Category Archives: Working

Botones de pensamiento que buscan ser la rosa

* The thing is that the very idea of the public, the commons, is what have come under attack from Reagan forward. Now these foundations are trying to rebuild it under their own sign. It all seems cozy, the way working for Apple does while you are under their bubble in the U.S., but … even if the government withers away … these corporations are still ideological state apparati, and only shareholders can vote.

* Also just the way in which universities have gotten more authoritarian. Meetings are no longer held. All conversation is one-on-one. That creates an unprofessional situation with energy-draining gossip, since one there is no straight answer on what priorities are or any group decision on this. This is very manipulative. It is said to be corporate-style management but my friends in business seem to be allowed to talk to each other in a way the way the university no longer wants us to. I learned to be faculty back when there was shared governance, so I am still in the habit of asking questions one could ask back then, as in “Are we planning to…?” Now, these questions are no longer understood as mere requests for information. Instead, they’re hostile questions: how dare a mere professor think about planning, the future, the program, or expect to speak collegially with an administrator?

* The real question here is not who did what but whether in cases of abusive faculty and/or chairs there are systems in place to protect students, academic programs, and institutions of higher ed in general. Having a strong faculty voice in the evaluation and retention of chairs and deans seems like a key element that’s missing, according to this account. I have no idea how that works at NYU but this article leads me to think that is not the case.

* I was troubled that the author of this piece seems to accept that universities operate without shared governance. (“The university belongs, like the church and the military, to the social institutions that are situated at a considerable distance from democracy and adhere to premodern power structures.”) Thanks but no thanks. This is why I’m committed to AAUP and fighting to protect the role of the faculty in governance and within this issues such as academic due process, a recognition of academic freedom in governance speech, etc.

* Right, although I don’t think we succeeded everywhere in doing away with feudal underpinnings. This appears to be the case particularly at private schools and in the more insular regional places. The corporatization seems to really exacerbate the feudal elements, and in grotesque ways too, since in actual feudalism the lord had obligations to the vassal!

* Agree with you both! I remember when the phrase on my campus was “FACULTY governance.” Then it became “SHARED governance.” Then presidents became CEOs and provosts became CAOs, and the “governance” piece apportioned to faculty were limited to curriculum only, with first deans and then provosts deciding on most other issues (such as positions and position descriptions).

Axé.

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Filed under ALFS presentation, What Is A Scholar?, Working

A comment on my once and future book

For the new year (this is the Jewish new year) I had hoped for a new beginning and I got, by random chance, comments on the blocked book manuscript that wrought such havoc on my life.

I confess to just having looked it up and skimmed a bit — you write well. For your conceptual blockbusting: deconstruction, à la Derrida, relies on a reified Cartesian self that can be sullied and broken (= Freud). Most of Latin america does Lacan, not Freud, which has the notion of a plural and situated self (see Kristeva and Black Sun). It’s also a Catholic thing and a Marxist thing, neither of which fits Derrida. Look at Deleuze — What is philosophy. The subject does not exist, it arises from being a position in (there) a discipline or a symbolic order (Lacan’s version). Thus subject POSITIONS are critical, not SUBJECT. If Vallejo ventriloquizes different subjects, it’s because he’s interested in post-Marxist concepts of plural subjects. I’ll stop now. I don’t know Vallejo but have worked with enough LA-ists to ask pointed questions. It’s not non-Western, it’s collectivist Western, which lost in Europe and Anglo-America (Calvinist countries all – “all about me”) which half of France (Deleuze/Foucault/Bourdieu half) remembers, too.

This is Vallejo.

Graniza tánto, como para que yo recuerde
y acreciente las perlas
que he recogido del hocico mismo
de cada tempestad.

No se vaya a secar esta lluvia.
A menos que me fuese dado
caer ahora para ella, o que me enterrasen
mojado en el agua
que surtiera de todos los fuegos.

¿Hasta dónde me alcanzará esta lluvia?
Temo me quede con algún flanco seco;
temo que ella se vaya, sin haberme probado
en las sequías de increíbles cuerdas vocales,
por las que,
para dar armonía,
hay siempre que subir ¡nunca bajar!
¿No subimos acaso para abajo?

Canta, lluvia, en la costa aún sin mar!

Axé.

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Critical university studies, and Avital Ronell

1/ I spent the entire day (Saturday) at a meeting about HE in this state and too many people there were too taken in by the pro-privatization speech of the higher-ups and not well enough informed or armed. I was feeling bad the whole time not to be spending the day on research and realized that if I were to claim critical university studies as a research field I would feel less bad. I am going to consider this. Watch me roar.

2/ I am shaken by AR’s former chair’s description of the horror that was that department, even though nothing he said was unexpected or not already familiar in some way. Did UC Berkeley know what she was like when they handed her off to NYU? Some students there did, but were faculty already aware at that point?

3/ I have been told NEW research shows you cannot learn a foreign language if you are not exposed to it and do not practice it. Memorizing a set of grammar rules, taking a dictionary and trying to translate your thoughts to that language will not work. This is a NEW discovery, I was told.

Axé.

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Academic advice

Here is one of my favorite pieces on the Ronell case, and here is the other. Both writers are far better deconstructors and are tackling a far more difficult topic than are Ronell and Butler chatting on a line from Aretha Franklin. On her scholarship, I like this piece by Martin Jay.

The MLA wrote us a letter saying they had accepted Judith Butler’s apology for the letter she wrote, and were committed to justice for all. I responded:

Dear Professor Gere,

It was disappointing that so many colleagues signed that unseemly letter – I would have expected better judgment from them. As people who have been in the profession as long as Butler and her friends have should know, such letters tend to be detrimental and not helpful to people under investigation. I do also note the professional harm its circulation will have done the student. I regret that people this indiscreet have so much power in the MLA now.

Yours,
[P Z Realname]
[Membership Number]

As we know, I don’t like the words procrastination and avoidance, I like the word strike, and I don’t think anyone who has managed to get a degree is a procrastinator or an avoider. Still, after a few traumatic experiences on the tenure track I froze in fear. We are told to be cautious. I still fear that if I allow myself to get lost in the work, and to truly do the best I can in it, I will be forced to a death more painful than any torture I have suffered heretofore. I try to move ahead without really jumping in. In obedient attempts to avoid “perfectionism” I try to rush, skipping steps, and then accuse myself of “procrastination” when I trip and fall because of the step I did not build. We must take advice, but only standard advice, and not our own.

I have, however, finally found a piece of writing on procrastination that I like, because it speaks to fear, because it speaks to the issue of loss of voice.

Procrastination is a form of resistance to the flow of life. When we procrastinate, we are in resistance to our own flow, in other words in resistance to the call of our soul, to the energy of the Universe.

The piece is about living, not about producing, and about love, not self-control. It’s not from a refereed journal, just from someone’s website, and I find it quite interesting.

Axé.

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After the current plan fails

…we submit to LALT, which does not accept simultaneous submissions.

Submissions should be sent to the Editor in Chief at the following address:

Latin American Literature Today
University of Oklahoma
780 Van Vleet Oval
Kaufman Hall, Room 105
Norman, OK 73019-4037
Email: lalt@ou.edu

IMPORTANT:

FONT SIZE AND STYLE. All documents submitted to LALT should be typed in Times New Roman, 12-point font with 1.5 line spacing.

SPACING AND SPECIAL CHARACTERS: Please avoid extra spaces and/or special characters between paragraphs as much as possible. Do not add any space before or after a line of text, especially if it is the first or last line of a paragraph.

ARTICLE TITLES. For essays, place the article title at the top of the first page, then place your name on a separate line. A brief deck head (25-40 words) should precede the article, giving readers a clear and concise idea of what’s to follow in the text.

SUBMITTING TRANSLATIONS. For translations, include a brief bio about the author (40-50 words) and a shorter one about yourself (25-30 words), plus a source note about the original (e.g., From Cien sonetos de amor, copyright © 1960 by Pablo Neruda. English translation copyright © 1986 by Stephen Tapscott). If the piece was translated by its author, please indicate this information in a note at the end of the article.

NAME OF DOCUMENT SENT TO LALT. The name of the Word document should be formatted in the following order: Title of the work, name of author between parentheses, underscore, name of reviewer. For example:

El llano en llamas (Juan Rulfo)_Antonia Fernández

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Filed under Pedro, Poetry, Working

Aargh

I finished revising my copyedited essay and the journal accepted the revisions, including the ones that disagreed with their own. I submitted the three translations, with a very good introduction and translator’s note, to one place that takes multiple submissions, and sent an inquiry to another place where my work is known. The author managed to find another translator, a good one, for other parts of the collection and he is going to start with the one poem I had committed to doing and designated a place to send it, so this is off my back. And I had some good news on a piece of bureaucracy. So there is progress. But why doesn’t it feel good (enough)?

Axé.

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More for “Language and the entrepreneurial university”

Last year, the state moved for dismissal, arguing that the 14th Amendment contains no reference to literacy. Then, last week, U.S. District Judge Stephen Murphy III agreed with the state. Literacy is important, the judge noted. But students enjoy no right to access to being taught literacy. All the state has to do is make sure schools run. If they are unable to educate their students, that’s a shame, but court rulings have not established that “access to literacy” is “a fundamental right.”

“The deeper implication that the judge is tacitly admitting that it is all right to gut all of the public functions of government while leaving them nominally intact,” my friend said.

These ideas are key and they are for my next article (not the one I am working on now).

Axé.

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