[-empyre-] Engineering the University - Transitioning from Week One

Hamilton, Kevin kham at illinois.edu
Mon Mar 9 17:04:15 AEDT 2015

Hello all

This week saw us off to a fantastic start, thanks to the gifting of time
from elizaBeth and Mimi, and contributions from Johannes and William as
well. I particularly enjoyed the way in which elizaBeth led the
conversation from a position that was both informed (she brought a ton of
knowledge and specificity to her questions) and situated (clearly asking
such questions from a different or earlier place in an academic path than
Mimi). I hope we can continue to see such situatedness through the month -
especially in light of the fact that not all of this list is in academia.
I just want to acknowledge here how the stakes are far from the same for
everyone on this list when it comes to thinking through the university as
a site of subjectivity, labor, knowledge.

Here on empyre, especially thanks to the work of edu-factory or Trebor
Scholz and his colleagues at the New School, we've had some good
conversations about education and the academy in the past. I hope this
month will continue to build on that as this week's has through not
assuming the university as the end destination of all persons or
conversations that start there.

Sean Cubitt passed along earlier this week a reminder of the recent
open-access issue of Topia dedicated to critiques of the University:


In their introduction to that valuable issue, Hanke and Hearn point out
the growing body of lit that might rightfully be described as "critical
university studies." My hope is that, though this month's discussion might
extend such a discourse, our address is tempered by close acknowledgement
of our current precarious and not-as-precarious positions within these
systems, rather than a reach "outside" to produce traditionally-distant
institutional critique. This week got us started well to this end.

I thought the Galloway piece Mimi left us with was a great way to reach
back through the rest of the conversation. I took the piece as a caution
against seeing any an inherent politics in any one organizational,
ontological, epistemological or social structure. By bringing that to our
attention, Mimi underlined the week's other mentions of disciplinarity,
town/gown relations, or even peer review and tenure as sites that justly
invite structural critique, yet whose structures alone can't explain the
politics. That's pretty interesting in light of how much time graduate
students and early professors spend learning how to see and critique

It was such a pleasure to see references coming up - Bishop, Relyea,
Galloway, Lorde -  that were already familiar to empyre this week. Mimi
and I share a campus and some fantastic colleagues, friends, students, but
we don't share curricular or research circles all that much, so I loved
seeing familiarity in her sources.

Monday I'll be back to introduce week two. THANK YOU ALL!!! Especially
Mimi and elizaBeth.

- Kevin Hamilton

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