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Written/Unwritten is out!…..STILL!!

I mean it is out and about where people can just walk into places and events and buy it

book pics
I had this cute idea that I would write a monthly update about how things are going with Written/Unwritten—as if the rest of the world would stop just because this book is out in the world.
That’s not the way it works. Papers must be graded, forms must be filled out, walking pneumonia must be had, and, it turns out, if I’m going to a conference I still actually have to get myself there, with something useful to say.

But it’s all the good kind of busy, and I’m thankful to be busy.

I wasn’t sure what would happen when the book was published. I certainly had fantasies about what would happen (still waiting for the Brooklyn Public Library to add it to its shelves and for that one line from that one critic), but I didn’t know what people would do it with. It also wasn’t clear to me how people would read it after the election, or, to be honest, whether they would read it at all or not. I’m happy to report that they have read it. They are reading it! REALLY reading it! They’re reading it on their own, in groups at colleges and corporations, and giving it to their deans and provosts. I heard a rumor that one dean bought copies for the 2017 incoming faculty at his college (BTW & FYI: for group discounts contact Dino Batista at UNC Press)

As I mentioned at the end of the first month, it was great to see The Chronicle of Higher Ed and Inside Higher Ed feature articles and reviews about it. Colin Dicky makes the case that in this particular political moment the narratives in Written/Unwritten or more necessary than ever in this interview we did for the Los Angeles Review of Books. Diverse Issues in Higher Ed’s thoughtful review highlights an important, prescient point in the essay by Lisa Sánchez González: “Academic freedom has been and continues to be an endangered species in our post-9/11 era, which only compounds the risks that have always existed for the most vulnerable intellectuals in academe.”
diverse review pic
Monica Mercado hosted a live TwitterChat that left us both breathless. I paid her in books, but really her work for this could never be adequately compensated.

A wise friend has forbidden me from reading the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, but if you look, you’ll see that we have some stars, and I’m happy about that…thrilled. My dad and I went through the WorldCatalog together to see which libraries carry the book. You’d think I’d be happy to see how many libraries have it on their shelves, but I’m giving side-eye to the holdouts. #neversatisfied.

After Barnard hosted the book’s first official event, I was asked to be this year’s keynote speaker for Indiana State’s annual recruitment webinar. I’m figuring this out as I go, but I’ve learned that the best talks and webinars are a result of a collaboration, and so I’m thankful to Josh Powers at Indiana State and my colleague Milton Fuentes at Montclair for brainstorming with me ahead of my talk. There’s a lot packed in Written/Unwritten, so it’s helpful in these talks to know what people find helpful.

Next up for Written/Unwritten is a June talk with the NEH’s Next Gen Humanities PhD Consortium about doctoral education, diversity, and life outside/beyond the tenure-track, and in September I’ll be at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, hosted by the Institute for the Arts and Humanities.

As for me:

I’m on to my next book (more about that soon). In June I’ll be doing some work with the National Humanities Center and am on a panel talking Mary Shelley and Felicia Hemans at the British Women Writers Conference.

If all goes well, in July I’m planning to disappear with friends to work on the next books. Then in August, the week before my birthday (August 14th…and it’s never too early to start shopping) I’ll be one of the 2017 Fellows at the Digital Pedagogy Lab. I’m excited and nervous, but I’m also hopeful that my workshop will be a collaborative one with ideas and strategies and hope the participants can take with them.

These first months have been busy and more than a little dizzying, but the circle of people who care for me is strong and solid, showing up just when I need them. I’m so thankful to all of them, so grateful to have folks who celebrate with me, celebrate me, shake some sense into me when I need it, and travel with me as I go about this work.

More….when I next take a breath.

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Filed under Diversity Reporting, Race and Tenure Op-Ed

Written/Unwritten is out!

It’s been a busy first month for Written/Unwritten and for me. The official release date was the day before the apocalypse, but even before the publication date response to the anthology have been overwhelmingly positive.

At one point in the process of getting the book together I sighed to a friend that it was taking so long that by the time it came out no one would even care about tenure anymore. But when I hear about a watchlist of faculty members deemed radical and dangerous, and listen to faculty of color who feel more taxed as students turn to them for help processing the election results (or are more aggressive than usual feeling embolden by the election of a president who is bringing racists into the White House), it’s clear that this book is more necessary than ever and that the narratives here can help individuals and institutions rethink how they support and maintain meaningful faculty diversity.

I was interviewed in The Chronicle of Higher Education (Tenure Denials Set Off Alarm Bells, and a Book, About Obstacles for Minority Faculty” paywalled) about the anthology:fullsizerender-24

The Chronicle also interviewed me about a reader I compiled with two of my colleagues earlier this year (“A Professor Created a Guide to Police Shootings for Worried Students. Now Her Colleagues Want It” paywalled)fullsizerender-25

In a major victory for all of us, I got “woke AF” published in a piece I wrote for The Atlantic (”What Is Faculty Diversity Worth to a University?”):

The stakes are even higher now. They are higher because service that might have been seen as extra can now feel essential. Black faculty report feeling more vulnerable, and the invisible labor is hyper visible in this post-Ferguson, post-Obama moment. All too often, when deans, provosts, and presidents call for panels, workshops, and university discussions, there’s a faculty member of color who has to wrestle with how to contribute (or with whether or not they want to) while still doing the work their colleagues get to do without the same burden. The stakes are higher because ethnic-studies and women’s-studies departments are being effectively dismantled. Their faculty must take time away from their own research and teaching to fight as legislatures target them and administrators try to cut their budgets or fire the tenure-line faculty in their departments.

Inside Higher Ed published a nuanced, beautifully reported consideration of the anthology (Separate and Not Equal):

Recent anecdotes put a face to the problem. Aimee Bahng, a popular assistant professor of English at Dartmouth College was denied tenure last year, despite strong backing from faculty colleagues, for example, and her supporters said another professor of color was denied tenure the year before under similar circumstances. Other faculty members of color have left Dartmouth of their own accord, leaving one instructor there to declare that “temporary, precarious and disavowed labor of people of color at Dartmouth is their purposeful and intentional diversity solution.” Dartmouth has acknowledged that it has trouble retaining minority professors but denies claims of racism in personnel decisions.

This review in the New York Journal of Books makes clear about the necessity of these narratives in this particular moment.

In today’s corrosive and divisive public-political discourse, the experiences, interpretations, and emotions expressed by the contributors to this volume might be variably termed as overly sensitive, politically correct, or—more crassly—whining. Spun somewhat differently, dissent, critique, questioning, and protest are taken as an outright attack in a crudely polarized political landscape where you are either “making America great again,” or its opposite. These essays are now, more than ever, a timely and courageous contribution to the exploration and critique of the operation of power as it refracts against diverse, non-dominant identities in American higher education.

To top it all off, I visited Barnard and talked about the anthology, specifically its contributors, with faculty of color, faculty diversity committee members, friends, my Montclair colleagues, and my Aunt Carmen, who was very happy that I spoke more slowly this time than I did when she came to hear me give a lecture last year (and was impressed that instead of the four or five people who attended that lecture the room at Barnard was full…sitting on the floor room only).  Jennifer Williams, who I talked to for the chapter “’Cast your net wide’: Reflections on Activism and Community Engagement When Black Lives Matter,” was there too.

Some of my favorite friends showed up: Manu Chandler, Jennifer Clark, Eve Dunbar, Kim Hall, Stephanie Hershinow, David Hershinow, Alison Kinney, Karl Steel, and Joan T. Walrond, who holds the record for buying the most copies of the anthology thus far.

Kevin Browne and Carla Shedd, two of the people I follow on Twitter for wisdom, moral clarity, and inspiration, were there too.

Kim, Stephanie, and Kevin tweeted my talk, and it’s been interesting to see how my comments on the anthology are interpreted in real time. Some of what they tweeted were direct quotes from my talk, but I was most interested in how they extended my ideas, in powerful ways. I’ve gathered those tweets via storify.

There’s been a lot to process with all of this. This is my first book, and I’ve been excited, terrified, hopeful, and relieved that it’s out. The night before the Barnard talk I panicked that I hadn’t gotten one part of the introduction right and that people might think less of me because of it. Then I realized that, to a large extent, the anthology isn’t fully about me, and, by extension, the talk was not actually about me either.  Don’t get me wrong, the day was definitely about me. I know this because my Aunt Carmen, my godfather George Bailey, and my cousin Neil were there. And there were cupcakes and an open bar afterwards. But the talk was really about the rather remarkable people who trusted me with their stories. This was my chance to introduce them.  It felt wonderful to have the opportunity to talk about their work and what they offer the academy. So I actually had quite a bit of fun.

I’m curious to know what’s next—where the anthology will take me and how others will engage with it into the holidays and the new year. To those of you who have bought the book already, thank you so much. If you haven’t bought it yet, UNC press has 40% off all of its books and shipping for orders of $75 or more are free.   Buy a copy for yourself, your dean, your provost, your favorite graduate students…you get the idea.

The book is dedicated to my parents. That’s my mother’s wedding ring and chain I’m wearing in the storify pic.

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Filed under Race, Race and Tenure Reporting, Resources