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NEW-MEDIA-CURATING  May 2008

NEW-MEDIA-CURATING May 2008

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Subject:

Re: Exclusivity and Heresy | Alternative academic criteria

From:

Sally Jane Norman <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Sally Jane Norman <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Mon, 5 May 2008 15:27:58 +0100

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Hmmm - benighted systems without arts teaching: intensity and length of daylight varies hugely across our institutions. Wasn't teaching first instated through Charlemagne's cathedral schools in order to build an educated class capable of running his empire? Music featured early on, perhaps as a way of literally drumming good measure (his specialty) into people, along with mathematics and astronomy (and of course interpretation of THE sacred texts), but it's interesting to see how regional and cultural variants were paired. Strengths in natural sciences coming through Islamic traditions via Spain etc. Kind of harks back to Simon's post (was this here or on PIRATE?) about building up complementarity and synergies in arts research across our respective structures.

Must ignore the "time for research" question. Shouldn't be doing email in this, my only research time - i.e. when officially off campus. On campus, my job consists of generating the means whereby others can do their research; this is confusing given that I'm employed as a researcher. Universities seem to be a joyful mix of cruisers and sloggers. But then again, so are most places in my experience...

Best
sjn
 
 

-----Original Message-----
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Myron Turner
Sent: 05 May 2008 15:08
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [NEW-MEDIA-CURATING] Exclusivity and Heresy | Alternative academic criteria

he system of "publish or perish" in the U.S. goes back at least to the early 50's. It's my impression, though, that at that time in England academia was rather clubby and that publication was not required for membership. When I came to teach in Canada in the mid 60's, we had what the University considered was a British system, no tenure, but a person would be hired "without term" after a year's employment. Now that may not have been an accurate reflection of what went on in England. But it did mean that the teaching faculty had a great deal of latitude. The university exercised control through promotion and salaries; teaching and committee responsibilities were the same for everyone. I had the impression that things were in fact pretty similar in the UK. In fact, the system seemed pretty much the reverse of what Simon describes today. 
Living in London in 1975, I met with someone in my field who was a very productive scholar, but she seemed overwhelmed by University responsibilities and had to squeeze in time for her research.

The creative arts have always been a difficult fit for the university. 
Simon's account of the "point" system (in a previous post) describes something that would be laughable if it weren't true. It sounds like a last ditch effort to interpose a simulacrum of objectivity between art and the requirements of the academic institutions. Even with refereed journals, we know, there is subjectivity of judgment, but with art subjectivity is the name of the game. And from this perspective the point system is ironically as good as any for institutionalizing the practice of art. For, technique apart, what does "peer review" mean in art, if not one sensibility caroming off another? I have a friend whose self-esteem never survived his failure to be promoted to full professor on the basis of his fiction. He was turned down by his "peers", all of whom were part of a close group interested in the same things. Had we had a point system, perhaps this man would have been successful. Who knows?

Despite the difficulty of fitting the arts into a university paradigm, I cannot imagine a university where they were not taught. Or, I should say, to imagine such a university, would be to imagine a landscape barren and benighted.


Myron Turner


Simon Biggs wrote:
> In the UK we have a word for it...Utilitarianism. Jonathon Bentham 
> advocated this ethical system in the 19th century. He also founded 
> University College London, one of the key institutions for research in 
> the UK, as well as the foundations of the welfare state, the penal 
> system and aspects of contemporary governance. Bentham was, in some 
> respects, a pioneer of extreme patrician socialism.
>
> Much of the UK system derives from his ideas and in this respect there 
> is nothing new about what we see happening. Academia in the UK has 
> always been typified by this approach. That we see the creative arts 
> subject to the same logic is not surprising. If you seek to Œsupš at 
> the same table as others you will be subject to the same obligations. 
> Put another way, there are always strings attached.
>
> This Utilitarian approach to education, industry and social 
> development is possibly the key distinction between the Anglo-American 
> and European models of knowledge and its production/dissemination. The 
> Bologna process is largely based on this Anglo-American model so it 
> will be interesting to see what happens as it collides with European 
> tradition. Who knows what the outcome might be?
>   

__
Myron Turner
http://www.room535.org
http://www.mturner.org
http://net18reaching.org/cityscapes

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