Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Practice-Oriented Education and Biro

In the latest Atlantic Monthly's "College Admissions 2004" section, Richard Freeland, president of Northeastern University, lightly historicizes the tensions between vocationalism and liberal arts, then, deriving an "I pick grey" gradient, tabs a new, emergent, blended plan as "The Third Way"--an interdisciplinary conflation of lib-intellectual inquiry and market readiness, buttressed by off-campus practica.  

Gradually taking shape is a curricular "third way" that systematically integrates liberal education, professional education, and off-campus experience to produce college graduates who are both well educated and well prepared for the workplace.

If not earth-shaking, it is at least interesting because the case for a practical orientation doesn't attach to any particular discipline, nor does it reconcile itself with the methods loosely associated with critical pedagogy in composition, particularly.  

But another response to the trends of the 1970s and 1980s, which received much less attention, may be of greater long-term importance.  Some educators recognized that higher education had been permanently democratized, and that many students--including some of the most talented--had a legitimate interest in preparing themselves for the workplace.

It does, however, pat the back of UMaryland's "World Courses" gen-ed core where there's a course "focused on the damming of the Nile River [...] taught by members of the departments of civil engineering, microbiology, and government politics."  And the article eventually suggests that "some preliminary version[s]" of practice-oriented education have, in various guises, already coalesced over the last thirty years, stopping just short of formal edu-trend nomenclature. .  I agree that such a plan (if we must formally call it a plan, rather than seeing it as a manifestation of students' desires to customize programs of study and to do education) deserves our attention.  Particularly, it deserves our attention in composition because "The Third Way," as presented here, doesn't mention the universal requirement.  More notably, perhaps, on the work of teaching, it says

[I]mplementing a practice-oriented curriculum is not easy.  It requires faculties to collaborate across lines of professional separation that have been in place for generations.  It requires colleges and universities to provide more than token support for off-campus programs.  And it requires a level of attention to undergraduate learning that many university professors will find difficult to muster.

How, then, does it reconcile with dependencies on part-time labor?  I won't pretend to have a clear perspective on the inner-workings of instructor hiring and teaching assignments at any institution, but at first glance it looks like Northeastern U. relies on part-timers to staff its FY writing course along with several other gen-ed requirements in the School of General Studies.  I see 2FT:6PT writing instructors in the SGS.  Whether or not it's the case that adjuncts bear a considerable share of the U.'s overall teaching labor, it undoubtedly holds true at many schools. 

That's all I really wanted to get at here: it's fine to have schemes for revolutionizing education, but they often go bust when they don't reconcile with labor practices. 

Note: The article's full text is available via subscription only, but that should life once the edition ages.


For fun, I want to build one of these.  [via Metafilter]

Monday, September 27, 2004

Oil y Automatons

Ontology, fua, fua...
Ontology, fua, fua, fua...

[This is the sound of my brain-motor oiled with too much reading.]

Looking one day ahead--all critical pedagogy: Shor on why vocationalism spells r-u-i-n and what he was doing in his classroom in 1979 (hamburgers as objects of inquiry, wedding contracts, so on); Thelin & Bertoncino on the plight of comp-teaching Kroger clerk who was assailed by Dr. Jones, the crank observer; good ole Freire--conscientization.

Looking to next Monday--We're spending another week on Foucault's The Order of [Words and] Things, too. But we voted on it; I lost. We need another week to map episteme shifts since the Baroke Breaque 17th c.  But I get the project, more or less (fine...perhaps less), and I feel ready to move on.  So I voted 'nay' on continuing with more ruminations. Others: 'yey.'  Democratic.  But I don't want to explain here what it means for Barthes (who sat in the week where a third bout of Foucault now sits).  Dammit! 'Course Barthes will remain in my project.  And, in protest, I'm referring to Foucault's book acronymically as TOOT for a while. 

Have  you ever read something you put on the schedule for a class you're teaching, just before you're about to work with it, and think, "What?"  Wednesday morning: Mike Davis's c. 4 from City of Quartz: "Fortress L.A."  What? fua...fua...

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Lose and Lose and

Philadelphia Eagles (3-0) def. Detroit Lions (2-1), 30-13

But I didn't watch much because, instead, I was piling word by carefully chosen word through a summary of the last chapter from The Order of Things for class tomorrow night. I'll post it in the extended entry area since I wouldn't want to misrepresent this as aToo Orangey academic blog exactly.  Not yet.  Plus, the summary is terminologically hip-boots marshy; it gets by on borrowed terms, awkwardly jumbled, squishy.  But it'll do the trick, I think, and I was just so Fouc-ing relieved to be at the end of The Order of Things that a bit of disorderliness was due.  Seriously, though, I hope we will sort out whether F.'s rhetoric as epistemic tags him as a sophist (au wisdom) or a skeptic (au infinite regress)...or neither.  Both?


When I clicked on the slogan generator this morning, it brought up "Too Orangey For Braddock Essays."  A'right!  However, I'd never heard the slogan.  Found it gets play in this fun advertisement (mpg, 4.2mb) for Kia-ora.  Is it orange soda?  


Eating baked potatoes for tonight's meal when Andy Rooney came on the tube.  I haven't watched 60 Minutes in a long time, and tonight, having caught only the end, it was 5 Minutes.  The guru crabster was carrying on about disingenuous efforts to mobilize the votary public.  Get out and vote campaigns, he grumbled, are a crock; they stir disinterested, uninformed dummies, rustle the lethargic from civic slumber....  Like-always Rooney.  Pure crust.  But then he said, 

I'd be willing to bet that it's the dumbest people among us who are least likely to vote too, and that's fine with me. I don't want anyone dumber than I am voting.


If you're a new citizen, wait another four years until you understand English well enough to know what the candidates are talking about before you vote.

Way to go, CBS.  How completely asinine does it have to be before you relieve his crotchety-ness from making a total, hateful fool of himself?  At once I felt a tinge of pity because he's so confused and a wave of shock because he spoke in such unapologetic and  irrevocable seriousness to hundreds of thousands of viewers saying, insomanywords, that non-English speakers, despite U.S. citizenship, ought to learn English before voting.  


Foucault, Michel. The Order of Things. Summary: Chapter 10, "The Human Sciences" 
I. The Three Faces of Knowledge (344)
For Foucault, the three faces of knowledge are biology (life), economics (need/labor), and philology (literature/myth). Devised through an excavation of European intellectual conditions since the late 16th c., these faces, he points out, are neither timeless, nor uni-directional, nor one-dimensional. Their emergence signals a crucial shift in man's subjectivity; the human sciences captured in the three faces position man at the fissure between concurrent presence and a positivist foundation. We might think of the faces of the human sciences as proximal to a three-dimensional space--empirical and mathematical sciences name one trajectory and the human sciences name a second trajectory. The third dimension concerns reflective philosophy. Foucault characterizes the human sciences as "irreducibly precarious" cohabitants in this shared, three-dimensional domain; they are, accordingly, cloudy, difficult and complex, and, as well, always connected to knowledge within "the three dimensions that give them their space" (348). 
II. The Form of the Human Sciences (348)
The form of the human sciences generally retreats from mathesis; Foucault calls this a corollary of "de-mathematicization." Man's double-occupancy as one representing objectified episteme to himself (a subject) renders a split level in the human sciences; the divergence results in an interiority (kinship, self-interest) and exteriorities (objectivity) of knowledge. This split enables room for the human sciences to be applied to themselves; accordingly, "they are rather like sciences of duplication, in a 'meta-epistemological' position" and positivism can rescue them from ambiguity. 
III. The Three Models (355)
Concordant with the three faces of knowledge and the divergence of form detailed in section two, a trihedral regionalization within the faces results in two new questions: what is a proper positivity for the human sciences and what is the relation of the human sciences to representation? Most positivistic assignments in the human sciences have simply correlated to three faces; other concepts--organic metaphors, energy metaphors and dynamic metaphors--came through 19th c. sociology and failed as techniques of formalization. Foucault concludes three pairings--function-norm, conflict-rule, and signification-system--"cover the entire domain of what can be known about man," hence a proper positivity for the human sciences. Foucault describes these three models as "bipolar" (359); they continually reset in relation to the other two models, and, at once, they are also pitted against their correlation. Psychoanalysis, then, takes shape in the gap between the normal set (norm-rule-system) from their functional counterparts (function, conflict, signification). Likewise, this bipolarity sets up two conditions related to representation. The link between representation and consciousness convenes "historical order," and the link between representation and unconsciousness convenes "conditions of possibility." 
IV. History (367)
In the 19th c. the human sciences started to pay "closer attention to human history" (368). It wasn't a new historicity, exactly; conceptions of history existed before the 19th c. It was, however, bifurcated into the chronology of things (origins, chronicles of events) and a human-centered memory log (pattern recognition, laws, cultural totalities). At once, history becomes ambiguous, fighting its own relativity on the one hand, and, in turn, resulting in reductive narratives and positive content. According to Foucault, the result for the human sciences is "a favourable environment which is both privileged and dangerous" (371). Rather than attending to the oscillation between "the positivity of man taken as an object--and the radical limits of his being," history attends to "a new law of time" (372). 
V. Psychoanalysis and Ethnology (373)
Psychoanalysis (situated in the unconscious) and ethnology (situated in historicity) function as counter-sciences, according to Foucault, and they span the entire field of finitude associated with the human sciences as well as their normal-functional double-models. Psychoanalysis poses a kind of backward trajectory which makes possible a totality of knowledge about man, engulfing desire, law and death. Ethnology establishes relationships between cultures; it is taken up particular moments in nature and culture, and the study of societies in history. Foucault posits a third counter-science--linguistics--which is "interwoven" (381) with psychoanalysis and ethnology and which once again assumes a relationship to mathematics. Linguistic study signals a new, urgent return to language as a form of multiplicity and suggests questions meant for suspense and contemplation rather than answers (386). 
VI. In Conclusion (386)
Man in human knowledge is a relatively recent invention, and, as such, we could suppose conceptions of man might fade and even vanish as easily as they gained currency.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Moore: Whenever I can, I prefer to do nothing

Michael Moore was on campus Wednesday evening speaking in rotation as part of SU's fall lineup on humor.  Doonesbury's Garry Trudeau spoke just one night earlier, I think.  I missed both events;  too damn much going on.

A colleague and new friend in the writing program, knowing I was sorry to miss the event, hit me with a brief review of Moore's talk along with this link to the report in the Daily Orange: "Filmaker rehashes politics in Dome speech."

[Oh yeah and: Requires login: use ewm@ewm.com to gain access to the full article.]

I would like to have observed some of the call and response interactions between Moore and the audience, but other than that, the coverage suggests this visit was what you'd expect from M.M.--provocation, flippancy, and polemics sweetened with rhetorics of humor.

Though the crowd seemed to be mostly in support of Moore, he didn't escape occasional heckling. After Moore finished calling Bush an ATM for the rich, one person yelled, "Why don't you give back some of your money?" When he told the audience that it was best to turn off the TV for everything other than "The Daily Show," another person called out, "How much did you get for that one?"

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


I plunked out a long lamentation about workload, strain and self-pity, then blew it off the monitor with an Elbovian wisp: 'DEL'.  This looks like it's going to take a lot of work.  With a few small exceptions--nothing shocking or out of the ordinary--I'm getting exactly what I bargained for.  My only immediate concern is reconciling rhythm with tempo. Thinking +/- 250 BPM.

So after class tonight I wedged in another mini-span for family time--frozen (then baked) pizzas and an hour straight of The Family Guy.  Probably could've found tickets to hear Michael Moore talk about humor at the Carrier Dome, but running between classes and colloquia and office hours from 8:30 a.m. this morning until 7:15 p.m. this evening had me feeling like enough was enough. Figure, as well, that anything remarkable from the talk will hover over campus for the next few days.

And the final bit, I suppose, is common enough.  When I try to write anything lately, I feel over-stimulated--jammed. I record reading notes, even post them to my  other tinderblog (mostly unlinked scraps, fragments, orts...or the new fave word of the week: melange).  And I've been typing a whole bunch of stuff--response papers and so on.  But when I try to write, I struggle.  Ebb?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

C-Fair and Prep

D. insisted I turn off the computer, stow the books, momentarily look away from the huge stack of essays I collected on Friday and get out of the house.  Walk around.

2004 Westcott Cultural Fair, E. Syracuse, NY

So we headed two blocks over to the 2004 Westcott Cultural Fair, a one-day brouha with streetitude, activism, performance. Phenomenally hep.  We could have picked up enough "Bush Must Go" yard signs to winterize the apartment, cover the windows, tile the floor, which is really on my mind b/c the outdoors dipped to 41 F last night, and the indoors weren't far from it. Scarf? And those signs, they're everywhere.  Pleasant relief, So. Platte County (Mo.) with its strict ban on eclecticism this is not.

But we didn't collect any stuff in Westcott, as such.  Instead, we each gulped a cheeseburger (it really was gulpably drippy, greasewet).  I'm back home now:  touching up my Fouctastic handout (PDF) for tomorrow evening's ten minutes on The Order of Things and, too, flipping through the Nature section in Composition in Four Keys for Wednesday, planning a drive to Kinkos and thinking about how I'm going to fit ten hours of work into the six hours I have before bedtime.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


Reading Foucault today, I got sloppy with the underlining and found I was marking through whole lines of text.  Then I thought, well, that's okay.  Maybe it's better to simply draw lines through the non-essential bits. Tonight, just going to register a glimpse of my unconventional reading/annotation method:

Everything would be manifest and immediately knowable if the hermeneutics of resemblance and the semiology of signatures coincided without the slightest parallax. But because the similitudes that form the graphics of the world are one 'cog' out of alignment with those that form its discourse, knowledge and the infinite labour it involves find here the space that is proper to them: it is their task to weave their ways across this distance, pursuing an endless zigzag course from resemblance to what it resembles.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Good news arrived via email this morning from a long-time compadre, Mike J., who's freshly on board with a well known political action group for the next two months.  He just switched coasts in July, too, moving from San Fran to NYC.  And now, as I understand it, he's off to Milwaukee where he'll be mobilized to one of a series of swing-states to move the populus.  

It gets better: he set up a blog for the endeavor: ...And You Will Know Me By The Trail. For me, it was a no-brainer to add to my blogroll; Mike and I were at the same U. in the early 90's, so I wanted to sneak in a plug. As well, I am interested in suggesting his emerging blog project as a bookmark/fave site for folks who are teaching election-centered courses this fall.  An on-the-trail voice from hotly contested states might connect in some way or another.  

Into the Engine

EWM's been called to service for the following keyphrase searches so far this September.  It's no easy job being a connected, searchable blog.

cat leg shake | Cats need exercise too.
kansas city ethiomart | Kansas side, on Shawnee Mission Parkway west of I-35.  Big bags of injeta.
pizza hut wingstreet | Breaded and gristly and deep-fried.  And no lemon pepper flavor, like Wingstop has (if you must eat wings).
becoming a licensed psychic | Can you tell what I'm thinking?
moth kansas explode | Time on your hands, eh?
que es plagiarismo | Copying of the most reprehensible kind.
picture his long toenails | Say cheese?
list of 2004 email addresses of members of associations of earth moving machines in u s a aol.com | Nothing turned up, did it?
taylorism advantages | Well, there's efficiency for one.
when i grow up exemplification essay | "When I grow up..."
i wish you good luck | Thanks.  Same to you.
chemicals in wonka nerd rope | Sweet, sugary chemicals.  Chemicals taste good.  No matter to me how they glue the Nerds to the rope, that's some damn fine candy.
stories dentist mouth drill chair | Really, Doc, floss away, hard as you can.
jeff rice moth music | What the heck?  At EWM?

Monday, September 13, 2004

Under Ten Minutes

So if you had to do a ten minutes or less talk on Foucault and rhetoric as epistemic and it had to push off from The Order of Things, what would you be sure to mention?  Just curious.

Newer habit: fashionably tippling water from a Diet Pepsi bottle.  Can't believe the ugly habits that emerge from being stacked-up busy.  I call it Aqua Pepsi--free refills at the hallway fountain.

Dodged an Eagleton-Williams one-two on C|culture|s in class this evening.  RayWill--for good reason--got the hog's share our attention, but I left wondering whether Eagleton, in his coup de gras was joshing around when he says, "It is time, while acknowledging its significance, to put [culture] back in its place."  Hedging, I say.  Er, or so I said in hunk of my mini analysis paper.  Note for later:  bask in Williams' chunk on "The Structure of Feeling" just a bit more. A warm feeling in there.

Tomorrow:  Office hours teeming with visiting students (What do you want, exactly!?); Resnikoff's NUC-MLC newsletter from 1969, Sondra Perl on "The Composing Processes of the Unskilled College Writer," C. Wright Mills, "Letter to the New Left," Jerry Farber and Louis Kampf, and MaCrorie's Uptaught; and touching up a few teaching details, as in what next.

On "snooty intellectual debate" (scroll to bottom): check out the letter to the ed in today's Post-Standard responding to new chancellor Nancy Cantor's invitation to the community for a visit to campus as part of the "Soul of Syracuse" campaign.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Build-Up and Dispossession

We motored over to the soccer stadium near Manley Fieldhouse around 1:15 p.m. today, fifteen minutes after the start of the men's soccer match between SU and Boston College.  Tied, they were, nil-nil.  It was beautiful, sunny weather.  Syracuse, I've concluded, is a town shrouded in weather moods.  When it's sunny, great place.  When it's cloudy/rainy, straight pits.

Ph. got in for free b/c it was Youth Day.  B.C. is currently ranked #8 in the nation, it turns out; they were deep in SU's backfield when we arrived mid-way through the first half.  

SU's got a young team this year, and their reputation in soccer is unremarkable.  Orange soccer, in my regard, is anxious soccer, or so it was today.  Touch, touch, dispossession.  Touch, dispossession. Dispossession, dispossession. And while I'm certainly no expert on the finer points of high-level soccer, I understand one of the basic tenets of passing-oriented team sports (basketball, soccer, etc.) to be build-up: coordinations of spacing, angularity, control, and distribution.  In hoops, the gem play is the give-n-go (well, fine...not to mention the screen-n-roll--an entry for another day).  In futbol, it's the give-give-give-give-give-give-n-goal (or SOG)--all predicated on masterful control and possession, which seems immensely more complicated because it is hands-free and kept by boundaries.  

Perhaps because the level of Big East soccer is extraordinary, the build-ups for both teams today were sub-par.  The kick-away style, characterized by desperate long-balls, was so glaring that Ph. and I started counting sequences in the second half.  (Of course, it's not official, but) SU had a total of two strings with three passes or more; BC had as many as seven or eight strings of three passes or more, including two strings of five gives--the best examples of possession and sharing of the last half of the match.  On one of the three-pass build-ups, BC scored the only goal of the match. Final: BC 1, SU 0.

SU's next home match is against Georgetown on October 3, but I don't know whether we'll hurry back to the stadium or grow into full-blow Orange soccer fans.  It was Youth Day, after all, and near the end of the match, a frustrated player let loose an f-list curse toward the kid-filled stands.  No jog-over acknowledgements after the match.  And I get it that sports can be frustrating, disappointing, etcetera, and that classy programs tend to be winning programs these days.  If nothing else, it added to a sense of nostalgia about the program at my last U., where vocal cussers, rare as they are, do push-ups on the sidelines and the entire team and coaching staff always--home and away--clap an appreciative gesture, even after a loss.  And so it doesn't concern me that Ph, for now, has recanted his wish to be a ball boy.  Doesn't concern me one bit.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Thieves, All

Clicking through the register of my new bloglines account, I found this bit from Wired News called "Facing the Copyright Rap."  A triumvirate of judges in Cincinnati put their noggins together--clunk!--and ruled that sampling is a violation of copyright law.  Best part--even if the snippets are unidentifiable as a re-appropriation of another's protected works.

"If you cannot pirate the whole sound recording, can you 'lift' or 'sample' something less than the whole? Our answer to that question is in the negative," the court said.

"In the negative"?:  Does that mean 'no'?  Or must we find different ways to say 'no' because it's been used before in a song or two? (Aside: Simon Frith showed us the voice is an instrument, too, right?)

And I oughta stop here because it's too easy to fisk on the statement from the Cincy judges and because I should be reading Eagleton's book on culture right about now. But it's a problematic ruling for a whole heap of reasons, not the least of which--in my world--is a workshop I'm arranging on the remix essay later this semester.  Especially if we want to put students' work on the web, and especially if we want their work to re-appropriate copyrighted material in the public sphere, how should we distinguish between the tried and true rules about attribution when, as this ruling would have us accept, sampling need "not rise to the level of legally cognizable appropriation" for it to violate copyright.  As kindling to the (out)rageous plagiarism debate, particularly as we venture away from the paper-bound essay.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


How's my evening going?  Glad you care to know.

Twenty-two adware busts and seven five viruses scrubbed from the coffers of this ill-behaving PC.  

Gone from Ad-Aware 6.0 to Spybot S&D 1.3 to AVG.  Still need a personal firewall from Sygate.  And my brother recommended www.helponthe.net rather than wailing at him through my cellphone about this fine tangle.

But I still can't get a handle on BackDoor.Agent.2.H.  Sneaky trojan horse, that one.  Two instances of it will have to sit stable for now.  Behave!  I teach in the morning, and I'm flat out of time for battling tech villains. Granted, I could have been more careful to see that everything was properly calibrated when the Road Runner folks departed.

Sunday, September 5, 2004

It's Both A Pressure and Privilege To Be Here

Ken MaCrorie's Uptaught is funny as hell. We have about seventy pages of it excerpted for Tuesday's Curriculum and Pedagogy session.  It's particularly interesting for how he pits Percival the computer as essay-reader against the robotic, mechanistic professorate.  MaCrorie (of I Search notoriety) comes around to a method of spurring invigorated self-discovery toward students' notice of voice, intellect, conscience--blended.  But he's ingenious for the way he parodies the field, for the way he cracks on the serious posturing among those who "preach Engfish."  


Engfish teachers pass around to each other what they call "bloopers" made by students in their papers.  They post them on bulletin boards.  They send them to teachers' magazines , which publish them as humorous material to fill empty spaces in their pages.  Three of the commonest slips are:

1.  His parents were having martial trouble.
2.  He took it for granite.
3. The boys were studing in the lounge of the girls' dormitory.

In the column heading of a recent issue of an English teachers' state association newsletter appeared the words CALENDER. In the graduate school I attended the English Department distributed to faculty and students a notice containing the word GRAMMER. These bloopers were not posted or printed in magazines as filler. (72)

Okay, so MaCrorie's a hoot.  WTF's the point?  We're reading this as a lens on the compositional redirect--stuff in the early sixties that carved out a space for composition as the modern behemoth spillway in higher ed--the conditions (Dartmouth Conference and NCTE's The National Interest and the Teaching of English) as the incubus for what's since taken root.  And in another class, it's Sharon Crowley's Comp in the University that takes up the stance (through polemicals and historicals...mostly excessive historicals!) that we oughta cut the FY course loose. Perhaps. We. Should.  To the sea.

I find the National Interest rationale especially interesting in light of the resulting material strains felt by teachers who were by and large destroyed (critically) in the NCTE's report.  Stop it!  Material conditions suck (onward).  That's clear.  That hasn't changed.  Teacher shortages, class sizes, resources, technologies ("Composition, literature, and language are taught more effectively in rooms which permit the storage of books and papers, as well as the use of recordings, tape recorders, and other audio-visual aids," goes the NTCE doc.) all were named in 1961 as musts for the bedding of National Interest and the Teaching of English.  The whole "send it in motion" pretense makes me think about the Russian space program, particularly all of the animals that went, unknowing, into the beyond.  Poor Laika. Poor comp.

But material strains and abominable labor practices--it seems to me--are only a few of the problems deserving attention (and leading us to seriously consider Crowley's plan--note, I'm only halfway through b/c the book hasn't arrived yet...only a six-chapter tease), and in the mini-paper (called Crowley: A Response) I'm about to write, I plan to call out the top-down tenure and promotion meritocracy as one more of the fundamental constraints defining the field as we know it.  In a field so notably self-conscious about its legacy of inferiorities in English Departments and plodding with the cement shoes of a broadly perceived service ethic, burdened additionally by what Donna Strickland dubs the managerial unconscious , composition--of all fields (and, why not?, others too)--needs ways to re-imagine the safeguarded meritocracies , especially in an era where over-stocked archives and gobs of peer-reviewed information (spilling far and wide, disciplinarily vast) make entrance into the field drowningly ominous for all who approach.