end of quarter fog has lifted; or, precarity as a mode of being

I submitted final grades tonight, and it’s really quite amazing just how much head space that takes up: two new course preps, in a discipline I do not call ‘home’ (whatever that means) and visually-content heavy courses. Never mind the personal roller coaster of an aging (dying) mother in another state and a substantial commute layered atop the quarter. It has resulted in a quarter with not much to show, intellectually.

I’ve had many a moment to question the investment of time in relation to pay as ‘adjunct.’ I stopped keeping track of the hours of prep in relation to the pay, since it’s not really ‘about’ money… It’s certainly rewarding to see students come into their own in classes, and to see them command material in an original way, or take feedback and excel in future assignments. But as whole, I’ve had more new course preps over the last few years than anything, which directly equates to ‘time spent.’ But also inefficiencies, learning what works, and what doesn’t, depending on student populations at Institution A, B or C… And as I feel the hot breath of publishing post-dissertation on my proverbial neck, I know instinctively (and absolutely) that the ‘market’ does not applaud the time spent on course preps, nor care about precarity and what that entails; or personal circumstances that absolutely mean more than a journal article. Moreover, I know I am not alone in this realization.

Over the last few weeks though, I’ve had the opportunity to see the disparity of adjunct work, concretely. While it is bandied about in no uncertain terms as bargain rates for quality instruction, I have recently experienced a very transparent moment of inequity in relation to a close friend (cohort) and what a graduate student union can accomplish for the un-degreed, compared to the vicissitudes of post-PhD adjunct status of price per credit teaching rate. While my intention here is not to rail on the inequity, the specific situation was so ‘plain’ that it is hard to not feel it: two lecturers, same departments, same credit loads, same program, same qualifications. The soon-to-be-christened doctor will make significantly more than myself, as an already awarded PhD, simply because he is under a union.

I applaud the union for demanding fair wages for its student workers, and I benefited by those terms previously. But the question begs asking, what are the obligations of a department to create an equitable environment for non-tenured lecturers? Isn’t the situation already shitty enough? That my unioned counterpart might make nearly 1.5 times what I will earn next quarter, for ostensibly the same load… it seems more than ‘ridiculous’. But what are the options here? If a newly minted PhD does not take up adjunct, is this viewed as ‘damaged goods’? At what point does a simple non-academic job (that leaves head space for my own personal academic work) be viewed with the same neutral qualification as an irregular, underpaid lecture position? A recent forum in the higher ed points to this concern (though I cannot find the post at this time…)- and it seemed like the advice/ tenured view is that we must maintain institutional affiliation, no matter the cost. (I refuse to utilize the ‘neoliberal’ adjectival account of the situation. While apt, it’s wholly unsatisfying as a nuanced explanation of the situation. But that is a different post.)

As I head into Winter quarter with a rare opportunity to teach a class for a second time and teach another class that I had an opportunity to ‘assist’ in several years ago, I feel optimistic about what I may accomplish for myself, in addition to teaching load. Neither are visually intensives course this time, and the commute time is greatly reduced, less students, etc…. And yet. As I consider my lower wage to said counterpart, the antagonistic, stubborn and spirited side of me wants to offer 2/3 effort for teaching: to demonstrate the department’s value placed in adjunct vs forced pay of a unioned grad student.

But that is simply unfair to the students, of whom are my primary concern. If only Universities’ economic bottom lines were that straightforward.



Deleuze 2016

as always : oh boy!

Call for Papers

The triad of terms in the title is meant to indicate three steps that may build a path through Deleuze’s and Guattari’s philosophy. This path is but one among the many possible, as the titles of the previous conferences reveal. To borrow a term from psychogeography, we may call it a “desire path”, where desire paths represent the alternate routes created by the walkers’ desires and necessities. Though it is an open path, it is paradoxically coherent and unified. Each of its step indeed refers to the other in more than one way.

The first term –virtuality- refers both to the central issue of time and to the philosophical friendship between Deleuze and Bergson. As Deleuze’s early writings of the Sixties witness, it was a very close friendship which remained vivid also in his later work on cinema in the Eighties. Both Bergson and Deleuze share the common aim to affirm the coexistence and the continuous and mutual interplay between the past and the present, the actual and the virtual. Such an interplay constitute exactly that process of differentiation which grounds the creative dynamics of all different arts, and notably, of cinema.

The creative and positive movement of differentiation, as a process of metamorphosis, underpins the concept of “becoming” as a fundamental notion for Deleuze’s overall philosophy and particularly for the text he wrote with Guattari, Mille Plateaux. The notion of Becoming is to be understood as a verb rather than a noun –they write- it is not one, nor two, but something between-two, an interaction between two domains, a boundary and an escape line: it is the becoming-animal, the becoming-music, the becoming child, the becoming-woman. As a reaction against the Platonic idea of Being and Essence, the Becoming refers primarily to Nietzsche’s thought and to his notion of the “eternal return”. Since no living being can resist the becoming, the becoming must be a being in itself, a being that coincides with the process of coming back, in the sense of thinking “the same” from “the different”.

The deeper meaning of Nietzsche’s philosophy is to affirm the becoming not only as essential to life –since life is becoming, multiplicity, and fortune- but as something we need to accept and consciously affirm. To this extent, virtue is not renouncing to all passions but saying “yes” to life. In Deleuze’s last text, life is described as immanent and “unique”; no longer individual but completely impersonal, it is a “total power, a total bliss” It is from this starting point that philosophers – both in Italy and elsewhere – have started developing the idea of an “ontology of the present” – which sets itself as the aim of contemporary philosophy.

Following the path we have proposed, and even imagining something different, we welcome individual proposals for papers, panel proposals, as well as alternative approaches to presentation formats (such dialogues or performative pieces).

The conference will accept papers in English from across a very broad range of areas including, not limited to, the following:


Aesthetics and Artistic Practices
Architecture and Urban Planning

Film Studies
Digital Realm and New Media
Literature and Literary Criticism
Sociology and Politics
Gender Studies

Public Art and the Urban Experience

bookmark for course development

The Urban Sustainability Laboratory

Dean Saitta
July 15, 2015

The Biennial of the Americas kicks off this week in Denver. The Biennial was launched in 2010 by then Denver mayor (now Colorado governor) John Hickenlooper as a grand forum for talking about politics, education, business, the arts, and other subjects of interest to citizens. This year’s Biennial theme is NOW!.  It’s billed as an analysis of the present in light of the history that got us here and our plans for going forward. The three main organizing topics are Leadership, Business Trends, and Infrastructure. Several of these topics will be considered by a special panel of mayors (Denver’s Michael Hancock, Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, and former Bogotá mayor Antanas Mockus) who will address “The Return of the City-State.” These civic leaders will discuss how cities are operating on the frontlines of many contemporary global challenges including growth, security, and trade.

As usual, many artists from…

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Palgrave’s Publishing resources for early career academics

some helpful points to keep in mind as I circle around the Google Street View thicket

Progressive Geographies

Early_Career_Researcher_GuidePublishing resources for early career academics from Palgrave – a pdf to download from academia.edu. Thanks to Robert Tally for the link.

Focuses on books, with advice on revision from PhD thesis, proposals, glossary of terms, etc. – much of this is relevant to people further ahead in their career.

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efficiency and inflation: the craft of writing

I’m wading through Christian Fuchs Digital Labour and Karl Marx. Fuchs is a leading researcher on internet studies, social media and digital economy. But wow, the man needs an editor. I can’t believe Routledge published this in its form. It’s full of inflated sentences, terrible sentence structure, redundancies and otherwise unnecessary tautological-esque statements like, “The contemporary return of Marx was preceded by a disappearance of Marx” (60).

I don’t really mean to pick on Fuchs here. I am confident there are important ideas in there. I am less confident in my patience to find them. Rather, it is a segue to the style of writing and the shifting responsibility to authors to do their own editing, or paying for an editor, before a book published (from which the author will make little or no money….) Personally, I wrestle with the appropriate ‘style.’ I sit in between the Humanities and Social Sciences, between grammar nazis and the authoritarian citation regime. As one who gravitates towards a phenomenological mode of writing, it moves me farther away from the social sciences. But the material I engage and am interested in solidly puts me, well somewhere, among the disciplines within the social sciences. In what style do I write, knowing full well that we cultivate the skill through practice.

If a publisher is the entity that stands to make the most money from publishing monographs, it is astonishing that they would publish work that hasn’t been culled through by a shrewd, or even more efficient, set of eyes. I subjected myself to this before sending off some writing today, and it is incredibly illuminating to see what a second set of eyes can do for all of the above issues Fuchs’s text has. Of course, I already know about my tendency to write long sentences, have too many clauses, and my argument can sometimes be circular. I both thank (and blame) Heidegger for highlighting my tendency and giving me a model that I duplicate without thinking about it (in that order). I am interested in honing this skill to keep from alienating the reader, but its hard to hone without this sort of constructive criticism.

The craft of writing is incredibly important. Not only to be clear in what we are trying to communicate (precision), but also to impress upon the reader why they should remain invested in the very ideas we are putting forward (i.e. not dry or boring). And with the pressure to publish frequently and often, craft seems likely the first to go. If we want to make academic work relevant beyond our own club, craft seems like it should be the most important thing to consider.

#ACSP2014 Deleuze and Planning

Lisa Schweitzer

So one of the sessions I attended today came out of a reading group at the University of Washington, which I think is a really cool idea–get your faculty together, have them work with the same texts, and then see where you go. And then, if you get somewhere, go out and give some talks on it so that the rest of us benefit. We had:

Keith Harris: Doing Well by Doing Good: Comprehensive Planning and Seattle’s Kindler, Gentler War-Machine

Cheryl Gilge: Citizen Participation as Microfascism: The Darker Side of Creative Austerity

Mark Purcell and Branden Born: Planning, Deleuze & Guttari and the Food Movement


James Potter: Assembling Developmental State Cities: The Oil Crisis, Democracy, and Korea’s Two Million Houses Policy.

To say that I am not qualified to weigh in on these would be a massive understatement as I haven’t read any Deleuze and Guattari, nor have…

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