Traveling through the Boondocks

In and Out of Academic Hierarchy

By Terry Caesar

Subjects: Literary Theory
Paperback : 9780791446607, 211 pages, July 2000
Hardcover : 9780791446591, 211 pages, August 2000

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Introduction: Representing Exclusion, Writing Personal Narrative, and Selling Influence

1. A Credit to the University

2. Electing a Department: Differences, Fictions, and a Narrative

3. The Politics of Institutional Affiliation

4. Taking Nothing for Granted

5. Filing Away Teacher Observation Reports

6. Getting Hired

7. Theory in the Boondocks

8. Sabbaticals, Travel, Frames



Wry and honest essays on the everyday conditions of professional life at a "second-rate" university, with implications for our understanding of higher education in general.


What is it like to be a faculty member at a university in the United States that enjoys no reputation or distinction? Traveling through the Boondocks discusses this situation not from the top down but from the bottom up, where the experience of exclusion ranges from that of departments where scholarship gets to count in hiring decisions to conferences where only individuals from elite institutions get to appear on stage. This book reinvigorates our understanding of higher education by illuminating the everyday conditions under which academics work and the hierarchical distinctions in which they are always embedded.

Before taking a position as Senior Professor of American Literature at Japan's Mukogawa Women's University, Terry Caesar was Professor of English at Clarion University. He is the author of several books, including Conspiring with Forms: Life in Academic Texts, and Writing in Disguise: Academic Life in Subordination.


"In the small world of academia, there are first-rate institutions and then there is everyone else. Caesar's wry examination of what this hierarchical distinction means to the institutions, their faculty and their students is as much a consideration of his own career as it is a hard look at the social structure of American universities and the levels of education they provide. Caesar's book should be required reading for graduate students and academics contemplating career moves." — Publishers Weekly

"I like best the wry humor and the honesty about the foibles of academia. This book is a lively read, an excellent critique of academia, written by someone who is sometimes ironic, often funny, occasionally churlish, and overall, a delightful crank. Wise and wry." — Emily Toth, author of Ms. Mentor's Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia

"Terry Caesar is an iconoclast, exposing the unexposed, day-to-day, material conditions of those working and teaching in the U.S. academy. Though high academics might find Caesar's airing of professional laundry to be in poor taste, Caesar is by turns provocative, piercing, wry, and usually dead on target about the frequently unfair discriminations wrought by the presumably meritorious academic hierarchy. After reading Traveling through the Boondocks, it will be hard to see academic life in quite the same way." — Jeffrey Williams, editor of PC Wars: Politics and Theory in the Academy