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Professed: A Novel of Higher Education

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Professed is a novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education--favor-dodging, ex-girlfriend avoiding, grade-dreading, plagiarist-busting, dissertation-reading, office-mate annoying, litter-box spilling, book-stealing, unprofessional forbidden lusting, unprofessional forbidden lusting-fulfilling, lost cat-chasing, w Professed is a novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education--favor-dodging, ex-girlfriend avoiding, grade-dreading, plagiarist-busting, dissertation-reading, office-mate annoying, litter-box spilling, book-stealing, unprofessional forbidden lusting, unprofessional forbidden lusting-fulfilling, lost cat-chasing, wrist-breaking, inopportune body-betraying, boring boyfriend-dumping planning, dead professor missing, committee-meeting texting, student misfiling, classroom failing, hidden Confederate-history uncovering, book-writing, student advising, professional dysphoria-feeling, drunk-tank loitering, book discussion-leading, unwise nasal behaving, paper researching, non-academic schooling, sink fouling, New Years' kissing, celebratory pool-playing, stranger-disemboweling, paper-writing attempting, paper-writing failing, drinking-game playing, incompletetaking...yet, as the characters fight to fit into a rapidly-changing institution, medicating themselves as best they can with sex, drugs, and literature, learning actually happens----Somehow.


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Professed is a novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education--favor-dodging, ex-girlfriend avoiding, grade-dreading, plagiarist-busting, dissertation-reading, office-mate annoying, litter-box spilling, book-stealing, unprofessional forbidden lusting, unprofessional forbidden lusting-fulfilling, lost cat-chasing, w Professed is a novel filled with the struggles and rivalries and oddities and many weirdnesses American higher education--favor-dodging, ex-girlfriend avoiding, grade-dreading, plagiarist-busting, dissertation-reading, office-mate annoying, litter-box spilling, book-stealing, unprofessional forbidden lusting, unprofessional forbidden lusting-fulfilling, lost cat-chasing, wrist-breaking, inopportune body-betraying, boring boyfriend-dumping planning, dead professor missing, committee-meeting texting, student misfiling, classroom failing, hidden Confederate-history uncovering, book-writing, student advising, professional dysphoria-feeling, drunk-tank loitering, book discussion-leading, unwise nasal behaving, paper researching, non-academic schooling, sink fouling, New Years' kissing, celebratory pool-playing, stranger-disemboweling, paper-writing attempting, paper-writing failing, drinking-game playing, incompletetaking...yet, as the characters fight to fit into a rapidly-changing institution, medicating themselves as best they can with sex, drugs, and literature, learning actually happens----Somehow.

44 review for Professed: A Novel of Higher Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    Linda Abhors the New GR Design

    I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free review. 2.5 rounded up to 3. Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I think, "Maybe I'm just not the right audience." With this book, I'm certainly supposed to be! Anyone who's taught for any length of time has experienced at least a few of these feelings before. Hopefully, not all of them and not at the same time. As much as I love my work, I have felt moments of frustration, powerlessness, futility, etc. But none of the good I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for a free review. 2.5 rounded up to 3. Sometimes when I'm reading a book, I think, "Maybe I'm just not the right audience." With this book, I'm certainly supposed to be! Anyone who's taught for any length of time has experienced at least a few of these feelings before. Hopefully, not all of them and not at the same time. As much as I love my work, I have felt moments of frustration, powerlessness, futility, etc. But none of the good things are listed. If you're a "glass half-full" person (and I certainly don't consider myself to be, not all the time), you may not enjoy this book. I actually had to put it down twice, because even though it was short, I just couldn't invest in the first narrator, and I admit to needing a character I can invest in. The first chapter is called "Fate", but I couldn't figure out why. The narrator is a recent PhD who's ready to hit the job market but feels that his prospects aren't good, because he's in English literature. At the moment, he's an adjunct with no money, no insurance, and an ex-girlfriend who's hassling him about money owed yet flips him a significant amount for some medical bills (and she's still a grad student!?). At first, I thought, "Why is it called "Fate" when much of what he's going through is a mess of his own creation?!" Every woman he meets seems to fall into one of two categories: bangable or not bangable. Female students are described by the way they look, while male students have personalities. His ex-girlfriend is described as "frumpy and dumpy", "whiny", and defensive when her work is criticized. He only pretends to listen to her-but heck, he wouldn't be the first man in the history of the world to do that, am I right? There's simply no mention of why he was ever with her in the first place; she seems to have very few redeeming qualities other than loyalty-big in my book, but apparently not his. She flips him $1000 for a visit to the emergency room, more for pain meds, and offers him a place to stay for the night. That is, until she figures out that he slept with one of his students that afternoon (think of it as a less intense and less examined version of "Disgrace"-the student's complicit and manipulative, but it's still sexual harassment). He begrudges others their success, their accomplishments, their lifestyle, their enthusiasm, their optimism. When someone says "I was just thinking about you", he's not flattered or touched-he feels dread and anxiety. At first, this character made me think of the term used 40 or 50 years ago, a "real sad sack". Annoying, but then just pathetic, always the victim. I have indeed seen candidates with this sort of personality on interviews, and it comes out. If their approach to life is so dismal, you can hardly expect them to inspire and engage students. Yes, we all hate getting viruses from the sick kids. Yes, grading can be tedious, but I don't always hate it-- one caveat, however-- I don't do as many comps, since I'm in foreign languages and not English. Those of you considering a career in teaching English lit should know you have a future in grading many compositions for basic writing classes-you know, those core classes that keep us all employed. One interesting technique is that the scenes in this chapter are divided by emails-usually the outside world asking him for more, and he's a person who cannot say no. In a nutshell, he doesn't have any respect for himself, but laments that others don't respect him-even the student he sleeps with picks up on this. I wasn't certain I'd enjoy getting through 200 pages of this but, thankfully, discovered that the narrative voice changed in the second chapter, entitled "Dead Professors". Camille is a prof on the tenure-track at the same institution (UT-Austin) who believes she's doing everything required to achieve tenure-she's publishing, developing courses for majors connected to her research, and enthusiastic about her research. But she's facing the possibility that she'll be replaced with cheap labor. The university is retiring tenured professors and replacing them with part-time adjuncts, who save the university money because they don't receive health benefits, retirement contributions, etc. The implication is that many universities are headed in this direction. Professors are judged by how many students they can get into their advanced classes and retain; students are almost seen as "revenue units". This voice is much more sparse. Dry. She doesn't have many friends and she likes it that way. Almost cold. Unfeeling. She defines herself by her accomplishments. There is no family left, so family doesn't matter. Relationships that demand her time don't work for her. Scenes are divided into numbered episodes. There's another perspective here. It's the perspective of someone who's in the track but suddenly feels almost as hopeless as the new PhD from the first chapter. Near the end, she discovers a new project, with local focus, that she hopes will interest students more. It's not entirely clear where this voice is going, as her new project takes us onto a tangent about creating memories. Perhaps it's about the need to demonstrate versatility-we can't just specialize in one book/topic and hope to work on only that one subject the rest of our lives. I saw that as a possibility at a Research 1 institution (which UT Austin is), but I know from experience it doesn't work at smaller schools. Also, near the end, there's validation. Other profs making the same complaints, regardless of status. But there's also the tension of doing things we don't want to do, jumping through the hoops to get tenure. The third voice is a student, an aspiring writer, who is/has been in both profs' classes. Major amounts of drugs and alcohol fuel his ideas, he's off on tangents, he's above them all, maybe even above his profs, his "real-world" friends tell him they're all way more brilliant than anyone in academia could ever possibly be, because man, they're living it! The way dialogue works with this voice is annoying after a while, almost like stage directions in reverse, or the bad writing that we've all had to read from those who consider themselves the first to "really get" Thompson, Plath, or anyone edgy. "Brittney." Nelda. "When was the last time you got laid?" "Whitney." Brittney."How much are you going to drink tonight?" "Manda."Whitney. "What'd you do that time you forgot the condoms?" (do the kids really bother asking that, anyway? Anyone playing a drinking game is pretty much committed to blotto by the end of the night, aren't they? And that third question is asked the moment you hear about the episode, not three months later in a drinking game!) I'm not sure what the third voice added to the discussion on the state of academia and its future, or rather the Humanities. It simply ends with the student winning a chance at an incomplete from the tenure-track prof. The book makes me appreciate even more the blessings that I've had: a full-time position with bennies while I finished my diss (with a choice of my own window-less office or sharing an office with windows-and some commiseration-with an adjunct), the offer of that position turning tenure-track later, the ability to recognize the positive moments when they happen, the awareness of my versatility at an early stage, the positive outlook that allowed me to turn down a job in an town that would have made me unhappy even though I had no other prospects, etc. But I felt that there was something missing.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Velicia Jerus Darquenne

    The author came to my college, Fairmont State University, and read a section from this book. It was very catching, I plan to read it soon-after the semester, anyhow.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Macfarlane

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lowell White

  6. 4 out of 5

    Phil Gavenda

  7. 5 out of 5

    Rachael

  8. 5 out of 5

    David Torkington

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

  10. 4 out of 5

    Z. J. Shoemaker

  11. 4 out of 5

    Nancy

  12. 5 out of 5

    Yrrata

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt Hassett

  14. 5 out of 5

    Ritchie

  15. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Gates

  17. 5 out of 5

    Haven Gordon

  18. 4 out of 5

    Malinda

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kim Coomey

  20. 5 out of 5

    Teresa Lavender

  21. 4 out of 5

    Frederick Rotzien

  22. 5 out of 5

    Audrey

  23. 5 out of 5

    Holly

  24. 5 out of 5

    Larry Hall

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kaitlin Inman

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joyce Yanney

  27. 5 out of 5

    Raymond Stone

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mary

  29. 5 out of 5

    Diana Senn

  30. 5 out of 5

    James Schmidt

  31. 5 out of 5

    Nikki

  32. 4 out of 5

    Ronald

  33. 4 out of 5

    Debbie

  34. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Butler

  35. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  36. 5 out of 5

    Betty Stuart

  37. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

  38. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

  39. 4 out of 5

    Barbara Zitsch

  40. 5 out of 5

    Sue

  41. 5 out of 5

    Mary Nee

  42. 5 out of 5

    Kris Sims

  43. 5 out of 5

    Marsha

  44. 5 out of 5

    Rosanna

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