Sunday, March 29, 2009

“You! The one over there with the aesthetic! Yeah, you!”

Flarf has claimed its first (well, the first that I’ve heard of) victim. A Psych Professor at Dickinson was allegedly denied tenure because of his advocacy of Flarf. (The whole tone of the related incident puts me in mind of a few white-knuckled academics clutching shotguns on top of a barrier of Winnebagos while zombies approach, armed with the internet. Soon they too will be corroded by the virus of infinite data, and lurch around inside disassociative but weirdly intimately stanzas.)

But seriously, I’m sure that there’s more to this story, probably on both sides. In my experience, some of the intra- and inter-departmental politics makes the machinations of the Medicis look lazy and haphazard, and even more so when it comes to the Holy Grail of tenure. Said decision being stunningly vulnerable to “subjective” factors.

I know of a science professor who won teaching awards, did fantastic research, and was loved by his students. But he put his first graduate student through the program in two years, rather than hanging onto them with a death grip so as to squeeze all the possible free labor out of them over the course of three or four years. You know, like the department chair did. So no tenure for him.

Of course, that was about labor. This is about (allegedly) what kind of bar code you have on your brain.

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