Thursday, August 23, 2012

Death of a Department Chair

Not surprisingly, novels about academia tend to center on English departments. I know political scientists are boring, but are English departments really so wild? I read Lynn Miller's Death of a Department Chair and wondered that again. There is a ton of sexual intrigue and lesbian jealousy that permeates the entire department and even its job searches. There is infighting and it is ridiculously intense.

For that reason, I spent much of my time happy I did not work in such a place where so many people disliked each other so much (it is UT Austin, with barely any attempt to disguise it). I didn't really get into the mystery part of it much, figuring that virtually any of them could be guilty and I'd be perfectly happy no matter what insecure faculty member it might be. The department chair was killed in the midst of a department debate about who to hire, and the narrative dives not only into sexuality but also into race.

All I'm saying is that I am a department chair and so I hope our searches don't end up with me dead and stripped naked at my desk.


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