Saturday, 5 June 2010

Middlesex Latest

There is an update here of the campaign to save Philosophy at Middlesex. Nothing too hopeful, I'm afraid. There was no official response to the UCU ultimatum, which was not particularly surprising, indeed I would have been very shocked if there had been a reply. UCU will now move into official dispute with a timetable for industrial action. Unfortunately, the procedures for official disputes can be a remarkably slow, which typically suits management just fine.

Also, on the topic of time, universities in the UK will soon be moving into the summer vacation and it will be necessary to maintain this and other campaigns - without many students and staff - over this period. Again, this is all good for management. Indeed, it is a remarkably common practice in education to deliver news of closures, job losses, restructuring etc. during this particular window of time. The logic is simple, academics are usually at their lowest ebb at this point, usually after a year of teaching and several weeks of marking, and may suddenly find themselves unable to contact colleagues or other parties in order to respond to such news. Moroever, with regard to camapigns such as Middlesex, people typically cannot sustain interest and outrage over the long term, people forget, campaigns lose momentum and organisations falter. I always have a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach as I am about to enter this liminal period at the end of the academic year.

The Middlesex update also notes the removal of the "all staff" option on their e-mail system. Again, this is I suspect quite common practice and I wonder at how many universities around the UK this has happened. There is usually a plausible rationale, but one can also read it as a divide and conquer strategy, a movement to limit the ability of staff to communicate. Depressing stuff.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

The Mother of All Endorsements

I'm just about half way through my three week end of year block of grading and not finding much time to monitor the blogosphere. I did, however, spot the blurbs for Graham Harman's two new books with Zero Books, Towards Speculative Realism and Circus Philosophicus, and was dazzled by one of the endorsements. Olivier Surel in Actu Philosophia notes of Towards Speculative Realism, "The style of Harman often evokes that of a William James joined to the spirit of H.P. Lovecraft." Now that is an evoactive fusion of styles.