Perhaps you, like me, are shaking off a summer fog and preparing for the onrush of the school year. For me it has been a summer outside of time—a summer of travel after years of COVID confinement, a summer of flexibility and movement and family and new horizons. I am so grateful. I wonder how the sights and experiences I’ve been lucky to have in the past few months—desert and sea, mountains and glacial lakes, mushrooms and rosehips—will work their way into the landscape of my thinking.
As a reminder, our next discussion will take place on Wednesday, September 14 at 3pm ET. Please register here. All are most welcome to join, whether you’ve participated in a past discussion or not.
We’ll talk about Dear Science and Other Stories by Katherine McKittrick. You might read them while listening to the playlist that McKittrick created in association with the book. We’ll focus on two chapters:
I am especially interested in considering how we know what we know, how we show our work, and the roles of curiosity and wonder relative to knowledge. How do we trace the lineages of our knowledge that can’t be conveyed through standard citations? How do we convey the rhythms that shape our understanding, the timbre, the subtle influences that leave the faintest trace? McKittrick works through these questions beautifully—I mean, just look at those chapter titles!—and I am eager to think through them together with you all.
As a closing note, yesterday was Labor Day in the US and Canada, a day that has me thinking about solidarity—for whom, and in what ways, against what odds. It seems fitting that this holiday falls at the start of the academic year; labor is perhaps the single most important component of higher education reform. So much comes down to how we work and the ways in which our work is valued (or not) and rewarded (or not). I find it valuable to remember that labor movements had to fight for the rhythms and pauses we now take for granted—limits to the work day, days off for leisure—and that whenever possible, taking those pauses is a way of honoring that advocacy work. Higher ed tends to erode the boundaries of working life, and so it feels like a good moment to remember that knowledge work is labor and that establishing boundaries can help others to more easily set their own. As summer winds down I hope all of us have been able to have some truly restorative time, and that we’re able to savor the brief, precious pauses throughout our days and weeks and months ahead.
Once September starts, the year feels like it begins to fly. I hope everyone has had a moment to pause, and that you feel ready to greet the month (and year) with energy and enthusiasm. I look forward to seeing you on the 14th.