Weeknote 33

It’s two weeks to September. There’s a lot going on. I’ll explain later.

§1 Transit Windsor’s Corporate ValuPass

While I haven’t decided what form my commute is going to take in the Fall, I know that eventually I will be taking the bus to campus as I am too delicate for winter cycling. Transit Windsor offers a Corporate ValuPass which requires each corporation to set up a program with The City of Windsor before employees can take advantage of the 15% discount. Last week I discovered that my place of work has not set up such an arrangement yet but after my gentle inquiry, they are in the process of doing so.

§2 What do vibes look like?

From Shannon Mattern, I discovered this open-access book called, What Teaching Looks Like: Higher Education Through Photographs.

By weaving together a unique collection of documentary photographs of modern teaching and learning at US colleges and universities with research-based discussion of the state of engaged learning, the book teaches readers to think through and with photographs in new ways, offering insights and perspectives with the potential to change teaching, administrative, and support practices for the better.

I haven’t read this book and have only looked at the photographs which, because I work at a university, feel familiar almost to the point of seeming banal to me. And yet, I recognize that photos are important and an essential antidote to the stock photography of a university website. Still, they are missing something.

How does one capture the angst of a faculty member grappling with the burden of grading? From C. Thi Nguyen’s post, Teacher, Bureaucrat, Cop: 

They were getting super excited. Then one of my students said: “Professor? Could we do that? Could we just do whatever final project we wanted?” The whole class was vibrating with enthusiasm. My syllabus had the usual final term paper programmed in, but the students were boiling over with other ideas. An animation student wanted to animate some of the poems we’d read; a women’s studies student wanted to write a feminist updating of “The Wife of Bath’s Tale”.

And I froze. Because how the hell was I supposed to grade this stuff fairly? I didn’t want to just point-black refuse, but how in god’s name could I issue meaningful grades to an animated movie, a critical paper, and a film script? We’d been extolling the virtues of creativity and open-mindedness, originality and adaptability, and here I was about to embody the bureaucratic authoritarian. I was about to tell them: “You cannot do this thing that you love and are excited by, that actually integrates with your life path and goals. Because I could not grade you fairly.”

C. Thi Nguyen, Teacher, Bureaucrat, Cop:

How can photos of a middle-aged instructor caught in mid-gesture surrounded by students in desks, captured in various poses suggesting listening, writing, and resting, capture the vibe of learning?

From Adam Mastroianni’s You’ll forget most of what you learn. What should you do about that?

Here are things I don’t remember from high school:

– The phone number of my best friend, despite dialing it hundreds of times.

– How to play a high D on the trumpet, despite playing it for years.

– Almost everything I memorized for quizbowl competitions, despite carrying around freezer bags full of flash cards and testing myself on them over and over for months at a time….

Here are things I do remember from high school:

– How fun it was to call my best friend and talk for hours.

– How exciting it was to march onto the football field, trumpet in hand, and play a halftime show.

– How much I despised my school’s rival quizbowl team, how infuriating it was when their coach called us “reasonably intelligent,” and how I was so nervous before our championship match against them that I nearly threw up.

It’s especially remarkable that my brain ditched all the facts and kept all the feelings, because there were big incentives to keep the facts and none to keep the feelings. The feelings never showed up on an exam, nor did they score me points in a quizbowl match. I never took notes on them, I haven’t spent much time reminiscing about them, and I never really told them to anyone––even if I tried, it’s hard to capture a feeling in a few words, and I’m merely gesturing toward them here. And yet, despite explicitly directing my brain to store the facts, it stored the feelings instead.

Adam Mastroianni’s You’ll forget most of what you learn. What should you do about that?

Learning as vibes.

§3 America: We got 99 problems and the information economy is a pretty big one.


I was going to try to add these references into a Zotero folder for sharing but I am short on energy and time.

§4 #BuffaloSyllabus

From https://bit.ly/BuffaloSyllabus

In the immediate aftermath of the Buffalo Mass Shooting, scholars, activists, politicians, and local officials took to social media to name the horrendous event as a white supremacist attack and uplift the needs of the community directly impacted–Buffalo’s Eastside residents. J Coley, a doctoral candidate in Sociology at the University at Buffalo, was among those using their platform to gather and circulate information on local mutual aids. Coley’s expertise in the historical and contemporary racial residential segregation of the city came to the forefront when they created Twitter threads on this topic. One of Coley’s followers tweeted about possibly having a #BuffaloSyllabus for the general public to learn more about this history, and more importantly, Buffalo’s Black community. Coley tweeted a call for Black scholars and local activists interested in creating a #BuffaloSyllabus. Tiana U. Wilson, William Jamal Richardson, and Dr. Robert Mays, scholars born and raised in Buffalo, answered the call. Together, Coley, Wilson, Richardson, and Mays formed the Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective on May 18, 2022.

The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective met over the course of three months to research and collect readings on different aspects relevant to Buffalo’s Black community. Inspired by the #FergusonSyllabus and #CharlestonSyllabus, the #BuffaloSyllabus seeks to carry on the mission and build upon digital knowledge. We stand in solidarity with the community of Ferguson, MO, and Charleston, SC and we honor their contribution to the world. The Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective compiled a list of articles, books, op-eds, policy reports, poems, and media on different themes to contextualize the social, economic, and political climate of Buffalo today. This list makes up the #BuffaloSyllabus, which the collective saw as an opportunity to center the experiences of Black people in Western New York. The intended audience of this list is Buffalo’s Black community, local educators, politicians, communities of color allies, organizers, and anyone else interested in learning more about that “Rust Belt Resilience.” This list is not meant to be exhaustive–you will find omissions.

The collective dedicates this syllabus to the community members lost: Ruth Whitfield, Aaron Salter Jr., Pearl Young, Roberta A. Drury, Celestine Chaney, Heyward Patterson, Andre Mackniel, Katherine Massey, Geraldine Chapman Talley, and Margus D. Morrison. Consider this reading list a love letter to Black Buffalo.

Black Buffalo Syllabus Collective #BuffaloSyllabus

§5 Playful Leadership: A manifesto / pamphlet by Andrew Walsh — Kickstarter

This week Andrew Walsh launched a Kickstarter for a Playful Leadership manifesto inspired by 17th Century pamphlets.

§6 The MLA’s new guidelines for evaluating public humanities scholarship

The MLA’s Guidelines for Evaluating Publicly Engaged Humanities Scholarship in Language and Literature Programs [pdf] seeks to help departments, institutions, and faculty members in languages and literatures value and assess public humanities work. Created by the MLA Ad Hoc Committee on Valuing the Public Humanities, the document articulates core principles for the evaluation of public humanities scholarship, provides guiding questions for evaluators to consider, and offers advice for departments, university committees, administrators, and candidates for evaluation.

Guidelines for Evaluating Publicly Engaged Humanities Scholarship in Language and Literature Programs

There are some interesting library-adjacent concerns in the Guiding Questions for Assessing Public Humanities Scholarship section:

• How does the project contribute to the community’s knowledge of itself and its engagement with the wider world?
• How does the project acknowledge and contribute to the community’s agency and not just its status as an object of study?
• How does the project contribute to the advancement of public humanities as an area of inquiry, and how does it interact with current disciplinary conversations and advance the fields it engages?
• How does the project demonstrate an awareness of current conversations in the field and explain how it advances or revises those conversations?
• How does the project contribute to the common good, adding something to the community’s experience and resources that was not there before?
• How does the project foster intellectual community, recognizing that membership in an intellectual community is not simply a matter of credentials?
• What role have community partners played in the design of the project at all stages (research question, methods, implementation, assessment, development of outcomes)?
• What are the milestones of the proposed project, including the timeline for various phases, and how much progress has been made in relation to the timeline?
• How has the project planned for accessibility, both in terms of disability and public engagement?
• How has the project been shared with public audiences?
• How has the project addressed harm reduction (e.g., safety, surveillance, respect for cultural protocols over what should be shared and with whom)?
• How has the project planned for potential reuse or for its use as a building block for future, cross-disciplinary projects?
• How are collaborative relationships developed in a way that allows them to be maintained over time?
• How does this project plan for sustainability beyond its initial funding or labor model?

§7 How I spent most of my Friday