Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Debate on the Future of Higher Ed

Culture Machine, probably the most innovative open access cultural studies journal around, is hosting a debate on the future of higher education.  It's very Important stuff.  Check it out!

The Culture Machine debate on the future of higher education in the UK and internationally, and on the position of the arts, humanities and social sciences within the university, continues.

Six new contributions have just been added to the Culture Machine InterZone section:

• ‘The Death of the University, English Style’ by Nick Couldry and Angela McRobbie, both at Goldsmiths, University of London

• ‘Cut the Shock Doctrine: Radicalize Common Sense’ by Paul Bowman, Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University

• ‘Amidst the Culture of Efficiency’ by Sunil Manghani, Critical and Cultural Theory , York St John University

• ‘On the “Death” of the University’ by Jason Rovito, Communication and Culture, York and Ryerson Universities

• 'Education, Education, Education' by Ewa Sidorenko, Education, University of Greenwich

• ‘Diversity and Choice’ by Leon Wainwright, History of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University

To read the pieces, visit the Culture Machine InterZone:

More contributions to follow.

If you still want to join the debate, email your all contribution to Gary Hall at <>, remembering to include your full name and academic affiliation (if any). If, for institutional or other reasons, you would prefer to have your piece published anonymously, we would be happy to accommodate this.

All contributions will be reviewed by the Editorial Board on a rolling basis, with those accepted for publication being made immediately available on the Culture Machine site.

Culture Machine is part of Open Humanities Press

For more information, visit the Culture Machine site at:

Friday, November 19, 2010

"Harry Potter Grows Up": The Meaning Behind a Cliché

For those of you who aren't familiar with The Late Age of Print, the final chapter of the book focuses on the extraordinary literary sensation that is Harry Potter. So, needless to say, Harry Potter has been on my mind quite a bit lately, especially with today's release of the first installment of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

I don't have much to say about the latest film, honestly, not having yet seen it -- although I intend to, as I've seen the previous six movies and have read/enjoyed all seven books. Instead, what I've been thinking about lately is the age of Harry Potter, or rather that of his fans.

I teach an undergraduate course at the 300 or Junior level called "The Cultures of Books and Reading"; during one week, we focus on the many-headed Harry Potter phenomenon. When I first launched the book class, back in 2006, I was excited to realize that my students were basically Harry's contemporaries. Those among them who were eleven years old -- Harry's age -- when the series launched in 1997 were twenty in 2006, which is the typical age of most college Juniors.

But now it's four years later, and those twenty year-olds are turning twenty-four. Yes, that's right, twenty-four -- practically a quarter century. Graduate school age. Marrying age. Getting established in one's career age. Even baby-having age. I'm feeling old just writing about them! Indeed, it's not just that Harry Potter and the actors who portray him and his friends on screen have grown up. The whole fan culture surrounding Harry Potter has grown up, too, to the point where, as with Star Wars fans, we might even start thinking about a whole new generation of Potter enthusiasts.

This is what the release of the first installment of the film adaptation of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows really means. It marks the beginning of the end of the film adaptations, yet it also marks the beginning of the beginning of the next generation of Potter fandom. What role, if any, will the books, films, toys, games, candy, costumes, etc. play in their lives? And what new meanings will the Harry Potter franchise take on once the torch gets passed, or rather shared?

Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Future of the Humanities

This video made the rounds last week on Facebook.  I'm sharing it here for those of you who may have missed it (or who want to watch it again).  It offers a tragicomic glimpse into the cynicism that pervades the academic humanities these days -- a result of poor job prospects for many, limited funding, and diminishing respect within and beyond higher education.  It's biting, but for exactly the reasons I wish it were not.