I did it for the CV line

The first semester of my Ph.D. program is hurtling towards the end of the semester like that pesky asteroid in Armageddon, and I’m Ben Affleck just trying to drill through it and get home to my lovely finance. Fuck the idea of “just trying to adjust to the schoolwork and environment” and just focus on the classes I am assigned to, by now if I don’t already have five papers published and two book proposals in the works I’m screwed!

Despite the arduous self care I’ve been doing, there’s the onset of panic among all of us of not doing enough. [More about that later.] So, in the meantime, we graduate students soak up anything we can add to our CV like an attempt to get the last of the orange powder out of an empty cheet-o bag. When asked to do something, one always follows up with “it’s a line on your CV.” It’s lost all meaning, because now everything is a potential line on your CV, including:

picking what movie to show during a department social [“curation”]

asking a faculty about their availability for an upcoming colloquium [“conference organizer”]

Writing a list of expenses your are requesting for an upcoming conference [“grant writing”]

taking an inventory of textbooks in the department office [“archival work”]

Creating a poster with a pre-set template [“communications coordinator”]

Reading a friend’s work for typos [“article reviewing”]

And what’s worse is that we eat up these morsels like they nourish our development. When will the madness end? Will someone commit murder for a CV line?

There is this thing that have happened in the academic world which I have had strong feelings about but I just haven’t know what to write until now.

Sokal Squared- three scholars wrote 20 “fake” articles and submitted to gender/critical studies journals to show how frivolous and ridiculous gender, identity and critical studies are. Four of the articles were accepted, supposed “proof” that critical studies is pointless. There’s a better description here, and you can read their (very smug) results here.

Congrats Sokal squared, you played yourself. One, you spent the time writing twenty academic articles about a subject you don’t think is real. So that is hours taken away from your own research. So, there’s that. Second of all, it proves that they literally don’t know the basic definition of critical theory- which there is no right answer, it involves the constant evaluation and debate about the nature of reality and relationships, including bringing up new ideas literally to bring up for critical evaluation. This is why it is the HUMANTIES, having to do with humans.

Secondly? They just emphasized the problem with the academic journal publishing industry, which is very flawed- it favors privilege and those with more social capital in the field, and is run by unpaid scholars who work on them ON TOP of their other academic work. That means if you have kids, take care of another family member, or just want work/life balance, you generally don’t work on them, thus cutting out an important diversity of those that work on journals.

And you think scientific academic articles tell the truth? Bullshit.

[Here’s their original article.]

[Here’s a good response by The Atlantic.]

Here are other posts you may have missed but will probably enjoy:

How to Study in a Coffee Shop

The Nod


How to Network at a Conference

What is this? A semi-regular newsletter about life in graduate school. Do you like it? Great. Please share it widely.

My twitter / My instagram / my book / my Goodreads

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