Celebrating "fragile possibilities" // poll for future discussion times
Request: Please fill out this availability poll if you'd like to be part of our discussions in the semester ahead. whenisgood.net/inkcap —Thanks!
Huge thanks to Danica Savonick for leading our most recent discussion session. Danica shared part of her book manuscript, Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions.
One thing I loved about this discussion was the emphasis on material conditions and inflection points. From broad concepts like the value placed on teaching to granular details like salary schedules and coarse loads, material conditions and stability have a huge impact on the ways we engage in our work. Narratives of arrival and departure are often laden with tacit values—do we celebrate or grieve someone's decision to stay in a precarious position? What about someone's decision to leave? What are the words we use to talk about these moments?
Tracing the trajectories and legacies of Toni Cade Bambara and June Jordan through Danica's writing and our shared discussion raised questions about the contours and textures of higher education, as well as the intertwining roles of teaching, administration, writing, and organizing. In her writing, Danica asks what becomes possible when college is free, and what can be done in the space of a classroom to work toward a more just, pleasurable, and equitable future.
The precious, set-aside space of a classroom is crucial—but it is far from the only space where transformation can happen. Danica also cites what Roderick Ferguson calls "fragile possibilities" within universities, and we talked together about what those possibilities can look like when they are present in a classroom, a poem, even a budget. The act of cultivating each, giving it room to thrive and grow, takes a particular kind of attention and care. Returning to the work of Carrie Smith and Natalie Loveless, I wonder, how do we become attuned to these moments and spaces of possibility?
This is a question I'll return to often, I suspect, as we consider together the possible future directions for this space and how we can foster not only thought and care, but also action.
Inkcap on the move: American Studies Conference
Speaking of future directions, join me along with Alyssa Arbuckle, Mabel Ho, Danica Savonick, and Carrie Smith for an exploration of possible futures in higher education, grounded in the collective work we've been doing at Inkcap. From our session description:
Today's higher education system can be oppressive, antagonistic, exclusionary. Challenges around uneven distribution of resources have been revealed and exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet, glimmers of hope and community persist. We propose a hybrid session—part reading group, part question-driven–that invites participants to consider: What can thrive in a ruined landscape?
The discussion is predicated on critical hope: a hope that does not overlook the challenges of our current reality. We will focus on the quiet attunement that predicates urgent action. How might pausing—slowing down, observing—be a purposeful act of resistance? Join us to imagine what higher education might look like if organized around the collective flourishing of those who work, learn, and teach within its bounds—and to create a springboard for structural change.
We invite participants to read the following texts prior to the session:
- Katherine McKittrick, Dear Science and Other Stories: "Curiosities (My Heart Makes My Head Swim)" and "Footnotes (Books and Papers Scattered About the Floor)"
- Natalie Loveless, How to Make Art at the End of the World: Introduction
- Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, The Mushroom at the End of the World: "Arts of Noticing"
Join us as we consider how momentary and provisional collectives—like "patchy assemblages" (Tsing)—might spark new modes of working, thinking, and being together in higher education.
Our next discussion session will take place in early September, time and date TBD. Interested in being a part of our monthly discussions? Please join us!
We'll be changing up our meeting times for 2022-2023, so please take a moment to let me know some days/times that work well for you: whenisgood.net/inkcap
For me this has been a summer of reconnecting, a summer of travel and movement and reunions after two years of COVID stasis. And now, a new academic year is coming up, and with it a few milestones. In September, Inkcap will mark its one-year anniversary—and my littlest kid starts kindergarten. 🎉 A delight.
Wishing everyone a wonderful month ahead.
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