I’m not sending this out as an email because some of you may already be reading this, but the Avital Ronell has continued to spark conversations. Missing in this discussion has been the voices of other graduate students. Of course, because they are scared. Enter Andrea Long Chu, who wrote this account that is not surprising yet very upsetting.
In class, Avital was waited on by her aide-de-camp, a graduate student who followed her around the Village like Tony Hale on HBO’s Veep. If the energy in the room was not to her liking, she became frustrated. During one session, she abruptly stopped the lecture midthought, blaming her students for making her feel drained. It took a beat for anyone to realize she was serious.
We were sent on a 15-minute break. That afternoon, quite without knowing it, like burrs attaching themselves to some passing animal, the students had been persecuting Avital. As far as I could tell (given that we had no prior relationship), I had done the same when I had failed, during my coursework years, to give much thought to her at all.
She is a monster. Her employment is not worth the “contributions” to the academic field.