First Day of Class

I laid out my outfit the night before.

Lookie here, I’ve already left tinyletter. Past issues can be found here.

As a reminder, you either know me, Robin, in real life, maybe read something I wrote once (as Robin Hardwick).

Substack is just a better system to use, and it does allow writers to charge subscribers, but everything will remain FREE. I just ask in return that you spread the word if you like what you read. (There’s probably a fancy button at the end to do this.) Or direct others here.

Stuff that happened since the undergrads arrived back on campus:

  1. On my short walk home, four (four!) cars full of people yelled something at me. I don’t think there was any point to it except to see my reaction to being yelled at from the car. My reaction? Annoyance.

  2. Forty minute wait at the Taco Bell drive-thru.

  3. An invasion of basketball shorts and bardot tops.

  4. Many uses of the word “banger,” which according to my sources, is the new word for party.

  5. The chip aisle in my precious Kroger being crowded.

  6. Me getting really bad cramps. (Probably not related, but still a bummer.)


Well, this is not really hot gossip, as that is not really the appropriate way to introduce it. It’s more serious than that. It is a person with power completely abusing the power and emotionally blackmail. I want to make sure more people know about this.

This case is provocative (for the readers) in a lot of ways. The abuser was a woman, the victim was a man. She is a lesbian and he is a gay man. Many of her colleagues think she should not be punished because she has been such an asset to the field. But putting the assault aside (in a way,) what this really brings up is the really awful culture in graduate school of the power of the advisor over a student.

Unlike most fields, you can’t have a bad experience with one supervisor and then go to another place. You advisor is your gateway to the field. You need more than your advisor’s signature on your graduate form. You need their support, their respect, and, unfortunately, you need them to like you. And that takes a very weird form.

Your personal relationship is tied up with your career success. One could argue that is what the “who you know” aspect of any career, but it is so much the case in academia. And there is so much more potential for an advisor to live out some sick phantasy of hero worship.

Justin Weinberg of the Daily Nous writes:

  One of her defenses (!) is that her participation in this kind of communication is not uncommon: “the type of language Ronell used in her emails to Reitman is no different from the language that she used with many others and that Reitman used with her.”

Colleagues, if you are the kind of person to whom people you have power over regularly communicate in this way, then you are the problem. Being on the receiving end of such ongoing obsequiousness is substantial evidence that you are a terrible person.

It’s also evidence that you are acting unprofessionally, both by cultivating a dogmatic intellectual environment inconsistent with the open inquiry of academia, and by cultivating an uncooperative work environment that’s inappropriately burdened with tasks related to maintaining your sense of self-importance.

Graduate students are also in a bind because WE NEED THE APPROVAL OF AN ADVISOR. Both for technical reasons, for career reasons , and for personal reasons. We have given up a normal (!) life for graduate school, and we need the support to continue to study what we are passionate about. So it’s fucked up that this guy had to write back the lovey-dovey way that he did. Maybe he meant it? Or maybe in his mind he knew he had to performatively act like this to gain her personal and professional approval? It’s a fucking awful problem with no solution in site. Academia is predicated on a teacher-student dynamic. This will be the case as long as academia is academia.

There’s so much more to say, but a lot has been said, but here are some of the more details. Cultural studies’ beloved Judith Butler is also involved, which is a fucking shame.

Fandoms are not for me.

Fandom is an emerging area of study in popular culture. With the onslaught of fan-made media and their influence on the creators, it makes sense that it is a way to understand how media affects people and vice versa. I, however, do not care for fandom studies. It’s easy to say, “what is the point? what does this do for anyone?” but in my heart of hearts I know that any study of human behavior is worth it. But I’ll leave it to someone else. So imagine my delight when this organic worst fandom bracket appeared.

Michelle Spies@spies_please

Folks the season is upon us: it's time for the Worst Dedicated Fanbase Tournament 2018! Vote for round 1 team winners here:

August 24, 2018
Go vote. And then also vote in the actual political elections.

It’s Your Fault, Boo Boo

This really chilled me to the bone.


Thanks to all the grad students who stuck around to join us for free Chili's after orientation!

August 23, 2018
Academic publishing is a multi-level marketing scam.

Associate Deans@ass_deans

Remember we expect our faculty to publish articles in top-tier journals even if we cancelled the library subscriptions and you can’t read them. And, we expect faculty to publish books with the very best academic presses even if our library no longer buys their books.

August 22, 2018

Do it, Gina.

Ashley B.@oh_ashually

I have another group project this semester, and I may just drop out of grad school. #gradschoolproblems

August 20, 2018
Please don’t be like Josh and post your final grades.

Kelsy is living the dream.

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What is this? A semi-regular newsletter about life in graduate school.

All content reflects my individual views and is not associated with any university, department, faculty, or students. Names and situations mentioned have been changed.