Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Academic Gifts, Part 1

It is interesting and eerie how many of the Facebook "gifts"* for academics are familiar elements of my life, even though the gifts seem to have been created by a liberal arts professor. Here is a self-graded summer homework assignment: look at the array of gifts listed below and give yourself 1 point (NO EXTRA CREDIT, but some substitutions allowed) for each one that is or has been an actual element of your experience with academe.

In this case, the one with the most points loses.. as you will see when you look at the list.

[* Explanation for those not on Facebook: the "gifts" are not real, they are just little pictures with a caption and you electronically "give" these "gifts" to "friends", if they choose to accept them and thereby sign away all their FB page content and personal info to some unknown entity. Many gifts have "themes" related to various geographic, cultural, sports, or employment sectors.]

As it turns out, the number of academic gifts available is rather immense, so instead of doing this all in one post, I am going to divide it up (i.e. drag it out). If you want to play along, you should keep a tally of how many points you get each day. I will indicate my own number of points in the left column next to the name of the academic "gift".

1 = relevant to my academic existence now or in the past;

0 = not relevant, not part of my experience, or something I have blocked out and therefore have no conscious recollection
of it

I may omit a few "gifts" that might anonymity-compromising if I indicated my score.

Day 1 List

1 ... 80 Freshmen Composition Papers (if I can substitute > 150-200 science exams that are graded by hand or 20 freshman science essays to be graded (by me) each week)

1 ... Annoying know-it-all Grad Student

1 ... Idiot Chairperson (but I'm not saying that my current chair is an idiot, just that I have experienced one at some point in my academic career)

1 ... Boring Faculty Meeting (I wish I could get extra credit for this one)

0 ... 4-4 Teaching Load (I love the image that goes along with this gift and I love that I can give myself a zero for this one)

0 ... Hip, Vacuous Queer Theorists

1 ... Windowless Office (happily in the past, not the present)

0 ... Dorky Medievalists (I considered substituting the scientific equivalent of this, as I believe it would not be difficult or inaccurate to make a comparison with some of my colleagues in certain subfields, but for now I will mark this one as zero points for me)

0 ... Embittered Marxist (ditto) -- do Embittered Sexists count?

1 ... Inaccurate Footnote (I would substitute inaccurate or missing citation here)

1 ... Grade-grubbing Student

1 ... Overbearing, Maladjusted Colleague (can I have a point for each one?)

1 ... "That Guy" (interpret how you wish, I suppose)

1 ... Unnecessary Freud References (substitute reference to Einstein or other scientist with cosmic fame, including the Einstein reference that I personally hate the most)

1 ... Enthralled Class (the image that accompanies this gift strongly suggests it is sarcastic)

1 ... Sentence in Outrageous Academese (I assume this means other people's sentences)

1 ... Crappy Office Chair (and desk)

1 ... Obsolete Classroom Technology

1 ... Another Freakin' Powerpoint (Yes, but...)

1 ... Students Texting in Class

1 ... Vanishing TIAA-CREF Account (I have a very sad story about this, actually)

1 ... Condescending IT Guy

1 ... Colleague Most Likely to (Mis)behave Like a Philip Roth Character (alas, this one transcends the divide between humanities and science)

1 ... Vengeful Student Evaluation

1 ... Permanently Malfunctioning Photocopier (OMG, I thought it was just me)

If you have a high score so far, are you feeling happy that so many others have the same experience and we can all bond over our misery, or does this fact make your blood run cold?

The list will continue tomorrow..


Susan B. Anthony said...

Ah, I love these. This is the only FB app for which I am tempted to sign away all my page content and personal info to some unknown entity (however, I have not yet done so).

I am just finishing my second year on the tenure track and am simultaneously disgusted and elated to report that my score so far is identical to yours (with many of the same substitutions). Oh dear.

Anonymous said...

I actually made quite a few Freud references recently. (I am a scientist)

Dame Eleanor Hull said...

I AM the dorky medievalist; does that count extra?

The History Enthusiast said...

Wow...I have 14 points. Not good :(.

This is a fun meme!

Ms.PhD said...

My friends keep sending me ones called "lab frustrations" and "lab stuff". Someone also sent me a "Shite gifts for academics" (which sounds British to me?).

I do like your idea of giving points for suffering, though. I think I would win this game, especially if we could include the not-so-anonymous bonus points...

Kevin said...

Only up to 10 so far. It helps that I teach mainly seniors and grad students.

Anonymous said...

21 - Blackjack! I'm in the humanities, so I've got the embittered Marxist *and* the dorky Medievalist (everything you ever wanted to know about Duns Scotus - and more!) My friends send these "shite" gifts to me all the time, and I love how accurate they are.

Dr. Bad Ass said...

22. Sigh.

Anonymous said...

We could also substitite dorky star trek fans for dorky medievalists, surely?

Anonymous said...

There is the making of a marvelous Facebook Quiz here! If only I were not also a female full professor in the physical sciences, I might have time to write one. Time to set my teens to work!