Jeffrey J. Williams ~ Empire Of Letters

typeTom Lutz and the ‘Los Angeles Review of Books’ set out to create a new model of literary review.

When does buzz solidify into a sound?

I first heard it from my graduate students. They keep me current, and it seemed that every other day they’d forward me a piece from the Los Angeles Review of Books, or LARB, which popped up on Tumblr in 2011 and on its own site in April 2012. Several of my students work on contemporary fiction, and LARB covers it fairly extensively, reviewing genres like Young Adult (YA) and noir as well as more literary fiction, and sometimes carrying multiple reviews of notable books, for instance of Jonathan Franzen’s novel Freedom.

I started seeing the names of scholars I knew in the journal — Steven Brint on higher education, Wai Chee Dimock on film, Mark McGurl on creative writing. There were intriguing interviews with critics, artists, and writers, including Jonathan Lethem, and forums on timely issues, like “MOOCs and the Future of the Humanities” and the boycott of Israeli universities.

People have been complaining about the lack of reviewing since the late 1990s, when shrinking newspapers started disbanding book-review sections, but the web tends toward glut more than scarcity, so at first I wondered if LARB was just another blog that would fade into the ether.

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Meredith Kolodner ~ Black Students Are Drastically Underrepresented At Top Public Colleges, Data Show

Petersburg High School’s principal and guidance counselor have helped more than half of their students go to college, but none have gone to UVA since 2010. Photo: Meredith Kolodner

Petersburg High School’s principal and guidance counselor have helped more than half of their students go to college, but none have gone to UVA since 2010. Photo: Meredith Kolodner

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — As racial unrest sweeps across major college campuses, and African-American students demand more equitable treatment, college administrators need look no farther than their own admissions offices to find one root of the problem.

The nation’s flagship public universities — large, taxpayer-funded institutions whose declared mission is to educate residents of their states — enroll far smaller proportions of black students than other colleges, and the number appears to be declining, according to federal records and college enrollment data analyzed by The Hechinger Report and The Huffington Post.

On average, just 5 percent of students at the nation’s flagship public universities are black. As recently as a decade ago, that figure was higher, although changing methods of counting racial categories makes a precise comparison difficult.

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MMC interview ~ Joana Breidenbach: Anthropologists Are In Danger Of Losing Their Voice

Joana Breidenbach is a cultural anthropologists. She focuses her research particularly on the cultural consequences of globalisation. Foto: Joana Breidenbach

Joana Breidenbach is a cultural anthropologists. She focuses her research particularly on the cultural consequences of globalisation. Foto: Joana Breidenbach

Even greater danger than political activism in science is the possibility that anthropologists become too fragmented and lose their voice within society, claims the German anthropologist Joana Breidenbach.

She is the co-founder and the head of the largest German platform for donations, a kind of humanitarian Kickstarter: Through this platform small humanitarian projects all over the world are being financed. These projects require much less money than for example United Nation agencies with much more extensive bureaucracy.

Joana Breidenbach‘s research catalogue is also characterised by cosmopolitanism. In her pursuit of anthropologic answers she has visited numerous countries, from China to Russia and Egypt, while her research group, more precisely the Betterplace Lab think tank, covers tens of countries all over the world.

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Linda Duits ~ Requiem voor de scriptie

OfficemuseumStapje voor stapje is de universiteit veranderd in een gestroomlijnde fabriek waar studenten maar in de weg lopen. Het is dan ook de bedoeling dat ze zo kort mogelijk blijven. Het meest duidelijk wordt dit bij de scriptie. Studenten zijn er dan al lang genoeg. Pas als ze eindelijk klaar zijn, ontvangt de universiteit geld voor ze. Die perverse prikkel lokt de terreur van rendementsdenken uit: de scriptie is hét moment waarop studenten nog een staartje studievertraging meepikken en opleidingen doen er alles aan om dat te voorkomen. ‘Naar de 6 toewerken’ was de instructie die mij vroeger bij Communicatiewetenschap werd gegeven.

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Erica Lee ~ “Indigenizing The Academy” Without Indigenous People: Who Can Teach Our Stories?

MoontimeWith the release of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report on residential schools in June 2015, “Indigenizing the Academy” is a hot topic in Canadian universities. As institutions explore the introduction of Indigenous content, we have to question what is defined as Indigenous content, who this content serves, and how the pursuit of “indigenizing the academy” can easily become exploitative.

In 2013, I helped put together a new syllabus for an Indigenous Philosophy class at my university. The philosophy department wouldn’t consider allowing someone without a PhD in philosophy teach this course, but pairing an Indigenous undergrad with a white philosophy professor was, apparently, acceptable. (Oh, the power dynamics.) Aware of the limitations of our knowledge, we created a course that was largely guest speakers: a roster of amazing Indigenous scholars and elders. This couldn’t have been done, practically or ethically, without immense support from the Indigenous Studies faculty.


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Elaine Devine ~ Why Peer Review Needs A Good Going Over

Jan Steen  - The Village School

Jan Steen (1626 – 1679) – The Village School

Do you work in academic research? If so, you probably have a view on peer review. The system is at the heart of scholarly communication – and it elicits strong opinions from across the community. Many have concerns about the integrity of the process – as demonstrated by the popular hashtag #sixwordpeerreview, which mocks short, unhelpful feedback.

Our year-long research project set out to explore the best approaches to peer review, canvassing the opinions of academic authors, reviewers and the journal editors who oversee the process.

Researchers from across the sciences, social sciences, medicine and humanities were asked to complete a survey or take part in focus groups in China, the UK and South Africa. More than 7,400 responded, answering questions on the purpose of peer review, the prevalence of ethical issues, timeframes, and how comfortable (or not) they were with the different peer review models.

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