Doctor Cleveland's picture

    National Adjunct Walkout Day (and Why It Matters to You)

    Today, February 25, is National Adjunct Walkout Day. The majority of college teachers in America today are not full-time instructors with salaries, benefits, or job security, but allegedly "part time" adjunct faculty members paid a few thousand dollars per course. Today, across our country, those adjunct faculty members will be walking out of their classes and holding events to raise awareness.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Fifty Shades of Mr. D.: The Unwritten Rules of Romance Fiction

    Hollywood is making some big Valentine's Day cash off Fifty Shades of Grey, the movie adapted from the first book of E. L. James's mommy-porn trilogy. Let me say right up front that I have not read these books, because life is too short for that. But, like every living human in the industrialized world, I've been bludgeoned with so much unrelenting chatter about these books that I can recap the general plot: buff young billionaire punishes and dominates sweet young virgin in his sex dungeon, but also everywhere else.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    A Story from the Crusades

    Apparently, some people are very upset that President Obama suggested that some Christians did bad things during the Crusades. Where does he get off saying something like that? Let me tell you a little story from the Third Crusade.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Against Rock Stars

    This summer, I went to a Cleveland Indians game which involved a pregame celebration for Johnny "Johnny Football" Manziel. [Full disclosure: I am a lifelong Boston sports fan living in Cleveland. Although I sometimes go to the Jake just to watch the Indians, I was there that night because my Red Sox were in town.] Everybody in the building seemed to be deliriously excited about Johnny Football. Everybody was making his little money-fingers gesture.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Typhoid Mary and the Anti-Vaxxers

    The measles outbreak in Southern California has been generously made possible by California law's "personal belief exemption," which allows adults to refuse vaccinations for their children or themselves based on their so-called "personal belief" that vaccines cause autism. Here "personal belief" is extended to include not simply religious and moral teachings -- the question here isn't that religion teaches that vaccination is morally wrong -- but factual errors.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your New Year's Public Domain Report, 2015

    I'm late with my annual public-domain update this year. But that's okay because yet again this year, nothing new entered the public domain this January 1. That's right, because of repeated extensions of the copyright laws in the US, no copyrights expired this year. Or last year. Or the year before. Almost none have since January 1, 1979.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Shakespeare "Authorship Debates" and Amateur Scholarship

    So, just in time to ruin my New Year's celebrations, Newsweek has seen fit to publish a credulous article trumpeting the old who-wrote-Shakespeare conspiracy theories. I won't give Newsweek a link, but you can click through Amanda Marcotte's smart takedown at Rawstory if you're curious.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Confidence, Rejection, and Criticism: Advice from Actors to Academics, Part Three

    Christmas week is especially hard for young academics trying to get a job, especially in literary studies. The annual rhythm of the job search means that most first-round interviews (the interviews that take place at major disciplinary conferences over the winter) get scheduled during the first half of December. By this time of year, grad students (and recent PhDs) looking for a job are counting the meager number of schools where their applications are still active; they may have applied to dozens of jobs and gotten one or two first-round interviews to show for it.
    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Police, Danger, and the Social Contract

    I was blogging about the police tonight, and about the responses to protests of police brutality. Then I heard about the shooting of two police officers in New York City,  so the rest of that post (and some of the others I have been working on) will have to wait.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Fire This Time

    There is one truth that we need to face today, after the grand jury's decision in Ferguson. And that truth is simple. No one can live like this.

    No one can live with an arrangement where their sons can be killed with impunity. No one can make their peace with that. No one can accept that. No one can live like this.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Turning Down the Imaginary Car (Advice from Actors to Academics, Part 2)

    I blogged earlier about how the academic job search can be framed like the search for an acting job (where the odds are incredibly steep, rejection is pervasive, and the stakes feel deeply personal). Today's post is a second installment of advice from Robert Cohen's classic Acting Professionally, a very career-specific book of advice that I have found applicable to other careers.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Thinking Like the Plague

    The Ebola panic in the American media seems uncannily familiar to me, in the worst possible way. Anyone who studies Renaissance literature for a living has read many accounts of terrible epidemics, and many stories of epidemic hysteria. (In fact, some people have written learned and illuminating books about literary responses to the plague; I can't pretend to be one of them.) Smallpox is a terrible affliction. Bubonic plague is worse.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Career Advice from Actors to Academics

    It's that cruelest of seasons again for young scholars: job search season. In an annual fall ritual I've discussed in previous years, the list of jobs for new professors beginning next fall has recently been published, and people who want those jobs are now laboring over complicated job applications. As has been the case for many years, and especially since the Great Recession began, there are far fewer jobs than there are talented and qualified applicants.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Stop Panicking About Ebola

    Hi. I'm at Logan Airport in Boston. Unfortunately, CNN is on in the departure lounge. They are raving (indeed, nearly foaming at the mouth) about Ebola.

    And it seems, according to CNN, that the CDC has quarantined a plane from Liberia (oops, my bad: Dubai) where some passengers have fallen ill. They have quarantined that plane here at, well, Boston's Logan Airport.

    Should you be worried about Ebola? Let's put it this way: should I be worried about Ebola? No, and no.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Who Lost Scotland?

    Today Scotland votes on independence: a fifty-fifty referendum on leaving the United Kingdom. It's gone from a long shot to a statistical dead heat, and nobody can say for sure how the vote will go. But what's certain is that Scotland's old relationship with the rest of Britain is finished. The Scottish independence movement will not just go away if they come up a couple percent short; they're never going to give up now that they've gotten this close. And if a united United Kingdom squeaks by, Scotland will expect to be given much more autonomy than it's had so far.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Obama's Mission

    Barack Obama was elected because the American people were tired of being bogged down in unwinnable foreign wars. He was elected because a majority of American voters had come to view the Iraq war as a mistake. This is a basic, bottom-line political fact. Therefore, it is not (and cannot be) Official Beltway Wisdom.

    Topics: 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Let's Review the Michael Brown Case

    Let's review some basics from the Michael Brown case:

    • If a police office kills an unarmed person for jaywalking, that is murder. 
    • If a police officer kills an unarmed person for shoplifting five bucks' worth of cigars, that is murder. 
    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Robin Williams and Making Live Comedy Live

    Robin Williams was funny, lightning fast, and a gifted improviser, but what really set him apart as a comic was that he let his audiences share the experience of what doing standup comedy feels like. He didn't do that explicitly. It probably can't be done explicitly. But he did it, maybe better than anyone else ever has. It was the core of his gift, because a great comedian is not merely funny. A great comedian creates a relationship with the audience, and the relationship Williams created with his live audiences was something fundamental and profound.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Other Two Sides in Israel and Palestine

    It is not only hard to write about the bloodshed in Israel and Palestine without taking sides. It is impossible for most people to read about the violence in Israel and Palestine without taking sides. So the debate bogs down into questions of justification and self-defense and proportionality: that is, into the utterly useless question of whether Israel or Hamas is more in the wrong. It may well be that one side or the other is more justified, or more culpable. But since the answering that question will not prevent even a single death, the question is meaningless.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Jaws and Climate Denial

    There is no better Fourth of July movie for my money than Jaws. I would watch it at least twice every Independence Day weekend if that wouldn't bore and annoy my spouse. It was designed and filmed so carefully that time has transformed it into a beautifully accurate period piece, capturing the New England beaches of my 1970s childhood in loving detail. Time has also turned it into something else it was not originally meant to be: a parable about the dangers of denying climate change.

    Pages

    Latest Comments