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Thursday, 21 June 2012

More trouble...

... at the institution to which we at Historian on the Edge like, for legal reasons, to refer as Bourneville Tech.  We've had reason before to comment adversely on goings on there.  The VC, to whom we at Historian on the Edge like, for legal reasons, to refer as Harry Callaghan, stamped down on students' right to peaceful protest (I must check how that turned out).  This, you may recall, seemed a tad shocking in view of Harry's past as a historian of nineteenth-century British social history and - indeed - a teacher of Marxist approaches.  But then Harry's own web-page makes it clear that he likes to cover up this embarrassing past.  To be fair, he's not the only member of that generation to conceal some pretty vicious, elitist social politics behind a smoke-screen of posturing about subscribing to The Old Left and/or mid-'70s-vintage feminism.

To further erase any suspicion that he might once have earned his crust from the humanities, he's now decided to hack away at Classics, Ancient History and Archaeology, as you can read here (though, no mention is made of archaeology.  Ahem.).  In this Harry is being aided and abetted by his trusty sidekick, the pro-VC and Dean of the College of Arts and Law to whom we at Historian on the Edge like, for legal reasons, to refer as Maurikios Kopronymos.  Now, I have no particular axe to grind about the departmental independence of classics or ancient history; quite the opposite, in fact.  What I do have a beef with is the possibility of people losing their jobs.  Whatever.  The thing about Maurikios is that ancient history is his own discipline.  He's issued a statement about this which beggars belief.

Thanks to 'JPG', it is here.

Enrollment begins for Bourneville Tech's new MA in
Evolving Recruitment Landscape Archaeology
(Picture and joke stolen from a Facebook friend who had
best remain anonymous)
Have a read of it and see what you think, but - as you do so - remember that we are talking about situation in which people might lose their jobs, people whose work for the institution and the subject might be no less than Maurikios' (never more than a solid assembler of facts).  You can thrill to the use of management-speak, like 'evolving recruitment landscape', gasp at the juxtaposition of 'quality' as a concern, coupled with losing staff and thus the chance of lowering staff-student ratios, swoon at the sheer chutzpah of the reference to the department emerging with 'unprecedented strength' from the situation where actual human beings, who don't work in areas where Maurikios and his chums think they ought to work, lose their job, probably at ages, and in a climate (a 'recruitment landscape', if you will) where finding a new post will not be so easy.  Be amazed at the constant reference to sustainability, when the whole exercise is a contingent response to a particular set of political directives.  Ask yourself how easy it is to rebuild a department having scrapped some of its expertise if and when the political circumstances change again, or to respond to a new situation where the previous reduction to key areas of 'strength' leaves the department with less flexibility to evolve (when the strengths aren't in favour any more).  Remember with awe that this is being championed by someone who actually proclaims himself to be 'an ancient historian with an interest in archaeology' - presumably only in those bits that he thinks show potential for sustainable and unprecedented strength, mind.  And, to top off the 'astonishing' lack of self-awareness, check out the concluding paragraph puffing up his supposed achievements at the institution to which we at Historian on the Edge like, for legal reasons, to refer as The University of Warwick.  How his old colleagues must thank him for that.  I don't know why he didn't go the whole hog and just say 'I found it in brick and left it in marble.'

Drink it in.

Harry Callaghan earns (well, pays himself) in excess of £300,000 a year.

3 comments:

  1. There's an official statement with comments by the above-named at http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/iaa/news/2012/review-iaa.aspx.

    I see it's all about 'sustainability': a word so well polished it now enters the synapses almost perfectly without friction. I've always wondered whether there are special immersion courses at which academics get drilled in using this kind of language without nervous tics or twinges at the point when they effervesce into senior management. Or it is it a trick you're already expected to have picked up as you bubble onwards and upwards?

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  2. The 'sandwich' approach to essay feedback as it is alternatively known. In this case, the shit sandwich.

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  3. Kopronymos presumably not (like the eponymous emperor Constantine V) because of an unfortunate accident at his baptism, but from the famous Boobs misprint of c. 1981.

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