Rage, Rage Against the Dying of Fulbright

Get it?

OK, two things. First, here’s my latest in Slate, which is an explanation of why the Fulbright program matters and the cuts the Obama administration is proposing to it should go elsewhere. In the article, I explain that the program is not a government-sponsored drink-at-thon so much as it’s unofficial, powerful soft diplomacy.

When Fulbright grantees return home, they bring with them a humanized understanding of a foreign culture that they spread to their family and friends. After a year in Vienna, for example, I gained both 10 lbs in Manner Schnitten, and some valuable insight on life in what was once a mighty empire (ahem), that then fell into disarray and decay (ahem), before living out the rest of its days largely irrelevant (AHEM). Imagine the insights and lasting cultural cooperation that come from grants in Ukraine, Egypt, the Philippines, Oman—or, say, Russia, just to put a random one out there.

Anyway. Second thing. Check it out! Eric Jarosinski, otherwise known as the voice behind Nein Quarterly, is getting the fuck out of academia:

Eric, as Nein, was once instructed to “take me to task” for writing “Thesis Hatement,” which to my knowledge he never did–perhaps, as I see now, because he, too, realizes that the academy in general, and German studies in particular, is a crumbling, festering shit-show and that the best people should GTFO while the getting’s good. Or maybe he did “take me to task” and I just didn’t see it. Either way, a truly herzlichen Glückwunsch to him.

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14 thoughts on “Rage, Rage Against the Dying of Fulbright

  1. Kudos on the excellent Fulbright article. One thing I might add is that Fulbright is one of the only programs in the country that can enable a poor kid like me to be able to experience the world outside of Poorville. At a time when Poorvillians can barely afford lunch on campus, Fulbright is the only option that can give our least privileged but brightest Americans a shot at international experience. And we appreciate it a LOT more than our well-off neighbors, I can promise you that.

    As for Eric? Is he getting out or is he not going to be tenured?

    And I suppose I was also hoping to see what you think of this situation of instructorships — not the flashy ones on the MLA JIL — where you apply FOUR MONTHS AGO and hear absolutely nothing back until maybe never at all. Sigh. Perhaps you could blog us up a bit of “off-list” critiquing of the non-professorship job situation? It’s seeming to me like they treat their instructor candidates light years worse than their VAP and TT candidates. But I might just be bitter.

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  2. Funny how being a #failedintellectual means eclipsing the lifetime readership of the entire Penn German department several times over and probably getting way more people interested in the Frankfurt School than the dept. ever did or could.

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      1. Hooray, I saw the tweets! Seriously, academia is making a huge mistake turning its back on people like Eric.

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  3. However, the assumption that academics (or academia, rather) want/s broader readerships is incorrect. We know the system actively discourages any such thing and, in fact, having a book that sells well might actually be a liability ( unless it’s a publication condescendingly envisioned as “accessible” from the start). That said, of course there are academic books in the top 100k sales at Amazon, but certainly not the majority (Middle East stuff up high in ranks, understandably).

    I think social media is launching “defecting” scholars and academics into a much more liberating path as public intellectuals (now let’s figure out how to make a living, too…Eric seems to have a number of really interesting projects cooking in that regard).

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    1. I think you’re very right. And I think it has a lot to do with how easy it is nowadays for the mortals to get their hands on scholarship and critique it. We wouldn’t want anyone without a PhD making an actual *point*, would we? Because they might make a better point than we do, despite being less credentialed. *gasp*

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  4. As a former Fulbrighter myself, I loved the article. (Where do the commenters get this “children of the 10%” idea? Neither of my parents even went to college.) Also, like you, I love Jelly Bellys. Sadly, however, Jelly Belly does not deserve even 0.06 percent of your hard-earned budget. The owner, Herman Rowland, is a big opponent of laws in California to protect transgender kids, and has given big donations to conservative candidates. He even held a rally for Rick Santorum (bleeeech) at company headquarters.

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