robertogreco + humanities   124

Doing Sensory Ethnography | SAGE Publications Inc
"This bold agenda-setting title continues to spearhead interdisciplinary, multisensory research into experience, knowledge and practice.

Drawing on an explosion of new, cutting edge research Sarah Pink uses real world examples to bring this innovative area of study to life. She encourages us to challenge, revise and rethink core components of ethnography including interviews, participant observation and doing research in a digital world. The book provides an important framework for thinking about sensory ethnography stressing the numerous ways that smell, taste, touch and vision can be interconnected and interrelated within research. Bursting with practical advice on how to effectively conduct and share sensory ethnography this is an important, original book, relevant to all branches of social sciences and humanities."

[See also: ]
sarahpink  books  sensoryethnography  senses  anthropology  ethnography  visualethnography  toread  multisensory  interdisciplinary  socialsicences  humanities 
may 2018 by robertogreco
OCCULTURE: 67. Carl Abrahamsson & Mitch Horowitz in “Occulture (Meta)” // Anton LaVey, Real Magic & the Nature of the Mind
"Look, I’m not gonna lie to you - we have a pretty badass show this time around. Carl Abrahamsson and Mitch Horowitz are in the house.

Carl Abrahamsson is a Swedish freelance writer, lecturer, filmmaker and photographer specializing in material about the arts & entertainment, esoteric history and occulture. Carl is the author of several books, including a forthcoming title from Inner Traditions called Occulture: The Unseen Forces That Drive Culture Forward.

Mitch Horowitz is the author of One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life; Occult America, which received the 2010 PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award for literary excellence; and Mind As Builder: The Positive-Mind Metaphysics of Edgar Cayce. Mitch has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Salon,, and Politico. Mitch is currently in the midst of publishing a series of articles on Medium called "Real Magic".

And it is that series paired with Carl’s book that lays the foundation for our conversation here."
carlabrahamsson  mitchhorowitz  occult  culture  occulture  magic  belief  mind  ouijaboard  astrology  mindfulness  buddhism  religion  academia  antonlavey  materialism  mainstream  intellectualism  elitism  mindbodyspirit  2018  esotericism  authority  norms  nuance  change  enlightenment  popculture  science  humanities  socialsciences  medicine  conservatism  churches  newage  cosmology  migration  california  hippies  meaning  psychology  siliconvalley  ingenuity  human  humans  humannature  spirituality  openmindedness  nature  urbanization  urban  nyc  us  society  santería  vodou  voodoo  voudoun  climate  light  davidlynch  innovation  population  environment  meaningmaking  mikenesmith  californianideology  thought  thinking  philosophy  hoodoo  blackmetal  norway  beauty  survival  wholeperson  churchofsatan  satanism  agency  ambition  mysticism  self  stories  storytelling  mythology  humanism  beinghuman  surrealism  cv  repetition  radicalism  myths  history  renaissance  fiction  fantasy  reenchantment  counterculture  consciousness  highered  highereducation  cynicism  inquiry  realitytele 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Una mutación social acecha a la humanidad
"las transformaciones del trabajo y de la subjetividad provocadas por la globalización y la financiarización de la economía: la desterritorialización, la precarización del empleo, el declive de la burguesía y el proletariado y su paulatina reemplazo por el “cognitariado” y la clase ejecutiva financiera, el sometimiento de los trabajadores por dispositivos de automatización y control, cuyos efectos incluyen la dificultad para crear formas de solidaridad y de relación cuerpo a cuerpo."

"Me interesa en particular la separación entre el ingeniero y el poeta, entre el conocimiento científico y la imaginación artística, que es una consecuencia de la reducción de la formación, la educación y el sistema escolar y universitario a meras herramientas para la acumulación financiera. El declive de la enseñanza humanística, la introducción de criterios puramente económicos en el pensamiento científico y en la innovación tecnológica son los efectos más evidentes y peligrosos de la sumisión del conocimiento al provecho económico. En este contexto, la figura del economista domina abusivamente el panorama cognitivo. ¿Qué es la economía? ¿Una ciencia? No me parece. La ciencia se define ante todo por su objeto, por la capacidad de formular leyes universales que nos permiten prever los acontecimientos futuros. La economía no tiene un objeto independiente de su actuación, y por ende me parece una técnica, no una ciencia. El problema es que esta técnica pretende reglar las otras formas de conocimiento según un principio que no pertenece a la ciencia, sino al interés de una minoría. La reducción de la dinámica social al provecho económico devino el dogma central del pensamiento contemporáneo: no se puede decir, pensar ni investigar nada si no sirve a la acumulación de capital."
work  labor  economics  solidarity  2018  francoberardi  precarity  capitalism  humanism  disciplines  finance  universities  colleges  education  highered  highereducation  science  humanities 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Peripetatic Humanities - YouTube
"A lecture about Mark Sample's "Notes Toward a Deformed Humanities," featuring ideas by Lisa Rhody, Matt Kirchenbaum, Steve Ramsay, Barthes, Foucault, Bahktin, Brian Croxall, Dene Grigar, Roger Whitson, Adeline Koh, Natalia Cecire, and Ian Bogost & the Oulipo, a band opening for The Carpenters."
kathiinmanberens  performance  humanities  deformity  marksample  lisarhody  mattkirchenbaum  steveramsay  foucault  briancroxall  denegrigar  rogerwhitson  adelinekoh  ianbogost  oulipo  deformance  humptydumpty  repair  mikhailbakhtin  linearity  alinear  procedure  books  defamiliarization  reading  howweread  machines  machinereading  technology  michelfoucault  rolandbarthes  nataliacecire  disruption  digitalhumanities  socialmedia  mobile  phones  making  computation  computing  hacking  nonlinear 
february 2018 by robertogreco
Stuart Hall and the Rise of Cultural Studies | The New Yorker
"Culture, he argued, does not consist of what the educated élites happen to fancy, such as classical music or the fine arts. It is, simply, “experience lived, experience interpreted, experience defined.” And it can tell us things about the world, he believed, that more traditional studies of politics or economics alone could not."

"Broadly speaking, cultural studies is not one arm of the humanities so much as an attempt to use all of those arms at once. It emerged in England, in the nineteen-fifties and sixties, when scholars from working-class backgrounds, such as Richard Hoggart and Raymond Williams, began thinking about the distance between canonical cultural touchstones—the music or books that were supposed to teach you how to be civil and well-mannered—and their own upbringings. These scholars believed that the rise of mass communications and popular forms were permanently changing our relationship to power and authority, and to one another. There was no longer consensus. Hall was interested in the experience of being alive during such disruptive times. What is culture, he proposed, but an attempt to grasp at these changes, to wrap one’s head around what is newly possible?

Hall retained faith that culture was a site of “negotiation,” as he put it, a space of give and take where intended meanings could be short-circuited. “Popular culture is one of the sites where this struggle for and against a culture of the powerful is engaged: it is also the stake to be won or lost in that struggle,” he argues. “It is the arena of consent and resistance.” In a free society, culture does not answer to central, governmental dictates, but it nonetheless embodies an unconscious sense of the values we share, of what it means to be right or wrong. Over his career, Hall became fascinated with theories of “reception”—how we decode the different messages that culture is telling us, how culture helps us choose our own identities. He wasn’t merely interested in interpreting new forms, such as film or television, using the tools that scholars had previously brought to bear on literature. He was interested in understanding the various political, economic, or social forces that converged in these media. It wasn’t merely the content or the language of the nightly news, or middlebrow magazines, that told us what to think; it was also how they were structured, packaged, and distributed.

According to Slack and Lawrence Grossberg, the editors of “Cultural Studies 1983,” Hall was reluctant to publish these lectures because he feared they would be read as an all-purpose critical toolkit rather than a series of carefully situated historical conversations. Hall himself was ambivalent about what he perceived to be the American fetish for theory, a belief that intellectual work was merely, in Slack and Grossberg’s words, a “search for the right theory which, once found, would unlock the secrets of any social reality.” It wasn’t this simple. (I have found myself wondering what Hall would make of how cultural criticism of a sort that can read like ideological pattern-recognition has proliferated in the age of social media.)

Over the course of his lectures, Hall carefully wrestles with forebears, including the British scholar F. R. Leavis and also Williams and Hoggart (the latter founded Birmingham University’s influential Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies, which Hall directed in the seventies). Gradually, the lectures cluster around questions of how we give our lives meaning, how we recognize and understand “the culture we never see, the culture we don’t think of as cultivated.” These lectures aren’t instructions for “doing” cultural studies—until the very end, they barely touch on emerging cultural forms that intrigued Hall, such as reggae and punk rock. Instead, they try to show how far back these questions reach."

"Hall found ready disciples in American universities, though it might be argued that the spirit which animated cultural studies in England had existed in the U.S. since the fifties and sixties, in underground magazines and the alternative press. The American fantasy of its supposedly “classless” society has always given “culture” a slightly different meaning than it has in England, where social trajectories were more rigidly defined. What scholars like Hall were actually reckoning with was the “American phase” of British life. After the Second World War, England was no longer the “paradigm case” of Western industrial society. America, that grand experiment, where mass media and consumer culture proliferated freely, became the harbinger for what was to come. In a land where rags-to-riches mobility is—or so we tend to imagine—just one hit away, culture is about what you want to project into the world, whether you are fronting as a member of the élite or as an everyman, offering your interpretation of Shakespeare or of “The Matrix.” When culture is about self-fashioning, there’s even space to be a down-to-earth billionaire."
2017  stuarthall  culture  culturalstudies  huahsu  arts  crossdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  interdisciplinary  transdisciplinary  popularculture  richardhoggart  raymondwilliams  humanities  resistance  consent  jenniferdarylslack  lawrencegrossberg  frleavis  society  canon  marxism 
december 2017 by robertogreco
When the narrative breaks - Long View on Education
"So, here’s one way to look at the whole narrative about education systems failing to provide skills of the future for employers:

Maybe schools should cultivate creativity & critical thinking not because the ‘jobs of the future’ demand these skills that are necessary for an educated citizenry, but because most jobs restrict these human capacities?

Often, the more we work in jobs with machines the more machine-like we need to become.

Yet, maybe some of the least recognize and most important work – caring for others – is precisely where we find creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and all the others skills that are apparently so desirable. That is, the ‘jobs of the future’ narrative has duped us on another level: because it never talks about care work, it seems as if that work is unimportant and low-skill. In a story on Vox, a support worker named Nathan Auldridge says that though “the pay is shit”, “You can’t make a robot do what I do.”"

"The ‘jobs of the future’ narrative is broken beyond repair: there’s no skills gap that education needs to fill, nor do the vast majority of the jobs that actually require many of the 21c skills pay very well. Why is that? The Vox article continues:
Caregiving — a low-paid, low-status job — is also most often done by disadvantaged workers. One in 10 working black women are employed in direct care; more than a quarter of direct care workers are black women. In contrast, while white women make up 35 percent of these jobs, only one in 37 working white women is employed in direct care. Latina women, as well as immigrant women, are also disproportionately represented.

Since women of color are disproportionately represented in these growing jobs of the future, why are they not represented in the forecasts about the future? In an article called Where are the Black Futurists?(2000), the author (listed as ‘Black Issues’) reflects on an all white male C-SPAN futurist panel:
“there are too many people talking about the future without considering the future of African Americans and other people of color.

By not considering us, is the majority implicitly suggesting that we don’t matter? Do they think that as America ages, we will continue to play the traditional service and support roles for their communities? When I hear estimates from the U.S. Department of Labor that we’ll need nearly a million home health aides in the next decade, and I know that most home health aides now are Black and Brown women, I conclude that unless the wage structure changes, the future implications for those women and their families are frightening.

But the futurists mainly seem to be predicting what an aging society will need without predicting who will provide it.”2
benjamindoxtdator  2017  care  caring  future  jobs  education  sfsh  collaboration  creativity  human  tcsnmy  cv  machines  technology  humanities  humanism  criticalthinking  civics  citizenry  democracy  work  labor  stem  steam  economics  caregiving  race  racism  futurism  sciences 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Ellen Ullman: Life in Code: "A Personal History of Technology" | Talks at Google - YouTube
"The last twenty years have brought us the rise of the internet, the development of artificial intelligence, the ubiquity of once unimaginably powerful computers, and the thorough transformation of our economy and society. Through it all, Ellen Ullman lived and worked inside that rising culture of technology, and in Life in Code she tells the continuing story of the changes it wrought with a unique, expert perspective.

When Ellen Ullman moved to San Francisco in the early 1970s and went on to become a computer programmer, she was joining a small, idealistic, and almost exclusively male cadre that aspired to genuinely change the world. In 1997 Ullman wrote Close to the Machine, the now classic and still definitive account of life as a coder at the birth of what would be a sweeping technological, cultural, and financial revolution.

Twenty years later, the story Ullman recounts is neither one of unbridled triumph nor a nostalgic denial of progress. It is necessarily the story of digital technology’s loss of innocence as it entered the cultural mainstream, and it is a personal reckoning with all that has changed, and so much that hasn’t. Life in Code is an essential text toward our understanding of the last twenty years—and the next twenty."
ellenullman  bias  algorithms  2017  technology  sexism  racism  age  ageism  society  exclusion  perspective  families  parenting  mothers  programming  coding  humans  humanism  google  larrypage  discrimination  self-drivingcars  machinelearning  ai  artificialintelligence  literacy  reading  howweread  humanities  education  publicschools  schools  publicgood  libertarianism  siliconvalley  generations  future  pessimism  optimism  hardfun  kevinkelly  computing 
october 2017 by robertogreco
FYS 2017: Living and Thinking in a Digital Age – Snakes and Ladders
"Instructor: Alan Jacobs

Office: Morrison 203.7

Email: alan [underscore] jacobs [at] baylor [dot] edu

This class is all about questions: How is the rise of digital technologies changing some of the fundamental practices of the intellectual life: reading, writing, and researching? How does writing on a computer differ from writing on a typewriter, or (still more) writing by hand? Has Google made information just too easy to find? Is the experience of reading on a Kindle or iPad significantly different from that of reading a paper codex? Moreover, how are these changes affecting the intellectual culture and communal practices of the Christian faith? We will explore these questions through a range of readings and conversational topics, and through trying out some interesting digital and analog tools.

But this is also a class in which we will reflect more generally on why you are here, in the Honors College of Baylor, and what you need to do (and be) to flourish. So we will also spend some time thinking about the character and purposes of liberal education, and I will explain to you why you need to buy earplugs and wash your hands regularly.

I have ordered two books for you to buy: Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces that Will Shape the Future and David Sax, The Revenge of Analog: Real Things and Why They Matter. All other readings will be PDFs available in this Dropbox folder. [ ]


1. There will be frequent (pop!) quizzes on your readings; these will count a total of 25% of your grade.

2. You will choose a digital or analog tool with which to organize your academic life this semester, learn to use it well, and give an oral report on it to the class, along with a handout. 15%

3. You will write a 3500-word research essay on a topic of your choosing, subject to approval by me. I will work with you to choose a good topic and focus it properly, and will read and evaluate a draft of the essay before you hand in a final version. 40%

4. In lieu of a final exam, you will write a personal narrative identifying the most important things you leaned in this class; as part of that you’ll offer a final evaluation of your chosen organizational tool. 20%

5. Borderline grades will be decided by class participation.

Here’s a handy list of organizational tools you might try, starting with digital ones:

• emacs org-mode
• Evernote
• Google Keep
• OneNote
• Pinboard
• Trello
• Workflowy
• Zotero

And now analog (paper-based) ones:

• Bullet Journal
• Hipster PDA
• Noguchi filing system
• Personal Kanban
• Zettelkasten

Here’s a guide [ ] to helping you think through the options — keyed to the Getting Things Done system, which is fine, though it’s not the only useful system out there. The key to this assignment is that you choose a tool and seriously commit to it, for this semester, anyway. You are of course welcome to ditch it as soon as the term is over. But what I am asking for is a semester-long experiment, so that you will have detailed information to share with the rest of us. N.B.: All the options I am suggesting here are free — if you want to pay for an app or service, you are certainly welcome to, but I wouldn’t ask that of you.


My policies on attendance, grading, and pretty much everything else may be found here [ ]. You’ll find a good deal of other useful information on that site also.


This is a course on how the digital worlds we live in now — our technologies of knowledge and communication — will inevitably shape our experience as learners. So let’s begin by trying to get a grip on the digital tech that shapes our everyday lives:

8.22 Introduction to course (with handouts)
8.24 boyd, It’s Complicated, Introduction and Chapter 7
8.29 Wilmer, Sherman, and Chein, “Smartphones and Cognition”
8.31 Rosen, “My Little Sister Taught Me How to Snapchat”

But you’re not just smartphone users, you’re college students. So let’s try to get a better understanding of why we’re here — or why we might be:

9.5 Meilaender, “Who Needs a Liberal Education?“
9.7 Carr, “The Crisis in Higher Education”; Robbins, “Home College”

With some of the initial coordinates in place, let’s get some historical context:

9.12 Jacobs, “Christianity and the Book”
9.14 Blair, “Information Overload”

And now let’s take a deeper dive into the conditions of our moment, and of the near future:

9.19 Kelly, The Inevitable, Introduction and Chapters 1-4
9.21 Kelly, Chapters 5-8
9.26 Kelly, Chapters 9-12
9.28 Sax, The Revenge of Analog, Introduction and Part I
10.3 Sax, Part II
10.5 Concluding discussion of Kelly and Sax

We’ll spend a couple of days finding out how your experiments in organization have been going:

10.10 reports from half of you
10.12 reports from the rest of you

Now that we’re pretty well equipped to think more seriously about the technological and educational challenges facing us, we’ll spend the rest of the term learning some practical strategies for information management, and revisiting some of the key issues we’ve raised in light of our recently acquired knowledge. First, you’re going to get a break from reading:

10.17 Dr. J’s Handy Guide to Owning Your Online Turf, Part 1
10.19 Dr. J’s Handy Guide to Owning Your Online Turf, Part 2

So, back to reading:

10.24 Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Parts I-III
10.26 Web Literacy for Student Fact-Checkers, Parts IV-VI
10.31 further discussion of Web Literacy
11.2 Piper, “Out of Touch” and Clive Thompson, “Reading War and Peace on my Phone”
11.7 Mueller and Oppenheimer, “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard”; Hensher, “Why Handwriting Matters”; Trubek, “Handwriting Just Doesn’t Matter”
11.9 Zomorodi, “Bored and Brilliant”; draft of research essay due

And finally, we’ll put what we’ve learned to use in thinking about what kind of education we’re pursuing here in the Honors College at Baylor:

11.14 Jacobs, “Renewing the University”
11.16 writing day; research essay due 11.17
11.21 “Engaging the Future of Higher Education”
11.28 continued discussion of “Engaging the Future”
11.30 Wrapping up
12.5 Personal narrative due"
alanjacobs  syllabus  online  internet  tools  onlinetoolkit  reading  education  highered  highereducation  classideas  gtd  productivity  kevinkelly  davidsax  readinglists  technology  cognition  socialmedia  christianity  humanities  infooverload  webliteracy  wen  handwriting  notetaking  thewhy  digital  analog  digitalage  syllabi 
july 2017 by robertogreco
some thoughts on the humanities - Text Patterns - The New Atlantis
"The idea that underlies Bakhtin’s hopefulness, that makes discovery and imagination essential to the work of the humanities, is, in brief, Terence’s famous statement, clichéd though it may have become: Homo sum, humani nihil a me alienum puto. To say that nothing human is alien to me is not to say that everything human is fully accessible to me, fully comprehensible; it is not to erase or even to minimize cultural, racial, or sexual difference; but it is to say that nothing human stands wholly outside my ability to comprehend — if I am willing to work, in a disciplined and informed way, at the comprehending. Terence’s sentence is best taken not as a claim of achievement but as an essential aspiration; and it is the distinctive gift of the humanities to make that aspiration possible.

It is in this spirit that those claims that, as we have noted, emerged from humanistic learning, must be evaluated: that our age is postmodern, posthuman, postsecular. All the resources and practices of the humanities — reflective and critical, inquiring and skeptical, methodologically patient and inexplicably intuitive — should be brought to bear on these claims, and not with ironic detachment, but with the earnest conviction that our answers matter: they are, like those master concepts themselves, both diagnostic and prescriptive: they matter equally for our understanding of the past and our anticipating of the future."
alanjacobs  posthumanism  2016  humanities  understanding  empathy  postmodernism  postsecularism  georgesteiner  kennethburke  foucault  stephengrenblatt  via:lukeneff  erikdavis  raykurzweil  claudeshannon  mikhailbakhtin  terence  difference  comprehension  aspiration  progress  listening  optimism  learning  inquiry  history  future  utopia  michelfoucault 
july 2017 by robertogreco
When Did The Fight for Human Rights Begin? de Innovation Hub | Escúchalo gratis en SoundCloud
"Human rights are hotly-debated, but when did that debate begin? UCLA’s Lynn Hunt talks about what might have been the formative moment for human rights - and how we’re constantly changing our definition of equality."

[via: "The origins of human rights theory & its ties to the 18th c. novel. Historian Lynn Hunt on @IHubRadio:"

"And writers, fiction & non-fiction: take heart here about the power of words to enact new realities. Messy, asynchronous, but effectual." ]

[See also:

"Professorship in Historiography, with a response by Professor Sandra Fredman (Rhodes Professor of Law and Co-Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on Human Rights for FutureGenerations),University of Oxford, May 2014.

Declarations of rights, Professor Hunt argues in her lecture, do not emerge from long historical developments but rather from an acute sense of outrage. In other words, rights only become rights when they are claimed, and they are only claimed when they are violated. This poses a problem for the assertions of 'timelessness' and 'self-evidence' that often accompany declarations of rights. Professor Hunt argues that in the case of universal rights, an emotional epiphany comes before reason. Professor Sandra Fredman gives a response to Professor Hunt's lecture, building on the ideas raised as a way of looking at the future of human rights."

via: "If you want more Lynn Hunt on human rights theory, here you go. Force of nature, this scholar." ]
lynnhunt  humanrights  history  novels  literature  2017  writing  whywewrite  empathy  understanding  humanities  change  changemaking  progress 
july 2017 by robertogreco
Scratching the Surface — 24. Sara Hendren
"Sara Hendren is a designer, artist, writer, and professor whose work centers around adaptive and assistive technologies, prosthetics, inclusive design, accessible architecture, and related ideas. She teaches inclusive design practices at Olin College in Massachusetts and writes and edits Abler, her site to collect and comment on art, adaptive technologies and prosthetics, and the future of human bodies in the built environment. In this episode, Sara and I talk about her own background and using design to manifest ideas in the world, the role of writing in her own design practice, and how teaches these ideas with her students."

[audio: ]
sarahendren  jarrettfuller  design  2017  interviews  johndewey  wendyjacob  nataliejeremijenko  remkoolhaas  timmaly  clairepentecost  alexandralange  alissawalker  michaelrock  alfredojaar  oliversacks  bldgblog  geoffmanaugh  nicolatwilley  amateurs  amateurism  dabbling  art  artists  generalists  creativegeneralists  disability  engineering  criticaltheory  integatededucation  integratedcurriculum  identity  self  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  assistivetechnology  technology  olincollege  humanities  liberalarts  disabilities  scratchingthesurface 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Genius and the Sharing Economy — Medium
"At this point, I became probably overly obsessed with the fact that Jeremy and Rap Genius were featured front and center in that Times article about the declining interested in the Humanities, and then with the use of that Times piece as a “hiring” strategy of sorts. Whatever their deal was, it seemed clear that The Times gave Genius the credibility to claim that [1] the humanities needing saving and [2] that increased traffic and content on their site was the way to do it. I’m not sure what Genius gave The Times in return, but I’ll just add here that the Genius guy giving the talk said the New York Times wasn’t going to be around in 5 years anyway.

In a room full of bright-eyed future businesspeople, I felt like a alien interloper and began to fashion my own tinfoil hat theories even though I suppose this sort of deal is how the marriage of journalism and commerce always works. More selfishly, I began to suspect that the job ad I had read was not actually a real job ad. (I know, kind of rich given my last post here [ ]).

I suppose anything I say from here on out could easily be dismissed as elitist or turf warring, or maybe just naive and overly-sensitive; it’s quite possibly true that my reaction to the Stern talk was rooted in my own vested interest in universities keeping Humanities programs funded. I generally have a very weak stomach for any kind of pro-capitalist language in academic and educational contexts, and in the winter of 2013, I was emotionally drained from trying to finish a book and find another job, and spiritually-speaking, I was running on fumes."

"The opportunity to go to Brooklyn is indeed a good thing; I live in Queens, but I know how good it is across the bridge where many of my friends live. Really, I shouldn’t be so glib: it’s cool to be part of something devoted to teaching and a bonus to have your travel expenses paid. I think it is also, as I was saying at the beginning of this long-ass post, a great example of the fucking sharing economy and what’s wrong with it. Be grateful to people who use a small fraction of their VC money to fly you somewhere — but also think about the value of what you give them in return.

I’m using swears there in the hopes that I sound like a Genius when I say things I’m not totally sure about; I’m a bit out of my comfort zone talking about how a start-up makes and uses money. I’m really good with my own financial affairs and budget, but my academic expertise is in 16th and 17th century drama and history so I worry I don’t really know what I’m talking about. But perhaps you are somebody who knows a lot more about these things and perhaps you know where to look to answer some of the questions I’ve tried to raise here.

I have no doubt that Genius has content and a viable business model without content from educators. But I still want to know more about the role and real worth of our labor in an economy that asks the precariously employed to share while its founders and investors make money. Humanities scholars can see all the tensions of our professional choices in this economy: the fact that we do our work for pleasure, that others find pleasure in our work, and that the work we love is only lucrative for some."
vimalapasupathi  annotation  labor  sharingeconomy  work  2016  technology  humanities  scholarship  gigeconomy  mahbodmoghadam  precarity  unemployment  rapgenius  business  adjuncts  hiring  2015  jeremydean  stanfordlitlab  evankindley  disclosure  tamarlewin  nytimes 
july 2016 by robertogreco
what Thomas Hardy taught me | Fredrik deBoer
"Never mind that the idea of salvation through technology is the hoariest old cliche in the history of education, stretching back to the fear among the educated classes that the invention of the printing press would render education obsolete. Never mind that the radio was sure to change teaching forever, or that the television was too, or that the VCR was, as was the personal computer. Never mind that I still hear people talking about what the internet will surely do for the schools of the future, despite the fact that we had the internet in our classroom when I was in junior high school 21 years ago, the school of the past. Never mind that one of the most easily predicted outcomes in educational research is that a highly-touted educational technology will result in no meaningful difference in learning gains. Nope: it’s the same old shit. We’re better and smarter than those other guys who told you that they were better and smarter than the guys who came before them. Our jargon is newer and better. Gamify the cloud with synergistic flipped classrooms that take an active learning approach to emergent technologies and the internet of things. Our app has flavor crystals. Rinse and repeat, now and for forever.

A piece like this makes you realize the real tragedy of this (profitable, and thus perpetual) fantasy of remaking education is that its progenitors are guilty of precisely what they accuse others of: a complete failure to think of education outside of a narrow, restrictive framework. Mead refers to the educational vision on offer here as utilitarian, and I suppose it’s that. But I would argue that the current orthodoxy about education — which, make no mistake, all these proud free thinkers clearly share — is fundamentally mechanistic. That is, it presumes that there is a basic correspondence between particular inputs to a student’s learning and straightforward and clearly-defined outputs in a student’s outcomes. So you teach a student division, and they’ve learned division, and nothing more; you teach a kid to code (in a language that will be obsolete by the time they reach even undergraduate education) and they learn to code (a skill that will be largely automated by the time they reach middle age) and that’s why you bother to do it. And you don’t teach them to read poetry or to dance a waltz because you can’t get a job troubleshooting Geico’s android app with those skills. Everything is a simple and uncomplicated matter of what you put in and what you put out, and the value and importance of what you get out depends entirely on what’s taken seriously by the staff at Wired magazine."

"In a very real way that was the moment when I contemplated the world outside of my own subjectivity in a genuine and mature way. And like so many other important ideas, its consequences continue to spool out in my mind for years to come. It multiplied complexity; it introduced patterns of thinking and difficult questions that I had never thought to consider before. It deepened my mind in more ways than I can express. And yet the value of this insight, in any conventional educational assessment you can name — and I say that as an expert — would be nil. This understanding, which has been central to my development as an adult intelligence, would not factor into any assessment of my academic aptitude. We do not have instruments that measure this kind of learning and we never will.

Now: I don’t and can’t represent myself as anyone’s definition of a human success. And I’m not interested in making this about the rigor or quality of my research or my field. But I can say that, by the typical benchmarks of educational success, I have performed well. I graduated from high school, finished a bachelor’s degree, and went on to two graduate degrees. I’ve performed very well on standardized tests, both state-run assessments of educational progress and entrance exams like the SAT and GRE. I’ve been published in major newspapers and magazines. I’ve written a major policy position paper for a respected think tank. I’ve been published in peer reviewed journals. If you want to get neoliberal about it, I’ve gotten jobs and earned something like the median income. Again, this is not about representing myself as some sort of great success story, but rather just to establish that I have had the kind of academic outcomes that policy makers, members of the media, and parents say they want.

Yet on the level of thinking of our Silicon Valley overlords, aspects of my cognitive abilities that are absolutely central to my educational success are taken to have literally no value at all. In educational research, perhaps the greatest danger lies in thinking “that which I cannot measure is not real.” The disruption fetishists have amplified this danger, now evincing the attitude “teaching that cannot be said to lead to the immediate acquisition of rote, mechanical skills has no value.” But absolutely every aspect of my educational journey — as a student, as a teacher, and as a researcher — demonstrates the folly of this approach to learning."

"The point is not that the humanities, or the liberal arts, or the deeper concepts and values of civilization, or whatever only have value because of how they support more narrowly-remunerative skills. The point is that these deeper values and these monetizable skills exist in relationships so deeply intertwined that they are permanently inextricable from one another. And the utter folly of disregarding those traditional aspects of education that can’t be immediately tied to skills you list on your profile is one we and our children will pay for, for generations. I have no doubt that we will come in time to learn again the absolute necessity of learning that goes beyond the rote skills we currently perceive to be important, that someday people will learn to again see the utter necessity of humanistic thinking. But such understanding will only come after we have allowed deluded privateers to wring every last dollar out of our educational system as they strip it of all learning that has a function other than training more efficient little capitalists.

Albert Einstein was obsessed with music. Would he have been a better physicist, or a worse one, had he spent the time he devoted to music and the other arts on what we now call “STEM subjects”? It’s an absurd, pointless, unanswerable question. What matters is that Einstein was a full-fledged human being, and enjoyed an education that permitted him to be that, and that took the creation of such full-fledged human beings as its central mission. And if we only have the courage to devote ourselves to that project, too, the rest will sort itself out in time."

[See also: ]
freddiedeboer  humanities  altschool  education  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howwelearn  measurement  2016  automation  complexity  economics  politics  rebeccamead  edtech  howweteach  unschooling  deschooling  labor  capitalism  neoliberalism  whywelearn  thomashardy  alberteinstein  stem  interdisciplinary  silos  rotelearning  rote  disruption 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Birth of Thanaticism | Public Seminar
"I don’t know why we still call it capitalism. It seems to be some sort of failure or blockage of the poetic function of critical thought.

Even its adherents have no problem calling it capitalism any more. Its critics seem to be reduced to adding modifiers to it: postfordist, neoliberal, or the rather charmingly optimistic ‘late’ capitalism. A bittersweet term, that one, as capitalism seems destined to outlive us all.

I awoke from a dream with the notion that it might make more sense to call it thanatism, after Thanatos, son of Nyx (night) and Erebos(darkness), twin of Hypnos (sleep), as Homer and Hesiod seem more or less to agree.

I tried thanatism out on twitter, where Jennifer Mills wrote: “yeah, I think we have something more enthusiastically suicidal. Thanaticism?”

That seems like a handy word. Thanaticism: like a fanaticism, a gleeful, overly enthusiastic will to death. The slight echo of Thatcherism is useful also.

Thanaticism: a social order which subordinates the production of use values to the production of exchange value, to the point that the production of exchange value threatens to extinguish the conditions of existence of use value. That might do as a first approximation.

Bill McKibben has suggested that climate scientists should go on strike. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its 2013 report recently. It basically says what the last one said, with a bit more evidence, more detail, and worse projections. And still nothing much seems to be happening to stop Thanaticism. Why issue another report? It is not the science, it’s the political science that’s failed. Or maybe the political economy.

In the same week, BP quietly signaled their intention to fully exploit the carbon deposits to which it owns the rights. A large part of the value of the company, after all, is the value of those rights. To not dig or suck or frack carbon out of the ground for fuel would be suicide for the company, and yet to turn it all into fuel and have that fuel burned, releasing the carbon into the air, puts the climate into a truly dangerous zone.

But that can’t stand in the way of the production of exchange value. Exchange value has to unreel its own inner logic to the end: to mass extinction. The tail that is capital is wagging the dog that is earth.

Perhaps its no accident that the privatization of space appears on the horizon as an investment opportunity at just this moment when earth is going to the dogs. The ruling class must know it is presiding over the depletion of the earth. So they are dreaming of space-hotels. They want to not be touched by this, but to still have excellent views.

It makes perfect sense that in these times agencies like the NSA are basically spying on everybody. The ruling class must know that they are the enemies now of our entire species. They are traitors to our species being. So not surprisingly they are panicky and paranoid. They imagine we’re all out to get them.

And so the state becomes an agent of generalized surveillance and armed force for the defense of property. The role of the state is no longer managing biopower. It cares less and less about the wellbeing of populations. Life is a threat to capital and has to be treated as such.

The role of the state is not to manage biopower but to manage thanopower. From whom is the maintenance of life to be withdrawn first? Which populations should fester and die off? First, those of no use as labor or consumers, and who have ceased already to be physically and mentally fit for the armed forces.

Much of these populations can no longer vote. They may shortly loose food stamps and other biopolitical support regimes. Only those willing and able to defend death to the death will have a right to live.

And that’s just in the over-developed world. Hundreds of millions now live in danger of rising seas, desertification and other metabolic rifts. Everyone knows this: those populations are henceforth to be treated as expendable.

Everybody knows things can’t go on as they are. Its obvious. Nobody likes to think about it too much. We all like our distractions. We’ll all take the click-bait. But really, everybody knows. There’s a good living to be made in the service of death, however. Any hint of an excuse for thanaticism as a way of life is heaped with Niagras of praise.

We no longer have public intellectuals; we have public idiots. Anybody with a story or a ‘game-changing’ idea can have some screen time, so long as it either deflects attention from thanaticism, or better – justifies it. Even the best of this era’s public idiots come off like used car salesmen. It is not a great age for the rhetorical arts.

It is clear that the university as we know it has to go. The sciences, social sciences and the humanities, each in their own ways, were dedicated to the struggle for knowledge. But it is hard to avoid the conclusion, no matter what one’s discipline, that the reigning order is a kind of thanatcisim.

The best traditional knowledge disciplines can do is to focus in tightly on some small, subsidiary problem, to just avoid the big picture and look at some detail. That no longer suffices. Traditional forms of knowledge production, which focus on minor or subsidiary kinds of knowledge are still too dangerous. All of them start to discover the traces of thanaticism at work.

So the university mast be destroyed. In its place, a celebration of all kinds of non-knowledge. Whole new disciplines are emerging, such as the inhumanities and the antisocial sciences. Their object is not the problem of the human or the social. Their object is thanaticism, its description and justification. We are to identify with, and celebrate, that which is inimical to life. Such an implausible and dysfunctional belief system can only succeed by abolishing its rivals.

All of which could be depressing. But depression is a subsidiary aspect of thanaticism. You are supposed to be depressed, and you are supposed to think that’s your individual failing or problem. Your bright illusory fantasy-world is ripped away from you, and the thanatic reality is bared – you are supposed to think its your fault. You have failed to believe. See a shrink. Take some drugs. Do some retail therapy.

Thanaticism also tries to incorporate those who doubt its rule with a make-over of their critique as new iterations of thatatic production. Buy a hybrid car! Do the recycling! No, do it properly! Separate that shit! Again, its reduced to personal virtue and responsibility. Its your fault that thanaticism wants to destroy the world. Its your fault as a consumer, and yet you have not choice but to consume.

“We later civilizations… know too that we are mortal,” Valery said in 1919. At that moment, after the most vicious and useless war hitherto, such a thing could appear with some clarity. But we lost that clarity. And so: a modest proposal. Let’s at least name the thing after its primary attribute.

This is the era of the rule of thanaticism: the mode of production of non-life. Wake me when its over."
capital  capitalism  porperty  well-being  2015  mckenziewark  civilization  society  consumerism  death  thanaticism  latecapitalism  neoliberalism  thanatos  jennifermills  thatcherism  billmckibben  climatechange  economics  politics  politicaleconomy  exchangevalue  privatization  space  biopower  thanopower  gamechanging  socialscience  knowledge  disciplines  non-knowledge  humanities  universities  highered  highereducation 
october 2015 by robertogreco
CLASS DISMISSED: A ROUNDTABLE ON ART SCHOOL, USC, AND COOPER UNION by Sarah Lehrer-Graiwer, Helen Molesworth, Mike Essl, Jory Rabinovitz, Lee Relvas, Amanda Ross-Ho, Victoria Sobel, Frances Stark, A. L. Steiner, Charlie White - / in print
[via: ]

"IN AN ERA when creative economies are leading the hypermonetization of every aspect of life, from attention and identity to privacy and time, it’s not surprising that this country’s most progressive models of art education are under attack. In fact, the liberal arts and humanities are besieged across the board, increasingly expected to justify their funding, even their very existence, in universities and beyond. We are witnessing a massive cultural shift when we see the corporatization of higher education—with its top-down power structures, bloated bureaucracies, “synergistic” partnerships with the private sector, relegation of faculty to contingent adjunct labor, and reliance on students as revenue streams—spiking tuition costs and sending student debt ballooning.

All this has come dramatically to a head this past year on both coasts, at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York and the University of Southern California’s Roski School of Art and Design in Los Angeles. It is sadly predictable and all the more alarming that the ever-accelerating process of financialization should upend two of the most vital art schools in America, each of which has been based on the endangered premise of a tuition-free or fully funded education. While the specific circumstances and institutional histories make the nature of each crisis distinct, they both betray the wrenching cultural shifts produced by a head-on collision with the technocratic crusaders of contemporary capitalism.

Following its board of directors’ decision to abandon Cooper Union’s tuition-free mandate, which had stood for more than 150 years, the school’s president and five trustees resigned amid an ongoing inquiry into the institution’s finances by the New York State Attorney General. The grassroots Committee to Save Cooper Union has taken legal action to preserve the venerable institution’s founding mission of free education, and to call attention to the fiscal mismanagement and lack of accountability on the part of the school’s board of trustees. [Eds. note: As this issue was going to press, the Attorney General announced that a settlement had been reached and that Cooper Union would work to eventually reinstate free tuition.] At USC Roski, the drastic restructuring and reduction in funding for the school’s renowned graduate program by a new dean’s administration prompted high-profile, tenured faculty to resign in protest and the entire MFA class of 2016 to drop out en masse earlier this year, citing unacceptable changes to funding packages, curriculum, and faculty.

Debates over art education have a long history, of course. A groundbreaking and utopian model that remains relevant today is Black Mountain College, which nurtured cultural and pedagogical innovation at mid-century and which is the subject of a major exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, opening on October 10. Artforum invited the show’s curator, HELEN MOLESWORTH, to join eight distinguished participants—from Cooper, faculty MIKE ESSL and alumni JORY RABINOVITZ and VICTORIA SOBEL; and from USC Roski, current or former faculty members FRANCES STARK, CHARLIE WHITE, and A. L. STEINER; alumna AMANDA ROSS-HO; and LEE RELVAS, one of the seven class-of-2016 students who dropped out—to discuss the current situation at both institutions and the histories, challenges, and continued promise of art school."

"HELEN MOLESWORTH: We’ve convened today to talk about the current crises at USC and Cooper, both of which are symptoms of larger problems facing the entire concept of art education in this country. And for many schools today, Black Mountain College remains a key model for art education after World War II.

In the face of this crisis, Black Mountain is even more relevant to the current situation than one might think: It was a program born of extraordinary optimism, but it was also born of dissent, born of a firing of tenured faculty, born of a group of teachers and students deciding that they needed to own the means of production themselves and create an institution in which there were no trustees or board of regents, so they could collectively control the college. It had an extraordinary efflorescence and was a wellspring of the American avant-garde; the curriculum at BMC influenced many of the practices that define contemporary studio and liberal-arts programs—group critiques, collaboration, interdisciplinarity. It also failed beautifully and wonderfully and spectacularly at its end: It was short-lived, running only from 1933 to 1957.

Which leads me to the most basic and perhaps the most unanswerable question: Why now? Why are extremely successful, renowned arts-education departments on both coasts under attack in the way that they are at Cooper and USC? Are they—and Black Mountain—anomalies, experiments that could never last? Or are they victims of some of the nastiest tactics of our neoliberal new economy?"

"LEE RELVAS: I’m one of the seven MFA students who just dropped out from USC. We dropped out collectively to protest the school’s reneging on funding and curricular promises made to us, because that funding model and pedagogical model were clearly no longer considered valuable under the new dean’s leadership. But we also wanted to protest publicly the economics of higher education: namely, the normalization of massive student debt.

We range in age from twenty-seven to forty-one years old. So we actually did know what we were getting into as far as the debt that we thought we were going to be taking on, as well as the lack of teaching opportunities, and if we were so lucky to get a teaching job, how little most of those teaching jobs paid.

But we still wanted two years of time and space to be artists and thinkers and to be in close conversation with each other. And outside these flawed institutions, there is little material and cultural support for that."

"HELEN MOLESWORTH: In New York, do you have a similar sense that the faculty and the students at Cooper were unable to articulate the value of free tuition to the board?

MIKE ESSL: I think we did articulate it but we weren’t heard, and it was all the more disturbing to me because of my own personal understanding of that value. My dad is a mechanic and my mom is a bookkeeper. They didn’t go to college and they didn’t save for college, and me going to college was just never on their radar. And Cooper Union gave me permission to go to art school. Without that freedom, without being able to tell my parents essentially to fuck off, I don’t know where I would be now. [Laughter.]

And what that does for, say, a lower-middle-class student, that permission, the way it lowers the risk of art school and allows you to even conceive of going, is something that the board of trustees did not care about at all.

We would hear about how the cost of teaching artists is too expensive and that when artists graduate they don’t donate, and there was really no consideration of the artist as a person in the world at all. And so for those people to be the board members of a school like Cooper Union, I would argue, is criminal. They just refused to hear any arguments.

JORY RABINOVITZ: There was no dialogue, no transparency. There was never any mention of charging tuition while I was at Cooper. I started when the demolition of the Abram S. Hewitt Memorial art building, and the construction of the new Thom Mayne–designed academic center, 41 Cooper Square, in its place, was just beginning. The three-year transition phase completely displaced the art school and literally split it in two, sending half of the classes and studios to a rented building in Long Island City. Since the art school donated the least and protested the most, it really felt like we were being singled out to receive this weird form of punishment or austerity measure. Many of the school’s questionable financial decisions that are currently under investigation happened at the very same time. So when I look at the new building, it’s hard not to see a big perforated smoke screen.

MIKE ESSL: They showed up at the table already having decided that our model was old-fashioned and could no longer be supported. Which is why we have been saying all along that it’s a cultural problem, not an economic one."

"A. L. STEINER: Eighty percent of USC’s faculty is now adjunct and contingent. This is part of an ideology of austerity being embraced at the school, even though its undergraduate program ranks sixteenth in tuition nationwide and the university is one of twenty schools nationwide responsible for one-fifth of the country’s graduate-school student debt. The dean’s thinking came down to a gamble—that the graduate faculty’s interactions, and the program’s funding and curricular promises, were unnecessary. There’s a bigger agenda in play, and it’s intertwined with the value and significance of an arts education in a technocratic regime, in a world where the nonprofit sector exists as a manifestation of the private sector."

"FRANCES STARK: But you have to consider that in context. I was on the search committee for the new dean in the spring of 2013, and the problem of financial sustainability was not explicitly on the table when we were interviewing candidates. The entire process seemed perfunctory: It became clear that the interim dean was the internal candidate they wanted, and who, it was later disclosed, was somehow attached to the $70 million gift from Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre to endow a new school of “Art, Technology and the Business of Innovation” at USC. Erica Muhl, who became dean, has zero background in contemporary fine art, design, or art history. She is not conversant with these fields at all. I asked her, “What is your vision for the school?” And she responded, “To be number one.” No joke. OK? She told the graduate students: “The future of art is Mark Zuckerberg… [more]
cooperunion  blackmountaincollege  usc  art  arteducation  education  highered  highereducation  helenmolesworth  mikeessl  joryrabinovitz  leerelvas  amandaross-ho  victoriasobel  francesstark  alsteiner  charliewhite  sarahlehrer-graiwer  via:caseygollan  activism  neoliberalism  capitalism  politics  conversation  proximity  ambiguity  joy  meritocracy  organizations  institutions  bmc  arts  humanities  schools  tcsnmy  progressive  technocracy  artseducation  culture  thinking  optimism  bauhaus  calarts  community  pedagogy  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why we need Arnold Toynbee's good life – Ian Beacock – Aeon
"He was an expert in world civilisations who made the cover of Time magazine in 1947, praised for writing ‘the most provocative work of historical theory… since Karl Marx’s Capital’. But in September 1921, long before he was the most famous historian in the world, a young Englishman named Arnold Toynbee boarded the Orient Express in Constantinople, bound for London. Fresh from a nine-month posting as a war correspondent for The Manchester Guardian, Toynbee scribbled down reflections about the shadow side of progress in his notebook, while the Balkans passed silently outside his window. Modern technology had changed the world for the better, he observed, but it could also wreak great havoc; there was always the risk that ‘the machine may run away with the pilot’. Human mastery of nature came at a price: in 1921, Europe’s battlefields were still cooling from the heat of industrial warfare and the blood of millions dead. They whispered the terms of this Faustian bargain to anyone who would listen. In the roaring 1920s, not many people were listening.

Europeans wanted better lives and they were certain that scientific progress would provide them. After the devastation of the Great War, rationalisation ruled from London to Moscow: empirical methods and new technologies were adopted to streamline everything from cityscapes to national populations, intellectual work to household chores. Many administrators and activists believed that there was no problem (material, institutional or social) that couldn’t be engineered away.

Sound familiar? Our times are confident, too. We’re optimistic that scientific thinking can explain the world, certain that the solutions to most of our problems are a quick technological fix away. We’ve begun to treat vexing social and political dilemmas as simple design flaws, mistakes to be rectified through a technocratic combination of data science and gadgetry. Progress is no longer a dirty word. The most influential prophets of this creed are in Silicon Valley in California, where, to the tune of billions of dollars, the tech industry tells a Whiggish tale about the digital ascent of humanity: from our benighted times, we’ll emerge into a brighter future, a happier and more open society in which everything has been measured and engineered into a state of perfect efficiency.

And we’re buying it. We’re eager to optimise our workouts, our sleep patterns, our pregnancies, our policing tactics, our taxi services, and our airline pilots. Even the academy is intrigued. From spatial history to the neurohumanities, digital methods are the rage. Lecture halls have been targeted for disruption by massive open online courses (MOOCs). Sometimes it seems as though there’s little that can’t be explained by scientific thinking or improved upon through digital innovation.

What are the humanities for at such moments, when we’re so sure of ourselves and our capacity to remake the world? Toynbee wrestled with this question for decades. He was as curious as anyone about the latest discoveries and innovations, but he rejected the notion that science could explain or improve everything. And his thoughtful criticism of technology reminds us that poets and historians, artists and scholars must be proud, vocal champions of the humanities as a moral project – especially at moments of breakneck scientific progress. Fluent in the language of crisis and decline, casting about for ways to defend ourselves, today’s humanists could use a little inspiration. We need our spines stiffened. Toynbee might be a man to do it."

"Scientific principles and the tools they generate aren’t necessarily liberating. They’re not inherently destructive, either. What matters is how they’re put to use, for which values and in whose interest they’re pressed into service. Silicon Valley’s most successful companies often present their services as value-free: Google just wants to make the world’s information transparent and accessible; Facebook humbly offers us greater connectivity with the people we care about; Lyft and Airbnb extol the virtues of sharing among friends, new and old. If there are values here, they seem to be fairly innocuous ones. How could you possibly oppose making new friends or learning new things?

Yet each of these high-tech services is motivated by a vision of the world as it ought to be, an influential set of assumptions about how we should live together, what we owe one another as neighbours and citizens, the relationship between community and individual, the boundary between public good and private interest. Technology comes, in other words, with political baggage. We need critics who can pull back the curtain, who can scrutinise digital technology without either antipathy or boosterism, who can imagine how it might be used differently. We need critics who can ask questions of value.

Our society isn’t very good at asking these kinds of questions. Since the 1970s, the free market has slowly become our master metaphor. Its benchmarks of efficiency and profit have become ours. Our capacity to respond to the world and engage with one another as citizens has eroded, and instead we’ve become consumers in all things, rational actors seeking competitive advantage. To borrow a phrase from the essay ‘The World We Have Lost’ (2008) by the late British historian Tony Judt: ‘We have forgotten how to think politically.’ (Say what you will about the men and women of Toynbee’s generation: from far left to extreme right, they certainly had political imagination.) And so while the issues we confront would have been familiar to Toynbee – surging confidence in scientific thinking and technological wizardry – our challenge is in many ways much greater. For we’ve forgotten how to speak the language of value, how to think beyond the market."

"It’s time for humanists to walk out on a limb. Like Toynbee, we should be as engaged in the world as we are courageous in our convictions. The humanities are most of all a moral enterprise, the pursuit of answers to big questions about how we live together and where we’re going. The stakes are high. We must remember how to speak the language of value, encouraging our readers and students to ask not simply ‘Is it more efficient?’ or ‘How much does it cost?’ but ‘Is it good or bad? For whom? According to which standard?’

The US novelist Ursula K Le Guin put it well in her speech at the National Book Awards in New York last year when she observed that we need ‘the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, and can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies, to other ways of being’. This is what the humanities are for – not writing better quarterly reports or grabbing a gig in corporate communications – but for posing fundamental questions of value and helping us imagine alternatives to the way we live.

A curious but trenchant critic of science and technology as well as a determined moral thinker, Toynbee can help light the way through the woods for despairing humanists. Neglected and overlooked, he offers a persuasive answer to one of our most troubling questions. What are the humanities for in a technological age? For Toynbee, the answer was clear: to save us from ourselves."
via:anne  arnoldtoynbee  siliconvalley  humanities  technology  2015  science  technosolutionism  ianbeacock 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Public Books — Can There Be a Feminist World?
"My work stands, then, in a spectrum, from theory through the teaching of theory in the West and the elite schools of the world, into the practice of activism. I am not interested in the activism of literacy. When we send our children to school, we do not send them to learn literacy. I do not have different standards. My standards are the same at Columbia University and my rural schools. The Human Development Index, in order to measure a country’s development, asks for quantity: how many years of schooling. When the team that put the Index together look for their own children, they look for quality. As long as there is this difference between human beings, we will not have a just world. Superficial activists located in the international civil society make much of access to education. They do not have the time, patience, or yet preparation to realize that the wretched quality of education in the bottom layers of society, even when available to women, does not change internalized core values—rape and bribe as normal. (In fact, quality education without slow humanities training also does nothing much to change this. We will remember this as I go on with my words this evening.)"

"I am a teacher of the humanities. I do not directly influence state policy. Humanities teachers are like personal trainers in the gym of the mind. They believe that unless this work is done at the same time as agitating for merely legal change, generation after generation, persistently, supplemented by rearranging the desires of people, nothing can succeed. In the long run, if laws have to be constantly enforced on the majority, without any change in how people really think about rape, honor killings, gender discrimination in general—and I mean people, men and women—the laws become useless, ways of dodging them proliferate, and force takes over; not a feminist world. Short-term problem solving should not be stopped. There are too many problems. But the kind of work we do, silent work, quiet work, slow work, is the work that sustains everything. “Public awareness” preaches to the choir, at best makes the choir a bit larger. “Sustainable” is used only in the economic/ecologic sphere. We humanities teachers can be the sustainers, because generation after generation, we can produce the will to sustain. We can work toward being the long-term producers of problem solvers. We do not solve problems top-down, 24/7, with little result."

"This creates a particular problem for us, as concerned women, because women in the underclass, as I said before, are socially obliged to care for others. Socially obliged. In the ethical, therefore, we have to learn to work within this contradiction. When we work with homeworkers, sweated labor inside the home without any workplace regulation at all, sometimes the women themselves say: we are supposed to do all the work at home anyway, and here we are getting paid for it, so what’s your problem? This is the kind of contradiction—women willing their subjection as ethical—within which you have to work. If ethics is other-directedness, because women and servants have always been obliged to be directed toward others, we are obliged to work within this contradiction and take this practice away from cultural requirements into training for what I will call, in this brief talk, the literary—not literature, because what I am talking about is not identical with what is recognized as literature, which came into being, in terms of history, very recently, and which is also specific to certain areas of the world. What we define as the literary is that of which the reading, making sense, is for its own sake, necessarily requiring that you suspend yourself in what the writer or the speaker says, rather than using it for self-interest. This is classroom teaching in literature. In any kind of classroom teaching in literature, you know that the teacher who teaches you how to read what the writer means, rather than making the writer’s text resemble what you yourself think, is teaching the literary. This is real literary teaching. This so-called training in reading is a practice of moving away from your self-interest into the other’s interest. It is just training for unconditional ethics; it does not make you ethical. It is like going to the gym and training your body, which does not necessarily make you an athlete; but without it, you will not be able to do anything. It is training. So always “me,” “my rights,” and so forth is not going to produce a just world.

If at the bottom there is no training for intellectual labor because we have denied the right to intellectual labor, from within the caste/race/class/gender/colonial system, millennially, we have punished them for intellectual labor and trained them for nothing but obedience; then, at the top, intellectual labor is no longer understood or undertaken because of this untrained use of the digital, of so-called social media. I am not a technophobe, but the digital is like a powerful wild horse, you have to have a slow-trained mind, in order to use it properly.
I am not against social media. I am not against any civil society worker. To be against is to deny complicity. I am so much for the digital that I think people need to prepare for it. Otherwise cybercrime, pornography. The New York Times reported that top Silicon Valley executives send their children to schools where there is no computer training. Why do they do that? Because they best of all know, they understand, that you cannot use this incredibly powerful and dangerous instrument with minds that are untrained."

"I belong to the middle class, and I was born in 1942 in Calcutta, where and when the middle class had servants. Being humane and kind to servants is not a just world; it is feudal benevolence. The idea of democracy is where you think about other people not as things, but as equal. That is different from feudal benevolence, which is a lot present both here, in my world, and in the rest of the world, transforming itself now to long-distance remote-control top-down philanthropy. There is no systemic instrument of social justice any more. In the 1980s, when I worked in Algeria, I would ask women in the so-called “socialist villages”: “What is it to vote?” The answers made it clear to me that voting had something to do with insights that the postcolonial state belongs to citizens, females and males. And then in 1991, after the Islamic Salvation Front came to power by democratic procedure in Algeria, I also saw the massive involvement of chador-wearing office-cleaning women, altogether underreported, in overturning an elected government, and the rest is history. Since 1986, my involvement with the landless illiterate, in the country of my citizenship, and of my first language because you can only teach in a language you know well, has made me realize that the question we asked—“What is it to vote?”—is the presupposition for developing democratic intuition rather than only a test."

"In conclusion, a summary: because I work in high theory in a very elite school, teaching this material to students, and also at the other end, teaching and training the very poor, trying to learn from below, because they are very different from us, the landless illiterate in the world’s largest democracy, I am learning to share my experience at both ends in terms of a gender-just world. My theory is therefore one of supplementing, wherever one’s own sphere of interest is universalized. I base social theory on gender. I say that ethical theory, a theory of unconditional ethics, can be practically taught through the literary-philosophical. I base political intervention on a performative contradiction that must presuppose what it wants to achieve. Supplementing work is persistent, I say, and define activism as imaginative training for epistemological performance; in labor movement work, ecological work, among the poor. The thing dearest to my heart is teaching the intuitions of democracy through an understanding of the meaning of the right to intellectual labor, on top as well as below. Thank you for your attention. Flesh it out for your own world."

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via:aworkinglibrary  2015  feminism  gayatrichakravortyspivak  slow  education  technology  socialmedia  gender  obedience  humanities  liberalarts  zoominginandout  sustainability  class  care  literacy 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Transcendental Rites - The Baffler
"JS: […] Many younger persons today who haven’t traveled far enough into the professional middle class to be saddled with its go-along/get-along mode of resignation are aroused with half-articulate and semi-organized fervor over the crimes of their government. They’re struggling to connect the up-close realities of police misconduct with the world-historical bullshit peddled by the secret intelligence agencies. What can the next generation learn about the moral imagination from the writers discussed in your book?

EM: I hope you’re right about younger persons, and, if so, they seem to me to be facing structural problems in world society that are almost as intractable as the ones that people faced in the Cold War. It’s not exactly easy to deal with a world where governments and corporations seem to share the idea that if something is technically possible (information gathering via spying or torture, for example), then they ought to go ahead and do it. Governments used to think that way about bombs, and now they think that way about “enhanced interrogation techniques” and data-gathering. Maybe the only thing I would feel comfortable saying about the relation between moral imagination and political reality is something like this: When you think mostly in terms of partisan politics—our side versus their side—then you inevitably start worrying about whether an action or attitude helps your side or the other side, and you lose sight of what your real goal is, which (I hope anyway) has something to do with a social world that might be fit for free and responsible persons to live in. But if you think about politics as a way of putting your moral intelligence into effect, then you make it harder for other people to obfuscate the issue in order to serve their own immoral purposes.

It seems to me that in recent years the people who have done the most to make some worthwhile change possible have been the truth-tellers, those who said things that did themselves no good—they’re going to be on the run from the authorities more or less forever—but that they couldn’t stop themselves from saying because of a moral, rather than a partisan, motive. There’s a pretty clear contrast between such truth-tellers and the Nobel Prize–winning president who campaigned on a platform of moral action and then decided it was safest to forget about it. Parables about this kind of thing run through the book, and some of them complicate the whole issue. Norman Mailer, for example, was always committed, in what seems to me a thoroughly admirable way, to the democratic left, very much like Dwight Macdonald, but Mailer got himself tangled up in the idea that his own personal mythology and vision mattered more than what happened to other people. Macdonald never made that mistake, but Macdonald paid a price for seeing things as clearly as he did: he spent many years in something like passivity and despair, which didn’t do him any good, and certainly didn’t do any good for the kind of society he wanted.

Auden once said something to a friend that I think may get to the heart of both the difficulty and hopefulness of all this. He said (I’m paraphrasing from memory), “Americans get very angry when you tell them there are no answers, but in a crisis, they look forward, unlike Europeans, who look backward.”"

[via: ]
johnsummers  edwardmendelson  2015  academia  citizenship  history  humanities  alfredkazin  normanmailer  lioneltrilling  dwightmacdonald  optimism  pessimism  us  europe  future  past  society  truth  morality  patisanships  barackobama  mythology  personalmythology  truthtelling 
may 2015 by robertogreco
"Founded in 2010 by Gavin Kroeber and Rebecca Uchill, Experience Economies is a nomadic event-based platform for cultural inquiry. Experience Economies supports work by an array of artists and cultural producers, working across the visual and performing arts, the sciences, and the humanities. Our events are structured as experiments that encompass entire evenings, emphasizing experimentation, site specificity, discussion, and conviviality. Not a lecture and not a party, Experience Economies welcomes audiences that want their spectacles to mess with them and presenters who need a space to make that mess.

Contact Experience Economies at "

[via: ]
experienceeconomies  experience  art  science  humanities  lcproject  openstudioproject  projectideas  rebeccauchill  gavinkroeber  performance  culture  culturalinquiry  messiness  experimentation  conviviality 
april 2015 by robertogreco
We don’t need more STEM majors. We need more STEM majors with liberal arts training. - The Washington Post
"In business and at every level of government, we hear how important it is to graduate more students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, as our nation’s competitiveness depends on it. The Obama administration has set a goal of increasing STEM graduates by one million by 2022, and the “desperate need” for more STEM students makes regular headlines. The emphasis on bolstering STEM participation comes in tandem with bleak news about the liberal arts — bad job prospects, programs being cut, too many humanities majors.

As a chemist, I agree that remaining competitive in the sciences is a critical issue. But as an instructor, I also think that if American STEM grads are going lead the world in innovation, then their science education cannot be divorced from the liberal arts.

Our culture has drawn an artificial line between art and science, one that did not exist for innovators like Leonardo da Vinci and Steve Jobs. Leonardo’s curiosity and passion for painting, writing, engineering and biology helped him triumph in both art and science; his study of anatomy and dissections of corpses enabled his incredible drawings of the human figure. When introducing the iPad 2, Jobs, who dropped out of college but continued to audit calligraphy classes, declared: “It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing.” (Indeed, one of Apple’s scientists, Steve Perlman, was inspired to invent the QuickTime multimedia program by an episode of “Star Trek.”)

Carly Fiorina, former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, credits her degree in philosophy and medieval history in helping her be the first woman to lead a high-tech Fortune 20 corporation. “If you go into a setting and everybody thinks alike, it’s easy,” she has said. “But you will probably get the wrong answer.”

I became a chemistry professor by working side-by-side at the bench with a number of mentors, and the scholar/mentor relationships I’ve enjoyed were a critical aspect of my science education. And it is the centerpiece of a college experience within the liberal arts environment. For me, it was the key that unlocked true learning, and for my students, it has made them better scientists and better equipped to communicate their work to the public.

Like apprentices to a painter, my students sit with me and plan experiments. We gather and review data and determine the next questions to address. After two to three years of direct mentoring, students develop the ability to interpret results on their own, describe how findings advance knowledge, generate ideas for subsequent experiments and plan these experiments themselves. Seniors train new students in the lab, helping them learn gene recombination techniques that depend on accurate calculations and precise delivery of reagents. Put simply, a microliter-scale mistake can spell disaster for an experiment that took days to complete. And while my students work on these sensitive projects, they often offer creative and innovative approaches. To reduce calculation errors, one of my students wrote a user-friendly computer program to automatically measure replicate volumes. He did this by drawing on programming skills he learned in a computer science course he took for fun. Young people stuck exclusively in chemistry lecture halls will not evolve the same way.

A scientist trained in the liberal arts has another huge advantage: writing ability. The study of writing and analyses of texts equip science students to communicate their findings as professionals in the field. My students accompany me to conferences, where they do the talking. They write portions of articles for publications and are true co-authors by virtue of their contributions to both the experiments and the writing. Scientists are often unable to communicate effectively because, as Cornell University president David J. Skorton points out, “many of us never received the education in the humanities or social sciences that would allow us to explain to nonscientists what we do and why it is important.”

To innovate is to introduce change. While STEM workers can certainly drive innovation through science alone, imagine how much more innovative students and employees could be if the pool of knowledge from which they draw is wider and deeper. That occurs as the result of a liberal arts education.

Many in government and business publicly question the value of such an education. Yet employers in every sector continue to scoop up my students because of their ability to apply cross-disciplinary thinking to an incredibly complex world. They like my chemistry grads because not only can they find their way around a laboratory, but they’re also nimble thinkers who know to consider chemistry’s impact on society and the environment. Some medical schools have also caught on to this. The University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine has been admitting an increasing number of applicants with backgrounds in the humanities for the past 20 years. “It doesn’t make you a better doctor to know how fast a mass falls from a tree,” Gail Morris, head of the school’s admissions, told Newsweek. “We need whole people.”

By all means, let’s grow our STEM graduates as aggressively as possible. But let’s make sure they also have that all-important grounding in the liberal arts. We can have both."
liberalarts  stem  education  highered  highereducation  science  engineering  2015  lorettajackson-hayes  humanities  humanism  communication 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Refusing the Adjunct Route | HASTAC
"Today, English is much more than writing--it is integrated communications, technology, social networking, gamification, and integrated hybrid/online/and face to face learning management and course design. The lines between journalism and communication and English are blurred. Digital Media is something I do, and I do it well. History isn't just the study of dead people doing stuff--it is also using big data for predictive analysis of future trends, providing research for global temperature studies, digitizing historical maps, and analyzing political movements. Art is science redefined as data becomes understandable through visualizations, infographics, and stunning graphics. We see art in video games, movies, and in and on every object we could imagine. It has become a complete integration in our lives. Music is psychology and business and technology all wrapped into a tune--and its popularity and spread has never been greater.

So, perhaps the death of humanities has been announced too soon. As I sit here, I wonder who will teach the students the skills they need to succeed in this new entrepreneurial world of technology without the humanities. I wonder where advertising and business will get their content and their digital storytelling. I wonder who will write the background music for their next big technology conference, and I muse about who will keep track of all that is happening so that we don't have to reinvent the wheel every five years.

But even as many of those in Humanities are grasping the brass ring of innovation in Digital Media, pulling in grants, research funds, and renown--we are thrown into the street. The professors who were accountable to the college, who the students could count on for referrals and advice, and mentorship are being let go and replaced by part-timers who are underpaid and who owe no allegiance to the college. Who could blame them for doing as little as possible--when most are paid less than $2,000 to teach a class for 15 weeks (In case you are keeping track, that averages out to about $134 a week for a class that includes three hours of teaching and seven hours of prep each week. That means they are making about $13 an hour with a Ph.D.).

So, I will do my best to keep from taking one of those jobs. Not only is it an insult to me, and my talent, education, and experience, but if I take an adjunct position now because there are no full-time jobs--I will only exacerbate the situation.

So, join me. Keep the humanities professional, and the jobs full-time by refusing to take an adjunct position. Instead get jobs as writers, journalists, marketing professionals, and social media specialists. If you have to, get a job doing something completely unrelated to the humanities, but keep writing and creating in your own space and on your own time. This is the only way we will force the hand of the universities and, of course, increase our worth in the workplace so that we won't be willing to come back for a paltry sum.

We need to stand together. We need to starve the colleges of their cheap labor. We need to succeed in other professions. Then, and only then, will we save humanities."
humanities  adjuncts  2015  michellekassorla  communication  english  technology  socialmedia  socialnetworking  journalism  music  art  digitalmedia  digitalhumanities  pay  labor  work  academia  highered  highereducation 
february 2015 by robertogreco
More About My New Writing Assignment | Snakes and Ladders
"When, a few days ago, I posted the details of my radically subversive new writing assignment [ ], I got a number of replies from my friends on Twitter. They fell into three categories:

• This sounds great!
• Um … let me know how it goes.
• I’d feel better about something like this if my students were skilled at writing conventional thesis essays.

Here I want to address that third response.

Some of my students are quite skilled at writing “conventional thesis essays” — the kind that have an introductory paragraph announcing the thesis to be supported, followed by evidence for that thesis taken from the primary source under consideration plus relevant secondary sources, and a conclusion that wraps things up nicely. Some of my students are not so skilled at working in that genre. By eschewing it I am definitely passing up the opportunity to give my students detailed instruction in how to write that kind of text.

Which leads me to a series of questions: How much does that matter? How important is it that my students get better at writing thesis essays? After all, the thesis essay is just one of many genres of writing: how did it become so utterly dominant in the academic study of the humanities? Does it deserve such dominance? Presumably we assign thesis essays not because we think that genre uniquely valuable in itself, but because we think it inculcates certain valuable skills (how to research and sift one’s research, how to defend an arguable position, etc.) — but what if those skills can be taught through assigning different kinds of writing? What if there are other equally valuable skills that can’t readily be taught through the assigning of thesis essays?

Yes, students who are going on to graduate school in the humanities will need to become quite skilled at writing thesis essays — but why should we craft our assignments in order to meet the needs of a small percentage of our students? Moreover, especially if those students get practice writing thesis essays in other classes, why shouldn’t I use my class to teach them some skills and intellectual virtues that could later set them apart from peers?

Questions like those.

One of the primary things I’m hoping to achieve through this assignment is to bring reading and writing into closer and more constructively interanimating relation. In the traditional model, students read and discuss a text and then, at some point later in the term, write about it. Reading is generally done on an almost daily basis, while writing (serious, in-depth writing anyway) is done infrequently and in intense bursts of activity, probably over little more than 48 hours.

I want to see what happens if students have to write, and write seriously, in more-or-less the same rhythm as they read: read a section of a text, write about it, read some more, see what others (scholars and classmates) have said about it, revisit your earlier thoughts to extend or correct them, etc. I feel quite confident that this will make students more incisive and reflective readers; what it will do for their writing skills I am not certain. But it’s worth an experiment.

(P.S. The assignment is neither radical nor subversive, but I thought that might be a cool thing to say.)"
writing  teaching  teachingwriting  2015  alanjacobs  howwewrite  essays  thesisessays  reading  howweread  classideas  humanities  reflection  commentpress 
january 2015 by robertogreco
Sarah Churchwell: why the humanities matter | Opinion | Times Higher Education
"The renowned scientist E. O. Wilson recently described the humanities as “the natural history of culture, and our most private and precious heritage”. The humanities are the study of what makes us human, of what it means to be human. As they penetrate every aspect of existence, they can, and should, intersect with the natural and social sciences, but literature, history, art, music, languages, theatre, film – and yes, television and computer games – are the stories and ideas through which we express our humanity.

We understand ourselves and our world through the telling of stories. Visual dramas teach us sympathy, empathy, pity, encouraging us to break out of our solipsistic shells. They explore ethical issues, ask challenging questions, inform the way we view each other. Today we live in a culture more defined by images and stories than ever before. Given this, it is vital that we approach the media, advertising and marketing discourses that influence and often manipulate us with critical thinking. We need improved communication skills; no one is born with them, and just chatting with your family and friends does not teach the precision of language needed to negotiate and reframe our complicated world. In a global age, we need to understand other societies. Anyone who has ever studied a foreign language knows that different phrases can prompt new perspectives and open our eyes to cultural values; studying foreign languages also improves mastery of our own. This rule holds by analogy more generally: when we learn about other people, we also learn about ourselves.

The politicians and corporations telling us that the humanities do not matter are, by no coincidence, the same people who think of us only as workers and consumers, not as citizens or individuals, and who strip away our human rights, one by one. It is the wealthy who insist that we should seek only to work: we don’t need the humanities, they tell us, all we need is to labour in a marketplace that will enrich them, not us.

If we agree that the humanities do not matter, or fail to challenge this assessment, we are colluding in the very practices that reduce our humanity, that impinge upon all the other ways in which we can enrich our lives, our abilities to express our creative individuality. Until we reconsider what it means to lead a truly satisfying life, what the ancient Greeks considered the “good life” – who are by no coincidence the people who invented the study of the humanities – we should not be surprised if we have the politicians and plutocrats we deserve. Why should any politician seek to challenge the source of his (rarely her) power?

The humanities conserve and safeguard those aspects of our being that intersect with the meanings of human existence beyond industry. A certain playwright was said to love humanity as a concept but to have less time for human beings. The same can be said of our so-called leaders, whose lofty rhetoric in support of humanity is belied by their contempt for the study of the humanities. That said, as the historian James Truslow Adams wrote some years ago, it is absurd to think that the powerful will abandon their power “to become spiritual leaders of a democracy that despises spiritual things”.

There is a story that may be apocryphal but is illustrative. Supposedly, Richard Dawkins was once visiting an art gallery in Florence, and as he left was heard to ask, “But what’s all this art for?” Regardless of whether Dawkins actually said it, this question articulates a widely held view among the instrumentalists and technocrats who decide our society’s priorities. Last year it was revealed that scientific studies had “proven” that reading made people more empathetic. At last, some book lovers cried, what we always knew has been proven: book lovers are better people! Anyone who has spent time in a literature department might challenge this jolly notion, but I agree with the critic Lee Siegel, who responded by defending his right to love books regardless of whether they “improved” him. Let me answer the question: what’s all this art for? It’s for us.

When we stopped being citizens and began to think of ourselves – or rather, each other – only as consumers, we relinquished thousands of years of human development. How can we sustain our civilisation if we don’t understand how it works? How can we interpret Magna Carta and defend our rights if no one reads Latin? How will we protect our own laws? How can we hope for transcendence in a secular age if we give up on beauty? Even in instrumentalist terms, the humanities represent 5,000 years of free research and development in what it means to be human. I think we should make use of that.

The humanities are where we locate our own lives, our own meanings; they embrace thinking, curiosity, creation, psychology, emotion. The humanities teach us not only what art is for, but what life might be for, what this strange existence might mean. What kind of humans would think that the humanities don’t matter? We need the advanced study of humanities so that we might, some day, become advanced humans."
humanities  2014  sarahchurchwell  eowilson  humanity  culture  literature  art  history  language  languages  stories  storytelling  theater  film  music  socialsciences  videogames  tv  television  humans  capitalism  policy  politics  markets  richarddawkins  technocracy  technocrats  instrumentalists  leesiegel  secularism  thinking  criticalthinking  thewhy  why  existence  existentialism  purpose 
december 2014 by robertogreco
THE CHAGALL POSITION: Tidy Words & the End of the World: LeRoi Jones Reads a New Yorker Poem
"Baraka nails the essential quality of the New Yorker poem in a compact formulation: a carefully put-together exercise published as high poetic art. And when it comes to literary standards nothing has changed in the half century plus since the poet shed tears over that alienating poem – New Yorker still puts a premium on carefully put-together exercises that it publishes as high poetic art. This is just as true of the magazine’s fiction, which represents the “quality” apogee of the MFA cookie-cutter “epiphany story.” Wrapped up in tidy packages of psychological realism, these stories reflect the spurious “humanism” of the liberal professional-managerial class that is really a form of fatuous, self-congratulatory narcissism and an apologetics for a racist, imperialist, and exploitative status quo. Such work is “well-crafted,” meticulous, careful, “clean,” and absolutely risk free – the literary equivalent of a gentrified neighborhood. It’s a neighborhood (Baraka even calls it, perceptively, a “place”) where people like the aspiring Black writer are not welcome, where they are the excluded Other.

In the yearning for social mobility that painfully inflects his response, the young poet of the autobiography implicitly realizes how this “high poetic art” functions as a marker of status, what Pierre Bourdieu calls “distinction.” New Yorker verse and fiction are indeed high-end consumer commodities, of a piece with the tailored clothes, pricey jewelry, and haute cuisine dining spots that share its pages. It’s a cultural “address”, but – as commentators such as Sharon Zukin and David Harvey have shown – one that is eminently available to be cross-mapped onto real space, in urban neighborhoods across the US and around the globe.

One way that this type of “cultural address” manifests itself in the contemporary urban arena is the phenomenon of “cultural districts,” specially designated clusters of arts and humanities venues which then become the focus of public-private investment partnerships. There are many such districts in Massachusetts already, including two here in Boston, the Fenway Cultural District and the new Boston Literary District. According to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the state body that awards such designations, the ultimate goal of cultural districts is “enhancing property values and making communities more attractive” – i.e., gentrification."

"Social exclusion and symbolic violence inflict real damage and pain, the pain of marginality, invisibility, and muteness – cultural apartheid. It is precisely the type of pain that Amiri Baraka’s younger self experienced while reading that New Yorker poem. The passage from Baraka’s autobiography struck me because I encountered it at the very time I was writing about the Boston Book Festival’s failure, for the fifth year in a row, to select a local African American or Latina/o author for their flagship “One City One Story” program. One of the “Executive Partners” in organizing the Boston Literary District, the BBF states that this citywide “Big Read” event is supposed to promote literacy and “create a community around a shared reading experience.” Yet what kind of community are they creating? Boston is at least 42% Black and Latina/o, but in the 5 years of One City One Story’s existence they’ve chosen 4 white authors and 1 Asian-American author. The stories themselves, moreover, are very much of the same “carefully constructed exercises” (white and uptight) that continue to be published “as high poetic art” in the New Yorker.

I wonder how many minority youth in Dorchester, Roxbury, and Mattapan were assigned the book festival’s 2014 offering, Jennifer Haigh’s “Sublimation,” in their high school English classes. No doubt they were exhorted that they were participating in civic life, and that the story’s values and outlook were somehow “universal” and relevant to their own experience. And no doubt that many of them felt the same confusion and shame and anger that LeRoi Jones felt reading that New Yorker poem in San Juan over a half century ago.

I hope none of them shed tears over it, though – the story wasn’t worth it."

[via: ]
amiribaraka  leroijones  newyorker  mfa  writing  realism  narcissism  racism  imperialism  statusquo  gentrification  literature  edmondcaldwell  socialmobility  commodities  consumerism  mainstream  elitism  culture  sharonzukin  davidharvey  arts  art  humanities  marginality  invisibility  muteness  culturalapartheid  race  homogeneity  2014 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Speed Kills: Fast is never fast enough - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"In the past 50 years, two economies that operate at two different speeds have emerged. In one, wealth is created by selling labor or stuff; in the other, by trading signs that are signs of other signs. The virtual assets scale at a speed much greater than the real assets. A worker can produce only so many motorcycles, a teacher can teach only so many students, and a doctor can see only so many patients a day. In high-speed markets, by contrast, billions of dollars are won or lost in billionths of a second. In this new world, wealth begets wealth at an unprecedented rate. No matter how many new jobs are created in the real economy, the wealth gap created by the speed gap will never be closed. It will continue to widen at an ever-faster rate until there is a fundamental change in values.

One of the most basic values that must be rethought is growth, which has not always been the standard by which economic success is measured. The use of the gross national product and gross domestic product to evaluate relative economic performance is largely the product of the Cold War. As the battleground between the United States and the Soviet Union expanded to include the economy, the question became whether capitalism or communism could deliver more goods faster."

"The problem is not only, as Michael Lewis argues in Flash Boys, finding a technological fix for markets that are rigged; the problem is that the entire system rests on values that have become distorted: individualism, utility, efficiency, productivity, competition, consumption, and speed. Furthermore, this regime has repressed values that now need to be cultivated: sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness. If psychological, social, economic, and ecological meltdowns are to be avoided, we need what Nietzsche aptly labeled a "transvaluation of values."

"The growing concern about the effectiveness of primary, secondary, and postsecondary education has led to a preoccupation with the evaluation of students and teachers. For harried administrators, the fastest and most efficient way to make these assessments is to adopt quantitative methods that have proved most effective in the business world. Measuring inputs, outputs, and throughputs has become the accepted way to calculate educational costs and benefits. While quantitative assessment is effective for some activities and subjects, many of the most important aspects of education cannot be quantified. When people believe that what cannot be measured is not real, education and, by extension society, loses its soul.

Today’s young people are not merely distracted—the Internet and video games are actually rewiring their brains. Neuroscientists have found significant differences in the brains of "addicted" adolescents and "healthy" users. The next edition of the standard Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will very likely specify Internet addiction as an area for further research. The epidemic of ADHD provides additional evidence of the deleterious effects of the excessive use of digital media. Physicians concerned about the inability of their patients to concentrate freely prescribe Ritalin, which is speed, while students staying up all night to study take Ritalin to give them a competitive advantage.

Rather than resisting these pressures, anxious parents exacerbate them by programming their kids for what they believe will be success from the time they are in prekindergarten. But the knowledge that matters cannot be programmed, and creativity cannot be rushed but must be cultivated slowly and patiently. As leading scientists, writers, and artists have long insisted, the most imaginative ideas often emerge in moments of idleness.

Many people lament the fact that young people do not read or write as much as they once did. But that is wrong—the issue is not how much they are reading and writing; indeed they are, arguably, reading and writing more than ever before. The problem is how they are reading and what they are writing. There is a growing body of evidence that people read and write differently online. Once again the crucial variable is speed. The claim that faster is always better is nowhere more questionable than when reading, writing, and thinking.

All too often, online reading resembles rapid information processing rather than slow, careful, deliberate reflection. Researchers have discovered what they describe as an "F-shaped pattern" for reading web content, in which as people read down a page, they scan fewer and fewer words in a line. When speed is essential, the shorter, the better; complexity gives way to simplicity, and depth of meaning is dissipated in surfaces over which fickle eyes surf. Fragmentary emails, flashy websites, tweets in 140 characters or less, unedited blogs filled with mistakes. Obscurity, ambiguity, and uncertainty, which are the lifeblood of art, literature, and philosophy, become decoding problems to be resolved by the reductive either/or of digital logic.

Finally, vocationalization. With the skyrocketing cost of college, parents, students, and politicians have become understandably concerned about the utility of higher education. Will college prepare students for tomorrow’s workplace? Which major will help get a job? Administrators and admission officers defend the value of higher education in economic terms by citing the increased lifetime earning potential for college graduates. While financial matters are not unimportant, value cannot be measured in economic terms alone. The preoccupation with what seems to be practical and useful in the marketplace has led to a decline in the perceived value of the arts and humanities, which many people now regard as impractical luxuries.

That development reflects a serious misunderstanding of what is practical and impractical, as well as the confusion between the practical and the vocational. As the American Academy of Arts and Sciences report on the humanities and social sciences, "The Heart of the Matter," insists, the humanities and liberal arts have never been more important than in today’s globalized world. Education focused on STEM disciplines is not enough—to survive and perhaps even thrive in the 21st century, students need to study religion, philosophy, art, languages, literature, and history. Young people must learn that memory cannot be outsourced to machines, and short-term solutions to long-term problems are never enough. Above all, educators are responsible for teaching students how to think critically and creatively about the values that guide their lives and inform society as a whole.

That cannot be done quickly—it will take the time that too many people think they do not have.

Acceleration is unsustainable. Eventually, speed kills. The slowing down required to delay or even avoid the implosion of interrelated systems that sustain our lives does not merely involve pausing to smell the roses or taking more time with one’s family, though those are important.

Within the long arc of history, it becomes clear that the obsession with speed is a recent development that reflects values that have become destructive. Not all reality is virtual, and the quick might not inherit the earth. Complex systems are not infinitely adaptive, and when they collapse, it happens suddenly and usually unexpectedly. Time is quickly running out."
speed  health  life  trends  2014  via:anne  marktaylor  filippomarinetti  futurists  futuristmanifesto  modernism  modernity  charliechaplin  efficiency  living  slow  thorsteinveblen  wealth  inequality  values  us  growth  economics  writing  finance  education  highered  highereducation  communication  internet  web  online  complexity  systemsthinking  systems  humanities  liberalarts  stem  criticalthinking  creativity  reflection  productivity  reading  howweread  howwewrite  thinking  schools  schooling  evaluation  assessment  quantification  standardization  standardizedtesting  society  interdisciplinary  professionalization  specialization  transdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  learning  howwelearn  howwethink  neuroscience  slowness  deliberation  patience  generosity  consumption  competition  competitiveness  subtlety  sustainability  community  cooperation  nietzsche  capitalism  latecapitalism 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: Music, Golf, Humanities, or Algebra: why we must make students study stuff that some adult likes
[via: ]

"We are constantly being told why kids must take subjects in school that they obviously dislike. Someone is always promoting the benefits of forcing kids to do what they hate. So, for fun, I found some lists. I start with things very few kids are being forced to study which apparently would be very good for them, and end with things kids are also forced to study because they are also very good for them. See if you can tell who is right (and what we should make kids do even if they hate it.) (Hint: the last one is the best (or anyway, the funniest.))"

18 Benefits of Playing a Musical Instrument

The Top 10 Life Lessons Your Child Can Learn from Playing Golf

Why do the humanities matter?

Ten Reasons to Study the Humanities

10 Everyday Reasons Why Algebra is Important in your Life

So, algebra teaches you everything and you can’t function without it. But there are all those people who can buy cell phones without it. What do I know?

What subjects should be required then? My vote is for golf. It teaches quiet and graciousness which is better than interconnectedness and data entry any day.

Oh wait. Here is an idea. Stop telling kids what to study and let them follow their own interests. Nah. Too radical.
rogerschank  curriculum  compulsory  2014  algebra  music  forcefeeding  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  requirements  humanities  math  mathematics  golf  humor 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Writing the New Journalism: Creative Nonfiction | The Evergreen State College
"Writers have come to realize that the genre of nonfiction writing can be as colorful and gripping as any piece of fiction. The difference is that nonfiction writers are not burdened with inventing characters, dialogue, plot and description because everything they write about actually happened. Creative nonfiction writers assemble the facts and events and array them artistically and stylistically, using the descriptive techniques of the fiction writer. They immerse themselves in a venue, set about gathering their facts while demonstrating scrupulous accuracy, and then write an account of what happened in their own voice. The Greyhound Bus Company advertised “getting there is half the fun.” In the genre of creative nonfiction, getting there is all the fun because the reader already knows how the piece ends before it begins. Students will become proficient with the form through intensive fieldwork, research and writing.

We will begin by studying field research methodology in preparation for observational studies in the field designed to teach the difference between truly seeing and simply looking. Students can’t write and describe something they can’t see clearly.

Students will conduct field research to learn to pay attention to detail, read and discuss representative examples of the form, and meet weekly in regularly scheduled writing workshop. Following a period of redrafting and corrections, students will present their final piece to the group in the last week of the quarter.

We will read and discuss the following creative nonfiction books: Literary Journalism ed. by Sims & Kramer, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer, Number Our Days by Barbara Myerhoff, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt, Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom, Shadow Divers by Robert Kurson, and In Cold Blood by Truman Capote."
evergreenstatecollege  coursedescriptions  programdescriptions  2014  thomasfoote  writing  journalism  nonfiction  creativewriting  humanities 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Arjun Appadurai | archive public
"Archive and Aspiration

Social memory remains a mystery to most of us. True, there has been much excellent work by psychologists, neurologists and other sorts of critics about the workings of collective memory. Yet, there is a deep gap between our understandings of the externalities of memory and its internalities. This is a kind of Cartesian gap too, this time not between mind and body but between the biochemistry of memory and its social locations and functions. The arrival of the electronic archive, with its non-hierarchical, digital and para-human characteristics, sometimes seems to have widened this gap, since there is no easy way to get from the neural maps implied in most visions of biological memory and the social maps referred to in such wonderful images as Pierre Nora’s image of the ‘places of memory’. This gap between the neural locus of memory and its social location creates a variety of challenges for different fields and disciplines.

Memory and the Archive

In the humanist imagination, the archive is no more than a social tool for the work of collective memory. It is a neutral, or even ethically benign, tool which is the product of a deliberate effort to secure the most significant portions of what Maurice Halbwachs called ‘the prestige of the past’. Its quintessential expression is the document, a graphic trace, usually a written text, whose accidental survival has been reinforced by the protection offered to it by the archive. In this sense the archive is an empty box, a place, a site or an institution, whose special role is the guardianship of the document. Over time, the idea of the document has been broadened to include artifacts, monuments, products, even whole neighborhoods and cities. UNESCO’s longstanding mission to conserve important monuments as tributes to human heritage is, in fact, a product of this ethical view of the archive as a container or body, animated by something less visible – usually the spirit of a people, the people, or humanity in general."

"Thus, we should begin to see all documentation as intervention, and all archiving as part of some sort of collective project. Rather than being the tomb of the trace, the archive is more frequently the product of the anticipation of collective memory. Thus the archive is itself an aspiration rather than a recollection. This deep function of the archive has been obscured by that officializing mentality, closely connected to the governmentalities of the nation-state, which rests on seeing the archive as the tomb of the accidental trace, rather than as the material site of the collective will to remember."

[via: ]
archives  archiving  imagination  memory  collectivism  humanism  humanities  arjunappadurai  foucault  migration  aspiration  memorygaps  desire  memories  socialmemory  arjenmulder  michelfoucault 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Can Algorithms Replace Your English Professor? — Who’s Afraid of Online Education? — Medium
"Algorithms are quickly becoming our new tastemakers and gatekeepers. Social media feeds are increasingly the most immediate source of news for many people, which means we are becoming more and more beholden to algorithms. Social media algorithms have been a popular topic of discussion lately, with people undertaking experiments on what happens when you “like” everything on Facebook, or when you refrain from “liking” anything. The Facebook algorithm is being held up as the primary reason why the #Ferguson protests are not showing up on user’s Facebook feeds, in comparison to Twitter, which is the only network that shows you what you choose to follow, rather than what its algorithm thinks you should. (Note that this may also be changing.)

Algorithms are becoming our curators. They show us—based on a secret, proprietary formula—what they think we want to see. In this experiment, Tim Herrara demonstrates that Facebook’s algorithm prefers to show its users older, more popular content than new content that has not been engaged with. Despite him trying to consume his entire Facebook feed for an entire day, he realized that he only saw 29% of new content produced by his network—and that for most users, that percentage is probably a lot lower. On Facebook there isn’t a way to bypass this algorithm, even if you select“most recent” posts rather than “most popular” posts in your setting (interestingly enough, I’ve heard reports that Facebook tends to secretly reset your settings back to “most popular” no matter what you do).

There’s a lot of controversy over the power that we are giving algorithms to display and represent our world to us. But these critiques miss an important point: we’ve never not had curators and filters. Before we had algorithms, we had “experts”, “authorities”, tastemakers—we had (or have)professors and academics, we had (have) institutions that studied things and told us what was important or unimportant about the world, we had (have) editors and publishers who decided what was “good” enough to be shared with the world. But the importance and reliabilty of these authorities and tastemakers is coming under serious fire because of the impact of some social media; for example in the reporting on Ferguson on major news networks versus Twitter. Furthermore, if you take the work of postcolonial studies critics like Edward Said seriously, much of our humanistic and scientific forms of research inquiry are hardly free of cultural prejudice, and are in fact informed and dictated by these modes of thinking.

Given all of this, I have two thoughts:

One. How is algorithmic selection actually similar to older modes of tastemaking and gatekeeping (i.e. experts and authorities who tell us what to value and what not to)? How is it different? Does either mode entertain the feedback of those who they serve (i.e., can you help train an algorithm to show you more of what you want, or can you have impact on your “experts” in having them study what you think is important?)

Two. A great deal of virtual ink has been spilled on whether educators are going to be replaced by online courses such as MOOCs. Less has been said, however, about the replacement of the tastemaking function of educators/researchers—especially in the humanities, our goal has been to train students to find value in what they otherwise might not, to make legible to our students modes of seeing and doing which depart from their own. Can an algorithm replace that tastemaking function? Put another way: instead of having the “best” news and information filtered to you by “experts” (your teachers, your professors, editors and publishers etc.), what happens when an algorithm starts taking over this process? Is this necessarily good, bad, or neither? And how similar is this filtering of information to previous modes of filtering? In other words—can an algorithm become smart enough to replace your English literature professor? And what would be the result of such a scenario?"

[via (great thread follows): ]
adelinekoh  2014  algorithms  facebook  twitter  education  curation  curators  gatekeepers  tastemakers  trendsetters  mooc  moocs  tastemaking  experts  authority  authorities  humanism  humanities  power  control  academia  highereducation  highered  feeds  filters 
august 2014 by robertogreco
FYS 2014 syllabus
"First-Year Seminar: The Two Cultures (FYS 1399-N7)

Alan Jacobs • MW 12:30pm-1:45pm, Morrison 205

Goals and Purposes: This is a course with twin purposes. Purpose One is that we explore a topic of serious significance. Purpose Two is that we do this in a way that helps you to acquire, or develop, some of the key skills you will need in order to succeed as a college student, especially in this Baylor context. What this means in practice is that while we will indeed cover the course material or content in a responsible and orderly way, we won't be in a great hurry to do so, and will from time to time pause to think about some of the issues that concern you as new college students.

Our primary topic here is what is often called the "two cultures" debate, named as such after a lecture by the English novelist and scientist C. P. Snow, who argued that the sciences and the humanities had become two mutually unintelligible cultures, and that that separation has seriously negative consequences for our society. We are going to try to figure out what Snow was right about and what he was wrong about; how those two cultures arose; how things have changed in the half-century since Snow delivered his lecture; and how all these matters affect the shape of the university education that you are all just beginning."
alanjacobs  twocultures  syllabus  2014  science  humanities  syllabi 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Topologies: Michel Serres and the Shapes of Thought
"In what follows, I try to estimate the novelty, the possibility and the limits of Serres’s intensely topological mode of thinking. In the first section, ‘Phases, States’, I distinguish three periods in Serres’s work, emphasising the increasing importance of topology in it. I suggest that Serres goes far beyond the flat topography, the impoverished views of space and territory to be found throughout the cultural and social sciences. Relating his uses of topology to the ‘material imagination’ of Gaston Bachelard, I suggest that Serres’s topologies are complexes of space and time, matter and process, rather than merely matricial forms. In the second section, ‘Histories’, I consider the kinds of historical poetics to which this topological view may give rise, considering in some detail Serres’s use of the metaphor of kneaded, or folded time. In the third section ‘Shape of Shapes’, I consider critically Serres’s attempts to use topology to provide an integrated view of the contingencies of history and space. Though I conclude the final section, ‘Ethics and Topology’ by affirming that Serres’s work represents a huge and still largely ignored resource for thinking historically about the relations between science, technology and culture, I also suggest that we need not, and probably should not, take it on its own account, particularly when it moves from description to ethics. Paradoxically, perhaps, what Serres increasingly makes of his own work need not be what can most valuably be made of it."

"The ethical claims for synthesis, a holistic grasping of the complete shape of things, which seem increasingly to complete and justify Serres’s rapprochement of science and humanities, fact and value, may in fact be the coarsest and least compelling aspects of his thought. The very power to integrate complex phenomena which the idea of topology offers may be its weakness, in a world in which the acceptance and management of discontinuity may be a better hope than the effort to see and entertain every possibility.

Serres’s topological mode of thinking offers huge possibilities of transformation and renewal for thinking and writing in the humanities and in science, as well as offering a model for how they might begin to include each other. His work makes it clear how crudely mechanical or frankly magical (the same thing perhaps) our conceptions of the nature and workings of social life and time can be. Characteristically, and superbly, he has done this, not through critique, but through the invention of new shapes of thought. Nick Bingham, for example, has argued that we may be able to rouse ourselves from dulling contemporary fantasies of the ‘technological sublime’ through Serres’s idea of the binding mobility of the quasi-object, which holds together complex societies as the movement of the ball may be said to focus and bind together the movements and purposes of two opposed teams (Bingham 1999). Serres’s work offers to contemporary thought the same kind of reinvigoration that the work of Bergson did a century ago, except that, where Bergson attempted to make a clean break between the fixative illusions of spatial thinking, in favour of a thought in motion, Serres offers ways of thinking time spatially and morphologically. For the historian of ideas, forms and feelings in particular, Serres’s versatile development of Bachelard’s insight into the material imagination – the imagining of the material world, and the materiality of the imagination – offers a thesaurus of shapes of thought and thoughts of shape that promise huge enrichment to historical thought. Bachelard’s explication of the poetics of matter and space could only take shape in a reserved space of dream and reverie, set aside from the forms of scientific knowledge that formed the subject of his earlier historical analyses. Serres’s topologies of space and time disclose and project new and more inclusive, less sequestered forms in which to hold together science and culture, and to incubate new forms of historical poetics. His greatest contribution will assuredly have been his restlessly inventive cultivation of the spatial and topological imagination, the ways in which we project how and where we live, as embodied beings who are nevertheless incapable of not being beside themselves, not living beyond the here-and-now of their bodies, not being taken up in the flamboyant dynamics of topology. Michel Serres has always spurned schools and disciples; and it may be that we can do most with his work, by effecting a partial break with it, by declining to accept as definitive the ethical and political shape within which he encloses it."
michelserres  2002  topologies  science  literature  stevenconnor  humanities  transdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  discontinuity  gastonbachelard  space  time  matter  process  technology  culture  ethics 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Playing the Odds | Easily Distracted
[via: ]

"No academic (I hope) would say that education is required to achieve wisdom. In fact, it is sometimes the opposite: knowing more about the world can be, in the short-term, an impediment to understanding it. I think all of us have known people who are terrifically wise, who understand other people or the universe or the social world beautifully without ever having studied anything in a formal setting. Some of the wise get that way through experiencing the world, others through deliberate self-guided inquiry.

What I would be prepared to claim is something close to something Wellmon says, that perhaps college might “might alert students to an awareness of what is missing, not only in their own colleges but in themselves and the larger society as well”.

But my “might” is a bit different. My might is literally a question of probabilities. A well-designed liberal arts education doesn’t guarantee wisdom (though I think it can guarantee greater concrete knowledge about subject matter and greater skills for expression and inquiry). But it could perhaps be designed so that it consistently improves the odds of a well-considered and well-lived life. Not in the years that the education is on-going, not in the year after graduation, but over the years that follow. Four years of a liberal arts undergraduate experience could be far more likely to produce not just a better quality of life in the economic sense but a better quality of being alive than four years spent doing anything else.

I think I can argue that the disciplinary study of history can potentially contribute to the development of a capacity for empathy, or emotional intelligence, an understanding of why things happen the way that they do and how they might happen differently, and many other crafts and arts that I would associate as much with wisdom as I do with knowledge, with what I think informs a well-lived life. But potential is all I’m going to give out. I can’t guarantee that I’ll make someone more empathetic, not the least because I’m not sure how to quantify such a thing, but also because that’s not something everybody can be or should be counted upon to get from the study of history. It’s just, well, more likely that you might get that than if you didn’t study history.

This sense of “might” even justifies rather nicely the programmatic hostility to instrumentally-driven approaches to education among many humanists. Yes, we’re cultivating humanity, it’s just that we’re not very sure what will grow from any given combination of nutrients and seeds. In our students or ourselves.

This style of feeling through the labyrinth gives me absolutely no title to complacency, however. First, it’s still a problem that increased disciplinary knowledge and skills do not give us proportionately increased probability of incorporating that knowledge into our own lives and institutions. At some point, more rigorous philosophical analyses about when to pull the lever on a trolley or more focused historical research into the genesis of social movements doesn’t consistently improve the odds of making better moral decisions or participating usefully in the formation of social movements.

Second, I don’t think most curricular designs in contemporary academic institutions actually recognize the non-instrumental portion of a liberal-arts education as probabilistic. If we did see it that way, I think we’d organize curricula that had much less regularity, predictability and structure–in effect, much less disciplinarity.

This is really the problem we’re up against: to contest the idea that education is just about return-on-investment, just about getting jobs, we need to offer an education whose structural character and feeling is substantially other than what it is. Right now, many faculty want to have their cake and eat it too, to have rigorous programs of disciplinary study that are essentially instrumental in that they primarily encourage students to do the discipline as if it were a career, justified in a tautological loop where the value of the discipline is discovered by testing students on how they demonstrate that the discipline is, in its own preferred terms, valuable.

If we want people to take seriously that non-instrumental “dark side of the moon” that many faculty claim defines what college has been, is and should remain, we have to take it far more seriously ourselves, both in how we try to live what it is that we study and in how we design institutions that increase the probabilities that our students will not just know specific things and have specific skills but achieve wisdoms that they otherwise could not have found."
education  2014  via:audreywatters  liberalarts  timothyburke  highereducation  wisdom  empathy  openmindedness  ethics  morality  philosophy  history  learning  purpose  humanism  humanities  fiction  literature  society  generalists 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Care: Some musings on a theme | Thom van Dooren
"I have often felt over the past seven years or so like I am on an extended journey along the edge of extinction. I have spent time sitting among albatrosses engaged in courtship and nesting; I have dressed up like a whooping crane to interact with young birds learning a lost migratory route; I have helped to provide enrichment for captive Hawaiian crows, hiding dead mice inside green rubber balls in their aviaries to challenge and stimulate them (van Dooren, 2014). All of these birds are members, more accurately participants, of species that are in decline or in serious trouble. Spending time in these spaces has prompted me to think about ethics through concepts like witness, hope and inheritance (much of this work is a collaboration with Debbie). Through these experiences – and an ongoing engagement with, in particular, the work of Maria Puig de la Bellacasa and Donna Haraway – I have also begun to appreciate an important role for care, in all of its ambiguity and complexity. What does it mean to care for others at the edge of extinction? What forms might careful scholarship take at this time?

In Maria Puig’s recent work, care emerges as a particularly profound engagement with the world, simultaneously “a vital affective state, an ethical obligation and a practical labour” (2012: 197; 2010). Affective, ethical and practical; all of these facets matter. As an affective state, caring is an embodied phenomenon, the product of intellectual and emotional competencies: to care is to be affected by another, to be emotionally at stake in them in some way. As an ethical obligation, to care is to become subject to another, to recognise an obligation to look after another. Finally, as a practical labour, caring requires more from us than abstract well wishing, it requires that we get involved in some concrete way, that we do something (wherever possible) to take care of another. In short, in Puig’s work, care is an entry point into a grounded form of embodied and practical ethics.

But Puig is also intensely mindful that caring is a complex and compromised practice. Time and again I have witnessed how care for some individuals and species translates into suffering and death for others, the ‘violent-care’ of conservation (van Dooren, forthcoming; van Dooren, 2014): predators and competitors are culled, expendable animals provide food or enrichment for the endangered, the list goes on (Rose, 2013). Beyond conservation worlds, caring is often similarly fraught. In short, care is grounded in all of the mundane and “inescapable troubles of interdependent existences,” and can offer no guarantee of a “smooth harmonious world” (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012: 197-199).

What emerges from this complexity is the necessity that care involve an ongoing critical engagement with the terms of its own production and practice. As Donna Haraway notes, “caring means becoming subject to the unsettling obligation of curiosity, which requires knowing more at the end of the day than at the beginning” (2008: 36). The kind of curiosity that Haraway has in mind here is definitively expansive, perhaps even explosive, rippling out into the world. It is this kind of curiosity that prompts her to ask: “Whom and what do I touch when I touch my dog? How is ‘becoming with’ a practice of becoming worldly?” (35). In Haraway’s hands, the simple act of touching a dog – “touch” she reminds us “does not make one small; it peppers its partners with attachment sites for world making” (36) – draws us out into complex interwoven histories of co-evolution and broader patterns of co-becoming, of ranching and the emergence of agriculture, of animal testing, contemporary pet keeping and much more (2003; 2008).

Together, Puig and Haraway offer us the potential to understand care itself as a vital practice of critique. Care-full curiosity opens up an appreciation of historical contingency: that things might have been and so might yet still be, otherwise. This is critique in the sense that Foucault (1997) described: a kind of genealogical exploration of contingency, an “historical ontology of the present” (Patton, 2013: 151), that refuses to take for granted assumed categories and frameworks and in so doing opens up new possibilities.

But in situating these kinds of critical interventions within a larger practice of care – which is something that both Haraway and Puig are already doing in their work (Puig de la Bellacasa, 2012) – our critique is grounded in a new way in the specificity of real bodies and worlds in ongoing relationship. Here, the obligation to ‘know more’ emerges as a demand for a kind of deep contextual and critical knowledge about the object of our care, a knowledge that simultaneously places us at stake in the world and demands that we be held accountable: what kinds of emotional, political and epistemic, frames orient our caring acts? What counts as care and why? How else might care be imagined and practiced? (Mol, 2008). In short, what am I really caring for, why, and at what cost to whom? (van Dooren, forthcoming).

Understood in this way, care is a vital concept for an engaged environmental humanities. Much more needs to be done to articulate what different kinds of careful scholarship might look like in different contexts. Perhaps the first step is to begin to explicitly re-imagine our critical work as itself an act of care. Haraway has stated of her own work: “I will critically analyze … only that which I love” (1997: 151). Perhaps though, love and care require these acts of curious critique. Perhaps we must critique what we love. This would be a kind of affectively and ethically engaged scholarship; one that also works to position our writing, speaking and teaching – however modest their impacts – as practical acts of care that can draw others into a sense of curiosity and concern for our changing world (Rose and van Dooren, in process). In this way, we are also called to re-imagine what care might yet become: how might we learn to better care for disappearing species, from re-working the daily practices of captive breeding (van Dooren, 2014; in process) to rethinking the broader frameworks of value that render unproblematic and commonsensical current approaches to ‘killing for conservation’ (van Dooren, 2011; forthcoming).

In short, the question is how placing care at the centre of our critical work might remake ourselves, our practices and our world: what might it mean to be inquisitive about, at stake in and accountable for, the worlds that ground our care and those that are brought about by it; to engage in a scholarship that embraces the fact that caring is always a practice of worlding?"
care  caring  thomvanddoren  2014  via:anne  donnaharaway  mariapuigdelaballacasa  relationships  humanities  environmentalhumanities  context  engagement  ethics  multispecies  interdependence  production  practice  curiosity  touch  animals  foucault  possibility  transdisciplinary  accountability  criticalanalysis  extinction  conservation  posthumanism  michelfoucault 
july 2014 by robertogreco
(Hu)mans: A Course of Study
"What is human about human beings? How did they get that way? How can they be made more so?"

"This archive contains the entire collection of pamphlets and booklets for children, as well as teacher’s instructional guides. The course was brought online by Dr. Wendy Saul, professor of education at UMSL, in collaboration with Peter Dow of Firsthand Learning. Permission to use the materials non-commercially is granted by Education Development Center, and the films accompanying the written materials are available from Documentary Educational Resources."

[See also: ]
macos  curriculum  jeromebruner  wendysaul  peterdow  anthropology  sociology  classideas  projectideas  teaching  learning  schools  1970s  humanities  asenbalikci 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Through These Eyes by Charles Laird - NFB
"An American elementary school program from the 1970s, Man: A Course of Study (MACOS), looked to the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic to help students see their own society in a new way. At its core was The Netsilik Film Series, an acclaimed benchmark of visual anthropology from the National Film Board that captured a year in the life of an Inuit family, reconstructing an ancient culture on the cusp of contact with the outside world. But the graphic images of the Netsilik people created a clash of values that tore rifts in communities across the U.S. and revealed a fragile relationship between politics and education. A fiery national debate ensued between academic and conservative forces.

Through These Eyes looks back at the high stakes of this controversial curriculum. Decades later, as American influence continues to affect cultures worldwide, the story of MACOS resonates strongly."

[See also: ]


[via Alan Kay: ]
film  towatch  macos  jeromebruner  2004  1970s  charleslaird  anthropology  education  schools  teaching  learning  unschooling  deschooling  curriculum  humanities  peterdow  asenbalikci  documentary  ethnography  nfb  nfbc 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Marc Andreessen and the Inevitability of Catastrophic Ideas - The Awl
"It's not false to say that some crumbs perforce will fall from the tables of the rich onto those of the poor. It in no way follows, however, that that is the way bread should be shared."

"Those affiliated with the humanities—who interest themselves in all the things that can’t be measured, but must be judged instead, like moral, aesthetic and philosophical questions—are experiencing a daily low-grade fever of dissatisfaction (or generalized rage, in the case of Sam Biddle) as we are daily sold on the inevitability of catastrophic ideas. In 2003, Donald Rumsfeld told a reporter that the OMB had estimated that the Iraq War would cost something less than $50 billion—the total sum, to be shared by the US and its allies. There would be “smart bombs,” plans laid by expert warmongerers, all kinds of precision.
None of this persuaded the people who’d read their history and learned about the politics, who were warning against the likelihood of disaster and of civil war and the emboldening of extremists, and who marched in their millions (many, many millions) in the streets of the world’s capital cities in early 2003. So it rankles in a particular way to see that the true cost of the Iraq War topped $2 trillion not long ago.

What is the study of humanities for? It’s to prevent this. To apply the lessons of history, and consider the possible costs to the future. To consider not only what will profit us but what will be right for us to do, and why. Andreessen, a dyed-in-the-wool measurer and chart-monger if there ever was one, is a man who would never even dream of a just world, where all would sit at the same table. He is the living example of what is lost when we value things only through the money they represent."

[Via who adds:

"This is exactly why so much the tech industry’s rhetoric these days makes broadly educated people feel like they’re taking crazy pills. When Marc Andreesen claims, for example, that we’re about to enter a robot utopia where we all paint and compose symphonies in perfect economic harmony (and that any unpleasantness in the intervening period will be smoothed over by a form of trickle down economics that demands nothing of the rich while ensuring that society doesn’t collapse under the weight of crushing economic inequality), it’s hard not to wonder if he knows anything at all about, oh, say, the entire history of humanity. When he attempts to undermine a critic by mocking her liberal arts credentials and pointing out that she surely can’t be as smart as him because she probably knows nothing about real, scienc-ey things like “quantum entanglement,” he only demonstrates that, like so many blinkered, self-proclaimed rationalists in tech, he knows the price of everything and the value of nothing."]
technosolutionism  disruption  ideology  siliconvalley  californianideology  libertarianism  inequality  humanities  mariabustillos  2014  marcandreessen 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Difficult Thinking about the Digital Humanities | SAMPLE REALITY
"Five years ago in this space I attempted what I saw as a meaningful formulation of critical thinking—as opposed to the more vapid definitions you tend to come across in higher education. Critical thinking, I wrote, “stands in opposition to facile thinking. Critical thinking is difficult thinking. Critical thinking is being comfortable with difficulty.”

Two hallmarks of difficult thinking are imagining the world from multiple perspectives and wrestling with conflicting evidence about the world. Difficult thinking faces these ambiguities head-on and even preserves them, while facile thinking strives to eliminate complexity—both the complexity of different points of view and the complexity of inconvenient facts.

Adam Kirsch’s much-discussed rejoinder to the digital humanities pivots on a follow-up post of mine, also about critical thinking. In this post—which later appeared in Debates in the Digital Humanities—I argue that most of the work we ask our students to produce is designed to eliminate ambiguity and complexity. It is ironic that Kirsch concludes my vision of difficult thinking represents nothing less than “the obsequies of humanism”—ironic because Kirsch’s piece is itself a remarkable example of facile thinking.

Others have already underscored the paranoid logic (Glen Worthey), glaring omissions (Ryan Cordell), and poor history (Tim Hitchcock) in Kirsch’s piece. You might also read Wendy Hui Kyong Chun’s and Lisa Rhody’s recent Working the Digital Humanities essay in differences as a pre-emptive commentary on Kirsch. And finally, The New Republic has published a letter from the authors of Digital_Humanities, disputing Kirsch’s claims.I don’t have much more to add about the particulars of Kirsch’s essay, other than to say that I already wrote a response to it—back in 1998. (In an issue of Works and Days that focused on the scholarship of teaching with technology, which even then was “taking over” English Departments—inasmuch as faculty were using word processors instead of typewriters.)

I do have something to say about the broader context of Kirsch’s essay. It’s part of a growing body of work committed to approaching the intersection of technology and the humanities with purely facile thinking. This facile thinking ignores contradictory evidence, dismisses alternative ways of seeing, and generally places its critiques of the digital humanities in the service of some other goal having little to do with either technology or the humanities. It might be click bait for page views, it might be purely self-promotional, it might be crisis opportunism, and occasionally it’s even a sincere but misdirected criticism. For example, in the case I explored in 1998, anxieties about teaching with technology were really anxieties about teaching, full stop.

The facile thinking about the digital humanities comes from both within and without the academy. It appears on blogs and social media. It’s printed in The Chronicle of Education and Inside Higher Ed, The New York Times and Slate. It’s in scholarly journals, wrapped in the emperor’s new clothes of jargon and theory. It comes from accomplished scholars, librarians, graduate students, journalists and interns, former academics, and university administrators. In nearly every case, the accounts eliminate complexity by leaving out history, ignoring counter-examples, and—in extreme examples—insisting that any other discourse about the digital humanities is invalid because it fails to take into consideration that particular account’s perspective. Here facile thinking masterfully (yes, facile thinking can be masterful) twists the greatest strength of difficult thinking—appreciating multiple perspectives, but inevitably not all perspectives—into its fatal weakness.

In one sensible comment about Kirsch’s account of the digital humanities, Ted Underwood reminds us that we can’t govern reception of our work. We can’t control how others think or talk or write about our work. I agree, but the problem—diagnosed by Matt Kirschenbaum, again in differences—is that so often the facile thinking about the digital humanities isn’t focused on our actual work, but rather on some abstract “construct” called the digital humanities. Matt thoroughly (and with humor) dismantles this construct. But more to my observation about facile thinking here, let me add a corollary to Ted’s point about reception. And this has to do with audience. We often mistake ourselves as the audience for other people’s work. However, the intended audience for facile thinking about the digital humanities is rarely people who work at the intersection of technology and the humanities. Very often there is a third (or fourth or fifth) party involved. Whomever you think a critic of the digital humanities is addressing, there is always someone else being addressed. This doesn’t just happen in the discussions outside of the academy, like Kirsch’s essay in The New Republic. It happens when academics appear to be talking only to each other. Let’s say one digital humanist levels an inflammatory charge against another. The charge is not really directed toward the second digital humanist; it is a charge meant to resound among another audience entirely. Facile thinking about the digital humanities is a performance, not scholarship.

What we need, obviously, is more difficult thinking about the digital humanities. I’m hardly the first to call for such a thing. Alan Liu is looking for more cultural criticism in the digital humanities, while Fred Gibbs wants critical discourse in the digital humanities. I’m dissatisfied with that word “critical” and all its variations—that’s why my formulation emphasizes difficult thinking over facile thinking. In other words, I don’t care whether you’re critical or not about the digital humanities—either the construct or its actual pedagogical and scholarly work. I simply want you to practice difficult thinking. That means evidentiary-based reasoning. That means perspectives not your own. Taken together, these add up to a kind of rational empathy. Show me how rational empathy means the death knell of the humanities and I’ll gladly take over the obsequies myself."
marksample  2014  criticalthinking  difficultthinking  complexity  education  digitalhumanities  humanities  empathy  criticism  adamkirsch  glenworthey  ryancordell  timhitchcock  wendyhuikyongchun  lisarhody  mattkirschenbaum  fredgibbs 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Robert Redford and Wim Wenders on new architecture film Cathedrals of Culture - Features - Films - The Independent
"In his film, Redford was determined to foreground the scientists and to explore the "almost spiritual" connection they had to the Institute. One reason that the Institute boasts so many Nobel laureates on its faculty is that it is clearly an inspiring place to work – not just another soulless office or lab complex.

"I didn't have a lot of time there, but the scientists reacted very well to the project: they gave creative input that helped to shape the film," Redford recalls. "I think the work there is exceptional, I think it's extremely important work that's being done. I didn't know all the details; what I was interested in was their relationship with the building. And as we talked, I realised that the important thing for them was the presence of the building. Their being in that building lifted them to some level they hadn't experienced before."

There's one character in particular who inspired Redford. "For a scientist, he waxed very poetically! His name is Tom Albright. Tom Albright surprised me because he's obviously a brilliant scientist, and his work is scientific – studying the brain and so on. But when he talked about the feeling he had about the building, and about the sense of place, and started talking about poems, and old slogans and quotes from Italian verse and things like that, I thought, 'whoa, there is something more going on here'. And I think he was provoked to talk that way by the building.""
architecture  tomalbright  friends  2014  salkinstitute  wimwenders  robertredford  design  science  humanities  louiskahn  jonassalk  salk  thesalk 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Sensate Journal Front Page » Sensate Journal
"A Journal for Experiments in Critical Media Practice"

"Welcome to Sensate, a peer-reviewed, open-access, media-based journal for the creation, presentation, and critique of innovative projects in the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Our mission is to provide a scholarly and artistic forum for experiments in critical media practices that expand academic discourse by taking us beyond the margins of the printed page. Fundamental to this expansion is a re-imagining of what constitutes a work of scholarship or art. To that end, Sensate accepts and encourages non-traditional submissions such as audiovisual ethnographic research, multimedia mash-ups, experiments in media archaeology, time-based media, participatory media projects, or digitized collections of archival media, artifacts, or maps. Sensate accepts submissions of finished projects, proposals, and reviews of works (monographs, films, exhibitions, etc).

As an issueless journal, Sensate avoids the rigid structures of chronology and provides readers with the opportunity to explore the content in networked and associative ways, offering a rich, intuitive experience. Users can sort the content by clicking on the media icons, selecting one of our Special Collections (curated by Guest Editors), or through advanced search queries.

Sensate uses Zeega, an interactive storytelling platform, to provide a unique tool for non-linear, open-source, multi-media publishing. Zeega allows contributors to seamlessly integrate audio, video, text, and maps from across the Internet, and will be made available to the public in August, 2012. Sign up here for updates and to receive a Zeega account. Projects, proposals, and reviews that do not use Zeega are also welcome and encouraged.

All works featured in Sensate are published under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution license. For more information on licensing and copyright, please see our Terms of Use.

The staff of Sensate would like to express our sincere appreciation for the support and guidance provided to us by our colleagues at the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society, The Film Study Center, metaLAB@Harvard, the Sensory Ethnography Lab, as well as our associates at Zeega. Thank You!"

Example: ]
sensoryethnographylab  newmedia  anthropology  glvo  classideas  metalab  zeega  sensate  berkmancenter  criticalmedia  multimedia  digitalhumanities  storytelling  arts  humanities  sciences  associative  howwethink  thinking  communication 
march 2014 by robertogreco
No, there aren’t “two cultures” | Oscillator, Scientific American Blog Network
"To say that science is objectively focused on external reality and not, to quote the best subtitle of all time “produced by people with bodies, situated in time, space, culture, and society, and struggling for credibility and authority,” is to ignore the external reality of how science and culture shape one another through the life and work of scientists. The problem with the “two cultures” concept then is neither that non-scientists don’t know enough about thermodynamics, nor that science can’t fully capture the ineffable power of art, but that separating science off from culture leads to bad science.

The belief that science and scientists are somehow above the influence of cultural forces has made it easier to pass off harmful stereotypes and cultural biases as scientific facts. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the “science” of human difference and the generations of scientists who studied the “natural” inferiority of women and basically any minority group ever. These “scientific” beliefs about human nature change over time not because of the progressive power of science to correct previous errors with new evidence, but because of the changes that happen in culture when disenfranchised people fight hard to be heard — in politics, in art, and in science.

The idea that “true science” is strictly rational, with a clear path leading from questions to answers, organized around the infallible scientific method, is especially damaging for young scientists. When experiments fail or produce inconsistent, confusing data, students get lost in what systems biologist Uri Alon calls “the cloud” — where imagination and intellectual curiosity are necessary to break free. This process only looks plainly rational through 20/20 hindsight, when, following the rubric of the two cultures, scientists painstakingly remove the evidence of their intuitions, leaving a picture of science that is impossible to reproduce.

This is why as a teacher and biologist, I work with artists and social scientists: not to better communicate science through creative packaging, but to understand how cultures, science, and technology intersect. Too often, scientists think of artistic, humanistic, and social scientific methods as ways to make the rational medicine of science go down easier. If science were truly concerned with open inquiry and experimentation, we might look harder for ways to disprove the two cultures hypothesis."

[References William Deresiewicz's book review: "No, Jane Austen Was Not a Game Theorist: Using science to explain art is a good way to butcher both" ]
twocultures  thirdculture  christinaagapakis  science  humanities  2014  via:anne  culture  dualism  art  transdisciplinary  crossdisciplinary  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  williamderesiewicz  culturewars  michaelsuk-youngchwe  inquiry  experimentation  openinquiry  criticalthinking  scientism  stereotypes 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Are the Humanities in Crisis? - To the Point on KCRW 89.9 FM | Internet Public Radio Station Streaming Live Independent Music & NPR News Online from Los Angeles, CA
Half as many college students major in the humanities as did 50 years ago. Is this cause for concern? What's college for? Guest host Barbara Bogaev looks at what's at stake when higher education becomes more career focused and fewer students study the humanities. Also, a  new court decision calls NSA surveillance legal, and more men on the job are taking advantage of paternity leave. It turns out the time off for men can have far-reaching benefits for women, including helping to close the gender pay gap and shatter the glass ceiling.

Are the Humanities in Crisis? (1:07PM)
Only about 12% of all college students major in the humanities, a big change from just 50 years ago, when there were twice as many. Only about 7% major in subjects like English, Music or Art. The cost of college and concerns about employment are funneling more students into business and technology degrees, and we certainly need engineers, scientists and blue collar laborers, but at what price to American culture? Are we raising a generation of Americans that doesn't know enough about the humanities? What does it take to create a well-rounded society? What's at stake in education and society when our curricula become more career-focused and less aimed at creating well-rounded individuals?

Anthony Carnevale: Georgetown University
Heidi Tworek: Harvard University, @HeidiTworek
Lee Siegel: writer and author
Gary Gutting: University of Notre Dame

Tworek on the real reason the humanities are in crisis

Siegel on who ruined the humanities

Siegel on whether literature should be useful

Gutting on the real humanities crisis "
humanities  highered  highereducation  2013  anthonycarnevale  heiditworek  leesiegel  garygutting  colleges  universities  employment  history  arts  education  society  generalists  literature  whauden  barbarabogaev  paternityleave  parenting  stem  economics  curriculum  generaleducation  us 
december 2013 by robertogreco
STEM: Still No Shortage
"There’s another side to these STEM shortage arguments, and they are straightforwardly moralizing: the reason for our continued employment crisis is that too many students took “impractical” majors and are suffering as a result. As Virginia Postrel pointed out last year, this narrative simply is not supportable. We don’t, actually, graduate a ton of people in the supposedly impractical arts or humanities. While participation in the humanities is stable, the number of students who pursue humanities majors is low, around 12%-15%. (Incorrect claims that the humanities are in a crisis of plummeting enrollment somehow coexist with arguments that too many students are taking them as majors.) These majors are also disproportionately concentrated in elite colleges, whose graduates enjoy far better economic outcomes than the median graduate, whether through quality of education, selection bias, or some combination of factors. A quick glance at the actual data shows that the notion of an army of deluded dreamers taking supposedly impractical majors is simply not supportable. What sticks out, more than anything, is the relentless rise of the Business major, by far the largest and one which now produces a mind-blowing 350,000 BAs or so a year. (I’d be very interested to see the economic outcomes for graduates of this eminently “practical” major.)"

"The irony of all this is that the typical argument for the superiority of STEM disciplines would probably focus on these as fact-based disciplines, but the notion of a STEM shortage has almost no facts in its support. The notion of a STEM shortage is based on hype, cultural resentment against the arts and humanities, and an unshakeable American faith in technology as the deliverance from all of our problems. I genuinely believe that the biggest part of the belief in a STEM shortage results from our cultural obsession with technology and our perpetual belief that it will cure all of our ills. This discussion echoes another one of my hobby horses, the notion that technology will solve our education woes in K-12. Again and again and again in education research, rigorous independent studies find little or no statistically significant gains from using new technologies in the classroom."

"When I mentioned that point to my friend, he laughed and said, “These companies are all trying to get the same 50 students.” This, more than anything, may be the source of the persistent STEM shortage myth: the inarguable value of being a star in a STEM field. There’s little doubt that people at the top of the food chain in computer science or electrical engineering or biomedical engineering, etc., often enjoy fantastic material and economic gain. But this is a banal point: it’s good to be a star. It’s good to be a star engineer in the same way it’s good to be a star musician or a star psychologist or a star writer. What public policy and politics demand is that we pay attention not to stars but to the median person. And the median American is facing a world of stagnant wages, the arbitrary nature of the employment market, and the constant fear of our financial system’s boom and bust cycle. The problem is that by definition, very few people get to be stars. I don’t doubt that the median Purdue STEM graduate is doing well. But Purdue is a top-flight STEM school, and half of our graduates will be below the median, and many who start those majors fail out of them, and the country is filled with schools who graduate STEM students who can’t get jobs. Basing our perception of the employment market on the outcomes of those 50 star students is pure folly.

None of this is to question the legitimacy or value of the STEM disciplines. Indeed, they are absolutely central to our experience of the good life. But then again, so are the arts, and in neither case does their inherent value say anything about the employment conditions for those fields. The elementary problem here is in part the notion that college exists for the uncomplicated process of training workers in a particular field. Universities are an essential part of our society, but they were never meant to solve all of our macroeconomic problems. Indeed, this whole conversation elides the large majority of Americans without a college degree at all, who suffer far worse outcomes on average than those who have one and who are struggling simply to stay afloat. What’s required is not to blame individual students for the failures on the job market, but to take a long, hard look at the future of employment, our winner-take-all economy, and the basic American social contract."
education  humanities  stem  economics  employment  virginiapostrel  2013  freddiedeboer  rebeccaschuman  vivekwadhwa  labor  policy  us  politics  highereducation  highered  via:ayjay  technosolutionism  technology  shortage 
december 2013 by robertogreco
Culture Machine Live podcast: Johanna Drucker | OPEN REFLECTIONS
"This interview with visual and cultural theorist and practitioner Johanna Drucker by Janneke Adema focuses on Drucker’s work as a scholar and practitioner, speculative computing, the difference between aesthesis and mathesis in Humanities knowledge production, and the concept of performative materiality. The interview was conducted on November 16th, 2013, at the Library of Birmingham in Birmingham, UK."

[Audio here: ]
johannadrucker  digitalhumanities  aesthesis  mathesis  humanities  knowledgeproduction  2013  jannekeadema  speculativecomputing  performativemateriality  materiality  poetry  piaget  constructivism  differntiation  charlespeirce  situatedness  authority  hierarchy  artistsbooks  jeanpiaget  artbooks 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Anyone can learn to be a polymath – Robert Twigger – Aeon
"Monopathy, or over-specialisation, eventually retreats into defending what one has learnt rather than making new connections. The initial spurt of learning gives out, and the expert is left, like an animal, merely defending his territory. One sees this in the academic arena, where ancient professors vie with each other to expel intruders from their hard-won patches. Just look at the bitter arguments over how far the sciences should be allowed to encroach on the humanities. But the polymath, whatever his or her ‘level’ or societal status, is not constrained to defend their own turf. The polymath’s identity and value comes from multiple mastery.

Besides, it may be that the humanities have less to worry about than it seems. An intriguing study funded by the Dana foundation and summarised by Dr Michael Gazzaniga of the University of California, Santa Barbara, suggests that studying the performing arts — dance, music and acting — actually improves one's ability to learn anything else. Collating several studies, the researchers found that performing arts generated much higher levels of motivation than other subjects. These enhanced levels of motivation made students aware of their own ability to focus and concentrate on improvement. Later, even if they gave up the arts, they could apply their new-found talent for concentration to learning anything new.

I find this very suggestive. The old Renaissance idea of mastering physical as well as intellectual skills appears to have real grounding in improving our general ability to learn new things. It is having the confidence that one can learn something new that opens the gates to polymathic activity.

There is, I think, a case to be made for a new area of study to counter the monopathic drift of the modern world. Call it polymathics. Any such field would have to include physical, artistic and scientific elements to be truly rounded. It isn’t just that mastering physical skills aids general learning. The fact is, if we exclude the physicality of existence and reduce everything worth knowing down to book-learning, we miss out on a huge chunk of what makes us human. Remember, Feynman had to be physically competent enough to spin a plate to get his new idea.

Polymathics might focus on rapid methods of learning that allow you to master multiple fields. It might also work to develop transferable learning methods. A large part of it would naturally be concerned with creativity — crossing unrelated things to invent something new. But polymathics would not just be another name for innovation. It would, I believe, help build better judgment in all areas. There is often something rather obvious about people with narrow interests — they are bores, and bores always lack a sense of humour. They just don’t see that it’s absurd to devote your life to a tiny area of study and have no other outside interests. I suspect that the converse is true: by being more polymathic, you develop a better sense of proportion and balance — which gives you a better sense of humour. And that can’t be a bad thing."
polymaths  specialization  generalists  interdisciplinarity  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  diversity  learning  philosophy  humanities  polymathy  openminded  roberttwigger  2013  specialists 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Welcome, Freshmen. You Do Not Deserve to Be Here. - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"A few weeks ago, I attended a conference at Stanford University. We finished in the late afternoon, and as I walked out into the sunlight I noticed groups of people, young and old, all streaming in the same direction. I decided to follow them. We came to a large courtyard where several thousand people were gathered in front of a stage. It was the university's 123rd freshman convocation.

Richard Shaw, dean of admission and financial aid, was at the podium, dressed in academic regalia, telling a story about an American Indian student who had gone from the reservation to Stanford and become a NASA scientist. Dean Shaw announced that the freshman class included students from 49 states—"We miss you, Arkansas"—and 66 countries.

Then he looked out across the crowd of students and parents and said, "We have made no mistakes about your admission." And, in a rising voice, "You all deserve to be here!"

The crowd burst into applause.

I wish he had said something else. Something like this:

I know this is an important day for all of you. You have spent years of your lives trying to get here. Driving into Stanford this morning must have seemed like living a long-imagined dream.

And yet, I know many of you are nagged by something. Here you are, at a moment of unambiguous success and promise, sitting in a campus that looks like an American Versailles, the very best place you could possibly be. But you can't quite let yourself enjoy it, not entirely, because part of you is wondering, "Do I really deserve to be here?"

Well, as dean of admissions, no one is more qualified to answer that question than I am. Let me tell you, definitively, so there is no confusion among us.

You do not deserve to be here. Not yet.

"Deserve" is a heavy word, freighted with a shared sense of obligation. It can be understood only in a context of ethics. It denotes merit earned from service—that's where the "serve" part comes from.

That means service to others. And no, the nonprofit you founded in high school to shelter abandoned ferrets does not count. We live in a society increasingly defined by winner-takes-all competition. You're the winners. And you won by serving yourself.

You had a lot of help, of course. That story I told about the American Indian rocket scientist is interesting because, and only because, it's unusual. Most of you came here from privileged places. It was hard to miss all of those late-model luxury cars lined up in front of the dorms this morning, disgorging your stuff. You've inherited financial and social capital that the average person can scarcely imagine.

And let me be the first to say that Stanford is no better. This was just another struggling private university until the federal government started flooding the valley around us with billions of Defense Department research dollars after World War II. This palace of learning was built by the labor of less fortunate people, as palaces always are. Our predecessors were smart and diligent and sometimes wise, but most of all they were in the right place at the right time.

So I worry about you. Fate has endowed you with gifts, and instead of becoming humble, you want reassurance that all you have was well earned.

It gets worse from here. You may have noticed that, out past the medical center and the golf course, the campus is bordered by something called Sand Hill Road. If you follow it west for a few miles, you'll come upon row after row of buildings full of money. Vast amounts of money. Even more money than we have here at Stanford. And that, believe me, is saying something.

The men in those buildings are investors, and they will trip over themselves trying to give some of their money to you. They will tell you that your idea for a smartphone app that sends a text message every time your pet ferret updates his Tumblr account is nothing less than a world-changing business plan, poised to sweep aside the tired and the old and replace it with a new generation of leaders. People with the guts and brains and vision to take on the establishment. People just like you.

They will say you deserve it, and I'm afraid you'll believe them.

It's customary during ceremonies such as these to welcome one and all to the university family. I'm not going to do that, either. Universities worthy of the name insist on integrity of meaning. The word "family" means something. You just arrived here today. You are strangers to us, and, in many ways, to yourselves.

Fortunately, you have a chance to think about yourself in a different way. Stanford is best known for extending the boundaries of human knowledge, for uncovering mysteries of science and technology, and for creating and discovering things never known before.

But there are also people here who think very seriously about other things. Human things, like ethics and obligation and desire. Some of them work in our departments of history, literature, and philosophy, while others can be found among our engineers and scientists, too. Their concerns are as old as civilization, always present, never resolved.

Talk to them. Learn from them. You have the rest of your life to create the future, but less time than you realize to create yourself.

Don't mistake my talk of service for an appeal to your selfless nature. That need you feel to deserve what you haven't earned? That is a craving that can't be filled. That kind of desire will consume you in the end. You can choose otherwise.

So I say to you, on this brilliant day, in this lovely place, that while you do not deserve to be here, you could, someday. And I hope that if Stanford accomplishes only one thing on your behalf over the next four years, it will be some small assistance in really understanding what that means.

It won't be easy, and some of you won't make it. But I believe—I have to believe—that some of you will.

When you deserve it, come back to us. Share your service with your peers and your children. Then you'll be part of our family. Then you'll truly belong."
stanford  2013  kevincarey  privilege  highered  highereducation  siliconvalley  history  humanities  meaning  business  education  purpose 
october 2013 by robertogreco
College grads in theater and arts landing jobs ahead of tech grads
"Recent graduates with tech degrees face higher unemployment rates after the Great Recession."

"Here's a surprise for college students: Recent graduates with technology degrees are having a tougher time finding a job than their peers in the arts.

The unemployment rate for recent grads with a degree in information systems is more than double that of drama and theater majors, at 14.7% vs. 6.4%, according to a recent Georgetown University study. Even for computer science majors, the jobless rate for recent grads nears 9%.

Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown's Center on Education and the Workforce, said the statistics reflect the recession that officially ended in 2009. Certain job markets, like IT, are inherently cyclical, and are more affected by dips in the economy, Carnevale explained.

"During the recessions, those people lose their jobs," he said. "They're not computer scientists or programmers or people who understand the innards of computers; they're people who use computer information at their job," such as workers at a bank's customer service desk.

Drama and theater jobs, on the other hand, are not heavily affected by the recession, and tend to have lower unemployment rates because there are fewer graduates in these fields, Carnevale added."

[See also: ]
art  arts  humanities  employment  2013  trends  anthonycarnevale  technology 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Why English Majors are the Hot New Hires | The New OPEN Forum
"Years ago while interviewing an English major, I mentioned that—for many reasons—I liked hiring individuals who have a degree in the humanities. When I finished speaking, I noticed that the applicant was slightly choked up. He said, "You are the only person who has made me feel good about my degree." It's not uncommon for English majors—or anyone majoring in the humanities for that matter—to get a bad rap. Even Marc Andreessen, founder of Netscape, not too long ago said that people should get math-oriented degrees; otherwise, they will end up working in shoe stores.

We place a great value on a STEM education (degrees in science, technology, engineering and mathematics). But are the tables turning? Are hiring managers beginning to see the value that a liberal arts education—and an English major in particular—brings to the workplace? Recently, some high-profile businesspeople came out in favor of hiring English majors. Bestselling author and small-business expert Steve Strauss, for example, has admitted that "English majors are my employee of choice." And Bracken Darrell, CEO of Logitech, had this to say: "When I look at where our business is going, I think, boy, you do need to have a good technical understanding somewhere in there, to be relevant. But you’re really differentiated if you understand humanities.""

[Related: ]
englishmajors  humanities  education  hiring  work  employment  trends  careers  2013  brunamartinuzzi  stem  stevestrauss  brackendarrell  communication  writing  research  empathy  janerobbins  davidboyes  ideo  jobs  highereducation  highered  arts  art  theater 
july 2013 by robertogreco
Bamboo DiRT
"Bamboo DiRT is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. Developed by Project Bamboo, Bamboo DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software."
tools  humanities  digitalhumanities  digital  research  onlinetoolkit 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Decline and Fall of the English Major -
"They can assemble strings of jargon and generate clots of ventriloquistic syntax. They can meta-metastasize any thematic or ideological notion they happen upon. And they get good grades for doing just that. But as for writing clearly, simply, with attention and openness to their own thoughts and emotions and the world around them — no.

That kind of writing — clear, direct, humane — and the reading on which it is based are the very root of the humanities, a set of disciplines that is ultimately an attempt to examine and comprehend the cultural, social and historical activity of our species through the medium of language."

"A technical narrowness, the kind of specialization and theoretical emphasis you might find in a graduate course, has crept into the undergraduate curriculum. That narrowness sometimes reflects the tight focus of a professor’s research, but it can also reflect a persistent doubt about the humanistic enterprise. It often leaves undergraduates wondering, as I know from my conversations with them, just what they’ve been studying and why.

STUDYING the humanities should be like standing among colleagues and students on the open deck of a ship moving along the endless coastline of human experience. Instead, now it feels as though people have retreated to tiny cabins in the bowels of the ship, from which they peep out on a small fragment of what may be a coastline or a fog bank or the back of a spouting whale.

There is a certain literal-mindedness in the recent shift away from the humanities. It suggests a number of things. One, the rush to make education pay off presupposes that only the most immediately applicable skills are worth acquiring (though that doesn’t explain the current popularity of political science). Two, the humanities often do a bad job of explaining why the humanities matter. And three, the humanities often do a bad job of teaching the humanities. You don’t have to choose only one of these explanations. All three apply.

What many undergraduates do not know — and what so many of their professors have been unable to tell them — is how valuable the most fundamental gift of the humanities will turn out to be. That gift is clear thinking, clear writing and a lifelong engagement with literature.

Maybe it takes some living to find out this truth. Whenever I teach older students, whether they’re undergraduates, graduate students or junior faculty, I find a vivid, pressing sense of how much they need the skill they didn’t acquire earlier in life. They don’t call that skill the humanities. They don’t call it literature. They call it writing — the ability to distribute their thinking in the kinds of sentences that have a merit, even a literary merit, of their own.

Writing well used to be a fundamental principle of the humanities, as essential as the knowledge of mathematics and statistics in the sciences. But writing well isn’t merely a utilitarian skill. It is about developing a rational grace and energy in your conversation with the world around you.

No one has found a way to put a dollar sign on this kind of literacy, and I doubt anyone ever will. But everyone who possesses it — no matter how or when it was acquired — knows that it is a rare and precious inheritance."
writing  humanities  communication  literacy  specialization  literature  verlynklinkenborg  narrowness  highered  highereducation  learning  living  humanity  language 
june 2013 by robertogreco
Leon Wieseltier Commencement Speech at Brandeis University 2013 | New Republic
"Our glittering age of technologism is also a glittering age of scientism. Scientism is not the same thing as science. Science is a blessing, but scientism is a curse. Science, I mean what practicing scientists actually do, is acutely and admirably aware of its limits, and humbly admits to the provisional character of its conclusions; but scientism is dogmatic, and peddles certainties. It is always at the ready with the solution to every problem, because it believes that the solution to every problem is a scientific one, and so it gives scientific answers to non-scientific questions. But even the question of the place of science in human existence is not a scientific question. It is a philosophical, which is to say, a humanistic"

"So there is no task more urgent in American intellectual life at this hour than to offer some resistance to the twin imperialisms of science and technology, and to recover the old distinction — once bitterly contested, then generally accepted, now almost completely forgotten – between the study of nature and the study of man. As Bernard Williams once remarked, “’humanity’ is a name not merely for a species but also for a quality." You who have elected to devote yourselves to the study of literature and languages and art and music and philosophy and religion and history — you are the stewards of that quality. You are the resistance. You have had the effrontery to choose interpretation over calculation, and to recognize that calculation cannot provide an accurate picture, or a profound picture, or a whole picture, of self-interpreting beings such as ourselves; and I commend you for it.

There is no greater bulwark against the twittering acceleration of American consciousness than the encounter with a work of art, and the experience of a text or an image. You are the representatives, the saving remnants, of that encounter and that experience, and of the serious study of that encounter and that experience – which is to say, you are the counterculture. Perhaps culture is now the counterculture."

"In upholding the humanities, you uphold the honor of a civilization that was founded upon the quest for the true and the good and the beautiful. For as long as we are thinking and feeling creatures, creatures who love and imagine and suffer and die, the humanities will never be dispensable."
humanities  leonwieseltier  commencementspeeches  scientism  science  technology  humanism  knowledge  information  humans  art  thinking  philosophy  experience  resistance  counterculture 
june 2013 by robertogreco
On Quitting – The New Inquiry
"A symptom: long periods of “silence” on my blog. Long absences marked by infrequent, cryptic declarations. It is not that I don’t want to write. But reading Freud has taught me that symptoms speak. And I have a career ahead of me."

"I begin to wonder about the relationship between geo-history, the saturation of space with affect, and psychic health."

"I’m wrestling with my own disorganization. My own “persistent undoing” given the occasion of the social. I am “undone” when I leave the house, walk down the street, encounter an absenting normality. I have learned not to trust myself. Perhaps it’s all the chemicals that are working and not working in my head."

"I am leaving the United States, resigning from my job, and moving back to Kenya. As I have been trying to narrate this move to those who have known about it—over the past year—I have wondered about the partiality of the stories I was telling. They were not untrue; they were simply not what I really wanted to say, not what I permitted myself to say. In the most benign version, I have said that I cannot build a life here. Some might reasonably say that I could build a career here, as I have been doing, and build a life elsewhere, perhaps negotiate some kind of contract that would permit me to live here for one semester and work in Kenya for the rest of the year. Even assuming some institution was this generous with a junior faculty member, I am not sure that one can so easily separate moments of living from moments of working for extended stretches of time. I’m not sure that’s a sustainable model."

"I’m not sure this is “the life” I want to imagine. I worry about any life that can so readily be “imagined.” Where is the space for fantasy, for play, for the unexpected, for the surprising?"

"At a required end-of-year meeting with my then department chair, I confessed that I was exhausted. I was tired of the banal and uncomprehending racism of white students who spoke of blacks as “they” and “them” and complained about “their broken English” and “bad dialect”; I was tired of a system that served black students badly, promising an education that it failed to deliver, condemning them to repeat classes, to drop out, to believe they were stupid; I was tired of colleagues who marveled when I produced an intelligible sentence; I was tired of attending conference panels where blackness was dismissed as “simple,” “reactive,” “irrelevant,” “done”; I was tired of being invited to be “post-black” as the token African, so not “tainted” by the afterlife of slavery; I was tired of performing a psychic labor that left me too exhausted to do anything except go home, crawl into bed, try to recover, and prepare for the next series of assaults.

Blyden, of course, got it wrong. Fanon got it right.

Leaving the U.S. will not remove me from toxicity and exhaustion. At best, it will allow limited detoxification, perhaps provide me with some energy. Perhaps it will provide a space within which scabbing can begin, and, eventually, scars that will remain tender for way too long."
academia  keguromacharia  2013  essays  writing  mentalhealth  precarity  lucidity  lifeofthemind  education  quitting  deracination  webdubois  toxicity  exhaustion  bipolardisorder  linearity  non-linear  non-linearity  blogging  multiplicity  discipline  labor  humanities  stem  race  guilt  shame  gender  ethnicity  idabwells  edwardwilmotblyden  racism  highered  highereducation  psychology  frantzfanon  linear  nonlinear  alinear 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Michael Shanks: Archaeological manifesto
"Archaeologists don't discover the past;
they work on what remains
with a view to the present and the future.

Archaeology is THE discipline of things - the history of design, innovation, creativity, how people get on with the material world, materiality itself.

Archaeologists deal in the life of things.

Archaeology is also our only access to a long term perspective on history and what it is to be human Archaeological evidence frequently provides insights counter to the great narratives of history that we have grown so used to over the last couple of centuries.

I have researched megalithic monuments in an archaeology of the prehistoric body, ancient Greek perfume jars in the early city state, the design of contemporary beer cans, managed a project with DaimlerChrysler to develop a model of the car interior of 2015, in an archaeology of the contemporary past. My current fieldwork is revisiting an old genre of writing on the land - chorography - in a study of the Roman borders with Scotland - how to understand and represent a region, in the context of imperial incursion and local response.

Archaeology stretches from genetics to art history, includes laboratory study, fieldwork and survey, statistical analysis, and textual interpretation, combining media old and new, from graphics to virtual reality. I am committed to hybrid practice where art becomes scientific research, where the academy becomes an art sudio, where pedagogy mingles with outreach into the community and industry, where practice can be research, where old disciplinary divisions give way to a committed address to matters of common human concern.

All made possible by our newly fashioned freedoms of digital authorship, collegiality, collaboration and creativity.

New Humanities Post disciplinary practices ...
shifting a custodial model of stewardship - looking after the past
to one of production and creativity - working on what remains to help guide us now and for the future.

Archaeologists work on what remains of the past...
This means that
we are all archaeologists now ..."
archaeology  michaelshanks  past  present  time  humanities  interdisciplinary  creativity  future  genetics  arthistory  fieldwork  statistics  art  media  newmedia  chorography  writing  deepmaps  innovation  materiality  design  designthinking  manifestos  stewardship 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Michael Shanks: Archaeologies of the contemporary past
"The origin of many of the ideas here can be tracked back to Reconstructing Archaeology written with Chris Tilley, particularly through my book Experiencing the Past - where I sketched the elements of a contemporary archaeolgical sensibility - see now The Archaeological Imagination - a new work revisiting these matters."

"Embodiment and archaeologies of the ineffable: photographs and archaeological objects can introduce the heterogeneous and ineffable into discourse, that richness and detail in every photograph and artefact which lies outside the categories and schemes of discourse. I use the term embodiment to introduce bodily sensitivity as a means of suspending our conventional categorisations and a means of achieving more textured understanding of social realities. Photographs and artefacts can help us attend to materiality by saying "look at what has been omitted", rather than "look, believe this text". An imperative here is to keep open things which are passed over in an instant. Archaeological source materials are, after all, of a material world with a distinctive temporality. The challenge is to work with this.

To end then I extend an invitation to conceive of the dialectical text and image as tangent to the past - a vector (from the present) touching the past at the point of sense and then moving off to explore its own course, partaking of actuality, the temporality of memory. Such texts are part of a method which lends contexts of all sorts to images, words and artifacts. Good archaeology is such a humanistic discipline which is dialectical because it denies the dualisms of past and present, objective and subjective, real and fictive, with all their pernicious variations. We may work instead upon the continuities which run through our encounters with the shattered remains of the dead."
christilley  michaelshanks  archaeology  photography  documentation  anthropology  past  present  words  artifacts  memory  time  humanism  humanities  dialectic  dialog  sensitivity  discourse  temporality  via:selinjessa  dialogue  vectors 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Playing with Fire - Lapham’s Quarterly
"To conceive of an education as a commodity (as if it were a polo pony or an Armani suit) is to construe the idea of democracy as the freedom of a market instead of a freedom of the mind. I can understand why the mistake is both easy and convenient to make, but unless we stop telling ourselves that America is best understood as the sum of its gross domestic product, we stand little chance of re-imagining our history or reengineering our schools."

"Education is a playing with fire, not a taxidermist’s stuffing of dead animals, and until we choose to acknowledge the difference between the two pedagogical techniques, we do ourselves no favors. Awaken the student to the light in his or her own mind, and the rest of it doesn’t matter—neither the curriculum nor the number of seats in the football stadium, neither the names of the American presidents nor the list of English kings. In college commencement speeches, as with the handing out of prizes for trendsetting journalism, I often hear it said that the truth shall make men free, but I notice that relatively few people know what the phrase means. The truth isn’t about the receipt of the diploma or acceptance into law school, not even about the thievery in Washington or the late-breaking scandal in Hollywood. It’s synonymous with the courage derived from the habit of not running a con game on the unique and specific temper of one’s own mind. What makes men and women free is learning to trust their own thought, possess their own history, speak in their own voices. It doesn’t matter how or when the mind achieves the spark of ignition—in an old book or a new video game, from a teacher encountered by accident in graduate or grammar school, in the course of dissecting a frog or pruning an apple tree, while looking at a painting by Jan Vermeer or listening to the Beatles sing “A Hard Day’s Night.”"

"To bury the humanities in the tombs of precious marble is to fail the quiz on what constitutes a decent American education. Like the sorcerer’s apprentice, our technologists produce continuously improved means toward increasingly ill-defined ends; we have acquired a great many new weapons and information systems, but we don’t know at what or at whom to point the digital enhancements. Unless the executive sciences look for advice and consent to the senate of the humanities, we stand a better than even chance of murdering ourselves with our own toys. Not to do so is to make a mistake that is both stupid and ahistorical."

[Intro to the "Ways of Learning" issue (2008 Fall): ]

[via: ]
education  value  worth  democracy  freedom  markets  gdp  schools  2008  lewislapham  learning  pedagogy  citizenship  history  teaching  unschooling  deschooling  technology  humanities  tcsnmy  cv  politics  policy 
march 2013 by robertogreco
Performative turn - Wikipedia
"The performative turn is a paradigmatic shift in the humanities and social sciences that has affected such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, linguistics, ethnography, history and the relatively young discipline of performance studies. Central to the performative turn is the concept of performance.

Previously used as a metaphor for theatricality, performance is now often employed as a heuristic principle to understand human behaviour. The assumption is that all human practices are 'performed', so that any action at whatever moment or location can be seen as a public presentation of the self. This methodological approach entered the social sciences and humanities in the 1990s but is rooted in the 1940s & 1950s. Underlying the performative turn was the need to conceptualize how human practices relate to their contexts in a way that went beyond the traditional sociological methods that did not problematize representation.

Performance is a bodily practice that produces meaning."

[via: ]
ervinggoffman  presentationofself  performancestudies  history  linguistics  archaeology  anthropology  behavior  theatricality  performance  ethnography  socialsciences  humanities  performitiveturn  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Jim Sleeper: What the Yale President's Resignation Means for Higher Education
"Those of us who've criticized Yale's Singapore venture know that many wonderful young Singaporeans want a fuller liberal education, but we also see the advance of a slick model of self-censorship in an authoritarian corporate milieu in that country and, increasingly, in public life in the U.S. While self-censorship in Singapore is ubiquitous and routine owing to fear of the state, here it's embraced almost enthusiastically by some undergraduates who think it will bring them closer to power and commercial advantage.

This old misunderstanding of where power really comes from and how it flows has carried Yale undergraduates from secret, Skull & Bones bonding of yore into countless foreign-policy and domestic blunders. Yet some students embrace that kind of self-censorship with refreshed ignorance every year because they want "access" without thinking about what they're gaining "access" to or recognizing that they're only cultivating profiles in timidity. …"
timidity  india  china  singapore  commercialization  commercialism  bravery  humanities  richarlevin  jimsleeper  2012  power  economics  politics  us  self-censorship  highereducation  highered  education  corporatism  oligarchy  yale  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
ReykjavikurAkademian [Reykjavík Academy]
"…coalition of independent scholars & an interdisciplinary research center, funded in part by the Icelandic ministry of culture & education & the City of Reykjavik, as well as individual grants from domestic and international agencies. The RA scholars represent many different areas of interest within the humanities & social sciences as they pertain to Icelandic history, culture & society.

The Academy aims to be a link:
Between different areas of study at the university level
Between generations within the academic community
Between sexes in the academic community
between science & the arts
between society & the ivory tower


RA is managed by its members, & the needs of scholars have first priority. It is a democratic working place, independent of orders from above. Freedom of thought and behavior are the Academy's key values. The Academy is a cross-disciplinary institution where rigorous scholarship and fertile discussion meet… second largest workplace for humanities and…"

[See also: ]
research  cross-fertilization  lcproject  academia  community  deschooling  unschooling  society  culture  science  socialsciences  humanities  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  education  reykjavikacademy  iceland  reykjavík  from delicious
august 2012 by robertogreco
Humanities aren’t a science. Stop treating them like one. | Literally Psyched, Scientific American Blog Network
"When we relegate the humanities to a bunch of trends and statistics and frequencies, we get exactly that disconcerting and incongruous dystopia of Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler: books that have been reduced to nothing but words frequencies and trends, that tell you all you need to know about the work without your ever having to read it—and machines that then churn out future fake (or are they real?) books that have nothing to do with their supposed author. It’s a chilling thought.

The tools of mathematical and statistical and scientific analysis are invaluable. But their quantifiable certainty is all too easy to see as the only “real” way of doing things when really, it is but one tool and one approach—and not one that is translatable or applicable to all matters of qualitative phenomena. That’s one basic fact we’d do well not to forget."
digitalhumanities  humanities  science  italocalvino  quantification  certainty  via:ayjay 
august 2012 by robertogreco
Journal of Digital Humanities
"The Journal of Digital Humanities is a comprehensive, peer-reviewed, open access journal that features the best scholarship, tools, and conversations produced by the digital humanities community in the previous quarter."
2012  publishing  humanities  digitalhumanities  journals  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
The Two Cultures - Wikipedia
"The Two Cultures is the title of an influential 1959 Rede Lecture by British scientist and novelist C. P. Snow.[1][2] Its thesis was that "the intellectual life of the whole of western society" was split into the titular two cultures — namely the sciences and the humanities — and that this was a major hindrance to solving the world's problems."
via:charlieloyd  polarization  twocultures  multi  multidisciplinary  crosspollination  crossdisciplinary  departmentalization  departments  thoughtsegregation  interdisciplinary  interdisciplinarity  1959  theory  engineers  science  humanities  thetwocultures  cpsnow  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
The New Atlantis » Science and the Decline of the Liberal Arts
"Finally, a restored liberal education would not be a liberation from “the ancestral” or from nature, but rather an education in the limits that culture and nature impose upon us — an education in living in ways that do not tempt us to Promethean forms of individual or generational self-aggrandizement. Particularly in an age in which we are becoming all too familiar with the consequences of living solely in and for the present, when too many among us are failing to live within our means — whether financially or environmentally — we would be well served to restore the proper understanding of liberty: not as liberation from constraint, but rather, as a capacity to govern ourselves. Such self-governance, as commended by ancient and religious traditions alike, makes possible a truer form of liberty — liberty from enslavement to our appetites, and from those appetites’ destructive power."

[via: ]
2009  philosophy  economics  liberty  liberalarts  liberaleducation  liberation  liberalism  multiversity  self-aggrandizement  colleges  universities  highereducation  highered  engineering  history  humanities  science  education  academia  patrickdeneen  from delicious
february 2012 by robertogreco
Public Culture
"An interdisciplinary journal of transnational cultural studies"

"In the more than twenty years of its existence, Public Culture has established itself as a prize-winning, field-defining cultural studies journal. Public Culture seeks a critical understanding of the global cultural flows and the cultural forms of the public sphere which define the late twentieth and early twenty-first century. As such, the journal provides a forum for the discussion of the places and occasions where cultural, social, and political differences emerge as public phenomena, manifested in everything from highly particular and localized events in popular or folk culture to global advertising, consumption, and information networks.

Artists, activists, and both well-established and younger scholars, from across the humanities and social sciences and around the world, present some of their most innovative and exciting work in the pages of Public Culture."
digitalhumanities  humanities  transnational  research  education  culturalstudies  media  journals  anthropology  culture  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Erika Hall's answer to What books would be most useful in a Humanities Starter Pack targeted at a technically minded audience? - Quora
"Remember also that such a pack would have to be small enough not to scare geeks away (or be graded somehow)…"

Erika Hall: "Nichomachean Ethics - Aristotle (350 BCE), Guns, Germs, and Steel - Jared Diamond (1997), The Age of Reason - Thomas Paine (1794), Paul Rand: Conversations with Students - Michael Kroeger (Conversations took place in 1995, book published in 2008), Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus - Mary Shelley (1818), Søren Kierkegaard's In Vino Veritas"
maryshelley  kierkegaard  paulrand  aristotle  jareddiamond  booklists  books  erikahall  2011  humanities 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Ian Bogost - The Turtlenecked Hairshirt
"The problem is not the humanities as a discipline (who can blame a discipline?), the problem is its members. We are insufferable. We do not want change…do not want centrality…do not want to speak to nor interact with the world. We mistake the tiny pastures of private ideals with the megalopolis of real lives. We spin from our mouths retrograde dreams of the second coming of the nineteenth century whilst simultaneously dismissing out of our sphincters the far more earnest ambitions of the public at large—religion, economy, family, craft, science.

Humanists work hard, but at all the wrong things, the commonest of which is the fetid fester of a hypothetical socialist dreamworld, one that has become far more disconnected with labor and material than the neoliberalism it claims to replace.

Humanism does not deserve to carry the standard for humans, for frankly it despises them.

We don't reform our mission because we secretly hate the idea of partaking of and in the greater world…"
2010  ivorytower  humanism  academia  scholarship  humanities  digitalhumanities  ianbogost  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Ian Bogost - Beyond the Elbow-Patched Playground
"The humanities needs more courage and more contact with the world. It needs to extend the practice of humanism into that world, rather than to invite the world in for tea and talk of novels, only to pat itself on the collective back for having injected some small measure of abstract critical thinking into the otherwise empty puppets of industry. As far as indispensability goes, we are not meant to be superheroes nor wizards, but secret agents among the citizens, among the scrap metal, among the coriander, among the parking meters. We earn respect by calling in worldly secrets, by making them public. The worldly spy is the opposite of the elbow-patched humanist, the one never out of place no matter the place. The traveler at home everywhere, with the luxury to look."
howvswhat  2011  philosophy  humanism  humanists  ianbogost  digitalhumanities  academia  humanities  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Ian Bogost - Beyond the Elbow-Patched Playground
"There's a place for potted plants. Every practice has to spend time reflecting on itself and reorienting. There's nothing wrong with importing solutions from the outside, from which there is always much to be learned. But the lower faculties must resist the temptation to partake of daily life only just enough to mine convenient resources into makeshift parapets. It's not a cowardly move nor a treacherous one, but it's not a courageous nor a righteous one either. The digital humanities must decide if they are potting their digital plants in order to prettify the office, or to nurture saplings for later transfer into the great outdoors. Out there, in the messy, humid world of people and machines, it's better to cast off elbow patches for shirt-sleeves."
tools  ianbogost  2011  liberalarts  academia  humanities  digitalhumanities  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
Our Universities: Why Are They Failing? by Anthony Grafton | The New York Review of Books
"Christopher Newfield is not the only sober, informed observer who believes that political elites are deliberately attacking middle-class education.

Perhaps it’s not a crisis. After all, as many observers have pointed out, this is the way we live now, and room remains for exceptions and for hope. Still, the dark hordes of forgotten students who leave the university as Napoleon’s army left Russia, uninspired by their courses, wounded in many cases by what they experience as their own failures, weighed down by their debts, need to be seen and heard. Perhaps some of those who write seriously about universities could stop worrying so much about who gets into Harvard, Yale, and Princeton and start worrying about the much larger numbers who don’t make it through Illinois and West Virginia, Vermont and Texas…"
education  colleges  universities  history  highereducation  highered  2011  anthonygrafton  naomischaeferriley  benjaminginsberg  jeromekarabel  christophernewfield  williambowen  matthewchingos  michaelmcpherspon  richardarum  josiparoksa  anthonykronman  nancyfolbre  higheredbubble  society  class  academia  teaching  learning  liberalarts  humanities  money  policy  institutions  from delicious
november 2011 by robertogreco
Bookworm: Ngrams Meet the Library Catalog | Hack Education
"Despite the ease by which Ngrams purports to let users glean insights from the history of published words, it’s pretty clear that it’s not a complete (or completely accurate tool). Yet the idea of this sort of search-plus-visualization is really compelling.

Bookworm builds on this visualization, but does so with a much richer sense of libraries, metadata, and texts are interconnected. It feels as though it moves closer to the ways in which we use the library stacks — you search for a subject or book; you go to that shelf; you grab that book and then you browse what’s nearby. As our reading and research habits become more digital themselves, these sorts of discovery tools are crucial."
2011  audreywatters  googlengrams  ngramviewer  books  humanities  visualization  metadata  culture  scholarship  academia  history  language  libraries  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
A History Of Violence Edge Master Class 2011 | Conversation | Edge
"There are studies showing that violence is more common when people are confined to one pecking order, and all of their social worth depends on where they are in that hierarchy, whereas if they belong to multiple overlapping groups, they can always seek affirmations of worth elsewhere. For example, if I do something stupid when I’m driving, and someone gives me the finger and calls me an asshole, it’s not the end of the world: I think to myself, I’m a tenured professor at Harvard. On the other hand, if status among men in the street was my only source of worth in life, I might have road rage and pull out a gun. Modernity comprises a lot of things, and it’s hard to tease them apart. But I suspect that when you’re not confined to a village or a clan, and you can seek your fortunes in a wide world, that is a pacifying force for exactly that reason."
history  violence  psychology  stevenpinker  hierarchy  humanities  philosophy  society  brain  mind  murder  crime  war  genocide  democracy  hatecrimes  race  class  time  scheduling  mentors  mentoring  doing  teamwork  from delicious
october 2011 by robertogreco
Want a job? Major in liberal arts: Technology firms need more than science and math skills
""This Is Your Brain on the Internet" [class]…strips down fundamentals of learning in order to come up w/ better principles designed to help students think interactively, creatively, cross-culturally & collaboratively.

…read sci fi novels & written hypertext versions of them…spent week working w/ Chinese choreographer to learn to improvise w/out a common language…worked w/ video game designer using scissors & construction paper to prototype game…passed evening w/ science writer who lets them "hear" the world as if thu his own cochlear implants…

How do you test skills this curriculum is meant to sharpen?…midterm exam…students had 24hrs to choose, write & answer a question as a group that best summarized the first half of class. 17 of them, signing off on one coherent, final essay, posted on a public website before midnight—w/ failure for all the potential consequence.

These are the kinds of skills the humanities majors of the future are learning…mix technology & communication…"
cathydavidson  education  classideas  learning  questioning  questions  inquiry  teaching  liberalarts  technology  2011  collaboration  creativity  interactivity  communication  humanities  cv  toshare  stem  curriculum  infosystems  information  informationscience  language  business  stevejobs  problemsolving  perspective  empathy  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
The Genius of Steve Jobs: Marrying Tech and Art -
"But one look at the Mac & you could tell something was different. The white screen alone seemed revolutionary, after years of reading green text on a black background. And there were typefaces! I had been obsessed with typography since my grade-school years; here was a computer that treated fonts as an art, not just a clump of pixels. The then-revolutionary graphic interface made the screen feel like a space you wanted to inhabit, to make your own. To paraphrase Le Corbusier, the Mac was a machine you wanted to live in.

Before long I was creating page layouts for student-run philosophy journals; I designed research tools using the visionary Hypercard application…

Looking back now, I realize that beneath all those surface obsessions, a theme was running through my interests like an underground river, & it didn't fully surface until my mid-20s: the sense that the most fertile and engaging space in our culture lay at the intersection between new technology and the humanities."
design  technology  art  apple  history  2011  stevejobs  stevenjohnson  mac  humanities  digitalhumanities  liberalarts  interdisciplinary  multidisciplinary  memories  from delicious
august 2011 by robertogreco
Amanda Krauss -- Pulling the Plug - Worst Professor Ever
"Only when the humanities can earn their own keep will they be respected in modern America…will only happen when you convince majority of people to be interested, of their own volition, rather than begging/guilting them into giving you money to translate your obscure French poem on vague grounds of “caring about culture.”…either figure something out, or shut up & accept that the humanities are an inherently elite activity that will rely on feudal patronage. Just like they always have. (If you think of Maslow’s hierarchy, it’s obvious why leisure class, which generally has money, sex, food, & security taken care of, has been in charge of learning.)

You have no idea how much it pains me to say this, but speaking from experience I now believe that private industry is doing a better job of communicating, persuading, innovating, of everything university has stopped doing. I do not take this as indicator of how well capitalism works…[but] of how badly universities have failed…"
education  change  academia  criticism  higheredbubble  highereducation  capitalism  2011  amandakrauss  humanities  relevance  money  gradschool  autodidacts  unschooling  deschooling  importance  via:ayjay  irrelevance 
august 2011 by robertogreco
Geographic Information Systems Help Scholars See History -
"Now historians have a new tool that can help. Advanced technology similar to Google Earth, MapQuest and the GPS systems used in millions of cars has made it possible to recreate a vanished landscape. This new generation of digital maps has given rise to an academic field known as spatial humanities. Historians, literary theorists, archaeologists and others are using Geographic Information Systems — software that displays and analyzes information related to a physical location — to re-examine real and fictional places like the villages around Salem, Mass., at the time of the witch trials; the Dust Bowl region devastated during the Great Depression; and the Eastcheap taverns where Shakespeare’s Falstaff and Prince Hal caroused."
history  maps  mapping  spatialhumanities  humanities  digitalhumanities  gps  landscape  2011  gis  spatial  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
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