I’m going on a retreat for a couple of days. So, without further ado, I leave you with The Onion!
Archive for September, 2007
The board of the 97-year-old Poetry Society of America, whose members have included many of the most august names in verse, has been rocked by a string of resignations and accusations of McCarthyism, conservatism and simple bad management.
Should John Hollander be stripped of the Frost Medal in light of his racially charged comments? Should members of the Poetry Society resign in protest? Moreover, do artists have political and ethical responsibilties that can/should play into their artistic recognition?
The quote isn’t particularly relevant, though it might be telling. Do you think Columbia was right in inviting Ahmadinejad? How would you feel if UMD invited him? Who, if anyone, is an unacceptable official invitee of a university? Does it matter if the university is public or private?
Before I disappear into my weekend of atonement (yes, it’s Yom Kippur this weekend), I wanted to suggest a trip to CSPAC for a new program that sounds fascinating. Creative Dialogues: Cultural Faultlines explores some of the issues we’ve been discussing regarding diversity and cross-cultural understanding that we’ve been discussing. The talk is free and the associated dance performance is only $7 for students!
I will be back Sunday to respond to comments, etc.
Tomorrow begins the English Undergrad Association’s weekly coffeehouse. Wednesdays, 12-1pm in the Undergrad Lounge in Susquehanna. Donuts, drinks, and departmental talk. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get on our listserv. Our join our facebook group.
If you have an ARHU affiliated or related event coming up, I’m happy to post it on the blog. Just let me know.
Sometimes I think people like to revive the canon wars when they’re bored. Hey, at least it gets people talking passionately about literature– that’s something right. But this article in the Sunday New York Times caught my attention, particularly because of this quote from Tony Judt:
“It’s much more like a supermarket — kids can take pretty much any courses they like: Jewish kids take Jewish studies, gay students gay studies, black students African-American studies. You no longer have a university, but a series of identity constituencies all studying themselves.”
I know that in light of the noose incident there have been calls for students to get involved in cultural activities identity groups other than their own. Literature seems to be a safe, easy place to do this. This is a place where we as humanists seem to have experience. But are our students taking advantage of it? Do you take classes about identity groups other than you own? Do you feel that multiculturalism in the curriculum has further balkanized us or brought us closer together? To what extent does any of this multiculturalism extend beyond the classroom?
I want to be a professor after grad school. And yes, part of it is because I never want to leave school. But I also think there is something really powerful in transmitting the arts and humanities. For me, literary study has made me realize the kind of person I want to be…and the kind of person I don’t.
And I’m lucky because I have had some incredible teachers who have taught me about life as they have taught me about literature (going to OFFICE HOURS helps). And as this article in The American Scholar attests, professors, particularly in the humanities are so disparaged in popular culture. And these vicious myths keep us from having the kinds of relationships with professors that we could and should have. I hope that when I’m a professor these rumors and lies will not permeate the relationships I have with my students.
Why do these myths exist? Is it simply to further marginalize the academy? Intellectuals are so easily dismissed in our culture, but it seems to me that the ivory tower is little more than a construction in the popular mind. How do we tear it down?
So, I’ve been gone for a while and I do apologize for that. My summer did not exactly afford me time to devote to blogging. But I’m back and want to talk direction in terms of the blog.
I started this blog because I wanted to create an informal space for the ARHU community to talk about the issues that matter most to us. I think this blog can be a success if two things happen:
1) Other people contribute content. After all, I’m one person, with my own interests that might or might not be the same as yours…besides, I’m graduating (finally…don’t knock the 6 yr. plan) this spring. And I hope this can have life beyond that. If you’re interested in writing, posting video, articles, etc. let me know or even better, just email me something to put up!
2) Tell me via comment what void (if any) you’d like the blog to fill. What concerns do you have? What needs aren’t being addressed by your profs, peers, and the college? The concerns can be existensial in which case we can get discussion going or practical in which case we can talk about how to address it and bring it to the attention of the “powers that be”.
So, please comment. Let me know what can be better. In the meantime, I’ll share two things.
1) If you’re in English, the English Undergrad Association will be kicking off the semester’s activities in a couple of weeks. Please come get involved and make your department a better, stronger community. And eat. And meet people (like me!). And maybe even learn something.
2) I spent a week at a literary conference at the University of Mississippi this summer…working on my honor’s thesis. It was an awesome and surreal experience to be on the other side (i.e. faculty, scholars) of the academic divide. Definitely humbling, and a little intimidating. It’s also bizarre how small the worlds of literary scholarship are, especially when you narrow it down by author or theoretical approach. It scares me sometimes to think after grad school (hopefully, please let me get a job) I will be part of that world. I worry I might be isolating myself too much from the “real world”. And then of course I spend a similar amount of time trying to debunk the idea that the “real world” and “academic world” are somehow mutually exclusive. So, what conclusion have I ultimately come to? None. But I think it’s worth thinking about.