Historian Claire Potter is in the middle of an intergenerational academic squabble

Historians in the News
tags: Claire Potter

"Dear academy: stop acting like it’s not just an ‘opportunity’ but a downright privilege for people to uproot and move across the country at enormous inconvenience, stress, and expense for a badly-paid ONE-YEAR position in your department."

So tweeted Lili Loofbourow, a journalist and A.B.D. doctoral candidate in English at the University of California at Berkeley.

"Christ on a cracker: just say no," Claire Potter, a professor of history at the New School, tweeted back. "You don’t have to be a drama queen about it."

"It’s just not news," Potter continued. "This is the state of things. I am sick of every new generation of PhDs ‘discovering’ that academic labor is in a shambles and blaming older profs who saw half their talented friends reduced to the adjunct heap for not paying attention."

Many joined the scrum, which unfolded earlier this spring. Some comments were searchingly prescriptive: "Would it be that hard to offer 3 to 5 years contracts rather than just 1?" asked a French scientist working in the United States. But much of the set-to was considerably more personal.

"I’d appreciate you not spending your time mocking and harassing non tenured people," Mike Shaw, a self-described "amateur historian," responded to Potter."But that’s expecting you to have some semblance of empathy."

"If there is anything else I can do to make you happy, let me know!," she replied. "Or call customer service at 1-800-GIV-ADAM." ...

Read entire article at The Chronicle of Higher Education

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