Professor of the Year, “If You Don’t Give Me Any of Your Shitty Papers You Get an A”

Slavoj Zizek fans and haters can finally agree on something: he probably doesn’t like any of you.

Zizek has always been vocal about his general disdain for students and humanity writ large. He once admitted in 2008 that seeing stupid people happy makes him depressed, before describing teaching as the worst job he has ever had.

“I hate students,” he said, “they are (as all people) mostly stupid and boring.”

In a recent interview at this year’s Zizek Conference in Ohio, Zizek talked about his personal life before delving into his thoughts on teaching.

“I hate giving classes,” Zizek said, citing office hours and grading papers as his two biggest peeves.

“I did teach a class here [at the University of Cincinnati] and all of the grading was pure bluff,” he continues. “I even told students at the New School for example… if you don’t give me any of your shitty papers, you get an A. If you give me a paper I may read it and not like it and you can get a lower grade.” He received no papers that semester.

But it’s office hours that are the main reason he does not want to teach.

“I can’t imagine a worse experience than some idiot comes there and starts to ask you questions, which is still tolerable. The problem is that here in the United States students tend to be so open that sooner or later, if you’re kind to them, they even start to ask you personal questions [about] private problems… What should I tell them?”

“I don’t care,” he continued. “Kill yourself. It’s not my problem,”

On a personal note, I was once told at the New School by a senior faculty member that Zizek would fill up his sign-up sheet for office hours with fake names to avoid student contact. I still wonder if that story is true, but now it doesn’t seem so out of character.

Watch the interview here.

  • rodger

    We need more professors like him. I could never figure out why a teacher would want to read any of our shitty papers.

    • An_Asshole

      Because your parents, or more likely the tax payers after you default on your astronomical student loans, (in other words, me and other poor bastards like me) are paying this asshole to educate you to the point that your papers are less shitty. The paper doesn’t matter, the ability to coherently produce it, does.

      I agree with “PleaseKillMe” above, I’d love to see how long this douchebag would last pouring steel in a mill or maybe driving a combine on a farm in southern Missouri in mid-August. He might follow his own advice.

      • Taylor Weaver

        No, you aren’t paying him to do anything, really, unless you live in Slovenia.

      • Jake

        All you idiots saying he could never survive a blue collar job know he was in the military when he was younger, right?

      • daysofdissent

        I don’t think he’s interested in teaching. I think he’s interested in writing and publishing his own ideas (and talking about them). That’s where he has the most to offer. That’s where he excels. People should read his books and go to his lectures. They should get someone else (who is more suited to it) to do what for him are the boring chores of marking people’s assignments.

  • Michael Boughn

    What a contemptible asshole . . .

    • daysofdissent

      Nah, he’s awesome. But you have to take what he says with a pinch of salt. You have to get his humour.

  • AN IA

    agree so much

  • PleaseKillMe

    I’d like to see how this jizzbucket would do in a blue collar job. Elitist twat would get eaten alive.

    • drdavenport

      I think that he has a much better chance at being successful at a blue collar job, than any blue collar workers would have at doing his job. Being able to become a professor of his stature is not the result of luck, money or heritage in any way.

      • rodger

        Agree. Professors work hard especially those that are tenured. There are two ways to work with your mind or your body. Those that choose body are always jealous of the ones who choose their minds.

        • Gregory Hamilton

          Its tenured profs who have nothing to work for and do nothing.

          • daysofdissent

            That’s true in some cases, but not this guy. He is an internationally renowned philosopher and political thinker who is constantly being invited to universities around the world.

        • Atticus Dogsbody

          Those who “choose” their mind should show some respect for those unthinking meat machines as those meat machines are still capable of blowing a superior mind with only a small piece of lead.

          P.S. There are two ways to work with your mind or your body.

          I wonder what Zizek, with his nimble mind, thinks of punctuation?

          • Limogi

            i vote superior minds blow unthinking meat machines away with small pieces of lead.

          • daysofdissent

            No, it goes like this. Superior minds WAIT until they’ve successfully invented proper robots and artificial intelligence, and THEN blow everyone else away with small pieces of lead (otherwise who will do all the actual work??). (Ok, and THEN the robots gather up the small pieces of lead and blow away the “superior minds”). The robots then lived happily ever after. The End. #TheHumansAreDead.

          • daysofdissent

            Remind me again whose side Slavoj is on, politically. The people who work in industry or the people who own and profit from industry? Hint: it’s the former. He insults everyone, especially people he cares about. If you read enough of his stuff, you can see beneath the exterior. He’s the opposite of the kind of person who is all nice and all smiles when you first meet them and then turn out to be a dick. He’s the opposite of that. He’s the guy who calls everyone a cunt but then when you get to know him turns out to be sound as fuck.

          • Atticus Dogsbody

            Holy shit! Trawling 3 year old threads.

            P.S. You’re a cunt.

            P.P.S. Zizek is still a twit.

        • Concordiadiscordi

          Witness the nauseating irony of blatant intellectual chauvinism on a website dedicated to critical theory.

          Why perpetuate the archaic onto-epistemological bifurcation of body from mind, manual from intellectual labour? It would appear that some mode of narcissistic self-validation is at work here, whereby those who occupy the favoured side of an asymmetrically constituted distinction are able to garner a sense of specious superiority over their maligned fellows. Alas, such would seem to be deeply embedded within the very fabric of academia – a veritable breeding ground for pompous and presumptuous pricks.

          As for the intellectual, “the masses no longer need him to gain knowledge: they know perfectly well, without illusion; they know far better than he and they are certainly capable of expressing themselves. But there exists a system of power which blocks, prohibits, and invalidates this discourse and this knowledge, a power not only found in the manifest authority of censorship, but one that profoundly and subtly penetrates an entire societal network. Intellectuals are themselves agents of this system of power – the idea of their responsibility for “consciousness” and discourse forms part of the system.” (Foucault 1972) It is precisely this system which we should be striving to deterritorialize.

          Where are the lines of flight?

          • Matt Martin

            this is the most pretentious, turgid thing i’ve read in months. plain shitty, wasteful writing. and just fucking insecure. it’s sad, but i already hate you too much to pity you.

          • artista

            You did not impress anyone with your gibberish. Only those with an inferiority complex go to the length you did to say something simple but make it sound complex.

          • daysofdissent

            I can’t tell if you’re trying to be ironic with your use of language there. You know, like the old “eschew obscurantism” joke.

          • daysofdissent

            “Why perpetuate the archaic onto-epistemological bifurcation of body from mind, manual from intellectual labour? It would appear that some mode of narcissistic self-validation is at work here, whereby those who occupy the favoured side of an asymmetrically constituted distinction are able to garner a sense of specious superiority over their maligned fellows. ”

            M8, YOU **ARE** JOKING, RIGHT?

    • daysofdissent

      I don’t think he’s elitist at all.

    • daysofdissent

      I don’t think he’s elitist. I think he’s impatient – impatient with all the bullshit in the world. You know, most people just go along with all the bullshit in the world. But he’s like “fuck that shit”.

  • xandtrek

    I actually really like and respect my students. But I could live without reading another shitty paper.

    • Mohican5

      You have got that right. I’m in the midst of a pile of shitty papers.

  • Jonah Feldman

    Zizek is an idiot and an asshole. What else is new?

    • Mr Trainbeans

      unfortunately he is literally right about everything

      • DFCtomm

        He’s a film professor right? What the hell can he be right about? The whole subject is subjective. If he were say a physicist with some radical theories but they always turned out to be correct then you might be able to say that, but he’s a fucking film professor.

        • Taylor Weaver

          He isn’t a “film professor”, he is a, broadly, a philsopher that dabbles, as good philosophy should, in cultural criticism. He is also a psychoanalyst, working with influential voices Hegel, Lacan, Marx, and I believe Levinas (among many others). He has his foot in a lot of subject areas, but no, he isn’t just some “film professor.”

          • John Sabotta

            Zizek’s an admirer of Lenin, and is, therefore, a swine. It’s true that we’re not subsidizing this swine to any significant degree, but he has a certain following of contemptible fools in this country.

            “working with influential voices Hegel, Lacan, Marx, and I believe Levinas” is a puzzling claim, to say the least.

          • daysofdissent

            John, you are an admirer of a great many swines. You probably admire Henry Kissinger or some other mass-murdering war criminal like that.

          • charlesmhamm

            Wow, Marx AND Freud? The two biggest intellectual frauds of the 19th century in one convenient package. No psychologist has taken Freud seriously for 70 years or so, and anyone who still believes in Marxism after 100 million dead bodies deserves all the contempt that can possibly be heaped on him.

          • bargal20

            Blaming Marx for victims of Stalin and Mao is like blaming Jesus for victims of the Spanish Inquisition.

          • Paul Gauthier

            You’re an idiot.

          • daysofdissent

            charles, Marx was a serious and acclaimed philosopher, regardless of what has been done in his name. You’re showing your ignorance.

          • DFCtomm

            You think that’s an improvement?

        • daysofdissent

          He’s a political thinker.

          • DFCtomm

            three fucking years ago. go away.

          • DFCtomm

            did you just go down the page replying to nearly every comment from an article 3 years old? I hope somebody slaps your eyebrows off.

    • daysofdissent

      No, you just don’t understand him. Or maybe you just prefer people who are smooth talking with impeccable manners but but no integrity. Style over substance.

    • daysofdissent

      “An idiot”??

      I love how people who aren’t that clever can accuse a genius of being an idiot. I love the irony of that.

      You have *no idea* what he’s on about, so you assume he’s not on about anything at all.

  • disqusthrow

    He seems to be in the wrong profession .. A Professor with no empathy for his students – how does that work?!

    • DFCtomm

      1. become professor
      2. show up
      3. get paid

      • drdavenport

        Behind the scene, the reality is more like this:

        1. become professor
        2. work 80 hours per week doing research and publishing books and articles in a highly competitive field while teaching and raising funds for research at the same time
        3. get paid

    • daysofdissent

      How does it work? He’s an academic. Teaching students is a small part of his job. As Drdavenport below says: “work 80 hours per week doing research and publishing books and articles in a highly competitive field while teaching and raising funds for research at the same time”.

    • daysofdissent

      I don’t think you know what a professor is. It’s not primarily someone who teaches undergraduates. A professor’s job is to produce original new knowledge and understanding, develop new theory, and so on. It’s about research and analysis and formulating new ideas to understand the world.

  • Joe Hudson

    Oh, so this wasn’t sattire?

    • DFCtomm

      No joke. I had to check the address because I thought it had to be the Onion.

    • daysofdissent

      Satire? Why should it be? You can spend your whole life doing everything by the book and following all the rules. That can be a colossal waste of time.

    • daysofdissent

      (There is *humour* in the way he speaks though. Seems to be lost on a lot of people).

  • Arash Azizi

    Hahaha, proper!

  • BigGator5

    Please tell me he doesn’t have tenure.

    • Mohican5

      You obviously do not know who he is.

      • charlesmhamm

        No. Nor do I care. A bloviating arrogant pseudointellectual in a make-believe “discipline”, from what I’ve seen here.

        • Mohican5

          I don’t agree with Zizek’s attitude about students. I hate the “superstar” mentality, no matter the discipline.

          But I also dislike it when people make ridiculous comments and then cover their ignorance with blow-hard, Joe Six-Pack rhetoric and the over-zealous use of a thesaurus. Zizek would not have to worry about tenure. Tenure doesn’t come up in his contract negotiations. Therefore, your statement is meaningless.

        • daysofdissent

          Well you’re showing your ignorance here, punk.

          “He is a senior researcher at the Institute for Sociology and Philosophy at the University of Ljubljana, Global Distinguished Professor of German at New York University,[1] and international director of the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities of the University of London.[2] He works in subjects including continental philosophy, political theory, cultural studies, psychoanalysis, film criticism, Marxism, Hegelianism and theology”.

          (Google him for more info).

    • daysofdissent

      Tenure? I don’t think you know who this is. This is a world famous philosopher. This is one of the most celebrated political thinkers in the world today.

  • Richard_Romano

    The man is another self-absorbed, self-important academic.

    • daysofdissent

      I like people who have a high opinion of themselves. I’d rather people were like that than being all modest and self-deprecating. Maybe he thinks his ideas are worth listening to. They probably are.

  • SGT Ted

    He holds the cat like Dr. Evil. He’s a living parody.

    • lilflourocheezits

      Like most evil people, he is a purist at heart. The enemy of the good is the perfect. But he is mediocre evil that has latched onto Hegel. Critical theory for film is not his forte.

  • Science students are the shittiest when it comes to grading humanities papers. Lemme tell ya:

    http://cosmostheinlost.com/2014/05/07/science-doesnt-think-neil-degrasse-tyson-busts-move-philosophy/

  • Lubin

    You mean “humanity AT large.” Good thing Zizek’s not grading you.

    • AlfredLehmberg

      Nope… nothing wrong, I offer, with the usage of “writ.” Meaning, “everyone,” too… …only showing instead more imagination, novelty, and some small eloquence, eh? Where’s it writ large that “writ” cannot be used in this sense. [g]. It’s the _lack_ of unfettered imagination and creative spirit so nurtured in our students in the corporeal vexing Zizek’s sensibilities I expect. We don’t educate humans, he would seem to understand; we train monkeys.

    • Critical Theory

      Someone doesn’t know how to use Google.

  • Barış Konağ

    Öğrenciler de sana bayılıo amk

  • Gregory_Sadler

    I used to just assign a few, longer papers over the course of a semester for most of my classes. Over time, I’ve shifted to assigning 1-2 shorter papers per week. Students improve by messing up and then doing work up to standards over time, and they get a lot more out of writing as a ongoing practice.

    I have to admit, though, that — even when the papers are good — it is a chore to read through all of them. . . .

    • frank attanucci

      Dr. Sadler, your practice reflects a prior judgment: that the development of your students’ abilities to communicate are worth the effort. Cheers to you!

      • Gregory_Sadler

        Thanks! I’m a bit ashamed to admit, though, that I certainly didn’t start out with that point of view — rather, I simply expected them to be able to do so, and then would be disappointed with what they ended up turning in. It took years of teaching before I caught on.

        • joebeckmann

          If you were really interested in teaching, you’d have them grade each other and then look at the ones they – as a group – thought were best – and then, ask why and talkabout it.

          • Gregory_Sadler

            Yep, I must not be really interested in teaching. Nice

          • joebeckmann

            Most surely you’re interested in teaching, but it’s remarkably unclear whether you’re the teacher or the taught. If it “took years of teaching before” you caught on, your interest seems less reflective than it might. Although I think he’s reinventing everybody from Plato to Dewey, you ought to look at Eric Mazur’s stuff (http://harvardmagazine.com/2012/03/twilight-of-the-lecture) where at least he’s become aware that method frames the madness of “active learning.”

          • zoned post meridiem

            Oh, look, someone stumbled on a kind-of-innovative practice for teaching x, and now declares it The Only Way of Teaching X. Novel.

          • joebeckmann

            No one ever said “the only way of teaching x,” and I’m surprised at that particular kind of critique. And, by the way, I never “stumbled.” It’s merely a matter of knowing something about pedagogy.

          • King Dong

            Ever consider that maybe you’re just full of shit?

          • joebeckmann

            I never needed to reflect on shit. Plumbing works better, faster, and more productively than reflection when the idea stinks that much. And both ideas – that there is only one way to teach, or that it’s only the tenured who know – Renee my trust in plumbing.

          • King Dong

            That’s profound, honey bunny!

    • daysofdissent

      Get them to give each other feedback and then you can just read a few of them and give them detailed feedback which they can then share with each other. (PS: You’re welcome 🙂 ). (PPS: Let me know how it works out).

  • I agree. I just finished a social work grad program. My fellow students for the most part didn’t even belong in the crayon box.

  • drdavenport

    I think this has much more to do with the consumer mentality that has emerged in higher education than with Zizek being an asshole, elitist or “jizzbucket”.

    • Doug Tarnopol

      I think it has more to do with the perversion of left politics by celebrity worship and incoherent drivel than with anything else.

      • daysofdissent

        Please don’t mistake things that you don’t understand for incoherent drivel.

    • Matt Martin

      christ honey shut the fuck up forever

      • daysofdissent

        No, it’s like this. YOU shut the fuck up. Fucking PRICK!!

  • cookin128

    Must be hard working 6 hours a week 9 months a year for 6 figures.

  • BC

    A brilliant mind is nothing if it’s trapped inside a shitty misanthrope. What a jerkoff.

  • David

    Actually after reading the whole Q&A he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. His answers to me were very honest and I find that appealing in a way. I can’t blame him for not wanting to grade papers. Even the smartest students are unlikely to say anything useful or interesting. Who says every college class has to include papers? If he keeps getting invited to be a visiting professor then I would say he is probably doing something valuable for the students and faculty at the institutions that hire him. Maybe he gives really interesting lectures. He is definitely a smart guy and I’m guessing an entertaining speaker as well. Sometimes just sitting and absorbing what a very smart person has to say can be very exciting. I would guess some of the students attending learn something that might spark an area of interest that will lead them to research more and possibly make an important contribution of their own in the future. The rest of the students will at least enjoy a stimulating intellectual experience. I don’t really care that he gives all A’s. I think grades are pointless and don’t really mean anything. If you are going to pay thousands of dollars to learn then you should put your best effort forth in the class and if you do that you will learn and grow regardless of what letter someone decides to assign your work. There are so many kids in college now who are just there for a credential and couldn’t care less about learning anything. And that is all society really wants from colleges anyway, credentialed workers who have shown an ability to navigate a bureaucracy for 4 years and maybe learned some skills at accounting or marketing or something like that.

    • Doug Tarnopol

      Where’s the full Q&A? The video’s been taken down. I’ll look, but if you have a chance, could you post the link here? Thanks.

  • cosmopolite

    Why is this man interesting in any way?
    Why don’t students simply not enrol for his classes??
    Why is he any kind of celebrity?

  • Doug Tarnopol

    The interview’s been taken down. I wonder why? Zizek is a distasteful jerk — and a charlatan. Easy to spot. Why, then, is he so worshiped by the so-called left? That’s the far more interesting question.

  • Jason Hops

    Flooding ALL White countries and ONLY White countries with non-White immigration combined with forced integration is a program of White genocide.

    Africa will still be full of Africans

    Asia will still be full of Asians.

    Only White children will suffer from this.

    Read the UN genocide conventions: It is genocide.

    They say they are anti-racist. What they are is anti-White.

    Anti-racist is a code word for anti-White.

  • Risto Silvan

    I am from Ljubljana as well. I can’t believe how this clown is fooling people across the world. He shows himself as some kind of dissident, But he is no dissident, in fact he is the product of the former communist regime here in Slovenia. He is their promoter not a victim. He is also well paid professor in Ljubljana as well. But he is never seen on the classes. What a jerk and a fraud.

  • HunterJE

    Yet another example of why “professional academic” and “higher ed teacher” shouldn’t be the same job.

  • Michael McKinley

    Seriously, a shitty paper tells itself in the first minute of reading. No hope there for dominance in academia if you can’t catch in the flood like a salmon spawning. Not that it’s bad, it may be great … they’ll get a great job and such. But never create the job.

  • daysofdissent

    To all the haters, I’m going to repost what Dave below wrote:

    Because I think most people here are misunderstanding Slavoj.

    “Actually after reading the whole Q&A he doesn’t seem like such a bad guy. His answers to me were very honest and I find that appealing in a way. I can’t blame him for not wanting to grade papers. Even the smartest students are unlikely to say anything useful or interesting. Who says every college class has to include papers? If he keeps getting invited to be a visiting professor then I would say he is probably doing something valuable for the students and faculty at the institutions that hire him. Maybe he gives really interesting lectures. He is definitely a smart guy and I’m guessing an entertaining speaker as well. Sometimes just sitting and absorbing what a very smart person has to say can be very exciting. I would guess some of the students attending learn something that might spark an area of interest that will lead them to research more and possibly make an important contribution of their own in the future. The rest of the students will at least enjoy a stimulating intellectual experience. I don’t really care that he gives all A’s. I think grades are pointless and don’t really mean anything. If you are going to pay thousands of dollars to learn then you should put your best effort forth in the class and if you do that you will learn and grow regardless of what letter someone decides to assign your work. There are so many kids in college now who are just there for a credential and couldn’t care less about learning anything. And that is all society really wants from colleges anyway, credentialed workers who have shown an ability to navigate a bureaucracy for 4 years and maybe learned some skills at accounting or marketing or something like that.”