alt-ac careers and the purposes of humanities doctoral programs

Marc Bousquet has a piece in Inside Higher Ed on the topic of alt-ac careers and the disciplinary-institutional motives of departments and universities in relation to them. I really don’t disagree with him, particularly when he writes: faculty like having graduate programs and, perhaps more to the point, administrators need them. For faculty, grad programs confer…

academic “quit pieces” and related digital flotsom

Before I get into this, I should try to make a few things clear. This post isn’t about the structural problems facing higher education right now (issues of cost and access, the changing cultural-economic role of universities nationally and globally, or shifts in media-information technologies that are reshaping our work). It’s not even about the…

faculty at work

This is one of those posts where I find myself at a strange intersection among several seemingly unrelated articles. Jonathan Rees warns us that “The ‘flipped classroom’ is professional suicide.” Alister Scott worries that “Universities [are] at risk of dumbing down into secondary schools.” Erik Gilbert asks “Does assessment make colleges better? Who knows?“ Steven…

Neoliberal and new liberal arts

In an essay for Harper’s William Deresiewicz identifies neoliberalism as the primary foe of higher education. I certainly have no interest in defending neoliberalism, though it is a rather amorphous, spectral enemy. It’s not a new argument, either. Here are a few passages the give you the spirit of the argument: The purpose of education in…

What If? Special Higher Education Issue

Jesse Stommel and Sean Michael Morris at Hybrid Pedagogy ask “Imagine that no educational technologies had yet been invented — no chalkboards, no clickers, no textbooks, no Learning Management Systems, no Coursera MOOCs. If we could start from scratch, what would we build?” As the image here suggests, this reminds me of the What If? Marvel comics. The ones…

hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way

The song refers to the nation, of course, and I’m thinking of a discipline where perhaps we are not so quiet. Here’s two tangentially related articles and both are tangentially related to English, so many tangents here. First, an article in Inside Higher Ed about UC Irvine’s rethinking of how they will fund their humanities phd programs:…

blogging, academics, and the case of The Witcher

As most anyone can tell you, academic blogging died off a long time ago. I’m not exactly sure when it supposed to be popular. I’m guessing it was at a time before most academics had much of an online existence, before they all hopped on Facebook and started sharing articles with one another. As I…

writing in the post-disciplines

Or, the disorientation of rhetoric toward English Studies… In her 2014 PMLA article “Composition, English, and the University,” Jean Ferguson Carr makes a strong argument for the value of rhetoric and composition for literary studies in building the future of English Studies. She pays particular attention to composition’s interests in “reading and revising student writing,” “public writing,”…

what to do when a professional organization tries to embrace you

Yesterday, at least in my disciplinary corner of the online world, there was a fair amount of discussion about the Chronicle of Higher Education report of the Modern Language Association’s upcoming officer elections, which will ultimately result in someone from the field of rhetoric becoming MLA president. I was interviewed and briefly quoted for the article, so…

when students get their “money’s worth” and other academic clickbait

Without laying this all at the feet of social media, in today’s fast-paced modern world (ahem), the competition in the attention economy appears to push more extreme positions. There’s nothing really new there, as the sensationalism of tabloids attest, but that seemed more avoidable in the past. The modern instantiation of clickbait is far more…