Off We Go to Oxford University — Nearly every week I write about our English Department in my Monday Missives, but I have not yet given a conference presentation about our department. That’s about to change this week. I am heading off to Oxford University where I will deliver a presentation at the Oxford Education Research Symposium on Wednesday. The rather grandiose title of my presentation is “The Future of the Humanities in Post-Secondary Education.”
My presentation is in response to the recent surge of articles proclaiming the demise of humanities departments at universities. The Atlantic, for example, recently published an article titled “The Humanities Are in Crisis” in which the author, Benjamin Schmidt, argues that academia is currently experiencing a tectonic shift involving the STEM disciplines supplanting the humanities. While I do not question Schmidt’s data, I do question the notion that the humanities and the STEM disciplines are necessarily in a competitive relationship. As I see it, a more constructive framework is to think of the humanities and the STEM disciplines as overlapping circles on a Venn diagram.
During my presentation, I will discuss several examples of how faculty in our English Department incorporate insights from the sciences in their teaching and research. Drawing on these examples, I will argue that the humanities and the STEM disciplines can have a complementary relationship. Using the success of our own English Department as a case in point, I will suggest that humanities departments can still prosper in contemporary academia so long as they do not isolate themselves in academic silos.
I think it is fitting that I will be giving this presentation at Oxford University, for it was at Oxford that Lewis Carroll, a mathematics professor, wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, one of the great works of British children’s literature. The term “STEM disciplines” had not yet been coined when Carroll was teaching at Oxford University, but today he would be associated with the STEM disciplines. Since Carroll showed that it is possible to bridge the STEM disciplines and the humanities, I think it should be possible for the rest of us to follow suit. For those naysayers who think such bridging is impossible in contemporary academia, I will close with a quotation from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: “Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”
Kudos — As you know, I like to use my Monday Missives to share news about recent accomplishments by members of the English Department. Here is the latest news:
Meghan Barnes recently presented the following two papers at the Literacy Research Association: “Mediating the Two-Worlds Pitfall through Critical, Project-Based Clinical Experiences” and “Absent Dialogue: Challenges of Building Reciprocity through Community Engagement in Teacher Education.”
Liz Miller is the lead guest editor of a recently published special issue in the journal System. The issue is titled “Interdisciplinarity in Language Teacher Agency: Theoretical and Analytical Explorations” and includes nine articles, one of which is co-authored by Liz. Her article is titled “Language Teacher Agency, Emotion Labor and Emotional Rewards in Tertiary-Level English Language Programs.” She also had a chapter on “Interaction Analysis” appear in the Palgrave Handbook of Applied Linguistics Research Methodology.
Becky Roeder gave an invited talk titled “The Role of PALM in the Low Back Merger: Theory and Evidence” for the colloquium series in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian & African Languages at Michigan State University
Upcoming Events and Meetings — Here is a list of upcoming events and meetings:
December 10 — The English Department’s Holiday Party will be held on Monday, December 10, from 11:30 to 1:30 in the Faculty/Staff Lounge. Please sign up on the potluck list located on the desk outside of Monica’s office.
January 29 — The Personally Speaking presentation featuring Janaka Bowman Lewis will take place on Tuesday, January 29, 2019, at UNC Charlotte Center City. Janaka’s presentation on her book Freedom Narratives of African American Women will begin at 6:30 p.m. A book signing and reception will follow her presentation. For more information and to RSVP, please click on the following link: https://exchange.uncc.edu/how-early-womens-writings-led-to-civil-rights-discourse/
Quirky Quiz Question — Oxford University is home to a number of semi-independent colleges. What is the name of the college where Lewis Carroll taught?
Last week’s answer: Gene Siskel
The famous film critic Roger Ebert described The Night of the Hunter “one of the most frightening movies” ever made. Ebert’s fame was tied to a television program that he did in collaboration with another film critic. What is the name of Ebert’s collaborator?