is not the best term: perhaps I should say "contingent" or even "transient"? And in terms of the tenurable, is it worth getting into the distinctions between assistant, associate and full professor? Should there be a special category for department chairs?

It gets complicated. So maybe I should just list the four most popular brands of deodorant, with a fifth option for "other brand"?

I could hire an expert, of course, but let's get serious: I'm not quite that serious. Still, I would like to get at least a general sense of where/how in the academy my academic readers are situated.

So I'm soliciting the advice of my readers, academic, nonacademic, expert, and nonexpert alike: please help me design this poll. How many categories, and what should they be? A couple of things to keep in mind. First, I'm particularly interested in the nontenurable versus tenurable distinction. Second, the absolute limit is 20 possible responses (that's all blogpoll can handle), and I suspect anything over 10 might prove unmanageable.

*Though I'm no social scientist, I do realize that the poll doesn't really indicate what I've said it does. If I wanted to be more accurate I would have to say, 'Of those readers who were willing to respond to the poll'...And then, of course, it would be useful to know just what percentage of readers did indeed respond. But just play along, okay?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:11 PM | Comments (16)

October 30, 2003

Are You (or Have You Ever Been) an Academic?

I won't attempt to define "academic." I believe the courts have ruled that this question is best left to a jury, who must determine any given case with reference to "contemporary community standards."

In a future poll, I'd like to get a sense of how many self-identified academics are grad students, how many are adjunct faculty members, how many are tenure-track faculty members, and so on.

If you wish, please supplement your response to this poll by indicating (in the comments) your favourite shampoo and (if applicable) your favourite conditioner.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:09 PM | Comments (32)

October 24, 2003

Blogging Holiday

Leaving town for a couple of days. Blogging will resume early next week.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:52 PM | Comments (1)

October 10, 2003

Scary Comment Spam

Argh. Last night a reader kindly emailed me to let me know of a piece of comment spam with a link to a, shall we say, not very nice website (I'm afraid to use any descriptive terms that might generate still more comment spam). I deleted the comment and banned the IP address, but realized I would have to do something more serious as soon as I got a chance. This morning I discovered the same piece of comment spam to the same entry, and from a very similar IP address (only the last two digits are different). So I've deleted the spam, banned the IP, and closed the comments for that entry.

I believe there are more serious methods to really and truly prevent comment spam? But at the moment, I don't have time to sit down and read up on the topic. So I'll be checking comments and (likely) deleting more comment spam until I get a chance to figure things out. In the meantime, if you see something scary listed under "Recent Comments" in the sidebar, rest assured it's not one of the fine readers of this blog but one of those nasty spammers.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:49 AM | Comments (15)

October 09, 2003

Blogging Break

My parent arrive tomorrow to spend Canadian Thanksgiving with their grandson. I doubt I'll have much time to blog (there's that turkey dinner to think of, after all) until early next week.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:33 PM | Comments (1)

October 06, 2003

New Email Address

I'm going to start using the following email address for blog-related correspondence:

ia at invisibleadjunct dot com
Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:22 PM | Comments (0)

October 02, 2003

Blogging Will Resume Shortly

I've just sent off the last part of the ms for a reprint edition of an early modern text. Edited by Invisible Adjunct (though under a pseudonym so that my blog readers can't figure out who I am...or, uh, something like that). Too tired to blog any more at the moment, but lots to blog about as soon as I catch my breath.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 12:59 PM | Comments (4)

September 23, 2003

New Poll Builder

Well, new to me.

Nice. And it's free. You can find it at Blogpoll.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 06:07 PM | Comments (19)

September 17, 2003

3 Million Strong and How Many Readers?

Laura at Apt 11D (permalink bloggered; scroll to Wednesday, September 17) has a few questions about blogging. I'm particularly intrigued by questions 1 and 5:

1. Why do bloggers love to write obituaries?

5. There are 3 million blogs. Do blog writers outnumber blog readers?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:41 AM | Comments (5)

August 24, 2003

Had we but world enough, and time

I'm trying to meet a publishing deadline, and time's wingèd chariot is trying to overtake me. So expect little to no blogging for the next week or so (unless I get caught up or even ahead, but this is extremely, I mean this is laughably, unlikely).

"How goes the enemy"? used to mean (among other things), "What time is it?" I think this meaning should be revived.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:40 AM | Comments (5)

August 18, 2003

Blast that Worm!

I just got a little popup box on my screen, a "Symantec AntiVirus Notification." The highlights (or lowlights):

Event: Virus Found!

Virus Name: W32.Blaster.Worm

File: C:\WINDOWS\system32\TFTP1400

Action taken: Clean failed: Quarantine succeeded: Access denied.

So, uh, just what is under quarantine, and where? And how worried should I be?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:44 PM | Comments (8)

August 12, 2003

Invisible Adjunct™

Inspired by Rupert Murdoch's Fox News Network, which claims to have trademarked "Unfair and Unbalanced" "Fair and Balanced" to describe its coverage of the news, I hereby claim that Invisible Adjunct™ has been trademarked to describe coverage of the academy, and further declare my intention of duly registering Invisible Adjunct™ with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (at which point I would be entitled to use the ® symbol). In the unlikely event that another citizen of the blogosphere tries to use Invisible Adjunct™ to designate either a blog or a blogger, please be advised that I will immediately file suit.

NOTE: Edited 14 August 2003 (edited material is in italics) as per suggestion by MF in the comments to this entry.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:34 PM | Comments (9)

August 11, 2003

A Reader Objects to my Posting Policies

In a new comment to my "Policies on Posting Comments" entry, Michelle raises an objection to my posting policies:

These rules of 'civility' are a clear effort to shield direct shots to your stupidity.

Thank you for your feedback, Michelle. And now here's a little suggestion for your own edification: if you stopped putting the word in scare quotes, you might learn the meaning of the term civility.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:34 PM | Comments (7)

August 10, 2003

What's a Wiki?

I have a few half-finished blog entries, but at the moment no time to finish them. I'm immersed in a project for which the deadline looms large.

Late last night, I found myself in a wired state that I really try to avoid now that I have a toddler: too wide awake to sleep and yet too mentally numb to work. Having spent the day on the details of my project, I googled one of the central figures of said project. I wasn't expecting to discover anything new or exciting about this author (as my superego put it, 'What is the point? You are wasting valuable sleep time with your googling: Get offline and get to bed!'), and my google search answered this lack of expectation. I did, however, come across something interesting: the second or third search result led me to an entry at the Wikipedia, "a multilingual project to create a complete and accurate open content encyclopedia."

Now, when it comes to technology, computers, software, and the like, I think it's fair (not to mention accurate) to say that I'm not exactly on the cutting edge. My typical response to a new term such as "wiki" is to vaguely wonder what it means, and then carry on in a state of ignorance, if not bliss. I probably won't make a real effort to find out more unless and until it's right in my face.

I still don't know what "wiki" means, exactly. But I now have a general idea of what this wiki business is all about. The interesting thing, of course, is that anyone can post content, and anyone can edit or revise anyone else's posted content.

Which brings me to the Wikipedia entry to which my googling led. The problem with this entry was not that it offered a potted summary that merely skimmed the surface. After all, what's an encyclopedia for? No, the problem was that it contained several egregious errors of fact. To cite one example, my author, who wrote an influential work on criticism (by which he roughly meant what would come to be known as literary criticism), was credited with publishing a work on cynicism.

Thus ensued an innner dialogue between my superego and, well, my other superego:

Superego 1: It's late, you're tired, and you have to get up early to do some real work. Get off the net and get to bed.
Superego 2: But this entry is all wrong. I think I should fix it.
Superego 1: Are you crazy? You don't even know what a "wiki" is. But whatever it is, nobody could take this thing seriously as a repository of fact, and neither should you.
Superego 2: But some people might take it seriously. It comes up number 2 or 3 on a google search. And apparently most undergraduates now begin (and many of them end) their research on the Internet. Some student will across this entry and write a term paper which cites a nonexistent title on cynicism.
Superego 1: That's not your concern. And anyway, you're applying a different set of standards to this wiki-thingy. If they wanted the entries written by those with specialized knowledge in the relevant areas, they wouldn't have open content. Your pedantry just misses the point. This is why people hate academics. Get the hell offline and get to bed.

Well, Supergo 2 won out: I just couldn't exit that page without fixing a couple of factual errors. But after reading a few related entries (and not editing the content, because here Superego 1 prevailed, and I did get off the Internet and get myself to bed), I have forbidden myself from visiting the Wikipedia.

Anyway, I suppose the idea is that if enough people participate, eventually the entries will be revised and refined into accuracy? It's an interesting concept, but I have to say I am wee bit sceptical.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:29 AM | Comments (8)

July 30, 2003

Bogging Hiatus

I'm taking a break to get some work done. I figure this blog can practically run itself while I'm away. Or at least, that my readers can practically run it for me. So I've left a couple of new entries for comment and discussion.


Ahem. Can we say "Freudian slip"? As someone has just pointed out to me, I wrote bogging instead of blogging hiatus. Yes, I do need to take a break from this.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 03:19 PM | Comments (7)

July 25, 2003

Some Search Engine Phrases

that have directed people to this weblog (by frequency of hits):

*invisible adjunct
*university of phoenix brand recognition
*status anxiety
*the academic job market sucks
*phds underemployed
*thomas h. benton
*steal this university
*too much education and ph.d. and over-educated and job
*professor jokes
*getting a job after being an adjunct is it possible
*abuse of adjuncts
*confessions of a loser
*adjunct misery
*college textbook professor kickbacks
*intelligent system to handle lecturer to teach the subject in next semester
*professors scam academic
*grape picking job 2003 italy
*ridicule him with keywords from individual websites paranoia
*marriage versus graduate school
*proper grammar - it makes no difference to me

I am shocked and deeply concerned: proper grammar does make a difference to me.

But I wonder if I could connect all of the above into a coherent narrative, using the phrases in the order in which they occur?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:29 PM | Comments (4)

July 17, 2003

Blogging Break

My real life is interfering with my blog life. So I won't be around much until early next week (I certainly will not post any new entries until then, though I may peek in at the comments).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:49 PM | Comments (10)

July 05, 2003

Yet Another Movable Type Query

Gentle Readers,

I would like to take advantage of MT's "extended entry" option. Would someone please explain to me, in language suitable for addressing, say, a bright but ignorant 6-year old, just how this is done? E.g., Do I enter the text of my entry in the "Entry Body" box? or in the "Extended Entry" box? or in neither or both of the above? Many thanks.


P.S. I have tried the MT support forum, which is often very helpful. But the users of that forum tend to presuppose a level of competence that I have yet to achieve.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:57 PM | Comments (5)

July 01, 2003

Blogging Break

I have to take a bit of a breather, hope to resume shortly.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:09 AM | Comments (1)

June 28, 2003

Posting Comments Anonymously

In the past 24 hours I've received emails from three different people who note that they don't want/don't dare to post their comments on my blog. Now, if you'd rather email me than post a comment, that's great. However, if you do want to participate in a discussion with other readers here, but are concerned to not reveal your identity, please note that comments are set up so that readers may post anonymously (or, obviously, under a pseudonym.) You needn't enter an email address or a website/URL: just enter a name, ignore the other fields and press "Post." I should add that when you post a comment, your IP address is recorded where I can look it up (though without knowing who you are -- perhaps I could find this out if I were very clever, but rest assured I'm not that clever), so that if someone came on spewing, say, neo-Nazi bile, I could ban that IP address.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:47 PM | Comments (6)

June 26, 2003

Polling Software?

Is there an easy (easy-to-install, easy-to-use) software that would allow me to run polls on my site? Something that works well with Movable Type?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:45 PM | Comments (6)

June 24, 2003

Blogging for Business, Direct from the Source

Reinforce corporate brand message. Protect corporate brand equity and intellectual property. Disclaim all responsibility for any legal or other consequences. Write in upbeat 8th grade pro-business politically correct sincere prose. Use occasional commas, but not the mysterious semi-colon. Do not use hard words, nor refer to literature, philosophy, religion, politics or any topic that requires a high school diploma, or that might be controversial with target clients. Stay on message: Bondage is Good; Wealth Bondage is Better.

From the Tutor's guide to the management structure, style and substance (or lack thereof) of a corporate blog.

"Blogging is the one place I can think of," he writes, "where the citizen can beat the biggest companies, daily." The reason? Blogging requires a particular human voice with a distinctive personality, whereas the corporate voice is produced by those who must function as "interchangeable parts."

But what about the unique and distinctive voices of the blog we know as Wealth Bondage? Well, apparently the economy of blogging has gone global:

"So how does WB consistently turn out a highly personalized, totally Authentic, choir of voices daily? Well, candidly, we outsource it to India."


For the benefit of my adjunct readers, I note that Candidia Cruikshanks of Wealth Bondage is holding an adjunct employment auction. Apparently some mid-level flunky reminded her that since global blogging sweatshops generate negative publicity (and negative publicity adds up to diminished shareholder confidence and loss of corporate revenue), she should strive, wherever possible, to keep her domestics domestic. Grant that the auction sounds frightfully demeaning, can it be any worse than the annual medieval hiring fair at the AHA or the MLA?:

Adjuncts Wanted!

Wealth Bondage is committed to keeping as many blogging jobs as possible on American Soil. The only labor that can compete effectively with our Blog Warren in Calcutta are Adjuncts with PhDs from top schools. Please submit writing sample in the comment section below. Those selected will be interviewed by Dr. Chadwallah. No hidden meanings please. Your comment should express as briefly as possible why you aspire to a Career as a Corporate Submissive and why you feel that you are qualified based on the beatings you have received in Academia. Please stipulate your minimum acceptable salary. We are holding a reverse auction. The current low bid is $14,300, no benefits. Do I hear $13,000?

I'm working on my writing sample, to be submitted along with my new structural-functionalist functional resume.


The Tutor describes my statement as "a trumped-up farrago of upbeat business bs, academic prose, and Stoic philosophy:"

When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes, I all alone beweep my outcast state, and trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries, and look upon myself, and curse my fate, haply I think on my blog and then I churn out another entry.

I am a life time learner with the proven ability to master and apply complex concepts quickly, creatively and to maximum effect, and for little pay and no benefits. I have extensive experience both as an adjunct and as a blogger, and I span the boundaries between both worlds on my Invisible Adjunct blog, where I shift the paradigms on a daily basis. It is a measure of my modesty and self-effacement that I do so under cover of a pseudonym. I play for the team, and I play to win, but without regard to narrow self-interest, producing high-quality work for little recognition and scant remuneration. In my career as an adjunct, I have developed and implemented highly effective strategies for dealing with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, the whims and vagaries of the market, and the capricious demands of my edu-corporate whoremasters. I humbly submit my application as a high end product available at bargain basement rates.

I just hope I make the shortlist.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 09:51 PM | Comments (9)

June 23, 2003

Generation Gap: Junior versus Senior Faculty on the Current State of the Academy

In the comments to "Do Adjuncts Behave like Scabs?" Chris makes an interesting observation on the difference in perspective between senior tenured faculty and junior tenure-track faculty.

He characterizes the attitude of senior faculty as follows:

Many full time and tenured faculty are aware, however begrudgingly, that they are the last of their breed. In fact, I think many -- certainly not all, but many -- recognize that when they retire their lines will probably be re-classified, or eliminated altogether. And to the question 'why don't they do anything about this', the answer is that they feel powerless to do anything about the process, and in the interim -- that is, in the time between the present and their retirement -- they are more or less secure in their positions.

In marked contrast, he points to

an essential core belief that surrounds most younger tenure-track or tenured faculty: as a result of their success securing a tenure-track position, many younger faculty exhibit a stunning faith in the soundness of the institution.

Of course, he paints with a broad brush, and exceptions could be duly noted. And I'm pretty certain that at least some of my readers will see things very differently. But I have often observed much the same gap in perceptions between junior and senior faculty, and I think Chris's comment is a nice summary of the view from the margins.

For a very telling example of senior faculty pessimism, see James McPhersons's inaugural Perspectives column ("Budget Cuts and History Jobs: Many Problems, No Easy Solutions"), which opens on a decidedly gloomy note:

Inaugural addresses by American presidents typically offer upbeat and expansive sentiments. Franklin D. Roosevelt assured Americans that the only thing they had to fear was fear itself. John F. Kennedy called on us to conquer tyranny, poverty, and disease at home and abroad. Ronald Reagan announced an era of national renewal. As the new president of the American Historical Association, perhaps I should follow their example. But a candid appraisal of the prospects before us inhibits optimism—at least in the near term...

I would argue that senior faculty like McPherson have a real point of comparison against which to assess current trends in the academy:

Many of us have known bright young PhDs who are unable to find anything except a series of dead-end one-year positions until they give up in despair and leave the profession. Over the years I have served on numerous search committees to appoint new assistant professors at Princeton. I have been simultaneously impressed and depressed by the high quality of many applicants who have bounced around in one-year 'visiting' assistant professorships or other such euphemisms unknown in the academic world a decade or two ago. My awareness that some of these applicants are smarter and better qualified than I was when Princeton hired me 40 years ago has caused me to experience a professional version of survivor’s guilt. I had the ironic good fortune to be born during the Depression when the birth rate was low and to come onto the job market during the expansive years when the first wave of baby boomers entered college. Young history PhDs starting out today had the ironic misfortune to be born during the prosperous 1960s and to enter the academic job market at a time of uncertainty and stasis.

I suppose the counterargument would be to claim that someone like McPherson views the past through rose-colored glasses -- ie, there's no decline or crisis or what have you: things are as good and as bad as ever, it's just that McPherson didn't notice or has forgotten the bad and only remembers the good. To which I would reply: the job market statistics support McPherson. See, for example, "History Faculty by Gender and Type of Employment, A Twenty Year Comparison."

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 11:01 AM | Comments (10)

June 16, 2003


Off to a lakeside cottage for the remainder of the week. No blogging until Sunday or Monday.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:03 PM | Comments (7)

June 12, 2003

Stylesheet Help Needed

There's too much space between my blogbody (i.e., the date above the most recent entry) and the banner (i.e., the bottom of the banner) at the top of this page. I'm assuming this is a question of adjusting margins or padding? But I don't know which element to adjust. Can anyone help?

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:33 PM | Comments (7)

The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated

Or have they? Let's try posting this.

And it works! I'm back online.

The bad news: I lost a few days' worth of entries and comments, including, unfortunately, the entry "Is Tenure a Cartel?" (it's not the post I regret but the comments, and especially those by John Bruce and Zizka). I also lost my blog templates: the main template (links to other blogs and other sites, recommended readings on the academic job market, and so on), and the stylesheet (I had started out with one of the MT default templates, then gradually made changes -- I will do so again, but it won't be the same as the original because I stupidly did not back up the style template, and can't remember what changes I had made).

The good news: I had backed up my entries up to the afternoon of June 4, which I've now imported.

Many thanks to all those who sent queries, recommendations, and offers of help, and especially to Erin O'Connor of Critical Mass, Ogged of Unfogged, and Alex Soojung-Kim Pang of Relevant History.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:51 PM | Comments (16)

June 03, 2003

A Recovering Academic Enters the Blogosphere

But when I see so many gifted people still in academe, scraping by on adjunct income with no real prospects for earning a decent living, my heart goes out to them and I want to say: You are too gifted and intelligent to be wasting your time in a profession that does not want you. Just as importantly, the world is not benefitting from your talents. Look elsewhere!

The above quote comes from Kevin Walzer, who has written about the academic job crisis "in the Chronicle and elsewhere" and who has a new blog called (appropriately enough) Kevin Walzer's Blog. Among the topics he plans to address are "writing and publishing poetry, earning a living in the business world, fooling around with computer technology (and occasionally harnessing it for useful purposes), and being a former/recovering academic." I look forward to reading more.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 07:18 PM | Comments (3)

Live Colloquy on Academic Blogging

Do Web logs, or 'blogs,' contribute to academic discourse? What should academics who want to blog know about the medium?

-- Colloquy Live, Chronicle of Higher Education

Tomorrow, Wednesday 4 June, at 1 pm (Eastern US time), the Chronicle will host a live colloquy on academic blogging, starring law professor Eugene Volokh as Eugene Volokh the blogger.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

June 02, 2003

Policies on Posting Comments

Comments are an important part of this weblog. I encourage people to post responses both to my entries and to the replies of other readers, and I greatly appreciate the contributions of readers who engage in discussion and debate, offering their own ideas and opinions and expressing both agreement and disagreement with me and others who post here.

While the vast majority of people who post comments here already tacitly agree to follow basic rules of civility, the time has come to define these rules explicitly. The basic rules of civility are best specified, I believe, in terms of the following prohibitions against incivility:

* No flaming
* No ad hominem attack
* No "shouting" at me or other readers through the use of ALL CAPS (the use of ALL CAPS to emphasize the odd word or phrase is fine, but the excessive use of ALL CAPS as an inflammatory device is unacceptable)

In other words, if you don't like what someone has said, attack the argument, not the person making the argument.

These rules are intended not to stifle debate (if we all agreed with one another, we wouldn't have much to say to one another) but rather to allow for debate: I want this weblog to be a space where people can express dissent and disagreement without turning ugly and nasty.

I reserve the right to edit or delete any post that violates the basic rules of civility. Repeat offenders will be banned from posting here.

Edited for clarity 13 June.

UPDATE (22 February 2004):

In an attempt to protect the blog against auto-generated comment spam, I've decided to close the comments for entries older than 30 days. If you'd like to post a comment to an older (and now comments-disabled) entry, please email me at ia at invisibleadjunct dot com.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 03:56 PM | Comments (5)

May 30, 2003

A Scholar-Blogger and his Peers

Kieran Healy redefines (or perhaps refines?) the notion of peer review:

(Although I have considered listing my posts as publications on my vita. I mean, the ones with comments are practically peer-reviewed.)
Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 10:22 PM | Comments (1)

Does "Blog" Have a Disreputable Air?

In the comments to "Scholars Who Blog", Zizka (of "uncool when uncoolness is necessary" fame) argues that

Getting rid of the term 'blog' would be a major step in the road to respectability. It always reminds me of P. V. Glob's book, 'The Bog People', which Alexander Cockburn did indeed blog about. Blogging just sounds too much like one of the more private bodily functions.

So Glob wrote about a bog, which reminds Zizka of blog? I'm not familiar with "The Bog People," but if this is what "blog" calls to mind, I don't wonder that Zizka has some problems with it.

I have to say, I don't love the term either, though I now use it all the time. It's just not pleasant.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 05:09 AM | Comments (6)

"Scholars Who Blog"

In their skeptical moments, academic bloggers worry that the medium smells faddish, ephemeral. But they also make a strong case for blogging's virtues, the foremost of which is freedom of tone. Blog entries can range from three-word bursts of sarcasm to carefully honed 5,000-word treatises. The sweet spot lies somewhere in between, where scholars tackle serious questions in a loose-limbed, vernacular mode.

-- David Glenn, "Scholars Who Blog"

"Is this a revolution in academic discourse," asks David Glenn, "or is it CB radio?" The answer, of course, as Glenn goes on to suggest, is neither. He cites a number of academic bloggers, including Kieran Healy, Matthew Yglesias, Henry Farrell, and some pseudonymous adjunct who confesses that she's "a bit of a Luddite" (ack! now what made me say Luddite?...).

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:19 AM | Comments (16)

May 12, 2003

"Everything is Grist for the Blogger's Mill"

In the comments to Blogito Ergo Sum, Rana admits that "One week blogging and I already find myself thinking 'this would be great for my blog!'" (her new blog is here, by the way). I know the feeling.

And this reminds me -- yes: yes, this is a vanity site -- of an email exchange I had with my husband (let's call him AIA) a few weeks ago:

Me: Were you reading my blog this morning?

AIA: Big Brother is on the prowl. Yes, I was.

Me: Hey, all the cool bloggers have site meters.

AIA: That's a good justification for the Panoptiblog.

Me: Great term! I may use it on my blog.

AIA: Everything is grist for the blogger's mill. Sigh...I'm a blog widower.

So do you think this blogging thing could affect my marriage? And if so, what to do? Blog or husband? Husband or blog?

What would Ms. Mentor say? Hmm.... Looks like she might say, "If [AIA] must pout, perhaps you want out." Damn. Does she think husbands grow on trees? I'm afraid I'd have to disagree with Ms. Mentor on this one, but I guess I'll save that for another entry (on second thought, I'd better attach a disclaimer now: Yes, I am a feminist. But no, I don't think feminism implies a view of people, whether male or female, as disposable paper products. Second disclaimer: Though it intersects with feminist concerns, the issue at the heart of that column isn't so much feminism as it is the creation of a hyper-professionalized academic identity to the exclusion of all other commitments, loyalties, and obligations...)

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 08:19 PM | Comments (19)

Blogito Ergo Sum?

I've been thinking about how bizarrely self-conscious an activity is blogging.

Turbulent Velvet has a really interesting post in which he argues that blogging is like letter-writing, which he understands in earlier, indeed in 18th-century, terms:

"Letters inhabit a kind of middle ground between writing and orality. They are written, but they are formally dialogic in much the same way that speech is. Letters exist in the context of an ongoing correspondence--they proceed by turn-taking, they respond to previous mentions and 'calls,' and they anticipate responses, which means that any statement made in a letter may have to be elaborated or revised or rescinded across narrative time in dialogue with another person. Statements are never finished in letterwriting the way they are in a 'closed' form like an essay, which does not open itself formally to dialogue in the same raw way."

Like 18th-century epistolarity, T.V. suggests, blogging takes place somewhere between privacy and publicity. I like this because it allows me to think of blogging as a social form: not quite public but not fully private, either: somewhere in that intermediary social realm that falls in between.

So it's not keeping a private diary and then publishing one's innermost thoughts and musings on a website. Or it shouldn't be, if you want to have any readers. Aha! There is always the consciousness of readers, and of their responses, and then of one's own responses to their responses. Back and forth we go, from blog to blog, entry to comment, and back again.

And yet there's no getting away from the self-consciousness. I am sometimes amazed (occasionally even appalled) by my keeping a blog, it sometimes strikes me as altogether too self-indulgent an activity. The "I" that is all over these pages: who is this "I" and what am I doing? What a massively insignificant authorial intrusion into cyberspace. Full of sound and fury and signifying nothing or something or just what, exactly? Is this a feat of derring-do? Hell no, it's more an act of sheer folly.

Then, too, I sometimes worry that I'll start thinking in blogbytes.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:45 AM | Comments (8)

May 10, 2003

Too Much Doom and Gloom?

"Geez, talk about depressing."

So writes Archidamus, a graduate student in the history department at UVA, who finds my postings too full of "angst" and my side-bar too "dreary." Dreary?! Well, damn. I was going for a different effect altogether: fun, flirty, and feminine, but with a serious side. Maybe I need a new colour scheme?

Though Archidamus admits that he himself has "plenty of complaints about the academy," he wonders "if all this doom-and-gloom is a bit overdone." Placing the issue within a broader historical perspective, he makes an observation that strikes me as entirely correct, then draws a conclusion that strikes me as fundamentally wrong-headed in its refusal to consider present and future contexts and concerns:

"Historically, people have never been able to make much of a living doing the sort of stuff modern academics in the humanities do, which is why one used to have to be independently wealthy to write history or work on poetry or whatever. If this is a real issue for anyone, they should probably just go make a living doing something else."

Anyway, he is right, of course, that this blog is not exactly upbeat in tone. And I shouldn't really give him such a hard time, since he's new to the blogosphere and says he still has misgivings about the whole business of blogging." Welcome, Archidamus. Now hit those books.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 12:18 AM | Comments (15)

April 26, 2003

Let's Not Do Lunch?

A graduate student in philosophy writes: "I find Invisible Adjunct depressing but I read it anyway."

I'm glad he's reading it, but then kind of sorry he finds it depressing. And it is depressing, isn't it? This is not an upbeat and cheerful sort of blog. Maybe not the kind of blog you'd want to have lunch with. You might think, 'Sure, it makes a couple of good points, but then it's rather relentless in pursuit of those points, and altogether too negative; It's really kind of draining, and geez, I just want to have a nice, relaxing lunch and I don't know if I have the energy.' No, this is not a "let's-do-lunch" blog. It's more a late night, perhaps even a 3 a.m. phonecall, sort of a blog. In short, it's a bit of a downer.

Well, adjunctification is depressing, and in more ways than I have time to name. There's the depression of wages, of course (and not only for adjuncts: reliance on part-timers exerts a downward pressure on the salaries of the tenure-tracked and the tenured, too). And then there's the depression of status (again, a downward pressure on the status of the relevant disciplines overall. Take English literature, for example, surely this is the near-perfect example. Some attribute the degradation of English to the tendency of its professors to jump on the latest theoretical bandwagons. And they do seem to go in for the latest fads and fashions over in the English department...well, let's face it, they seem to have deconstructed and to have undermined the very basis of their own discipline and to have done so from within: this is curious and probably worrisome for anyone who cares about the long-term prospects of English literature as an academic discipline. But English literature is also one of the main offenders in the reliance on casual, part-time teaching staff, and surely there is a connection? perhaps there is even a relationship between reliance on contingent labor and a theoretical concern with the marginal and the contingent: is the adjunct instructor meant to serve as some sort of experiment in the decentering of the subject?) And then there is that other kind of depression that can result from the depression of wages and status. Unemployment and underemployment are depressing topics all around.

Someone asked me the other day, "You said the purpose of your blog was partly therapeutic. Is it working?" Ack. How embarrassing. Welcome to my me-zine: it's all about me and I'm all about therapy. How cheesy does that sound? This is one of the main reasons why I write this stuff under cover of a pseudonym. It's not that I'm worried about losing tenure, I don't have tenure to lose. It's more that, in pursuit of those couple of points that are the main focus of this blog, I'm also throwing out bits and pieces of myself, and who knows where they will land and how they will be received?

Anyway, the funny thing is, I think it's actually working. The fact is, I'm feeling much better these days. Well, maybe it's partly the weather, but I'm pretty sure it's also the blog. It helps to say the things that I say on this blog. I suppose it helps to "get it out of my system," as the saying goes. Of course, there's a fine line here. I want to get it out of my system and then move on. I don't want to spend the rest of my life obssessing over these cheerless themes, embittered and angry and what have you. But then I can't seem to move on until I get it out of my system. However, I'm beginning to see the exit, I think I can cut a path and find my way out. I'm not quite finished with getting it out of my system, there are still a few more things I want to say. I will say them, and then move on.

But meanwhile, maybe I'm bringing others down? Damn. There's always a catch, isn't there? Well look: I'm only one person offering one account of one side of the story. It's a side that doesn't get enough attention, I think, but still it's only one side. There are many other sides, too. Just take this side and place it alongside the others, not as a replacement but as an accompaniment to those other sides. And for heaven's sake, don't read this stuff if you are nearing your comps or your dissertation defense: I think you should know about the side that I cover in this blog, but I don't think you need to know it as you are approaching any of these hurdles.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 12:15 PM | Comments (14)

April 22, 2003

New Email Policy

A number of people have emailed me recently with harrowing tales of that fundamentally absurd and unjust form of trial by ordeal known as the "academic job market." Much as I'd love to quote some of this stuff, I will not do so without explicit permission. Since I didn't have a clear policy on citation when these people emailed me their stories, I've decided to err on the side of caution rather than risk making them feel uncomfortable. I really appreciate the emails, and don't want anyone to regret having taken the time and trouble to write to me.

But I've decided to set a new policy, which reads as follows:

"Unless you indicate otherwise, I will assume that I can cite and post quotations from your email, referring to you by whatever name, pseudonym or initials you choose. If you inform me that you do not want me to make reference to your email on this blog, I will not do so."

This policy is effective immediately but does not apply to any email I have already received. Again, if you have already emailed me, I'm going to assume that you don't want me to cite or quote from your message -- unless you email me with the go-ahead, in which case I may cite your tale as yet another case study in the adjunctification and deprofessionalization of academic teaching.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 06:08 PM | Comments (1)


Via Matthew Yglesias (who now has comments, along with a new photo), Amitai Etzioni decrees that "anonymity is anti-Communitarian." Anonymity, Etzioni writes, "makes for much poorer conversations, meager relationships and impoverished communities. People are free to disregard the feelings of others, to deceive, and to prevent the formation of the true connections that result from gradually getting to know more and more about a person." And "above all," he adds, "they are able to avoid assuming responsibility for what they are saying."

Since I'm not a communitarian (though I hasten to add, not a libertarian either, and probably closer to the communitarian end of the spectrum on many issues) I'm not overly concerned about the anti-Communitarian charge. Still, the notion that those who use aliases "don't dare to show their true colors" does hit a nerve. The fact is, I don't feel entirely comfortable using a pseudonym for this site. There is a certain kind of anonymous internet character that I think of as the AnonyMouse: the person who is often, I suspect, rather timid and nonconfrontational in real life but who uses the internet's cloak of anonymity to flame and bait and provoke while hiding from responsibility. Well, ok, I really don't see myself as timid and certainly not as non-confrontational in real life, and I don't believe I'm a flame-and-bait type on the internet (though I do love a good argument). Still, I worry that there is an AnonyMouse quality to the decision to go anonymous.

But if I don't feel entirely comfortable using a pseudonym, I would feel even less comfortable using my real name (which I briefly considered doing, before deciding against it, or perhaps, before mousing out). I gave a rather tongue-in-cheek explanation for my anonymity when I first started this blog. I suppose the very fact that I felt the need to address this issue is a measure of my anxiety over it. This is not about the expression of political dissent, obviously, but about the expression of a kind of dissent concerning the academy. A far less serious business than politics, admittedly, perhaps even a rather silly business altogether. But serious enough for me at the moment. Since I don't enjoy academic freedom or job security, I don't feel safe making certain kinds of statements. I see my options as either adopting a pseudonym or remaining silent on the very issues that are the main focus of this blog.

This concern over anonymity intersects with the issue of blogging and truth (and/or perhaps blogging and authenticity), which is the subject of an interesting discussion over at Liz Lawley's. As I see it, I tell the truth on this blog (the truth as I see it, needless to say), but not the whole truth. I sometimes talk about my personal life, for example, but there's only so far I will go in that direction, even under cover of a pseudomym. I have my limits, most of us do (the people who don't have limits are the ones who really worry me). I believe (though I could be wrong about this) most of the people who read my stuff would agree they are encountering a more or less coherent identity: I'm not trying on different masks, self-consciously experimenting with a dizzying array of contingent identities, or doing anything at all theoretically glamorous or sexy. Grant the decentring of the subject, the death of the author (which I actually won't grant, but that's another topic), and so on and so forth, the person who writes the entries on this blog is as unitary a subject as a person can be, and that person is me using a pseudonym.

In a related vein, Henry Farrell picks up on the criticism of anonymity to propose a rather different model than that of Etzioni's communitarian society (er, communitarian community? or is that redundant?): that of the eighteenth-century coffeehouse as a sphere of sociablility. I find this very attractive as an idea/ideal of the kind of Habermasian public sphere that the blogosphere might provide.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:21 AM | Comments (10)

April 19, 2003

A Modest Proposal for Adjuncts

My fellow adjuncts,

Are you in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes? It sure feels like it sometimes, doesn't it? You meant to be a tenure-track professor, instead you are an adjunct. The worst is trying to explain it to your parents...all that booklearning, all those years, and all for naught?...I want to write about this, I am working on an entry, but honestly, it's so painful, it is so mind-****ingly painful, that I keep putting it aside. We need to leave the academy. You know that, don't you? Yes, and I know it too. Somehow it's tough to find the exit: it is not very well-marked, and it's hard to see clearly when the lights have been dimmed. But find it I will, and I hope you find it too. In the meantime: Listen, I know all about the sense of disgrace, and here is my modest proposal: Don't trouble deaf heaven with your bootless cries. Get yourself a blog and trouble the blogosphere. You never know, someone might actually hear you. Strapped for cash? (yeah, I know). Try Blogger: they will host your blog for free.

Yours in fellowship,
Invisible Adjunct

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 04:11 AM | Comments (6)

April 17, 2003

Movable Type Mysteries Unraveled

Dorothea offers clear and readable and user-friendly explanations of preferences, placeholders, angle brackets and more. MT newbies should check this out. Make friends with your templates!

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 01:45 PM | Comments (0)

April 04, 2003

Movable Type for Dummies?

I'm a newbie, a blunderer, an ignoramus, call me what you will. I don't mind admitting that what I need is a dummies guide for Movable Type. I'm sure the documentation is very thorough, but it presupposes a basic understanding of the basics, and a basic understanding is what I do not have. Some of it flies right over my head.

I've only just discovered, for example, that the "date posted" at the bottom of a blog entry is in fact its permalink. We're talking basics here, a basic knowledge of which I lack.

Ignorance breeds fear. I want to make some changes, but I'm afraid to tinker for fear of messing things up. If something goes awry, I will automatically assume that I've done something awful and irrevocable.

Categories, for example. It looks easy and straightforward, but this apparent simplicity makes me nervous. There is a Categories button under "Manage" in the main menu. I see how I can enter up to 5 categories. But is that all there is to it? Or is that just an initial step, before going into the templates to do something more? And are there any perils and pitfalls of which I should be aware?

Trackback I still don't quite get, even after having read Mena and Ben Trott's new Beginners Guide to Trackback (yeah, I know, it's kind of sad, isn't it?). Liz Lawley posted something useful the other day, but I'm still not sure I understand. I've now turned on the autodiscovery, so I suppose I can leave things at that.

Three columns instead of two. I've seen this on many blogs and I really like it. But then I've come across comments suggesting that three columns can cause problems? Again, I don't know enough about any of this to understand how or why this might be problematic, though I assume it has something to do with floating/alignment issues?

Backing up one's blog content. Is there a best way to do this, and if so, what is it?

Well, sooner or later I suppose I will figure this stuff out. But I welcome any hints or suggestions...

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at 02:20 PM | Comments (12)