A. Everything! English is about ideas, and ideas are welcome here.
Though this blog is a conceptual work-in-progress, I anticipate writing a wide range of posts, from short meditations on what I'm teaching or researching to book or film reviews, to discussions on the crisis in the humanities and challenges faced by our educational system. I'll riff on memes, culture trends, and cliches. I'll share stories and insights gleaned from nearly two decades of teaching (preceded by fourteen years as a post-secondary student), in hopes of demonstrating why the humanities matter. The possibilities are endless--because that's what studying English is all about, endless possibilities. In fact, I feel a post on that subject coming on right now . . . stay tuned.
A couple of quick notes on what this blog isn't:
It's not strictly--or even primarily--for academic audiences, although I do hope that many academics will find something here of value. I won't be using a lot of discipline-specific jargon, and the analyses I make and the connections I draw are likely to be more wide-ranging than what one finds in a typical peer-reviewed scholarly journal article. In short, I won't be limiting my discussion to my academic specialty. (Gasp! The professor's gone rogue!)
My reasoning here: We academics "talk amongst ourselves" plenty, thank you. With the current "crisis in the humanities" very much on everyone's radar screen, we're doing a fine (and justified) job of bitching and moaning, and numerous scholars have written cogent analyses of the crisis from a cultural studies perspective. All of this is to the good: the academic analyses shed helpful light on the broader picture and catalyze more of us into action, while the griping helps us let off steam so that we can get on with our work even in the face of discouraging opposition.
But we also we need to move beyond the analysis, internal discussion, and frustration. I don't want to go down in history as little more than the second violinist in the dance band on the Titanic; I want our culture to change. To bring that about, we need "buy-in" and active involvement from a whole lot of people, from numerous walks of life--not just those of us who teach college for a living. Let's face it, we're a numerical minority. We'll never win this one alone.
(I'll have more to say on the relationship between academia and the so-called "real world" in future posts. As someone with bluish-collar roots who first entered college in my thirties, I've viewed it from both perspectives. For now, I'll just say that neither world is either more or less "real" than the other--and it's important that we all stop pretending that such a division exists. Academia is a real place, and those of us who work there have real jobs and real lives. End of statement.)
Finally: This isn't a place where academics of various persuasions can tear each others' heads off. (For that, we have conferences.) :) Antagonistic argumentation can be a default setting for some of us who have been trained to be professional fault-finders, but with our whole profession in crisis, our long-term survival depends on our ability to focus on commonalities and find solutions. That's not to say we can't disagree--dialogue is essential to solutions and disagreement is essential to dialogue--but this is a space where civility will rule. Ad hominem (personal) attacks and red herring fallacies will be called out and/or deleted as necessary, and repeat offenders will be blocked. If you're looking for a fight, there are plenty of other places where you can find one. And if you want to watch one, turn on MMA--or cable news. That's not what we're going to do here.
And why would anyone want to fight anyway, when civil yet intelligent, meaningful conversation is way more fun? In the long run it works better too.