This article is more than 6 years old

Colour me Clever

It seems that academia is not immune from the colouring craze. Let's review a new book leading the charge: "Doodling for Academics".
This article is more than 6 years old

Paul Greatrix is Registrar at The University of Nottingham, author and creator of Registrarism and a Contributing Editor of Wonkhe.

It seems that academia is not immune from the colouring craze.

Last year Indiana University Press released the first in a series of adult colouring books, called Color Your Campus. Indiana University was the first campus featured with other college campuses to follow:
In a surprising move for a university press, Indiana University Press joins the adult coloring trend to the early delight of college students, parents, fans, and alumni alike. Hobbyists will take pleasure in transforming artists’ black and white masterpieces into colorful flagship campuses while indulging in the comfort of a childhood stress reliever.
“We’re always looking for new, creative ways to engage readers and tell stories,” said Gary Dunham, Director of Indiana University Press. “With our Color Your Campus adult coloring books, readers become artists, remembering and celebrating their alma maters in the bright, colorful ways they choose.”
Now there is stage two in the academic colouring craze. In what sounds like an attempt to deliver both biting satire and pictures we have Doodling for Academics which is described on Amazon thus:
To an outsider, working as a university professor might seem like a dream: summers off, a few hours of class each week, an exchange of ideas with brilliant colleagues, books and late afternoon lattes…Who wouldn’t envy that life? But those in the trenches of academe are well acquainted with the professoriate’s dark underside: the hierarchies and pseudo-political power plays, the peculiar colleagues, the over-parented students, the stacks of essays that need to be graded ASAP. No one understands this world better than novelist Julie Schumacher, who here provides a bitingly funny distraction designed to help you survive life in higher education without losing your mind.
Sardonic yet shrewdly insightful, Doodling for Academics offers the perfect cognitive relief for the thousands of faculty and grad students whose mentors and loved ones failed to steer them toward more reasonable or lucrative fields. Through forty pages of original illustrations and activities from coloring to paper dolls to mad libs this book traces the arc of a typical day on campus. Get a peek inside the enigma of the student brain. Imagine a utopian faculty meeting. Navigate the red tape maze of university administration. With the help of hilarious illustrations by Lauren Nassef, Schumacher infuses the world of campus greens and university quads with cutting wit, immersing you deep into the weirdly creative challenges of university life. Offering a satirical interactive experience for scholars, the combination of humor and activities in this book will bring academia into entertaining relief, making it the perfect gift for your colleagues, advisors, or newly minted graduates.
I suspect that with the references to “hilarious illustrations”, “cutting wit” and a “satirical interactive experience” there is perhaps a risk of over-promising the level of hysterical intellectual colouring fun if this example is anything to go by:
But maybe I’m being a bit harsh. As Inside Higher Ed reports together with an interview with the author:
Pages have images that reflect life in academe. There are two pages called “Financial Priorities.” The first invites readers to color in two buildings: a humanities building (cracks in the wall, old-fashioned blinds, a tree stump) and a science building (shining glass facade, shrubbery and, of course, trees on the roof). The second invites readers to color in the new football stadium.
While administrators take plenty of grief in the book, the humor also points out foibles of faculty members and of those who love them. One page, called “Cheering Section,” has speech bubbles to color in featuring quotes from relatives of a professor.
They include questions like, “Your cousin Bix already finished his law degree” and “That must be nice, working only a few hours a day.” A page on fashion invites the reader to match various accessories (a whip and a bong, among others) with various personae of academe: grad student, donor, department chair and so forth.
A page inspired by the board game Life features squares saying things such as, “Vengeful colleague — go back one space” and “Failure to publish — stay here forever.” Those whose rolls of the dice succeed eventually hit full professor, followed by death.
Perfect cognitive relief then. Who knew academia could be such fun.

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