Words are coming more slowly than usual. My mind is wrapped up in matters both global and personal. I’m writing now to find my way back into my thoughts, writing my way back into connection and community. I’m glad to have a place to do that.
Our most recent discussion on love and work was vibrant and deeply felt. The topic always touches a nerve. So many of us in higher ed, as in other mission-driven spaces, care deeply about what we do and the people with whom we work. So much so that it can become difficult to set boundaries and find ways to preserve and nourish ourselves. This has probably always been true, but with two years of COVID wearing everyone down the reserves are even slimmer than usual.
Together we talked about pleasure, about the tension between individual and collective power, about ephemerality and accountability and reward structures. About gender and race and precarity. And, eventually, about capitalism—a topic underlying so much of what we were talking about, but that we didn’t name directly until quite late in the conversation. Thank you to everyone who was a part of it.
We’ll gather again on Tuesday, March 15 at 2pm EST. (The earlier hour seemed to work well for people’s energy levels, including my own, so let’s stick to it.) Please register here.
We had originally planned to focus on a book I love, Poor Queer Studies by Matt Brim. I was lucky enough to co-teach with Matt last year; his writing and his teaching are generous, expansive, and deeply interesting. However, I have a feeling that Ukraine will be on all our minds, and so I’d like to wait and discuss Poor Queer Studies another time.
Instead, for our March 15 discussion, let’s talk about the intersections of academic freedom, political repression, and unrest—in Ukraine and elsewhere, including in the US and Canada. I am far from an expert on this and will rely on questions, reflections, and insights from you all. Since the situation may change a great deal between now and then, I’d like to propose that we develop a collective list of reading materials and discussion questions this time. Please add links and questions to this document between now and when we meet. I’ll drop a few in to get us started.
Thanks to everyone who has gamely been experimenting along with me as we figure out what all this group can be. Some things are working well, and others I’m going to let go. On that note:
Change of plans! We’re not going to do a COVID-related event on March 11. It feels like everyone’s reserves are slim, and it’s a hard moment to ask people to give their time. Instead, sign up here to be part of a cathartic community art project—via postcards. If you feel rage, if you feel hope, if you have time to jot a few words or draw something on a postcard, this is for you.
It feels like it’s time to to start segmenting this newsletter, so that things like discussion reminders only go to people who want them. Would you please take a moment to let me know what you’d like to receive? (And of course, you can always unsubscribe at the bottom of the email.)
I’m going to drop Discord. Too many platforms! Maybe we’ll try again on Slack later on. Thanks for trying with me, friends.
Separately, here are upcoming events that may be of interest:
Book talk at Northwestern University, Friday March 4, 1pm EST (no link yet, will share on twitter)
Next-Generation Dissertations—New Projects for an Engaged Academy, Monday, March 7, 2pm EST, co-sponsored by Humanities for the Public Good at the University of Iowa, and the Graduate School at Syracuse University. This one will be great! A number of super creative scholars will talk about their work, and several diss advisors will give their perspectives too. Please join us and feel free to invite others. Details at the link.
HASTAC Digital Friday on creative dissertations, Friday March 18, 3pm EST: (no link yet, will share on twitter)
Sending warm wishes to all. At least here in Brooklyn, spring is around the corner. The days are lengthening, trees are budding, and snowdrops are pushing up through the soil. Seeing the first green shoots always feels like a moment of hope and possibility.