Can I Take a Mulligan on This Semester?

Or perhaps it would be best just to cut our losses, hold our collective breath, and just plunge on through.

Really, I’ve never been one to look longingly backward in time. I wouldn’t go back to my childhood, I’m fond of saying, not even for cash dollars. The good parts of the past come along with way too much bad, and there’s no guarantee that a do-over would include the kind of knowledge necessary to avoid the bad parts the second time around.

So, okay, this semester has been way too painful to want to repeat it. No mulligan. What I need instead are strategies for getting through the second half without succumbing to the stress produced by the quantity of overdue work surrounding me or the despair that is pervading the campus this week.

It occurs to me, though, that the academy is — or maybe it’s just the academo-bloggers I read — living through some kind of protracted Friday the 13th/full moon/millennial-type period. There are scandals afoot everywhere I look: a university president accused of plagiarism, another firing tenured faculty on spurious grounds.1

Perhaps it’s simply, as I opined at Invisible Adjunct last year, that having found myself in the midst of an academic community in crisis, such crises are all I can see.

So: breath held. Plunging forward.

1Scott has been following this story in remarkable detail.

8 thoughts on “Can I Take a Mulligan on This Semester?

  1. Hmmm. Because I was not conversant with the terminology of golf, I had to look up the expression “to take a mulligan.” In so doing I wondr how the “do over” could be applied to a span of time as long as a term or a semester. The mulligan usually refers to doing over a single shot in a round of golf? If the mulligan applied to the whole semester then the round would be multi-semester? Would a day in the semester represent one degree of the arc of a swing? I now imagine the learned blogger of Planned Obsolescence as a Duchamp-like figure off the staircase and on the links.

    Were there not moments of levity this past semester?

    If you want a quick fix of pure delight see the ping pang pong pung entry on Weez blog. Or a serene scan through some of the illustrations there. Perhaps Elouise could loan you a few to perk up the space of Planned Obsolescence? Jill Walker has also been doing neat stuff with digital snaps. Oh, just be iconoclastic and let the ekphrasis of commentators people your blog with Duchamp parodies.

    I do hope the next hour brings you some joy (every time you reread this sentence).

  2. Kathleen, hello! A former Pomona student who reads my blog from time to time told me that you had your own blog, and I was delighted to have a chance to catch up with you. I do hope the semester lightens up for you–the only strategies I have for dealing with such circumstances are denial and beer, in that order. If you’d like to join me in some denial and beer next time I make it out to Claremont, let me know!

  3. Shasta! Holy cow — long time, no see! So nice to meet up with you again, and how appropriate for our meeting-up to take place out here in the blogosphere. Thanks for your good wishes for a lightening semesterly load — which I could definitely use — and for the denial-and-beer suggestion. Yes, by all means — let me know when you’re around town, and we’ll meet up…

  4. Oh, and Francois — I forgot to say:

    I do hope the next hour brings you some joy (every time you reread this sentence).

    Thank you for that, and for your thinkings-through. A day as a degree in the arc of the swing — there’s something very nice about that…

  5. Actually, at my current institution you can indeed take a mulligan, though we use the more fiscally oriented term “academic bankruptcy.” Once in a student’s career, they can declare the results of a semester’s work unavoidably avoidable. But you don’t get to pick and choose: it’s the whole semester, even if you did pull that once class up….

  6. Oh, man. They had a procedure for declaring academic bankruptcy at my undergraduate institution, but it was a means of wiping not just a semester’s work but their whole undergraduate career off the books. The assumption was that most students who would want or need such a policy would be first-year students, and would just begin again with a clean slate.

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