The Professor Is In
Ep 3:2 The Chair
Karen insisted that we watch The Chair, and insisted we devote a podcast episode to it. So here it is. At this point in time there are no more “hot” takes to be had, so in this episode we offer our tepid takes. Even so, there is a lot to say. Karen and Kel talk the many painful accuracies of the show: the terror of senior faculty in the face of threats to their power; the overt and covert racism directed at Yaz, the sole Black faculty member; the puritanical dress code and terrible hair; cost-cutting as the department Chair’s #1 job; the Dean’s relentless gaslighting; liability avoidance as the university mission. We note in particular Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s point that Yaz is the only character with no interiority – she is rendered as a plot device and never shown, in contrast to all the other main characters, outside a narrow work setting. We have quibbles, inevitably: this Chair could not have been as naive as she was written; no tenured white male professor ever loses his job over racism; and it’s honestly doubtful this Chair would have thrown away her position for a man, least of all this man. Also: are we to believe Yaz turns down Yale to stay at Pembroke? Puleeze. But overall: wow. And suffice to say, as a former Chair of a humanities department, Karen came out of the series fairly traumatized.
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