Category: Academe


It’s high time for an update here… I’m in Malibu for Nature and the Popular Imagination (conference program here), where I’ll be giving a keynote on “The Age of the World Motion Picture.”

I blogged about this part of the California coast the last time I was out here, and my thoughts there have worked their way into my talk here. The talk lays out a Peircian-inspired approach to thinking about moving images, and specifically images of the earth and its cosmic environment (black void, or otherwise) as found in movies like 2001, Solaris, Contact, Melancholia, and others.

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No, not really… But the Chronicle of Higher Ed has an interesting piece on leading panpsychist philosopher David Skrbina called The Unabomber’s Pen Pal. It turns out that Skrbina has been corresponding with Ted Kaczynski as part of his study of the philosophy of technology.

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With just enough distance to sense that I miss it already (in a brain-body hangover kind of way), but not enough for this to be taken too seriously, I offer some morning-after thoughts on the Nonhuman Turn conference.

1. It was a tremendous gathering of forces, of people doing valuable work with ideas, with knowledge-building practices and critical interpretive and reframing strategies (some of them novel and experimental, some of them simply variations on what academics do). For all that was said (at the end) about how washed-out the academic conference format is, this one was actually a very well-scaled meeting, making possible the kinds of conversations and connections that a larger conference would preclude. It was well run, technically savvy, and enjoyable. Remarkable in many ways.

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Bogost’s talk not being streamed (by his request).

Ian Bogost, “The Aesthetics of Philosophical Carpentry”

A talk about philosophy and the objects of which it’s made, in 12 parts (first 11 are pretend)

I. Enjoying This Presentation

II. The Things We Do: Airport tarmac. Philosophers in a lecture hall not unlike an aircraft approaching the runway. Multiple dancer airport performances. Air traffic controllers and graduate students. We do the things we do. Questions, comments. Thank you for flying.

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Day 2 at The Nonhuman Turn.

Richard Grusin: Why Nonhuman? Why Now?

The CFP for this conference elicited lively comments and concerns on Facebook walls (Ken Wark’s and Alex Galloway’s): expression of “turn fatigue” (:-) [ai: my first proposal was about just that], and a concern that this would ipso facto be a conference of speculative realism or OOO.The CFP reactivated debates from third New York OOO symposium.

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IAEP call for papers


Meeting of The International Association for Environmental Philosophy

at the annual meeting of the American Philosophical Association—Eastern Division

December 27-30, 2012, Marriott Atlanta Marquis, Atlanta, GA

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We’re getting some good submissions, but there’s room for more. The deadline for proposals has been extended to May 1. I’m sharing the call for papers again here…

The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture (ISSRNC) is pleased to announce its next conference in Malibu, California at Pepperdine University in August 2012.  The conference theme will be “Nature and the Popular Imagination.”  

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Just slackin’

The level of stupidity on display in David Levy’s Washington Post article Do college professors work hard enough? is astounding.

While Levy portrays himself as a life-long educator and academic and a “former chancellor of the New School University,” his article only reflects the growing disconnect between those who educate and those who administer and sit on boards of educational institutions.

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What makes an -ologist, -osopher, -ographer?

What, for instance, makes one an anthropologist? A geographer? A philosopher? A scientist?

Scene 1:

As chair of a search committee looking to hire a political ecologist, a tenure-track position to be shared between a Geography department and an Environmental Studies program, I’ve been involved in intensive discussion of what would make one enough of a geographer for the job. We are open to interdisciplinarians, and a lot of environmental anthropologists and other social scientists have applied — understandably, given how the field of political ecology has been evolving — but the person will be required to teach some geography courses and to successfully navigate their review/promotion/tenure career in the Geography Department.

What we seem to be settling on is something like “experience or a very clear capacity to teach introductory geography courses, and clear indication of experience and participation in the development of geographic concepts, theoretical approaches, associations, etc.” So if you’re not a geographer but have gone to an AAG and had a publication in Society and Space, you just might be alright by us. (But not necessarily by others.)

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I owe regular readers an explanation for the lengthy hiatus on this blog.

As I had predicted would happen back in the summer, this semester turned into an extremely busy one for me.

Directing the Environmental Studies program at the University of Vermont is a large part of that busyness: it’s a large, interdisciplinary and cross-college program of nearly 500 undergraduate majors, which has seen its student numbers climb consistently over several years while faculty and staff numbers have actually declined. This has led to a barely sustainable staffing situation, though we are far from unique in that respect. Directing it involves a lot of advising (those 500 students) and overseeing of a somewhat complicated and highly individualized curriculum, reading and signing off on paperwork, organizing, leading and/or attending various kinds of meetings (in three different Schools and Colleges), overseeing the teaching of courses including our Students-Teaching-Students courses, putting out little fires as these arise on a somewhat regular basis, and so on.

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