Today we’re introducing ENDNOTE, a reading list of some of our favorite essays and journalism that we’ve read this week. Without further ado, here’s ENDNOTE #1. Featuring academia in its myriad facets— the black woman professor; God, sickness, and fraternity, and the question: why is academic writing so darn academic?
1. Teaching While Black, Patricia A. Matthew, The New Inquiry
This essay is part three of a series by Matthew, a young, black, tenure-track woman professor, who describes the subtle imbalances and racial dynamics that shape the atmosphere of her classroom and professional experience. Writes Matthew, “I perform being a scholar because all too often I am not automatically afforded the respect that comes with being a professor. In the public imagination, the one that produces college students who combine gross consumerism with a narrow view of black women, I am the most unlikely of things — not a mammy or a nanny, the secretary, or a member of the custodial staff, but their professor.”
2. God (excerpt), Benjamin Nugent, The Paris Review
I’ve had this short, lovely excerpt open in my tabs ever since a friend G-chatted it to me a week ago. Nugent’s prose is fresh, plaintive, and evocative. It’s just a small selection from a longer story, but worth reading if only to send you back to one particular impression of college days.
3. How Colleges Flunk Mental Health, Katie J.M. Baker, Newsweek
This investigation from Newsweek delves deep into the mental healthcare issues that plague many, if not all college campuses. Though college, as in Nugent’s short story, may seem sparkling-edged and luminous, the investigation reveals the grim reality of failing support systems on campus and the heavily bureaucratic structure that students must navigate— or are forced into navigating— in the name of a nebulously constructed concept of mental health.
4. The Dark Power of Fraternities, Caitlin Flanagan, The Atlantic
In another large-scale investigation of college life, Flanagan explores the often lurid life of Greek houses (here the traditional, white male fraternities) and the complicated power dynamics and modulation that allow deaths, injuries, and assaults to occur with no clear sense of blame. The longform piece also has perhaps the best lede I’ve read yet this year, which I won’t spoil for you here.
5. Why is Academic Writing so Academic?, Joshua Rothman, Pageturner atThe New Yorker
A certain kind of code-switching is the difference between academic and journalistic writing, both of which are often written by the same people. What makes academic writing so marginal, and is it self-imposed, self-constructed, or something else entirely? Writes Rothman: “Because [academic writing is] intended for a very small audience of hyper-knowledgable, mutually acquainted specialists, it’s actually among the most personal writing there is. If journalists sound friendly, that’s because they’re writing for strangers. With academics, it’s the reverse.”
Have any compelling, charged, or otherwise fascinating reads? Send them to us and they might end up in ENDNOTE.
—Larissa Pham, Tumblr ed.