Tag Archives: WGSS

Two faculty manifestos

Two distinguished professors, formerly of the ILA (and currently in English, Comparative Literature, and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies), have published their thoughts on the meaning and value of interdisciplinary work in the liberal arts in a time of combined austerity and administrative bloat.

First, Walter Reed, laying down some Luther- or Spinoza-inspired “Theses on the Liberal Arts” for Durham University’s Centre for Humanities Innovation:

3.1 Teaching is the transmission of information, knowledge and (ideally) wisdom, either as ends in themselves or as the means to other ends. The traffic moves in both directions on this highway as well—from the masters to the disciples and from the certified professionals to those in training for certification, but also from the disciples back to the masters, from those in training back to the professionals. The balance between teaching and learning is dynamic and inherently unstable….

3.1.3 This dynamism and instability carry over to the relationship between emerging disciplinary specializations (new sub-fields within a discipline) and the disciplines as already established. New specializations both instruct and depend on older ones, though a balanced appreciation of the new and the old is difficult to maintain for those most closely involved. A similar dynamic instability informs interdisciplinary initiatives setting up shop between established disciplines. (Interdisciplinary inquiry is not the same as undisciplined study.)

And Michael Moon comments on “English Departments at a Crossroads”:

What some administrators currently mean by an “English department” seems to me in the main not to be a place or a project that serves the intellectual and professional needs of my students or myself very well. English departments turned out to serve the needs of faculty and students in queer studies for the first twenty years or so of my career in large part because many of them had – often through a process of prolonged conflict and division – turned themselves into major seedbeds of interdisciplinary growth during the 1970s and ‘80s, so that many fields which have since developed in varying degrees into autonomous disciplines, departments, and programs (critical theory, gender studies, lesbian and gay studies, queer theory, film and media studies, the whole spectrum of ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, cultural studies, etc.) spent their first decade or so as emergent academic fields as flourishing sub-projects of this or that English department.

So one feature of the current academic landscape that disturbs me is the relentless shutting-down of anglophone literary studies as the kind of expansive set of interdisciplinary intellectual spaces which they’ve provided at many universities for the past several decades….

Professor Moon’s piece comes courtesy of U to the Rescue, a blog curated by scholar-activist Christopher Newfield.

 

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WGSS expresses shame

The Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Department has also condemned Wagner on their front page:

The Department of WGSS is deeply concerned by President Wagner’s decision to use the 3/5ths compromise as a model of compromise. That poor choice contributes to a culture of discrimination. The entire community is shamed by the statement. As our colleagues in History and African American Studies have shown, education in the genealogies of racism and racial discourse is an intrinsic part of a good education, and one we support and encourage at Emory.

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Local artists and activists, I

Meredith Kooi is an artist and PhD student whose specialties (visual culture, biopolitics and disability, deconstruction) overlap beautifully with the ILA, where she enrolled before the cuts were announced. She shares her thoughts on Emory’s loss at Burnaway, a newish blog covering the Atlanta art scene:

“Many students in the ILA…feel that this move has been an attack on our work and who we are…. Since the graduate students in the ILA work with ‘unconventional’ methodologies and produce ‘unconventional’ dissertations—the first dissertations with visual chapters were just accepted by the graduate school—it is hard for traditional disciplines to recognize the work we do.”

Meanwhile, the Crunk Feminist Collective blog has been garnering attention and passion on a national scale since it was established by a group of African American women grad students at Emory. At a recent Collective soiree, the topic of the cuts was an emotional one for presenters and audience members alike. The department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, which sponsored the event, continues to be a beacon for that courageous inquiry thing, and its high rankings ensure the administration will not be trampling on it anytime soon.

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Rally round-up

Nearly all of today’s speakers stressed that our lobbying is not a departmental issue or even, ultimately, an Emory issue.

  • Chants were chanted.
  • A member of the Division of Educational Studies remarked that the last time she checked, the DES was eminent. It would be nearly impossible to write a scholarly article on the history of African-American education or education measurement without citing some of Emory’s faculty. If there was any decline, it was because the Division was constantly being pressed to do more with less. She emphasized the DES’s historic and current position as a haven for black scholars, and its initiatives with prisoners and other extremely under-served populations in the South.
  • As Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies PhD students Mairead and Noemi pointed out, Emory publicly congratulates itself on attracting a growing number of Latino/a students–but to what end, if language and ethnic studies programs are in a shambles?
  • Joey of the ILA remarked that the night before, the editor-in-chief of Art in America delivered a plenary lecture against the backdrop of an obliterated Visual Arts department and a mutilated ILA.
  • John Demar encouraged us to spread the story as widely as possible–to the national press, to celebrities, and especially to alumni. In that spirit, there’s a new initiative: Make a short video of yourself explaining how Emory’s programs and/or the liberal arts in general mean to you. Post it on YouTube with the tag #MyEmoryCutsStory.
  • Finally, Emiko Soltis of the ILA and Students and Workers in Solidarity brought some optimism to a sweaty, tired crowd by performing a Chilean protest song and some Emory-specific Pete Seeger.
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