Academia

No Reservations

I read a book last weekend. A 302-page book. I was standing in Borders on Friday night, waiting for Joanna to get a drink, and I picked up a book, read the first few pages, and decided to buy it. Then I went home and finished it in three or four sittings.

How ‘Bout That

How’s that for the perfect end to my academic career? I got a good note in The Times Literary Supplement!

An Important Announcement

On May 1st, just a few days after Joanna and I return from our trip to London, I will begin a full-time job as a web designer at the university, and I’m damn eager to get started. I’m especially excited about my new title: Artist.

Catching Up

While sipping my second glass of wine, I did my best to affect the look of someone waiting for that old friend I had arranged to meet — you know, staring intently across the room, even rocking forward onto my toes from time to time for a better vantage — but apparently I failed miserably.

Still Thinking Randomly

Instead, I’m working on another conference paper — this one to be delivered next month in Atlanta, which is an easy drive, and thank God for that.

New Perspectives

So, this is kind of exciting. My copy of Philip Roth: New Perspectives on an American Author just arrived, hot off the proverbial press. My article, “The ‘Written World’ of Philip Roth’s Nonfiction,” is the 17th and final chapter in what I believe is the first book-length study of Roth’s entire body of work, up to and including The Plot Against America. Pretty cool. My first book chapter.

Usable Questions

While flipping through the pages of College English in search of an early Frederic Jameson article, I found and photocopied a two-page piece by Ira Shor, which I’ve transcribed below.

Talkin’ About Movies

Last night I delivered the following talk at the 2004 NEXUS Interdisciplinary Symposium: Reconstructing Theory and Value.

Liberalism and Literature

A comment left here on Wednesday by Daniel Green led me to his blog, which in turn led me to his wonderful article, “Liberalism and Literature.” A critique of the “academic left” and of ideological criticism, in general, Green’s piece is refreshingly articulate, well-informed, and even-handed.

Democracy in America

De Tocqueville is near the top of my “Darren, seriously, isn’t it about time that you read this?” list. I stumbled upon this passage while reading Wendy Brown’s Politics Out of History, a provocative defense of critical theory as a potentially invigorating voice in the discourse of liberal democracy.

Feelin’ Crispy

I’m sympathizing right now with Clancy, who, a year-and-a-half into her doctoral work, asks, “Is this what burnout feels like? I have so much to do and no desire to engage any of it.”

The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology

I am of two minds about The Meanings of Social Life: A Cultural Sociology. The argument that Alexander and Philip Smith lay out in Chapter 1 is intriguing, and Alexander’s application of it in his readings of the Holocaust and Watergate are refreshingly useful. The rest, to be perfectly frank, feels a bit like filler.

Moral Empathy

Jeffrey Alexander and Ron Eyerman published a great piece yesterday in Newsday (also available at Common Dreams), in which they argue that the massive economic and social changes necessary to alleviate suffering on a global scale are dependent, finally, upon change of a more fundamental and personal nature

Speaking of Gobbledygook

Today, after tracking down the last of those elusive Philip Roth essays, I gave into my craving and checked out Just Being Difficult? Academic Writing in the Public Arena, a new collection of essays edited by Jonathan Culler and Kevin Lamb. According to the jacket copy.

Friday Colloquy

On Friday afternoon I subjected myself to ninety minutes of critical scrutiny by a group of professional historians. And it ended up being a damn good time.

Writing a Dissertation

A diary of my week.

More on Teaching and Technology

I find myself stuck in an odd position: I want to be a classroom teacher, but the tight job market and the “business” of graduate teaching assistantships has left me working instead in Instructional Technology, a field about which I feel ambivalent, at best.

A Few Good Reads

A few interesting education-related links passed through my desk today. The first is to “Rethinking Thinking” from the Christian Science Monitor, which attempts to look beyond the lip-service academics typically pay to the importance of “critical thinking.”

Academic Blogs

I chased a link and ended up discovering a fascinating community of academic bloggers, most of whom are like me — insiders with an outsider’s (slightly disgruntled) perspective. If you’re considering graduate school, read the links on the right side of Invisible Adjunct before making any rash decision.

Edward Said

Edward Said, who seemed to devote his life to the greying of a world that many would like to keep black and white, has passed away at the age of 67 from pancreatic cancer.

God and the Machine

Today’s issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education features an interview with Alan Lightman, a professor of physics and the humanities at M.I.T. Lightman recently edited a collection of essays, Living With the Genie, in which various authors examine the effects of technology (both good and bad) on our lives.

Speaking of Blogs

I spent Thursday afternoon with UT law professor, Glenn Reynolds (a.k.a. Instapundit), and thirty or so other faculty and staff in a discussion of blogging and its potential impact on academic life.

Dreaming of a 28 Hour Day

I hadn’t planned to take a four day break from blogging, but life — as it’s wont to do — keeps getting in the way. And by “life” I mostly mean Sobig viruses, network flubs, and frustrated faculty, all of which have conspired this week to make my day job unusually exhausting.

And In University News . . .

It’s a small blogoshpere after all. Thanks to this week’s cover story in the Metro Pulse, I’ve discovered that Instapundit (a.k.a. Glenn Reynolds), one of the world’s pioneer and most heavily-trafficed bloggers, spends his days in an office just a few yards from my own.

A Working Outline

Working from the assumption that someone out there might actually care, here is my first shot at a rough dissertation outline.

Hauerwas, Bush, and Alexander

After listening to me ramble incessantly, a professor recently pointed me toward Stanley Hauerwas. I now see why.

Film Trip

I spent the weekend in Annapolis with my folks. By coincidence, I was there while the Annapolis Chorale was staging Richard Einhorn’s Voices of Light, accompanied by a stunning 35 mm print of The Passion of Joan of Arc.

Could You Define Post-Secularism?

In the same way that postmodernism has always been a really problematic and contentious term, post-secular is just another attempt to fix a label on the questions that plague a particular era.

Post-Secularism

We spent the next 45 minutes discussing the growing interest (academic interest no less) in post-secularism, one of the many -isms vying for a prominent position in our post-postmodern age (if such jargon is even worth using)

Miscellaneous Debris

Four random but interesting links.