24 Jan 2022

Dear Everyone:  

Here we are, on the eve of a new semester! I’m laugh-crying with you all about the state of things and wishing so much I was writing in pure celebration of a bright, fresh semester cleared of the strains and stresses of pandemic life, even if not quite yet fully realized as the much better world it could/need/must be (dammit)! In my orbits as undoubtedly for yours, this past month has seen the expected chaos of holidays and year end transitions compounded by the logistical challenges of COVID’s household presence (we are all, in the end, okay) plus some thrown in other stuff (also end in the end, okay). There also continues to be so much that horrifies and infuriates and threatens to overwhelm: neglected upkeep of housing that makes tinderboxes of apartment buildings; housing policies that have unhoused so many; and so many (any) people continuing to die from gunfire — and this is just the mostly local news from just the past few weeks. Grief and mourning and the activity of living all unfolding compresently perhaps as is always the case but so noticeably these days/weeks/months/years…Though I think this first message of the semester ought to be uplifting and rousing, I can’t shake any of this off (dammit)….BUT!  

Or, rather, and/but, as is my typical formulation, I’m also acutely aware that these are the conditions that compel us to get smarter about everything, to figure out what we don’t know and need to know and to go find it, to paraphrase Cherríe Moraga; to refuse willfully to give in or go under even as we step back to rest and weep and wail as necessary; to stay in touch and check in and lend help where we can out of mutuality, solidarity, just plain humanness; and to revel deliberately in the limitless promise that the beginning of a new semester and year holds. I listen mostly to classical music generally, but the quirky combination of Pink and Black Eyed Peas has been bouncing around in my head these days, so, that’s my offering to you as the inspiriting forces for the term — so what? you’re still a rock star! let’s get it started!  

News and notes:  

– you’ll have seen the invitation that went out from GC President Robin Garrell to the open community meeting to be held tomorrow and Thursday — both need advanced registration. The focus of the meeting is to talk about spring 22 plans. I know many of you have questions as do I. The EOs in the building have forwarded many to President Garrell and Provost Everett and this meeting is in part a response to that activity. I’ll be there tomorrow — will convey whatever I learn to you all.  

– you’ll also perhaps have learned that we’re now able to get covid tests from the government — 4 to a household — “free” (as if we don’t pay in any number of other ways, I say crankily). Visit https://www.covidtests.gov/ to request.  

– in program news! our Friday Forum slate is looking most excellent for spring 22. Please keep an eye out for a separate message on that, to follow in the next day or so, and with thanks to Lily Iserson for managing the back end of things!  

– also in program news, I am super delighted to announce that the appointment of Professor Erika Lin to the PhD Program in English was formalized by the CUNY powers-that-be in mid-December. Warmest welcome to Professor Lin, and I’m looking forward to a giant celebration toward end of spring to fold in celebration of her addition with that of Amber Musser and Todd Craig.  

Two items with which to finish this first missive of 2022. One is simply to note that my office hours are the same as last semester’s — Tuesdays, 2-4p and Thursdays, 10a-12p, and by appointment. The easiest way to book is to use the appointlet link at the bottom of my signature line below; you needn’t ask in advance about making an appointment. If none of the listed spots works for you, please drop me an email and we’ll find another spot.  

The second is to offer gratitude — to Tanya Agathocleous, Siraj Ahmed, Karl Steel, Nancy Silverman, Lily Iserson — all of whom have worked tremendously hard over the winter break on our behalf — and to all of you participating in admissions or reading diss chapters or getting your grades submitted on time or just showing up with and for each other as best you can. It all matters, which is to say, it is all a way in which matter is organized into the forms of living and life we wish to inhabit…thank you for bringing your magical powers to bear with and for all of us!  

Here’s to an unexpectedly, surprisingly wonderful semester ahead!


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