A Conversation with Tim Burke

Day 23 of Emerging Genres
A Conversation with Tim Burke, Citizen Intellectual



Cliopatria: A Group Blog

Anne's selections from Tim's suggestions for reading:

Burke's Home for Imaginary Friends:
I
write essays ...online...
Because want to introduce some unexpected influences and ideas into my intellectual and academic work. I want to unsettle the overly domesticated, often hermetic thinking that comes with academic specialization. I want to introduce a “mutational vector” into my scholarly and intellectual work....
Because I want a chance to branch into new areas of specialization...
Because I want to find out how much of my scholarly work is usefully translatable into a wider public conversation.
Because I want to model for myself and others how we should all behave within an idealized democratic public sphere....how to behave responsibly but also generatively

I don’t generally like to talk about my everyday life or feelings in the blog....why would anyone care? ...Too much information! Too much information! Keep the fleshworld out of my pure cyberworld, man.

It’s all about the formation of a double consciousness, the productive disconnect of an interior, inexpressive self from a speaking self....I believe in a kind of decorum and formality in the public sphere; I believe in the public sphere as a democratic and thus somewhat impersonal ideal, the meaningful incarnation and structural guarantee of freedom all at once.

Border Guards:
If we really believe in knowledge production, we’re obligated to be generous and welcoming

Obama on Race: the kind of work I’ve tried to do in my own blogging, which is to commit to seeing things as other people see them before I set out to criticize them....to make the commitment to trying to understand people in their own terms, to find out why certain ways of thinking and speaking and acting flourish in their world. Then you’re entitled to criticize, if you want, but now your criticism is going to be entangled in that understanding of a lived world, and limited by it....This is what politics is...

ACTA Report: ...points where I’m not sure how to build a conversation...
I don’t know how we can bridge the way you see the world and the way I do.

NITLE Reflections: the current generation of college students...use of digital tools is pragmatic and limited rather than exploratory and creative. Students at elite liberal arts colleges may be even less oriented towards digital tools and media than most in their generation: these institutions seem to me to have a vaguely antiquarian appeal that draws students who imagine their intellects and avocations in slightly “old-fashioned” ways.

Liveblogging NITLE: Very interesting insights from the students into the idea of the classroom as a private or sanctified space, as sequestered from a generalized or public context. Also to some extent the antagonism between doing intellectual work and public work.

Liberal Arts Poster Children:
what I think is worth looking at: how to match a liberal arts education with liberal arts outcomes....a liberal arts curriculum could be much more about diving in than it often is, much more about making use of knowledge, much more about building and making and testing....“How would you build a curriculum designed to train a MythBuster?”

Other Applications of Genre:
Angry at Academe:
what's keeping some kinds of diversity from happening?...The stock answer is to assume that it's the exclusion of identities...but I sometimes wonder if the banalization...or the orthodoxy of some identity arguments, is as much at fault....I get so tired of routined stock narratives...

That Which is Discussable:
A long, discussion-intensive class is like an improv stage performance. There’s only so much you can prepare in advance that’s specific to that particular performance.

I'm Shocked, Shocked to Find That some Memoirs are Fake:
One of the tropes of identity politics at its highwater point was that if you weren’t a certain kind of subject, you couldn’t possibly know that subjectivity.....The persistence and power of textual impersonations might be taken to question this proposition. Maybe it turns out that when you couple formal knowledge about other peoples’ lives together with the powerful cognitive capacity of human beings to imagine the consciousness of another, we actually can know a great deal about the private, personal, interior experience of other people. So much so that we’re able to persuasively represent what it is like to be another person...
Anne's notes from the in-class conversation:
Persuasive Games: on procedural literacy, knowing how systems work
blogging is about acquiring literacy: how this system of talk works
on the internet being what the academy is not:
a place, a possibility, a practice for where institutions fall short
but there are problems, too: being drawn into eddies and controversies
w/ "deliberate chameleons," those who will not be understood
(as opposed to earnest conversations with those who
are "authentic in their habitas," and/but are just really unlike you...)
is it a fool's errand, to assume that there is a silent majority
watching, who will object, a la Senator McCarthy: "Have you no decency"?
"logareic" (or "blogareic") writing is a satisfying dialogue
it is hard to push back against common practices such as short, snarky, synchronized sentiments
difficulties include tribal loyalty to the original poster; meta alliances among bloggers; and
the narcissism of personal revelation
does Tim have the "dial set right"?
would he get more situated responses if he wrote more personal narration himself?
naming yourself can constrain what you can say
what kind of community do you want to build?
the ecosystem of the practice includes authenticity, and "the played"
some bloggers are captive to static projects, neer dialogic, never explosed
its best if respondents don't agree
the charge of compulsive centrism: locating yourself in the middle,
in order to keep the conversation going and build bridges
political sites tend to strongly polarized narratives, driven by the question of what will circulate
blogging teaches about the very hard limits of expert authority:
shorn of all that makes others listen to you, you can get rhetorically smarter
what do I acutally known? how do I tell it, that you can hear it?
scholars can become lazy about earning their authority; they can allow expertise to do  too much
shared training can lead to synchronization
it can have a stultifying effect on each discipline, each "sociological prison"
digititalizing scholarship can have social justic effects: increasing dissemination and speed
(cf. the slow pace of conventional scholarship, which can "make what you write alien to you")
blogging can encounrage practices of passion, joy and connection
it can "let sunlight into the room," making our work more transparent and egalitarian
do science and the humanities have different academic missions?
(the former having to do with discovery, the latter with explanation and translation?)
or is the distinction between lumpers and splitters, generalizers and specialists?
and does blogging have a generalist function that established scholarship serves very poorly?
cf. small liberal arts colleges like this with R-1 institutions: let us make proper use of our scale 
randomness