Mens et Mania: The MIT Nobody Knows

Mens et Mania: The MIT Nobody Knows

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Overview

A memoir of MIT life, from being Noam Chomsky's boss to negotiating with student protesters.

When Jay Keyser arrived at MIT in 1977 to head the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, he writes, he "felt like a fish that had been introduced to water for the first time. " At MIT, a colleague grabbed him by the lapels to discuss dark matter; Noam Chomsky called him "boss" (double SOB spelled backward?); and engaging in conflict resolution made him feel like "a marriage counselor trying to reconcile a union between a Jehovah's witness and a vampire. " In Mens et Mania , Keyser recounts his academic and administrative adventures during a career of more than thirty years.

Keyser describes the administrative side of his MIT life, not only as department head but also as Associate Provost and Special Assistant to the Chancellor. Keyser had to run a department ("budgets were like horoscopes") and negotiate student grievances—from the legality of showing Deep Throat in a dormitory to the uproar caused by the arrests of students for anti-apartheid demonstrations. Keyser also describes a visiting Japanese delegation horrified by the disrepair of the linguistics department offices (Chomsky tells them "Our motto is: Physically shabby. Intellectually first class. "); convincing a student not to jump off the roof of the Green Building; and recent attempts to look at MIT through a corporate lens. And he explains the special faculty-student bond at MIT: the faculty sees the students as themselves thirty years earlier.

Keyser observes that MIT is hard to get into and even harder to leave, for faculty as well as for students. Writing about retirement, Keyser quotes the song Groucho Marx sang in Animal Crackers as he was leaving a party—"Hello, I must be going. " Students famously say "Tech is hell. " Keyser says,"It's been a helluva party. "

This entertaining and thought-provoking memoir will make readers glad that Keyser hasn't quite left.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780262537117
Publisher: MIT Press
Publication date: 02/26/2019
Series: The MIT Press
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 341,575
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Samuel Jay Keyser is Peter de Florez Emeritus Professor in MIT's Department of Linguistics and Philosophy and Special Assistant to the Chancellor. Head of the Department of Linguistics and Philosophy from 1977 to 1998, he also held the positions of Director of the Center for Cognitive Science and Associate Provost.

Lawrence Bacow is President of Tufts University and the former Chancellor of MIT.

Table of Contents

Foreword Lawrence S. Bacow ix

Acknowledgments xi

Preface xvii

I Mens

1 The Wrecking Ball 3

2 The Steps of Widener 13

3 The Making of a Department Head 25

4 The Life of a Department Head 33

II Et Mania

5 To Be or Not to Be a University 43

6 Housemaster 55

7 Pornography and Free Speech 73

8 Hacking 95

9 Role Compliance 107

10 "Don't Tell Me What to Do" 115

11 Apartheid 123

12 The Aftermath 137

13 After the Aftermath 145

14 What's Going On Here? 157

15 Recommendation 14 165

16 A Good University Is a Bad Business 175

17 They Are Us 183

18 Chushingura and Catastrophes 195

19 "Hello, I Must Be Going" 215

What People are Saying About This

Paul E. Gray

S. J. Keyser is a shrewd and insightful observer of academe. His experiences in three universities, Brandeis, UMass, and MIT, enrich his perspectives about the way universities work, and his exploration of the culture of MIT is brilliant.

John Deutch

Jay Keyser's report of his voyage through MIT's life is as riveting and important as de Tocqueville's report on life and social practices in the early 19th century United States. The reader will be struck by the energy, diversity, and creativity of the place and by the wit of Keyser's account.

From the Publisher

Jay Keyser's report of his voyage through MIT's life is as riveting and important as de Tocqueville's report on life and social practices in the early 19th century United States. The reader will be struck by the energy, diversity, and creativity of the place and by the wit of Keyser's account.

John Deutch , Institute Professor, MIT

MIT is one of the world's great academic institutions and Jay Keyser presents an intimate insider's view of how it actually works in the best of times and in the worst of times. Keyser writes with verve and great humor. His book will be an inspiration to anyone committed to preserving both the excellence and the humanity of American higher education.

Robert J. Birgeneau , Chancellor and Professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

S. J. Keyser is a shrewd and insightful observer of academe. His experiences in three universities, Brandeis, UMass, and MIT, enrich his perspectives about the way universities work, and his exploration of the culture of MIT is brilliant.

Paul E. Gray , Professor and President Emeritus, MIT

Endorsement

S. J. Keyser is a shrewd and insightful observer of academe. His experiences in three universities, Brandeis, UMass, and MIT, enrich his perspectives about the way universities work, and his exploration of the culture of MIT is brilliant.

Paul E. Gray, Professor and President Emeritus, MIT

Robert J. Birgeneau

MIT is one of the world's great academic institutions and Jay Keyser presents an intimate insider's view of how it actually works in the best of times and in the worst of times. Keyser writes with verve and great humor. His book will be an inspiration to anyone committed to preserving both the excellence and the humanity of American higher education.

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