I occasionally engage in a mild sort of social/political activism, falling into four categories (that I can think of). The point of this page is (or will be) to document some of it–the successes, the failures, and the ongoing work.
(1) Most of my “activism” is epistolary–consisting, such as it is, of cranky letters I’ve written to people in positions of authority, whether to demand answers to pointed questions, to make semi-pointed criticisms, or to demand action (or omission) of some kind. I reproduce some of those letters here.
(2) Some of it is a matter of showing up, documenting things, and “taking minutes,” so to speak–at meetings, hearings, demonstrations, voter canvassing drives, phone-bank campaigns, and politically-significant events of various kinds. I record some of that here, with brief descriptions of what happened, along with whatever lessons might be learned from it.
(3) Some of it is broadly pedagogical–that is, concerns what I do and say on campus, whether inside the classroom or in some related forum. I am, within limits, pretty unapologetic about “politicizing” the classroom, an approach to pedagogy most clearly exemplified to me by the example of Alan Gilbert, my first professor of political theory, and exemplified in a different way by Gerald Graff, whose Beyond the Culture Wars was an early, important inspiration. What I learned both from Gilbert and Graff (and many others) is that there is a mean to be found in pedagogy between political indoctrination and false neutrality. My aim in the classroom and generally in pedagogical contexts is to hit that mean; my aim here is to record how. Readers can judge how successful I’ve been.
(4) And then there’s campus politics–on my own campus and elsewhere–its own strange beast, and one requiring special treatment of its own. I offer some thoughts on what it’s like to be an academic, from the perspective of someone at a small, obscure liberal arts “university” in northern New Jersey (or occasionally, a medium-sized university in the Occupied Palestinian Territories). The reality of academic life tends to operate at several removes from the sort of thing one finds in the mainstream press.
More on this as I gradually start uploading stuff to this space, and figure out how exactly to organize it
Last modified: November 6, 2017