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If you haven’t read it yet, please check out Jenny’s Letter to W at Working Blue. I’ll post my own letter to W in the coming days, in hopes of turning it into something of a meme. Fellow bloggers, if you feel inclined to do so, join the Letters to W meme!
If you don’t know, this is like the third bomb threat that WSU has recieved in a little over a month. State Hall was threatened in late Oct, the Student Center earlier this week, and now General Lectures. We’ve been fortunate so far that, as far as I know, they’ve only ever been threats; it’s unclear to me that any of them actually were connected to real bombs in any of the buildings in question.
My concern is obvious, as a student and instructor. But I also worry (due to my role on Appointments) how this could appear to potential campus visitors. “Oh, well, sorry you can’t see State Hall where you’d be likely to do a lot of teaching; it could explode at any second.” Not something I’d like to say to any of our potential candidates. I am sure other campuses have dealt with similar threats (and, obviously, much graver things than just threats) but this is new to me, even though I was an undergrad at WSU as well.
It recalls, in some ways, an exchange KL and I had some time ago. KL, if you’re reading, I’d be interested to see how you’re responding to these threats as well.
Well, not much of an ad, really, just pimping my YouTube.
In lieu of a boring old PowerPoint for my talk last night in Pruchnic’s seminar, I whipped out some iMovie and posted it to YouTube. You can find the results below. The final clip itself is sort of incomprehensible, since it was designed to accompany me on my notes, but you may get a kick out of it nonetheless.
…Do the dumb things I gotta do today: Touch the Puppet-head.
A list of things I hope to remember to blog about:
I cleared out my spam queue. My blog is surprisingly popular with Russian spambots.
At last, my plans are coming to fruition:
Dear Mr. McGinnis,
Professor C----- who made up your translation exam on Borges' 'Ficciones' has sent me your grade and it is Passing. Congratulations.
I am copying this news to your Graduate Director for his records and I would advise you to keep this memo for your personal records.
I am delighted to have met you and take inspiration from your wish to know more about Borges and the Spanish language.
My sincere best wishes for your continued success,
Professor M---- G------
This was the final and most nerve-racking step of completing my M.A. Soon I will have another set of letters after my name, by virtue of which I can (officially) be even more of an insufferable prig than I already am. Translation exam for the win! Over 9000 passing! Wh00t!
Here’s what might be developing for the Writing Machines seminar paper. Comments and feedback, as always, are welcome.
In Race, Rhetoric, and Technology, Adam Banks draws on Heidegger and Patricia Sullivan and Jeanie Dauterman to offer a definition of technology that opens up technological systems to critical inquiry. “. . . [M]ore than mere artifacts,” Banks writes, “technologies are the spaces and processes that determine whether any group of people is able to tell its own stories on its own terms, whether people are able to agitate and advocate for policies that advance its interests, and whether that group of people has any hope enjoying equal social, political, and economic relations” (10). This definition is useful precisely for the way it connects systematicity to technicity; all technologies, Banks implies, are political systems.
This is an important realization, for thinking technicity qua systematicity is a powerful critical heuristic that might be used to expose the mechanics of technological power in systems not normally thought of as technology; in Banks’ own work he cites blankets coded with signals to slaves escaping on the Underground Railroad as an example of such technological systems. However, while Banks gives us a way to think technology, his work does not clearly offer a critical heuristic for interrogating technology.
In this essay, then, I want to pair Banks’ definition of technology with Stuart Selber’s work on digital multiliteracies to theorize a heuristic for conducting such critical and post-critical interventions into technology. In each of the forms of literacy that Selber argues for, computing, information, and communication software is understood not as discrete, value-neutral artifacts but as bound inescapably to questions of access and power: “What is lost as well as gained? Who profits? Who is left behind and for what reasons? What is privileged in terms of literacy and learning and cultural capital? What political and cultural values and assumptions are embedded in hardware and software” (81)? Trying to think Banks and Selber together might point to a way of theorizing technology that works to uncover its own systematicity, in a way that prevents the occlusion of political and economic interests by insisting on a multivalent literacy that not just employs technology but employs it in a way that makes it always already available to critique.
As a test case for this theoretical construct, I turn to the university itself as a technological system in the sense argued for by Banks. In particular, I am interested in using the theoretical apparatus generated by the pairing of Selber and Banks to investigate critiques of the so-called “corporate university.” In this, my work bears some relationship to those critiques offered by Frank Donoghue, Jennifer Washburn, and the authors of the collections Steal This University (eds. Benjamin Johnson, Patrick Kavanagh, and Kevin Mattson) and Beyond the Corporate University (eds. Henry A. Giroux and Kostas Myrsiades). At this point, to say I join these critics in their suspicion of the corporate university is premature; rather, I am interested to see how the theoretical heuristic described here could be of use to furthering such scholarship on the social, economic, and political relationships of the modern research university.