Ambivalent Academic

I am both an ambivalent academic and an academic of ambivalence.

I have always been interested in philosophical writings that reveal the underbelly of models of knowledge as mastery that call for the elimination or control of emotion. My work pushes against these characterizations in order to revalue and reframe vulnerability and ambivalence as potential sources of strength and empowerment.

And so, I’m trying to walk the walk by sharing more personal writings as an act of courageous vulnerability—is there any other kind? By revealing my own ambivalence about my experiences within academia (am I a “good philosopher”? what does that even mean?), I hope to encourage a more open conversation about the limitations of dominant culture within academic philosophy (and academia in general) that presents a model of knowledge as mastery and complete certainty.

I see Ambivalent Academic as an act of ongoing public philosophy, where I seek to work through my own experiences of ambivalence and vulnerability in a way that can open up possibilities for more meaningful learning. These reflections help guide what kind of academic and teacher I want to be.

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Thinking as an Escape

I often say that I ended up in philosophy on a whim. >>>

August 3, 2020

Homebound, yet Placeless

When asked where I’m from, I answer ‘Montreal’ … even though I’ve been told over and over that I’m not a real Quebecker. My last name is ‘Cook’, instead of a “real” Québécois surname like ‘Bellemare’. >>>

July 2, 2020

On the Fear of Not Knowing, Or “I Know What a Vein is”

My mum sent me a video recently of me as a 6‑year‑old visiting family in England… I wish I could say that I’m cheerful and helpful in the video. I wish I could say that I’m pleasantly surprised at what I’m like as a little kid. >>>

May 21, 2020

My name is…

At the beginning of every term, I introduce myself to my students. I say, “Hi folks, I’m Anna Cook. You can call me Dr Cook, Prof Cook or Anna. It’s spelled like ‘Anna’ but pronounced ‘On‑a’ just to make things difficult. No, but really, the movie Frozen has changed my life”. >>>

February 29, 2020

Notes to Myself

During the year I lived on my own, I learned the value of fresh‑cut flowers, self‑made dance videos and Post‑its on the wall. >>>

February 1, 2020

Teaching with Tea

How bringing tea for my students challenges expectations of who counts as a ‘serious thinker’. >>>

January 11, 2020
Featured in Age of Awareness

Good Enough: On Picking the Right Password

How an online password helped me trust my abilities. >>>

December 3, 2019

On Choosing the Right Font

I switched to Garamond when I was completely stuck in the middle of one of my qualifying exams to become a PhD candidate in philosophy. >>>

November 17, 2019

On Meeting my Graduate School Monsters

I named my monster Lenny. Well, I didn’t name it so much as its (his?) name became viscerally apparent in a therapy session. >>>

October 31, 2019

image: Sara Morley

You Don’t Have to Choose One Part of Yourself

Logic dictates ‘this or that,’ but real life begs for nuance
I have always had a hard time with both and neither. It’s either on or off. We’re friends or we’re not. I love it or I don’t. I’m all in or completely out. >>>

October 23, 2019
Featured in Human Parts

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