Tag Archives: Francine Prose

Ms. Mentor Recommends: How to Write a Successful Academic Novel & A Summer Reading List

1“You’ll start, naturally, with the terror of the blank screen. Never tell yourself, ‘I am going to commit an act of literature.’ That can paralyze you. Instead, try: ‘I am going to write a horrendously awful first draft.’ That’ll get you started. Setting yourself a daily writing quota is helpful. It can be time (an hour a day) or words (500 words a day). Ms. Mentor presumes you have something in mind for your academic novel. Perhaps there’s a character you want to create—a struggling adjunct, an aggrieved graduate student, a free spirit who says the-hell-with-it-all. Probably you want some kind of revenge. First let Ms. Mentor tell you what not to do in writing your masterpiece—at least if you want her to approve of your final product.”

June 2, 2014 – The Chronicle of Higher Education

Writing Academic Novels for Fun and (Little) Profit by Ms. Mentor

The (sad) life of an adjunct teacher

1“Alex Kudera’s Fight for Your Long Day is likely to provoke post-traumatic stress reactions in anyone who has been a college teacher. Unlike most academic novels that feature the first-world problems of tenured professors, Kudera’s is about Cyrus Duffleman, a depressed, saggy, almost-40 adjunct who makes, he calculates, about $10 an hour teaching courses to disengaged—and sometimes mentally ill—students at universities all over Philadelphia.”

March 25, 2013 – The Chronicle of Higher Education 

Considering Adjunct Misery. An academic novel offers an Everyman for the new American economy by William Pannapacker

https://chronicle.com/article/Considering-Adjunct-Misery/138085/

More on adjuncting:

http://chronicle.com/article/Adjunct-Loving-It/145109/?cid=cc&utm_source=cc&utm_medium=en

“The Rise of the Academic Novel” – the 2012 seminal article

1“The academic novel is usually considered a quaint genre, depicting the insular world of academe and directed toward a coterie audience. But it has become a major genre in contemporary American fiction and glimpses an important dimension of American life.”

October 17th, 2012 – Oxford University Press’ Blog

The Rise of the Academic Novel by Jeffrey J. Williams

(An excerpt from “The Rise of the Academic Novel. American Literary History. Vol. 24, No. 3. 2012. 561-589.)

http://blog.oup.com/2012/10/rise-of-academic-novel-genre-american-literary-history/

Good books, bad books

1“All writers have been students, and nowadays a sizable number are teachers, so it seems nearly unavoidable that we write about the golden groves we knew.

It’s easy to dismiss “Tom Brown’s School Days” or “Stover at Yale,” or to make fun — as Tom Wolfe did more recently in “I Am Charlotte Simmons” — of a fictionalized Duke University. But there’s a sizable shelf of books about bookishness — some of them first-rate — which take education as their subject and explore the idea of learning as initiation rite. As with any other category (the Southern novel, the Jewish novel, the on-the-road novel) there are excellent and execrable texts. It’s a question not so much of genre as of how well it’s done. […]

As suggested above, there are bad books as well that deal with the circumstance of education. The professoriate makes an easy target; so does the undergraduate. Often a writer gets tempted to make intellectual molehills into mountains; lord knows it’s easy enough to overstate the cultural significance of freshman year. The risk is that of stereotype and even caricature: the absent-minded professor, the scheming administrator, the idealistic and then disillusioned student — stock figures from English 101. But the college campus is no more and no less fertile a place to situate a story than is, say, a boxing ring or tenement or cattle barn.”

April 13, 2012, Chicago Tribune

English 101 by Nicholas Delbanco

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/ct-prj-0415-book-of-the-month-20120413,0,154025.story

“Who are you in the academic novel?” Good question.

” […] I’d like to take Ms. Mentor’s idea and push it even further.  What I’m really interested in is finding out which academic novel or play—let’s not forget Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? shall we?—best portrays the life we actually live. What professor reminds you of you?

June 10, 2010 by Gina Barreca
The Chronicle of Higher Education
Who Are YOU in the Academic Novel?

http://chronicle.com/blogs/brainstorm/who-are-you-in-the-academic-novel/24697

Ever heard of Ms. Mentor?

1

Ms. Mentor (or Emily Toth) writes an advice column in The Chronicle of Higher Education. In addition, once a year she nominates academic novels for summer reading (Ackies, i.e. Academic Novel Awards).

1. August 26, 2009 – A Novel Form of Revenge

http://chronicle.com/article/A-Novel-Form-of-Revenge/48089

2. June 3, 2010 – Is There a Cure for the Summertime Blues?

http://chronicle.com/article/Is-There-a-Cure-for-the/65746

3. June 5, 2011 – Novel Academic Novels

http://chronicle.com/article/Novel-Academic-Novels/127748

4. June 11, 2012 – Novel Academic Novels: the Sequel

5. May 27, 2013 – Adjunct or Starving Artist? Should an M.F.A. trying to make it in her field accept an adjunct teaching job or take a break from academe?

http://chronicle.com/article/Adjunct-or-Starving-Artist-/139457/

More academe-related advice by Ms. Mentor can be found here.

David Lodge on campus novels

September 24, 2010 11:34 pm, Financial Times

“The campus novel emerged as higher education expanded and novelists increasingly took day jobs in universities. Inherently comic and satirical, it is focused on the lives of academic staff rather than their students, and explores the gap between the high ideals of the institution and the human weaknesses of its members.”

The List: Five of the best campus novels

David Lodge on Vladimir Nabokov’s Pnin

Other top tens, top fives etc.:

Jeffrey Moore’s top 10 campus novels:

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2002/jul/03/bestbooks.fiction

10 Classic Campus Novels:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/04/10-classic-campus-novels_n_857756.html#s274149&title=Gaudy_Night

Literature of the campus:

http://theconcordian.com/2013/09/articulate-literature-of-the-campus/

Top 5 Campus Novels Written by Women by Jane Bradley:

http://forbookssake.net/2013/07/05/top-five-campus-novels-written-by-women/