Wednesday, December 02, 2009

I hope I'm not being overly simplistic, but having a big cheese give a bad lecture on campus probably would have the following effects:
  • His respondent, who will be gracious and tactful, can add what needs to be said—making the respondent look good, smart, and employable, if need be.
  • Audience members, especially fledgling academics, will learn from the respondent's behavior. They'll see what "collegial" means.
  • Adjuncts and instructors will be appalled by Dr. Fromage's speech. But it will give them hope that they may get on the tenure track eventually. "If he can do it, why not me?" they'll ask.
  • Graduate students will be inspired. It'll be even better than reading a bad dissertation and thinking, "I could do that." They'll realize that Dr. Fromage is a human, not a god, and that they can aspire to his lowest level, at least. If his speech were world-shattering, changing the paradigms of his field or of knowledge as we know it, grad students might just give up.
  • Faculty members will be in heaven. In the little world of academe, backbiting and envy sometimes flourish (yes, yes, the fights are so intense because the stakes are so small). A Gorgonzola who grabs wide attention may seem to be bigger than you are. You may think he's hogging the goodies that you deserve. Ms. Mentor calls this the Udder Theory: the belief that the world of recognition is a vast cow, and if someone is suckling, then there's not enough left for you. That may be why many Major Professors, even when they're at the same conference, do not attend one another's presentations unless they must.
And it would also be an(other) example of male lecturing in case anyone needs more of the same.


Country Parson said...

How about great lectures of mumbled clarity. I attended two lectures, one by John Polkinghorne and one by Rowan Williams. I love their writing and have many of their books, but I understood barely a word of their lectures. There is a certain British way of erudite academic mumbling associated with swallowed word endings that left me certain that I knew where Monty Python sketches came from.

Deirdre said...

And if all you are doing is lecturing, i.e. not using PowerPoint, handouts etc., then it's even more difficult to be heard. Crumbled blue cheese/Gorgonzola, anyone?

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