What keeps us going?
The significance of humanities scholarship in challenging times: Discussion forum and reading group
2020-21 will go down as a memorably challenging academic year. 'What keeps us going?' is a discussion series established to allow staff and postgraduates from CACSSS to meet together on a regular basis to reflect on shared challenges, exchange thoughts about our work in the humanities disciplines, share what matters to us as scholars and teachers, draw on our research as a source of continuity, consolation and critical insight in times of difficulty, and provide each other with support.
Each meeting takes as its starting point a brief reading introduced by a participant in the discussion. In our first meeting (1 October 2020), we discussed Wilhelm von Humboldt's 'On the Spirit and Organisational Framework of Intellectual Institutions' (1809), a founding text of the modern university. Subsequent sessions discussed Martha Nussbaum's manifesto Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities (2010) and Robert Vitalis's study of the disciplinary origins of international relations, White World Order, Black Power Politics (2015). Our discussions have touched on questions of spontaneity and autonomy in scholarship, which run counter to the top-down or centralised research agendas of government and industry; precarity in academic employment, which poses grave challenges to the flourishing of uncoerced research; relationships between science and scholarship, teaching, and the transformation of character and cultivation of self; the politics of disciplinary formation and identity; and the productive tension between the — implicitly individual —autonomous subject of reason and the collective or collaborative aspects of scholarly communities. Throughout, we ponder the vast changes the pandemic has wrought on our academic landscape.
IIn the next session — 3 December, 4-5 pm — we read Ursula K. LeGuin's essay 'A Non-Euclidean View of California as a Cold Place to Be' (1982), introduced by Laurence Davis (Department of Government and Politics). We will also announce the provisional schedule of meetings for semester 2. The meetings are held on MS Teams on the channel 'What keeps us going?' Humanities Discussion Forum; texts for discussion can be found in the 'files' area. Please contact Caitríona Ní Dhúill (firstname.lastname@example.org) and / or Gert Hofmann (email@example.com) for further information.