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ACADEMIC SELF: AN OWNER'S MANUAL Paperback – September 1, 2002

3.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Donald E. Hall is Jackson Family Distinguished Chair in the Department of English at West Virginia University and the author of Fixing Patriarchy: Feminism and Mid-Victorian Male Novelists, also from NYU Press.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 104 pages
  • Publisher: Ohio State University Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0814250998
  • ISBN-13: 978-0814250990
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #156,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is an excellent and brief investigation of the psychology of the academic self. It is a self-help book designed for those who set the bar very high and try to be all things to all people. Most helpful is the first chapter on "self" wherein the author calls academics to examine their own insecurities.
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Hall makes the fascinating observation that it is our very competency as critical scholars that makes us quite incompetent at making positive, creative connections with other people, across specialties and collaborating between faculty, administrators and students. As he posits, we are always already scripting ourselves just as we write narratives. But we can practice close readerly self-criticism with a more forgiving, positive, and community-oriented approach than "criticism" usually implies, writing, "In order to be a good colleague, we have to admit and remember our own limitations. Furthermore, we also have to forgive ourselves for them, for not meeting some impossible ideal of perfect professional mastery" (73).
He asks broadly, "Why are we drawn to this profession and what do we expect from it?" are questions too infrequently asked of ourselves, students, and each other. Furthermore, he comes from the cultural studies tradition, where scholars refer to "reflexivity"--our "reflection upon the nature of reflection itself." Hall says "a `meta'-reflective move... has enormous transformative potential, if we recognize our own limitations and our need for the perspectives and commentary of others." Further, "self-aware reflexivity" requires that we "reflect critically upon self-reflexivity" itself. Doing so, we do not simply criticize problems from outside but question our own complicity in creating problems in the first place. Then we actively suggest solutions and alternatives, all the more responsibly.
Acknowledging the tension we're in, Hall observes, "We academics are fully subject to broad social and paradigmatic changes, even as we act often as very adept commentators upon those changes.
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Anyone interested in pursuing a career in academia should read this. Although much of it seems common-sense, it needs articulation and reinforcing in an ever-competitive and often alienating profession.
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Format: Paperback
Despite the generality of the title, Hall's book is heavily bent towards an audience of humanities professors and graduate students whose careers are in - or will be in - teaching rather than research institutions. Although there is much that is accessible and relevant to a wider audience of academic professionals, Hall's heavy use of terminology from his own discipline (I still have no idea what a problematization is,) as well as his assumption that the reader is familiar with one particular school of self-help books, makes much of the book useless to someone who hasn't read and studied what he has.
The introduction is the worst part in this respect. If I wasn't given this book by someone who expected me to read it, I would have stopped right there. However, "The Academic Self" does oscillate between addressing Hall's fairly limited core audience and providing useful advice to a broader range of scholars, both at an abstract level and in terms of nuts-and-bolts, plan-out-your-day suggestions.
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