Photo: Jason Francisco.
David Mullins, an undergraduate student of comparative literature and one of the SRC’s most visible representatives, has sent us the text of his presentation at the symposium.
“Complexity Pedagogy Must Define the University”
Many commentators tend to talk about science and math as if they were neatly separable from language, liberal arts, and literature. That we can shorten column B (say liberal arts) and lengthen column A (say, science or business) and then we will have less B and more A. This presentation will argue that this is a bit of a devil’s bargain, and we will end up losing both. We will lose both because something that might be called complexity is both what the liberal arts excel at navigating, and that which underpins breakthroughs in science and business. so it is not that the liberal arts are somehow parasitic on scientific or economic breakthroughs, it’s actually precisely the opposite. That complexity, and creativity in the face of complexity, is the basis of groundbreaking investigation in all three: the liberal arts and the sciences, and economics and that the liberal arts, because they do not have this input/output fixation, this focus on efficiency they are in a privileged position because generally better situated than a Management 101 class to navigate complex systems, which have multiple and sometimes unknowable variables, not just one variable that we might call profit or empirical success, empirical success from the perspective of a rather naieve sort of modern, pre-Einsteinian, pre-quantum physics science.
Tressie McMillan Cottom has published her talk from the Re-Visioning symposium on her blog, along with afterthoughts. You wouldn’t have known from listening, but much of her talk was edited at the last moment, in response to AIDS researcher Dr. Kimberly Hagen’s earlier talk about teaching one of Emory’s first MOOCs.
The panel on which Tressie spoke, which also featured Michelle Ledder of the Graduate Division of Religion and David Mullins of Comparative Literature, was one of the more electrifying conference experiences many of us had witnessed in a long time.* Jason Francisco, our faculty ally in Visual Arts, remarked that it was definitely the most compelling performance he had seen in the VAB gallery. We hope to make more of the presentations available in the coming days.
*I write this even having been present at the seminotorious Lee Edelman/Jack Halberstam standoff at the last MLA.
The SRC will be giving away these striking t-shirts tomorrow (April 10) on Asbury Circle from noon to 12:30. Donations are appreciated to cover printing costs.
Since Essence of Emory is over, we can’t imagine this will make the university antsy at all. In fact, Wagner has already approved. Giving the shirt a test run, Andy Ratto ran into President Wagner outside the Administration building: “He gave me a wave and smile,” Andy said, “so I paused for a moment so we could do a stop and chat. When he got up to me and saw the shirt, he said something like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know about those.’ I said, ‘Yeah, too bad I don’t have my camera or we could get a picture together,’ I think he said something about wondering if it is a Laney thing, and then asked where I got the shirt from. I said I got it from a friend, and we parted ways.”
Tomorrow will be the halfway point in the week-long anonymous faculty vote, and we don’t want it to be pushed off the radar or watered down to an airing of concerns about the “vibrancy” of the university.
In the wake of yesterday’s Re-Visioning Symposium, which was a tremendous success (photos and reflections to come), one of our organizers received the following polite but loaded e-mail:
I hope your event went well last night and we need a favor. Can you please pull your signage and yellow ribbons from trees, poles, etc, on campus today?
We have many future college students touring campus this week and we want their “vision” of Emory to be as clean and neat as possible.
Director Exterior Services
In fact, campus workers began tearing down our signs (none of which were as imposing as a 60-foot tall Dooley) and erasing our sidewalk chalk on Sunday night and Monday morning, before the symposium began. This was an academic conference sponsored by three Emory departments. Can’t let potential freshmen be exposed to any of that!
Powell and Exterior Services have also run into conflict with Students and Workers in Solidarity over student activists’ banners.
Last night’s top story on CBS Atlanta’s News at 11 was “Emory faculty to vote on president’s competence.” (Not quite the phrasing of the original, but interesting.) Reporter Veronica Griffin spoke with SRC member Katherine Bryant about the tense relation faculty have had with President Wagner since September, the cuts’ disproportionate impact on minority faculty and students, and the continuing fall-out from Wagner’s “3/5″ remark. Oh, and they also mentioned the symposium tonight.
The faculty poll is now open, and will run until Friday, April 12. We urge members of the Faculty Senate to allow professors at Oxford College to have a voice.
Fighting institutional monotony with creative repetition.