Saturday, June 24, 2006

struggling to make the connections

As I work on the rewrite of my prospectus, I 1) see how many holes existed in the first draft and 2) struggle to close those holes. In my head, I can make sense of the movement from chapter one to chapter two, but on paper it doesn't connect. I thought maybe using a new medium, clean slate I could quickly move through the "steps":

Chapter 1: Will focus on the material conditions of compositionist labor in the contemporary corporate University.
Okay--so within that concept I want to include
--the "basement"/marginalized status of composition
--argue that we are not "exempt" from--or somehow outside of--what Ohmann describes as English Studies’ place within
“the long, historical crisis of capitalism”
--our marginalized status has caused a lot of focus on gaining disciplinary recognition (including making ourselves into or
out to be a "science")
--this focus on gaining status, recognition as a field, etc. has only served to be a distraction from our classrooms, our
students, and--as I intend to argue it--from the ways in which our potentially counterhegemonic position has been
subsumed by the popularity of cultural studies/critical pedagogy

I guess that, in part, this is where I get stuck. I am not sure whether I even believe that argument. I know that eventually I will argue that CS and crit. ped. have distracted us from the corporatization of the U. and that they haven't been as self-aware of their place within this corp. U as a "un-veiling"-type pedagogy should be, but I am not sure that our quest for disciplinary recognition has anything to do with CS and crit. ped. and their shortcomings within the writing classroom.

So it seems I have solved one problem, but created another. How to get from chapter one to chapter two???

Monday, June 19, 2006

bike karma?

Today I biked to school, in the extreme heat. I haven't been on my bike that much this summer, and lately...well, my body hasn't exactly been my temple, so it kind of kicked my ass, but it also could have gone a little more smoothly: When I arrived on campus, my chain fell off. I thought I knew this neat trick to put it back on with a sturdy stick, so as to avoid getting completely grease covered. Well, there were no sticks sturdy enough, apparently. I arrived at the humanities building red-faced and grease-stained. After washing up, getting some coffee (!) and teaching, I made the ride back home, only to end up with a flat tire. I was in my own neighborhood at that point, but I had to walk back wearing my bike shoes. Quite frustrating--klomping noisily through the streets, sweating and wearing a much too tiny tank top (or so it suddenly felt). Also, this morning I was trying to open something and ended up stabbing myself with scissors.

Tonight I have a tennis match, but the heat seems to have sucked all my energy. Hopefully it will go well.

Friday, June 16, 2006

my weekend to do list...or Friday afternoon compromise

  • clean car--thoroughly--inside and out

  • write letter for Rosemary

  • write thank you cards for birthday presents--mom/d and grandma/Grandpa

  • weed garden...(well, enough for this heat)

  • help mow the lawn?

  • laundry

  • work on prospectus revision and the creation of exam questions (this should REALLY be at the top of the list...)...minimally

  • create fiction revision assignment sheet

  • finish responding to student exercises

Oh yeah...all this, but I want to spend the rest of my Friday...doing...nothing! Okay, I'll head out for some caffeine and bring the student papers or a book with me. Compromise with self.

Added: Monday, June 19, 2006 2:18pm
But in addition to the things I did AND did NOT get done--I worked out (lifted) and cleaned the house and had a lovely (pizza) dinner w/ D on Burden Lake. And called my D, of course, for Father's Day.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

this week...

Organizational Skills Needed

I am--on the whole--a very organized person; however, I have approached my exams and dissertation project in the most haphazard and unorganized fashion. If only I had been a bit more careful and diligent. But no, my notes are all over the place: some are on the computer, others in notebooks; some are labeled, some aren't; some texts that I read only have marginal notes. It is all very confusing. I need to create a system to somehow organize this mess I've made for myself.

Laws of Physics

On Monday, D and I chaperoned her niece's field trip to The Great Escape. I really love rides and always have, but I've learned that at this age, I have to be careful not to overthink them too much. When I realize that I'm relying upon the laws of physics, I get a little freaked out. Maybe it's the English major in me--I'm sure the laws of physics are quite reliable, but when I was on that Bobsled ride, unattached to any kind of track...that REALLY freaked me out. I think it is something like centripetal force that is holding us on there. The entire time I had this intense visual of a picture from my high school science book of a car going around a sharp curve.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

politics vs. economics--are they really that distinct?

I just finished reading Michele Barrett's The Politics of Truth: From Marx to Foucault. I found it to be a helpful mapping of ideology debates and a clear explanation of Foucault's critique of Marxism (or the ways in which Foucault would critique Marxism, if that is what he were directly setting about to do).

Still, I must remind myself to be careful with these types of "secondary" sources. Barrett has clearly aligned herself from the moment of her dedication: For Stuart and Catherine Hall, and so even while she summarizes, paraphrases, elucidates it is all for the sake of making an argument. I am easily seduced.

And yet, I AM seduced by post-structualist critiques of Marxism. They DO make sense to me, and yet by the end of the book I am still missing Barrett's alternative to class interest (as the point around which ideology coalesces). She argues that the point of class interest in Marx's concept of ideology is "simply inadequate, for all the reasons that have been brought forward in this book. Hence the concept of ideology that I would propose applies equally to processes of mystification that arise around other (non-class) social divisions and other forms of social power and domination" (167). I guess the thing that bothers me--granted I have NOT gone back through and reviewed the book...not yet--is that I am left guessing as to what these non-class social divisions and forms of power and domination are. I mean, I can GUESS what they are, but I don't like the fact that they aren't very explicitly named and explored. She alludes to gender...and maybe at some point race. I intend to go back through the book shortly, so who knows...maybe I'll take this back...but Foucault says it is okay...even do that, so what the heck....

thinking through some ideology and curriculum Part I

Looking at Michael Apple’s Ideology and Curriculum.

How I’m using Apple in my project: To reiterate (the now, slightly old) argument that the school is an ISA (in Althusser’s words). In Apple’s words (paraphrasing Gramsci):

As Gramsci argued, the control of the knowledge preserving and producing sectors of a society is a critical factor in enhancing the ideological dominance of one group of people or one class over less powerful groups of people or classes. In this regard, the role of the school in selecting, preserving, and passing on conceptions of competence, ideological norms, and values (and often only certain social groups’ ‘knowledge’) – all of which are embedded within both the overt and hidden curricula in schools – is of no small moment. (57-58)

In other words, schools reproduce the economic and social stratification in society. Apples encourages us to question whose interests are served through school curriculum and makes the, by now, generally accepted argument that classrooms are not insulated from the outside world and education is inherently political. Apple goes on to point out that schools have a history and a relationship to “other powerful institutions in ways that are both hidden and complex” (62). The “knowledge that got into schools in the past and gets into schools now is not random. It is selected and organized around sets of principles and values that come from somewhere, that represent particular views of normality and deviance…” (63). While Readings sees Universities as ideologically empty, he does propose that we question “the disciplinary form that can be given to knowledges” (177). And the question should be “what it means to group knowledges in certain ways, and what it has meant that they have been so grouped in the past” (177). Readings’ argument through here is complex and compelling, and I see it possibly intersecting with Apple in interesting ways—pointing to both their similarities and dissimilarities.

Readings suggests a certain “rhythm of disciplinary attachment and detachment” that ultimately requires disciplinary structures (and therefore, in my mind, the grouping of knowledges) to “imagine what kinds of thinking they make possible, and what kinds of thinking they exclude” (176). In this way Readings seems to carry on a version of Apple’s thinking that the formal and informal knowledge that is taught in schools “need to be looked at connectedly…. For these everyday school practices are linked to economic, social, and ideological structures outside of the school buildings” (65). It is here that I see Readings doing something “new” and something critical pedagogy and cultural studies should take into consideration. Much of critical pedagogy seems to work from this idea that Apple (among many others) puts forth and espouses an “unveiling” of this link between education and the “economic, social, and ideological structures outside of the school buildings.” But the point Readings makes is that these forces are not outside the University—the corporatization is the current structure of the University. It is within. It has infiltrated. So the difference lies in seeing school as a part of the socio-economic structures, one that reproduces these structures and seeing it as the site of the economic itself, the site of corporatization both in the way it is beholden to corporate interests and in the way it is becoming (or has become) a University in its own rite. So while Apple focuses on school as the site of producing workers for industrialized society, Readings can look at both that and the way the University is producing consumers.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

yesterday's very obvious, not terribly insightful thought

Just a thought—probably nothing new—probably not my own, but in ruling out expressivism, we seem to be perpetuating the creative/expository (or academic, essay, etc.) writing split.

I thought this yesterday. And it mostly seemed worth noting because of the way it sits, uneasily, with me. I'm sensing a potential expressivist revival, and I need to explore my own discomfort with this. This comes after reading this yesterday.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

it's summer, but what does that mean?

I still have not gotten into the rhythm of summer. I've never taught first summer session before, and it is further throwing me off. I feel like I never got my break. I had a week. I spent it in Asheville, sick.

I obsess about having a desk chair where I can sit half-lotus while still comfortably accessing my computer. In fact, I am doing that now...except for maye the comfortably part. And this has little to do with my lack of rhythm, but it is something I often think about when blogging. When I picture myself at my computer, I see myself half-lotus, with a cup of tea by my side. I'm doing this now, but leg just got sleepy/pins 'n needles, so I had to drop it down.

I've been reading "for fun." I feel like it is summer, and that is what people--even academics--do when summer comes. While I traveled, I read two pieces of lesbian fiction: Ann Wadsworth's light, coming back and Michelle Tea's Rose of No Man's Land. I escaped into them wholeheartedly. And was as delighted by Tea's book as I was melancholy over Wadsworth's book. For the flight home I treated myself to a copy of Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves. I've been wanting to delve into this text since Dave introduced me to it, as he's working with it as part of his dissertation. I'm relishing it.

But now I'm not on a plane, and I'm take exams in August, and yet all I want to do is read about this house. All I want to do is read about this house and watch TV and hang out and do nothing. I don't even feel like working out, riding my bike or playing tennis. It's appalling. It's so unlike me. And it's freaking me out. least I've accomplished this:
The garden is in. And I loved every minute of it.

And all I want to do is blog without structure and without academia.

And all I want to do is go house-hunting on the internet. Go to open houses. Dream about what is out of our/my reach.

And eat ice cream.

Sounds like summer.... I guess.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

my trip to Asheville

I recently returned from a trip to Asheville, NC. My friend gave birth to baby girl, Ruby, and I went to assist during her partner's first week back to work. There were many complications. My friend nearly died from complications following a C-section birth. Initially she had a midwife and planned a drug-free, water birth, but because of the baby being posterior this just didn't work out. After twelve days spent in the hospital, with some of that time spent in a coma, my friend needed much more help than we'd originally thought. Problem was--I ended up being very sick for two weeks and couldn't go near the baby. So my trip to Asheville looked like this:

--Thought head would explode on airplane.
--Made some food, did some dishes, did some laundry, cleaned some floors, read aloud.
--Went downtown one day, bought some books, ate a portobello mushroom sandwich and drank a smoothie.
--Went to an interesting cafe called Outspoken. Saw some lesbians. Got very nervous. Worked on my teaching philosophy.
--Drank a beer at a nearby pub. Thought it made me feel better. Played a game of pool.
--Cried over the intensity of love between my friend and her partner. Cooed over the baby that I couldn't really help with. They are a beautiful family, and they look like this: