Another Example Proving Academia Is Worse Than You Thought

This is a slow week, so I do not now want to continue the discussion of what the best replacement of academia is. That is needs replacing I take as granted. But not all of you do—yet.

Here is a small item for the decreasing pile of doubters.

Here is a peer-reviewed paper—read and approved by peers, which means (1) peers exist, and (2) peers agreed. “Guilty of Loving You: A Multispecies Narrative“, in Qualitative Inquiry, published by Sage Journals, a firm some would say is reputable or respected. The work is in the category of “Research Article.”

The authors of this peer-reviewed paper are Susan Naomi Nordstrom, Amelie Nordstrom, Coonan Nordstrom. The listed affiliation is The University of Memphis. Which is a university, mind.

The corresponding author is Susan Naomi Nordstrom, a necessity, because the other authors are cats.

I say: the other authors are cats.

Don’t believe me. Believe the author biographies.

Susan Naomi Nordstrom, homo sapiens, is an assistant professor of educational research specializing in qualitative research methodology at the University of Memphis, Tennessee, USA. Her research agenda includes poststructural and posthumanist theories about human–nonhuman relations and qualitative research methodology.

Amelie Nordstrom (ca. 2001-2017), felis domestica, was a black cat specializing in making kin with humans and (sometimes) other nonhumans.

Coonan Nordstrom (ca. 2009-present day), felis domestica, is a tuxedo cat specializing in a Haraway-influenced becoming with other species.

So not only were two of the authors cats, but one of them was a dead cat.

That a deranged feminist (pardon the redundancy) cat lady wrote an article about her cats, which she was delusional enough to believe were co-authors, is not the point. We expect feminists to be cat ladies. Nor is the point the vast distances from reality achieved by Nordstrom, not per se. Distance from reality is another well known expectation of feminism.

The article is a diary of how Nordstrom picked up the not-yet-dead cat from the pound. “Her green eyes followed me back to my apartment. Her name was Nicky, but the name ‘Amelie’ (admittedly not properly spelled) created soft susurrus in my body as I thought of her that evening.” Et cetera, for seven pages. I admit to ignorance of what a “susurru” is, but I also not want to know.

Note how the deranged Nordstrom speaks of herself as if the cats were writing.

Over 15 years, Amelie and Susan developed an affective communication system through repetitions of living-with and dying-with each other. Over time, Susan learned that certain meows carried meanings such as “Hungry, I’m going to my food dish,” “You were away too long,” “Stop. Don’t touch me now.” We smell each other for changes in scent or as a way to check in with each other without vocalizations. Our physical proximity to each other creates affects of desired intimacy–sometimes wanted other times less so. Our sleep-dream practices meld into one such that we always know how to position our bodies. We gaze at each other, slowly blinking, wide-eyed, or a shared sideeye. We sense each other’s emotional states.

Lunatics are everywhere, and everywhere includes academia. So it is not the point that here is a prime specimen inside academia.

No. The real point is that passages like this were judged to be of academic quality. The real point is that Nordstrom is not adjudged off-her-rocker. The real point is that not only is her lunacy not recognized as lunacy, but that it is in no way unusual.

Drivel, and worse than drivel, is now accepted as prime “research”. Not just here, at the University of Memphis, but everywhere in the West.

Here’s another peer-reviewed paper from the same source: “What Is Peace? Being an Autoethnographic Account of Methodological Musings From the Beach” by Anandam Kavoori at the University of Georgia.

This autoethnographic essay is focused on methodological space of “problematization”—the wrenching intellectual and emotional process (and lived experience) that a scholar goes through before settling into a long-term writing project—in this case travel to different parts of the world, in an attempt to explore the idea and experience of “Peace” in each of those places.

Another: “On Not Being Able to Sleep: After the U.S. 2016 Presidential Election” by Ronald J. Pelias.

Following the 2016 U.S. presidential election, I find myself struggling, wanting to find a narrative that will let me sleep, but I am unable to find any comfort in the current political landscape. I call upon a fragmentary structure in this autoethnographic essay to display the troubling thoughts and incidents that have assailed me since the election, to point toward a frightening right wing agenda, and to demonstrate why I cannot sleep.

The journal goes on and on and on and on and on and on some more. It never stops. There is nobody inside academia with the guts to stop it.

Everything is summed up in the same’s issues Maria Lahman’s article “Who Cares?“, which, as far as I can tell, is empty. The classification is “research poetry.”


  1. Each time I feel a longing to leave industry and live out my retirement teaching as an adjunct professor somewhere, I read one of your posts, Briggs, and a sour note comes over my fantasy.

    It is truly depressing to me that we have let the world come to this. When I think of the years of rigor in academy I spent almost 40 years ago, I juxtapose that education and those professors (now long departed) with these stories and attempt to imagine how they might opine on all of this.

    It almost seems like it was all such a waste given where the world has evolved.

  2. Sheri

    “That a deranged feminist (pardon the redundancy) cat lady wrote an article about her cats, which she was delusional enough to believe were co-authors,” Well said.

    I have complained for years about the mixing of science and literature (fantasy). I have been pummeled for saying you do NOT anthropomorphize animals for any reason, other than MAYBE children’s books and even then I WILL NOT DO SO. If you write for children, you write the truth. It’s antifiction, yes. But garbage like this proves I was correct. Reality has been destroyed and that is unscienctific and wrong in every way. Cats don’t dance, romance, there are no animal “families”, etc. That is the proper way of seeing the world. Walt Disney was a nasty person out to destroy society and he did a bang up job of it. End result: trash like this as science.

  3. Ken

    Excerpt of the quoted material:
    “Over 15 years, Amelie and Susan developed an affective communication system through repetitions of … dying-with each other.”

    What is that ’15yrs of repetitive dying’ about, reincarnation?

    If anyone has ever seen a “horse whisperer” in action, the skills are impressive. Horses can be very temperamental and they have a somewhat sophisticated, and very different from human, set of non-verbal communication gestures. Getting a stressed horse to get into a trailer, for example, can be nigh impossible for normal mortals, but those that have studied the animal can get them in, calmly, with surprising ease and speed. For ranchers, this is a very useful and practical skill to have, or have accessible. I’m unaware of anyone in that subculture seeing the need to assess this as anything all that profound, much less the need to pontificate in a research paper chock-full with multi-syllable words that almost nobody uses….

    …except folks that very likely are just like these:

  4. Rich

    I have now learned how to properly cite a movie. No more shall I talk of ‘The Princess Bride’ but correctly as The Princess Bride Reiner & Goldman (1987).

    Who said we can learn nothing from these characters?

  5. jim sekerak

    This area of study is just the old navel-gazing of the dressed up with a PhD.

  6. Ray

    “Susan Naomi Nordstrom, homo sapiens, is an assistant professor of educational research”
    When I was an undergraduate the education majors were notorious for being the dumbest kids on campus. We made jokes about them because we thought it was funny that the not very intelligent wanted to teach others. We did not believe that would end well and this article proves it hasn’t.

  7. Sander van der Wal

    Try to find out who those peers were. also, how well respected is that journal? creating so-called scientific journals that omly punlish crap research was (is?) apparently booming business.

    That said, I still cannot imagine that a real University would consider this proper research.

  8. Ye Olde Statistcian

    I find myself struggling, wanting to find a narrative that will let me sleep

    I got it. The narrative runs: “Some guy I really don’t like won the previous election. He’s really irritating and I’m afraid he might do something effective and so get re-elected. But in any case, we’ll be rid of him in eight years, so don’t sweat the small stuff. Everything being said about the Trumpmeister was said about the Obamanator, and none of it came true, so I may as well catch some Zs.” Meanwhile blarfing my neuroses as a scientificalistic paper might embarrass my mother.

    What is that ’15yrs of repetitive dying’ about, reincarnation?

    Cats, remember. Nine lives?

  9. Leo

    That the article in the first item is silly isn’t really a problem. Lots of silly stuff gets published. So what. My complaint is that by claiming to be academic research it diminishes legitimate work, and secondarily the author is likely the beneficiary of taxpayer funds. Both are forms of theft.
    On a lighter note, no self-respecting cat, and they are all self-respecting, would deign to be a coauthor with this wack, so there is that misrepresentation as well.

  10. John B()


    Those who can, do

    Those who can’t, EDUCATE


    Thanks for the links

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *