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Current Affairs Higher Education

the bitter end of another pandemic semester

UB’s faculty senate sent out an email today recommending (imploring) faculty to find ways to “reduce student stress levels while preserving learning outcomes.” No one needs to be told it’s been some hard months tacked on to a hard 2020. And now it’s getting to be crunch time here and at many colleges as we […]

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Current Affairs Posthumanism Teaching

insurrections, teleologies, and cyborgs

Today there is little need to make a specific reference for the first term in this list. We are in the midst of an impeachment trial over an attempted insurrection. More locally, in my class, we are in the midst of How We Became Posthuman and N. Katherine Hayles’ historical investigation of how we got […]

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Current Affairs Posthumanism Teaching

man-in-the-middle (sic) of a feed forward world

This is the second in a series of posts about Katherine Hayles’ How We Became Posthuman aimed primarily at my students this semester, and this one focuses on chapter three, which traces the Macy Cybernetics Conferences in the 50s and 60s and discusses, among other things, the challenges of observation and the “man in the […]

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Current Affairs digital rhetoric

speech, freedom, and the crunchy frogs of social media platforms

The removal of Trump from various social media platforms has been big news, as is the de-platforming of Parler by Apple, Google, and Amazon. There’s a lot of conversation about this in relation to the first amendment. I’m not a constitutional law expert, so I’m not going to focus here on the strictly legal aspect. […]

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Current Affairs new materialism

the assemblage of white populations

As you probably learned in high school or college, the different races of humans with which we identify today have no biological basis but are social constructions. A brief refresher on the matter is here. Basically though there are few starting points for this construction. One occurs in the 17th century when American colonists decide […]

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Current Affairs electrate politics

the meager agency of human individuals

Our culture has a broad understanding of free will. It’s based upon religion, cultural values, and our lived experience of decision-making. At the same time, we all know that a newborn left alone in the wilderness cannot survive. A toddler cannot survive alone. Indeed so few of us can survive alone, even as adults, that […]

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Current Affairs electrate politics

ontological quagmires in American politics

[N.b., to be fair, these challenges do not apply solely to us, but that’s where my focus will be.] For Thanksgiving, David Brooks brought us a casserole dish on the “rotting of the Republican mind.” It put me in mind of another article I read recently on the relationship between evangelical Christians and conspiracy theories […]

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Current Affairs Higher Education Teaching

on the decision to teach online in the fall

In the end, when it came down to it, the decision to teach online in the fall was not hard. Many of my colleagues teach courses that cannot be successful without some in-person element (e.g. science labs, theater and dance, filmmaking, many others). Other classes may need to be in-person because they are important for […]

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Current Affairs digital rhetoric

what would valuable digital deliberation look like?

One of the subjects I (and many other digital rhetoricians and scholars in adjacent fields) write about is digital deliberation–that is, how does deliberation work (if at all) online, in social media for example? One of the concepts I’ve discussed in the past is “distributed deliberation,” which is a way of investigating how machines and […]

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Current Affairs Higher Education Teaching

getting on(line) with the tasks of teaching and learning

I know, as if the world needs another foray into this topic, but here goes. In the NY Times there’s an interesting piece that follows the deliberations at Kentucky about how/if to open the campus in the fall. We’re all in similar circumstances inasmuch as no one knows what the circumstances will be. We do […]