Welcome to The Valve

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Statement of Purpose

John Holbo - Editor
Scott Eric Kaufman - Editor
Aaron Bady
Adam Roberts
Amardeep Singh
Andrew Seal
Bill Benzon
Daniel Green
Jonathan Goodwin
Joseph Kugelmass
Lawrence LaRiviere White
Marc Bousquet
Matt Greenfield
Miriam Burstein
Ray Davis
Rohan Maitzen
Sean McCann
Guest Authors

Laura Carroll
Mark Bauerlein
Miriam Jones

Past Valve Book Events

cover of the book Theory's Empire

Event Archive

cover of the book The Literary Wittgenstein

Event Archive

cover of the book Graphs, Maps, Trees

Event Archive

cover of the book How Novels Think

Event Archive

cover of the book The Trouble With Diversity

Event Archive

cover of the book What's Liberal About the Liberal Arts?

Event Archive

cover of the book The Novel of Purpose

Event Archive

The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Happy Trails to You

What’s an Encyclopedia These Days?

Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Intimate Enemies: What’s Opera, Doc?

Alphonso Lingis talks of various things, cameras and photos among them

Feynmann, John von Neumann, and Mental Models

Support Michael Sporn’s Film about Edgar Allen Poe

Philosophy, Ontics or Toothpaste for the Mind

Nazi Rules for Regulating Funk ‘n Freedom

The Early History of Modern Computing: A Brief Chronology

Computing Encounters Being, an Addendum

On the Origin of Objects (towards a philosophy of computation)

Symposium on Graeber’s Debt

The Nightmare of Digital Film Preservation

Richard Petti on Occupy Wall Street: America HAS a Ruling Class

Bill Benzon on Whatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhatwhat?

Nick J. on The Valve - Closed For Renovation

Bill Benzon on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Norma on Encyclopedia Britannica to Shut Down Print Operations

Bill Benzon on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

john balwit on What’s an Object, Metaphysically Speaking?

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on That Shakespeare Thing

William Ray on That Shakespeare Thing

JoseAngel on That Shakespeare Thing

Bill Benzon on Objects and Graeber's Debt

Bill Benzon on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on A Dirty Dozen Sneaking up on the Apocalypse

JoseAngel on Objects and Graeber's Debt

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About Last Night
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About Marc Bousquet

Marc Bousquet is a tenured asssociate professor at Santa Clara University, where he teaches courses in radical U.S. culture, internet studies, and writing with new media. His book How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation has just been released by NYU Press with a foreword by Cary Nelson. He serves on the national council of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and was the founding editor of Workplace: A Journal for Academic Labor.

Email Address: pmbousquet@gmail.com
Website: http://howtheuniversityworks.com/


Posts by Marc Bousquet

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/25/08 at 02:28 PM

crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

The AFT-affiliated Graduate Employees’ Organization (GEO) walked off the job at 5 am this morning, shutting down classes, construction sites, and loading docks at the University of Michigan, with the support of undergraduates and union workers

The goal of the two-day walkout was to get the attention of the administration during contract negotiations that had not been taking seriously the union’s demand that teaching assistants earn a living wage in the Ann Arbor area, representing a one-time increase of over 9%, to be followed by regular cost-of-living increases.

That demand appears to have succeeded, with the university requesting that bargaining re-commence.

GEO is one of the most successful graduate employee unions in the country with a long tradition of militant response to administrator intransigence, staging walkouts or work stoppages in 1987, 1991, 1993, 1996, 1999 and 2002. 

Monday, March 24, 2008

Linguistics for Administrators

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/24/08 at 03:04 PM

crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

I completed my app. with style and perfection
Now I wonder how long before you make your selection
I hope you don’t mind that I’m being persistent
But, I really want to be your teaching assistant

--"JD," March 13, 2008, applying for a “HotForWords” position

When you teach for love, how do you pay your teaching assistants?

Continue reading "Linguistics for Administrators"

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Teaching for Lust

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/18/08 at 04:55 PM

crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

“Dude! Her metrics are awesome!” Teaching for love, indeed.

Youtube phenom “Hotforwords” raises the ante on the “teaching for love” canard. In the process, she schools us on how teaching really can realize the administration’s dream in the form of the ultimate “quality” process.

The 27-year-old Russian philologist is a former Ph.D. aspirant and high school literature teacher with nearly 30 million views of her videos explaining various linguistic puzzles, such as--in the featured clip--how “dope” can mean both stupid and excellent.

One might ask the same about the term “quality,” which for administrators means, well, this.

Continue reading "Teaching for Lust"

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Reluctant Revolutionary

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/17/08 at 01:46 AM

Crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

John Adams goes to war on behalf of the professional-managerial class.

The first two segments of the HBO miniseries “John Adams” screened last night, featuring the title character as an unwilling professional-managerial incendiary.

Repelled by the melodramatic “join or die” rhetoric of the Sons of Liberty and not entirely unaware of the advantages of currying favor with the administration, Adams enters the picture deeply invested in colonial shared governance, declaring “The crown is misguided, but it is not despotic—I firmly believe that.”

The most compelling aspect of the character in these segments is the movement from this faith in shared governance to outraged revolutionist. Professorial in demeanor and temperament, Adams’ personal journey to democracy is perhaps farther even than his journey to dissent. 

Continue reading "The Reluctant Revolutionary"

Thursday, March 13, 2008

You Have No Job Security, But We’ll Tell the Goverment You Do

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/13/08 at 12:43 PM

Crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

In an essential new tract for the majority of faculty who serve contingently, Joe Berry explains how sleazeball administrations game the social-service system to vacuum every last dime from your pocket.

It takes a village to pay for the ultra-low wages that most contingent faculty are paid. The math is simple: since paying someone fifteen or eighteen grand a year for a full-time load is well below a living wage nearly everywhere in the country, especially when that person has massive student loan debt, someone is supplementing the wage so the teacher can live. It could be a spouse, parents, a retirement fund, or another employer. Sometimes it’s human services, in the form of welfare or food assistance.  The money “saved” by cheap faculty labor is actually paid in to the system by taxpayers, other employers, and family members.

Continue reading "You Have No Job Security, But We’ll Tell the Goverment You Do"

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Science Education Invokes the Rapture

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/12/08 at 11:34 AM

x-posted from CHE’s Brainstorm

I believe in sustainability. I believe in melodrama. But National Geographic needs to find some better writer-producers than this!

So I’m spending a lot of time these days encouraging my son to vomit on my shoulder, which translates into more time than usual with my friend Tivo, and there is a sort of pause in the Democratic knife fight (except for the part where Ferraro pours gasoline on the Clinton candidacy and lights it while Hillary wonders whether a fire extinguisher is required or not).


So in the middle of the night I tune in to what all the kids are watching--National Geographic Channel, Animal Planet, all that.

And I watch “Aftermath: Population Zero,” appearing on National Geographic.  The concept isn’t the worst: the producers ask, what will the planet look like after humanity?  As you’d expect, it’s a platform for exploring all the unsustainable things that humans do. Subtract humanity, and watch how the planet finds a balance. For popular science, not bad, though Emersonians and evolutionary biologists will both have pretty valid complaint ("Nature" isn’t humanity’s other; there is no evolutionary history “apart” from humanity, etc). 

The subtraction of humanity from the planetary equation is one of the oldest gambits in the book, with an endless number of plausible scenarios. We kill ourselves with war. Disease. Nuclear armageddon. Overpopulation. Pollution. Greed. Or the aliens come and use us for food. Whatever.

But what do the producers choose for their post-humanity gambit? The rapture.

No kidding. When they talk about humanity vanishing, they mean literally vanishing. In an instant. For the first hour of this moronic program, they imagine what would happen if all human bodies are sucked out of running cars and airplanes (uh, they crash) and nuclear power plants (they melt down). 

Continue reading "Science Education Invokes the Rapture"

Friday, March 07, 2008

Like ‘The Wire’? You’re Living It.

Posted by Marc Bousquet on 03/07/08 at 07:19 PM

Crossposted from howtheuniversityworks.com

Special thanks to Scott Kaufman for inviting me to post here. As time goes on, I’ll cross-publish commentary from my book blog as well as video on higher ed (eg “Faculty on Food Stamps,” “The Twilight of Academic Freedom,” and “Play PhD Casino!” from the associated youtube channel.

This post is actually the conclusion of an abortive contretemps I had over at Brainstorm with Stephen Trachtenberg, the recently retired prez at G-Dub. Basically, he posted sequentially about the importance of tenure for administrators and the need to shove out more tenured faculty who, he bemoaned, average the princely sum of $80,000 a year. To which I said, 80 grand is too much? Nurses make more than that. So does my bartender. Plus, that average of 80K covers less than a third of the faculty, and that minority includes a boatload of tenured women in, say, English, clocking in at $50 K, with 27-year old men in “retail marketing” earning $150 K.  Then he said--not so very cleverly--hey, if you don’t like how we do things in the academy, you can leave.  To which I said, well if you wanna get personal, tell me about this whole perma-temping of the G-Dub faculty, where 60% of the faculty worked contingently under your administration, averaging $18K a year for 6 classes. While you whacked away millions. Oh, and what up with the whole NLRB judgement against you for illegally refusing to bargain with the faculty union? So then he went and pouted in the corner, and we never did hear why he thinks tenure is brilliant for administrators but wasted on the faculty.

In this final season of David Simon’s The Wire, we see the dystopic contemporary Baltimore created by the class war from above. It’s a city ravaged by “quality management,” the same philosophy that administrations across the country have adopted in shunting the overwhelming majority of college faculty into contingent positions.

As Time magazine television critic James Poniewozik puts it, “All The Wire’s characters face the same forces in a bottom-line, low-margin society, whether they work for a city department, a corporation, or a drug cartel. A pusher, a homicide cop, a teacher, a union steward: they’re all, in the world of The Wire, middlemen getting squeezed for every drop of value by the systems they work for.”

What the show grasps is that private corporate and public institutional managers both employ “quality” in an Orwellian register in which a “quality process” is one of continuously increasing workload and continuously eroding salary and benefits, with a single, doltish mantra employed everywhere—in police departments, in social services, and school systems, just as on college campuses: the perpetual command to “Do More With Less.”

As Poniewozik observes, what this actually means “is doing less with less and cutting corners to make it look like more.” Hence the need for assessment instruments that everyone inside an organization understands to be trivial and easily spun to nearly any purpose by agile institutional actors.

Continue reading "Like ‘The Wire’? You’re Living It."
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