Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A Post of Links

Remember, I've missed a lot, so send useful things from the last month my way. But here are some recent, interesting links.

First up: Dr. J has an interesting project, and she is asking for more volunteers! It is called "American Values", and you can see the results of the first photographs being used this video. I think this is an great project, and I suggest going and being a part of it.

If " Gastronomic Solutions to Imperial Problems: Oswaldo de Andrade's Cannibal Manifesto" is not the best title for a blog post ever, than I don't know what a good one is. But if you click the link, you will go over to Prodigies & Monsters, where Matt has great post up with that very title. The "Cannibal Manifesto" has been one both Matt and I have been obsessed with since we first discovered it, with lines like: "Only Cannibalism unites us. Socially. Economically. Philosophically." In this blog post Matt begins to highlight some of the reasons it is such a profound and powerful manifesto, go check it out.

After keynoting at the PIC Conference, Peter Gratton went on to deliver a talk at Cornell on Agamben. He has some of the details up. I can't wait to read the talk, and I am very sorry I had the miss that whole event.

There has been a recent interesting and important discussion on dealing with sexual harassment in philosophy over at The New APPS. Reading the comments is a must. Well, today Inside Higher Ed has taken this recent post to follow the entire trajectory of discussion (including the What is it like to be a Woman in Philosophy? Blog). I thinking about preparing a longer post on this issue, but this is basically where I am: The situation is far ranging, and obviously terrible. There aren't many 'solutions' that I am not willing to try at this point.

The NY Times has a graph up demonstrating American consumption of meat over the last century. It is staggering.

I am sure you have all heard about the insanity that is surround William Cronon, if not Stuart Elden has posted an email that tracks down important links and ways to show support. With the sort of work I do, I can't overemphasize how important Nature's Metropolis has been for my own work.

I am about to take some advice from the band Cults, and "Go Outside"

Monday, March 28, 2011

PIC Conference Thank Yous!

The PIC Conference is now over, and I am safely back in GA writing up exams and editing papers. The conference itself seemed to go well from my perspective. It was my first time organizing a conference, and there are changes I would make, but I think it went well regardless.

There are many, many thanks I need to give out:

First of all, a huge thank you to Cecile Lawrence, who was called a conference co-organizer but who actually took on the lion's share of work for the conference. It would have been nothing but a CFP without her tireless work at the conference.

Matt Applegate, who gave me a place to crash, drove me around, picked up Peter Gratton when my flight got canceled, help set up everything, and generally kept me sane and grounded.

Gabriel Piser, who became a tech support person for the conference, with zero warning or official training.

The various PIC students who came, asked questions, moderated panels, and generally helped make the conference run.

Peter Gratton, who was an excellent choice for a keynote. He wrote a very smart address for the conference. He looked over the abstracts accepted before hand, and tailored his address to take up themes from various papers that were given. He helped promote the conference on his blog, in person, and over emails. He came to panels, asked questions, socialized with presenters, and treated everyone in an egalitarian fashion. He was also remarkably nice about all issues concerning payments and what have you. So, think about asking him to keynote at your conferences.

Besides those thank you, I met lots of people I really enjoyed. Glad to meet you (and I hope you know who you are if you are reading my blog). In general, the blogging community was really great in person. Devin Shaw was a delight to meet and hang out with, though he encouraged my drinking more than I should! Ben Woodard gave an excellent presentation, and my only regret was not getting to talk to him more. Dan Barber was remarkably fun to spend time with, and has convinced me to the virtues of the phrase "buying back in" as opposed to "doubling down".

Anyway, now that it is over, I hope to get back to my regularly scheduled blogging. Email if there are important posts I have missed, and also email if I have forgotten to respond to your comments or emails!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Links, a Note, and a Video

This blog has been basically on hiatus as March has been rather time intensive for me.

Link 1) The Revolution of Time and the Time of Revolution: A Conference
starts tomorrow. I flew out yesterday 9 am, but got stuck over night in Dulles, where I am still am. So, I won't be in until later this evening.
For those who follow the academic blogosphere, there will be many people from that virtual place gathered together actually. Including myself and one-half of Prodigies + Monsters, Peter Gratton is the keynote. Devin Shaw of The Notes Taken, Ben Woodward, David Kishik, Dan Barber of AUFS, and I am sure other people I don't know or have forgotten. It should be a blast.

Link 2)
Eileen Joy just sent me an email telling me that the awesome journal postmedieval has a special issue on the Animal Turn with free pdf and html access through the end of March. So, go look.

Note: That brings me to my note. I thank Eileen Joy for her email because March has been a terrible month for in terms of keeping up with other blogs. So, let me know about the most important posts out there, things I should know about but haven't noticed.

Video: The Kills have a new album coming out. The first single is beyond amazing!

Monday, March 7, 2011

On Blogging: Philosophical Stephen Colbert or Sarah Palin?

There has been a whole host of commentary about academic blogging since my last post. I am sure to miss at least a few, but here are the links I have: Tim Morton's brief commentary on my original post, Place Hacking has a both insightful and visually stunning response, Stuart Elden on why he blogs (pt 2), Craig on blogging as a way extracting surplus-value from academics (I might counter that blogging is a way of overcoming the alienation inherent in many modes of academic publishing), Alex Reid, Tim's Commentary on Alex Reid's post, Adrian has been trying to curb what he sees as excessive reactions or over reaction at his place (here and here), and lastly P+M has some links to various blogger manifestos.

And I was ready to let that be that. However, Ray Brassier did an interview with Kronos, where he said the following:
The ‘speculative realist movement’ exists only in the imaginations of a group of bloggers promoting an agenda for which I have no sympathy whatsoever: actor-network theory spiced with pan-psychist metaphysics and morsels of process philosophy. I don’t believe the internet is an appropriate medium for serious philosophical debate; nor do I believe it is acceptable to try to concoct a philosophical movement online by using blogs to exploit the misguided enthusiasm of impressionable graduate students. I agree with Deleuze’s remark that ultimately the most basic task of philosophy is to impede stupidity, so I see little philosophical merit in a ‘movement’ whose most signal achievement thus far is to have generated an online orgy of stupidity.

APPS already responded here. Brassier's comments are, of course, completely over the top. To the degree that I don't know what is going on here. If I was to write a caricature of the anti-blogging position, I don't think I could have done a better job. Is Brassier engaging in some sort of mockery or satire? Or is he, Sarah Palin-esque, making statements that self-caricature without meaning too? I don't know Brassier, so this is a sincere question.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

On Blogging

So, there seems to be a lot of discussion recently about blogging within the theory academic blogosphere (Theoryosphere?).

Two places in particular to look at. The first is from Tim Morton, the second from Stuart Elden. In both we see strange objections being raised against the very reality of academic blogging. In Tim's case, we have an audio recording of a talk he gave at a recent conference. In the response to his paper, Ed Cohen (whose works I have found very useful and interesting), gives a strange and very ungenerous response to Tim's talk. I highly suggest readers follow my first link, and read the comments from Eileen Joy which I heartily endorse. Cohen doesn't really advance an argument, but instead simply puts down blogging and by association Speculative Realism (I've been teaching fallacies to my Argumentation class, and the technical term for what Cohen engaged in is an appeal to ridicule). Meanwhile, Stuart reports on a discussion over at the crit-geog-forum on blogging, in which it was argued:
[T]he question [was] raised as to why anyone bothered with blogs? The commentator said that “it seems to add nothing, but gears and joys itself on self-serving romance”

I don't have a strong sense if these are isolated opinions, or if they are merely the tip of an anti-blogger sentiment within the academy. However, this is not the only time I have come across dismissive and condescending attitudes toward blogging among other academics. There seems to be a cluster of 'arguments', (1) It trades off with doing the 'real' work of being a scholar. (2) It is too vague, too hasty, too half-formed, too unpolished. (3) It is time consuming. (4) It will trip me/you up in getting hired/tenured/published/loved/respected/etc. (5) People and movements use blogging in order to get hired/tenured/published/loved/respected/etc. that are fundamentally inauthentic or ephemeral.

There are probably other arguments, and I am interested in those, but these five sort of defines the parameters. Excepting number four*, which is more pragmatic, I think we can take these various objections to chart the anxiety people feel in regards to blogging. To wit:

Blogging is not legitimate academic work, at the same time it requires a lot of work to keep up with a blog (both writing it and reading other blogs). However, these 'bloggers' are increasing making blogging seem as legitimate academic work. And in so doing are getting access to legitimate academic resources and prestige -- invitations to conferences, publications (including a series of 'upstart' journals and book publishers that is tapping into academic bloggers and their work), attention from grad students and junior academics (and sometimes senior ones), and the ability to speak for movements/schools of thought. This puts non-bloggers into a bind: either they are forced to engage with blogging (which requires more work), or they stand a chance that blogging might become increasingly more legitimate and bloggers will be taken increasingly serious.

To be honest, I sort of understand that fear. Blogging fits very well with the ways I like to think and communicate. It provides a wonderful sounding board, it is unofficial enough that I can just treat first drafts as important enough to hit the publish post, and I can see lots of other projects as they develop. I also get to be part of far flung academic communities. Whereas I am the sort of academic that enjoys hours and days of just researching in a library, I don't enjoy the isolation that such work can cause. Blogging is a way of thinking as part of a community. But what if that wasn't true? Academics are already asked to do all sorts of things, another time drain that doesn't even help you do your other work sounds like a nightmare.

Of course, I could be wrong. These objections might really be more about blog and bloggers, and less about the people making the objections. That is hard to really believe, though. When Cohen says that it is hard to imagine that SR bloggers have time for anything else, and he is doing this in direction to Tim Morton, one figures this is more about the way Cohen works and thinks than about SR bloggers. After all, it is quite clear that Tim Morton has an amazing academic output, and indeed many academic bloggers do (Stuart Elden being another example, of course Graham Harman, and Adam Kotsko is pretty intense for someone that junior in the academy).

I don't have any solutions or final thoughts. A blogger backlash is annoying, but ultimately I think digital, open, and on-going productions of knowledge will win out. It is cheap, easy, and many of the emerging scholars are openly embracing these changes. (Kunzelman reminds I have to read Jodi Dean's Blog Theory. He is write).

* Considering the state of the job market, and the academic program I have come from, I am more free than many of my colleagues to put myself out there. True, it is the freedom that Janis Joplin sang about, but I still get to have my blog.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More on Sex, Gender, Species Conference

I've been really busy since I got back from the SGS conference, but I wanted to expand on the awesomeness, and give out some much needed thank yous.

First, thank you to my Judith Butler panel mates: Eric Jonas and Stephanie Jenkins. They were amazing to work with and plan with. Stephanie also deserves a special thank you for helping me with logistics, picking me up from airports, letting me crash at her place, etc. Eric deserves a special thank you for getting himself there in the face of opposition and adversity.

Also, a big thank you to the two organizers: Lori Gruen (who has a new book out), and Kari Weil, who will shortly have a new book out via Columbia UP. I am gaining new and profound respect for conference organizers, and this one was particularly well done.

I also want to thank all of the participants. Missing were all of the carefully practiced put downs and ego-centric 'questions' that do nothing to advance the other person's project. Instead, there was a real generosity of thought. The type you wished you saw at conferences but so frequently don't find. The conference, really displayed the robust and rigorous depth of animal studies (critical and otherwise).

All that, and excellent vegan food.