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I'm a Patsy

I was told this conversation happened in my absence at a meeting of the kuh-niggits of roundtable:

He’ll just have to take the class. Yes, I’m sure that the problem is the baby… but, he’s going to have to learn that we all have to make sacrifices for the greater good.

A week later, I received an email from the self-same person:

Please let me know what I can do to help you with getting the book published.

The irony of both statements is that I have yet, with the exception of one class, to teach the same class twice during my tenure here, making progress on the book during the semester slow and also hindering my progress during breaks.

And, I did, after much cajoling take the class, which means that in the three years I’ve been here, I have taken, at the the last minute, the courses of three tenured professors… because these are courses that must be taught.

I explained to the guy what all was involved with my taking over his course, which meets at a quater to six two days a week. Namely, that my wife has to ask special permission from work to get off early, and though this is done with the MA courses, those are only once a week and there is a full year notice. He then tried to get a new lecturer to teach it… but, only after I told him that my wife had asked permission and could, and even after the lecturer told him that she was going to have to ask permission from her second employer to do so.

Up shot is, I will be teaching the class. And, I can’t even teach on something related to the book because the course was already set and to change number etc would mean dropping the students and blah, blah, blah.

We will be reading novels about Conspiracy, History and Empire. So my patsiness and the high-academic intrigue that brought this course to my lap are quite appropriate.

I know, I should just assign the novels that the other professor assigns and use his syllabus and overly detailed reading guides, but they bore me.

Which, should lit profs produce reading guides for their students?



Reading guides maybe, if you think that kind of tool’s necessary to teach them how to read, but certainly you don’t keep it up throughout the semester.

But back to the matter at hand: are you insane?

Indeed, so it would seem.

The beauty of that meeting is that I was out for a funeral. And the guy who said that is now the all-powerful overlord of our subsystem

I’m familiar with the “wait ‘til he’s gone then assign him stuff to do” brand of meeting. But around here “assigning stuff to do” usually involves obnoxious bureaucratic bullshit, not “prep and teach my class.”

Meanwhile, don’t you think it’s time you read a book like this?

well, what i haven’t decided is the best way to go about saying no.

do i respond to his email how can i help you towards the book by saying stop assigning me the dreg courses?

and, i realize that at the end of the day, nothing matters except the publications, not the courses i’ve taught, not the symposiums i’ve organized… but, somewhere in the back of my mind i think… yeah, but if i’m really close to finishing the book and have a number of well-placed articles, then i could easily move somewhere better than here… and by that i don’t me intramural politics, but salary and things of that nature

indeed, i am insane.

The best way? Given all of the concessions you’ve already made and the courses you’ve taken for others, I think just “no” is enough. Otherwise you’re just being walked on. As I see it, there’s plenty of underemployed academics out there who don’t have to write their books by 2009 who can pick up the teaching load. They’ll curse your entire department when they get a tenure-track job somewhere, but hey, them’s the breaks…