26 October 2020

Dear Everyone:

My note this week opens by offering thanks to Amy Wan, Anna Zeemont, Sam O’Hana, Mark McBeth, Sharanya Dutta, Maxine Krenzel, and Mary McGlynn, for being a part of the “Teaching in Emergency” roundtable last Friday, and to Sean Nortz, Nancy Silverman, and Kent Yuen, for their vital organizational and executional efforts. It’s not at all surprising that in this program comprised of people who work hard – and often joyfully – at teaching well, that these panelists as well as everyone else who joined the conversation, would provide creative thinking, sharp insight, and specific tactics; I’m really grateful to Sam for having suggested the session in the first place, and to have learned with and from you all.

From questioning the parameters of what constitutes “emergency” and remembering the long-lived ways that some people are made to live under duress and distress especially as a consequence of anti-Black racism and its institutionalized impact, to discussion of specific practices – like using Instagram-posting as an extension of class space, writing assignments at the opening of class to help students transition into class, and the creation of syllabi organized around the principles of care and acknowledgment of vulnerability, and from recognizing the vast differences in experiences of teaching this semester – for some, it’s going terrifically well and for others, not so much – contingent not only on the class itself but on such circumstances as citizenship status, familial demands, work demands, living situations, and so on, we had a broad ranging conversation that also included remembering that teachers are vastly differentially resourced and positioned. I know – or think we know – that we know this: the differential vulnerabilities and resources that comprise “us” as both students and teachers.  And, I think it’s worth repeating, in part as a pedagogical principle of and exercise in returning understanding of the deep heterogeneity and complex personhood that such categories as “teacher” and “student” don’t immediately accommodate.

Emergency is always/has always been coupled with emergence – what emerges from, what emergence characterizes our work? Toward what ends? For whom?  What can heterogeneity and complexity bring to bear on the version and vision of the humanities we enact? Guiding questions that emerge to linger…strange temporalities in that phrasing, but somehow I think it’s right.

As we look ahead to another semester of working remotely, I’m wondering in what ways we can support each other in our (thoroughly heterogeneous!) roles as teachers and students. Of course we’ll keep learning with the TLC and FI offerings and so on, and if there are things you think might be beneficial to us in the program, please don’t hesitate to holler – always.

Speaking of spring and things we might do, here, again, is the link to the Friday Forum proposal form for Spring 2021 events – please complete the form by no later than 4 December, with thanks in advance on behalf of the Friday Forum Committee.

More immediately, this coming Friday, 30 October, we’ll be holding two events (this will also go out separately, so not to worry if you lose track of this message!)

First, at 2p, we’ll hold the Prospectus Workshop Nancy Silverman has organized – many thanks, Nancy.  The workshop will run to 3:30p, and will feature 3 students, a faculty member, and Nancy and I will of course also be there. Here’s the Zoom link:  https://gc-cuny.zoom.us/j/98596944513.

Second, at 4p, join us for Material Objects II; Faculty Publish Things, the follow up to the iteration featuring student work, focused on recent work by Tanya Agathocleous, Ashley Dawson, Peter Hitchcock, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Mark McBeth!  Here’s the zoom link for that: https://gc-cuny.zoom.us/j/91527538255.  The flyer is attached and below.

Abundant well wishes for this final week of October —


PhD Program in English//Friday Forum

Material Objects II: faculty publish things

30 October 2020 // 4p



faculty in English publish things!

Come get a sense of the object possibilities

and celebrate their work in the process!


Tanya Agathocleous

Ashley Dawson

Peter Hitchcock

Wayne Koestenbaum


Mark McBeth

Hang out after – same zoom address! 

Free and open to the public, as always, and we’ll try to live caption!

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