‘The Great Shame of Our Profession’

ACADEME BLOG

BY AARON BARLOW

Kevin Birmingham, who teaches at Harvard as an adjunct, gave a talk last October on accepting the Truman Capote Award. It is reprinted  in The Chronicle of Higher Education and I’d recommend that each of us who is tenured or on the tenure track read it. Birmingham writes:

I sometimes wonder when the ripples widened out beyond what I had imagined. Recently, I sat next to two professors at the plenary session of a graduate-student conference. The students had been presenting their research all weekend, and now they were listening to us. “What is your advice?” a student asked. “Get your hands dirty,” one of the professors said. “Throw yourself into your work. Don’t be afraid.” He is a good person. He is an important scholar and an inspiring teacher. He immigrated to the United States decades ago and threw himself into his love for literature. He…

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