Monday, June 06, 2005

A belated welcome (and introduction)

I'm sorry I was unable to post yesterday to start things off -- my household just moved and my internet access wasn't up yet. Thanks to Joseph for jumping in already!

Just as an opening thought -- one of the reasons I wanted to start this discussion of Hall's book was as a way to bridge the individual or personal and the communal -- a challenge for anyone wishing to change the institutions of academe as well as our individual relationships to and within it. On page xix of the Introdution, Hall acknowledges one frequent critique of the self-help genre is that it places responsibility on individuals rather than at the broader social level. There are other critiques too, of course, which I'm sure will come forward in the days ahead -- Hall's intro reveals his need to address what he assumes will be some resistance among the very readership he's trying to reach.

I agree with Hall, however, that some self-reflection and focus on individual choices is necessary as a component of other kinds of social interaction and change. If, as Hall suggests, such self-reflection has not been a frequent part of published analyses of academia, it is a valuable aspect of the blog format. I've learned a great deal over the past year in reading blogs written by others in various academic settings and positions.

From Hall, xx:
Academics love to critique institutions because there is a certain tangible textuality to them, with their documents, written rules, and administrative structures. Yet we are not so comfortable contemplating our own textuality, our own motivations, priorities, fears, and ambitions.

I'm looking forward to both kinds of conversations over the next month as we discuss Hall's book. As an initial step towards the self-contemplation that he recommends, perhaps brief introductions (as pseudonymous as you need to be) would be in order for the various blog contributors?

I (Mel) am an Associate Professor in an English department in a large urban public university. I received tenure a year ago. I'm mostly happy teaching where I am, but for personal reasons am contemplating a move to a different state, which might require a significant change in my career path or definition. I'm also struggling with the disjunction between the level of intellectualism and professionalism I was trained for (at a top-ranking PhD program) and the realities of my new professional location as tenured faculty at a 4th or 5th tier university.

Please add your own introductions so that everyone will know who's here --