Friday, April 18, 2014

Theme: College

  • Is there anything more tedious than the facile distinction between university study and the “real world”? (The only thing that annoys me more is being called “Miss” by teenage restaurant workers — as if nothing could be more gravely insulting to a woman than to address her in such a way that acknowledges her age.) Read more
  • U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Robert O. Blake performed the diplomatic equivalent of gold-medal figure skating last April in a meeting at the authoritarian central Asian nation of Kazakhstan’s Nazarbayev University when a student asked him about warnings by American critics and human-rights monitors that “a democracy cannot have its universities making partnerships with authoritarian governments,” as the questioner put itRead more
  • I was 7 when I first watched The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s classic film adaptation about a family living in an empty hotel as caretakers for a cold winter. Jack, the father, quickly transcends on a journey to madness, triggered in part by the family’s alienation. As a 7-year-old, I empathized with Danny, Jack’s son. When I last watched the movie as an adult, I found myself siding with Jack, the violent, psychotic father losing his mind. I expressed my envy for the chance Jack had to isolate himself from his surroundings and to be alone with his thoughts. Jack could utterly concentrate on his writing sans the distractions others create.Read more
  • Up

  • While straitened budgets and shrinking resources present difficulties for all of us within the university system, some of the most vulnerable people affected are graduate students. Occupying a liminal space as apprentices within the profession, students enrolled in master’s and doctoral programs often find themselves facing a situation in which opportunities for professional development have become occasions for exploitation.Read more
  • In its March 2013 issue, The Atlantic ran a tersely titled article, “Anthropology, Inc.” The author, Graeme Wood, spoke about a market research company (ReD) that was hiring anthropology PhDs to use their training in social science field work to dreg up data closer to home—in fact, in the home itself.Read more
  • No, she insisted, she could never go back to Zanesville. Of course, she would continue to visit her hometown but she would not live there again. My student’s words were adamant but her voice broke with undisguised sadness. I stared at her as the sun flooded the oak desk behind me. Leaning against my chair, I repeated mentally her declaration, one that I had often heard before and had in fact uttered myself years earlier. Read more
  • Last week I emailed Laurie Penny's article "Steubenville: This is rape culture's Abu Ghraib moment" to my mother. We talked about it. She called it "sexual fascism." She always has the right words. I asked her how it is possible to raise human beings who are capable of things like this. I use the word "human" loosely here. Human, first and foremost, may not even be the point, as evidenced by the media’s and the public’s response to the rape.Read more
  • The singular achievement of the controversial early 20th century philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein was to have discerned the true nature of Western philosophy — what is special about its problems, where they come from, how they should and should not be addressed, and what can and cannot be accomplished by grappling with them.Read more
  • The lone survivor of traditional Western European ‘scientific’ culture is science. It has survived because it is now the handmaid of technology, without which contemporary civilization would collapse utterly. Anyone who doubts this should try to get a research grant for genuinely “pure” research.Read more
  • In a short piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education, “Ditch the Monograph,” Jennifer Howard surveys some recent experiments by university presses to cultivate and produce shorter-form e-books (i.e., Princeton Shorts and Stanford Briefs),1 and wonders if these books might not “pull in new readers for serious scholarship,” and at a time, moreover, when “academic libraries have ever-smaller amounts of money and space to lavish on [longer] books, which often have more pages than they have readers.”Read more
  • In fall 2009, an exhibition, public talk, and workshops by the Guerrilla Girls were presented at the Acadia University Art Gallery. Coincidentally, Gender and Development was being offered in the same semester. This provided an opportunity for a cross-disciplinary collaborative project that engaged students outside the classroom.Read more
  • Jacques Derrida speaks about the attitude of American journalists and university students.Read more
  • The world of mathematics is a dissenter’s paradise. Although mathematical reasoning binds the mind to rigor and constrains it to obey rules of inference and to accept semantic conventions shared by the community of its practitioners, the world of mathematics at large, in society and in our imagination, is replete with diversity, disagreement and discontent.Read more
  • I don’t know about the time of Marx’s original publications, but I’d like to believe that in the 1890s perhaps, 1920s, when there was a strong labor movement going on in the country, a lot of civil unrest, my sense of things is that it was possible to describe oneself as a Marxist, to use Marxist ideas, to appropriate Marxist categories and language, to use the ideas of socialism in a fairly overt and mainstream way for the purpose of social organization.Read more
  • This semester I’ve been running a graduate level seminar at the City University of New York, on the difference between philosophy of science and science studies. The latter is a broad and somewhat vaguely defined term that includes (certain kinds of) sociology of science, postmodern criticism of science, and feminist epistemology. Read more
  • Half the campus was designed by Bottom the Weaver, half by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe; Benton had been endowed with one to begin with, and had smiled and sweated and spoken for the other. A visitor looked under black beams, through leaded casements (past apple boughs, pas box, past chairs like bath-tubs on broomsticks) to a lawn ornamented with one of the statues of David SmithRead more
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