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Jim Aune's blog


Reading Plans for the Holidays?

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 23, 2011 - 3:44pm

Like most academics, I find winter break a good time for catching up on important reading. I plan on reading Robert Bellah's Religion in Human Evolution and David Graeber's Debt, The First 5000 Years. Any other interesting books folks would like to recommend?


Presidential Metaphors

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 10, 2011 - 6:02pm

We're on a roll here chez Blogora on metaphor this week. I thought I'd share the most unfortunate administrative metaphor of all time: yesterday afternoon the President of Texas A&M University told a meeting of all the department heads in the university: "You are the lubricant between the administration and the faculty." Those of you who are more psychoanalytically and/or feminist inclined may parse the logical entailments of this metaphor as you wish.


thoughts on teaching

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 5, 2011 - 1:08pm

A handout I made for a teachers on teaching panel at NCA. Anything else you'd add?

Jim Aune, Professor and Head of Communication, Texas A&M
"Teachers on Teaching" panel, NCA, New Orleans, 11/18/11


Metaphors for Scholarship

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 3, 2011 - 12:19pm

I'm looking forward to doing some writing soon (after a semester spent learning the ins and outs of administrivia). Whenever I start a project I think of it as a sculptor: you're given a block of stone (or other material) with its own texture, coloring, and hidden fault lines, and if the project is successful a figure begins to emerge out of the block. (Does anyone else think of the process this way? I'm curious.)


Why Teaching Free Speech Is Fun

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 1, 2011 - 7:29am

Part of the final project for our campus free speech course. On the very problematic 10th Circuit case, Axson-Flynn v. Johnson.


Freedom of Information Requests and Academic Freedom

Submitted by Jim Aune on December 1, 2011 - 7:19am

One result of the protests at the Wisconsin State Capitol last winter was an effort by Wisconsin Republicans to intimidate faculty members at the University of Wisconsin by filling open records requests for their emails. The distinguished historian William Cronon was one target, and he explains what happened and its consequences for academic freedom

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    Submitted by Jim Aune on November 14, 2011 - 7:55pm

    Becoming an academic administrator (I've discovered in a very short time) means: a) learning a lot of locally idiosyncratic acronyms, e.g. GAT, GAL, and b) learning to bow down before certain god-terms, e.g. "diversity" and "mentoring." A core standard for the senior hire my department is doing this fall is "mentoring." Call me crazy, but I don't know wtf that means. (I'll give extra points to anyone who actually knows the classical origin of the term--the attack on Eurocentrism has had little impact on our academic jargon). I was never mentored. I sank and swam and sank.


    Faculty Governance?

    Submitted by Jim Aune on November 14, 2011 - 10:03am

    A FB friend who teaches at large land-grant university similar in size/structure to my own just posted a question about the future of faculty governance, asking if there are examples of where faculty governance works well. Virtually all the examples are from smaller liberal arts colleges, but with a mention or two of universities with strongly unionized faculty.


    The Occupy MLA Twitterfeed

    Submitted by Jim Aune on November 14, 2011 - 6:46am

    Offered without comment.


    Power Co-opts; Absolute Power Co-opts Absolutely,

    Submitted by Jim Aune on November 6, 2011 - 10:27am

    writes Alasdair MacIntyre in After Virtue. Sickening news out of Penn State this weekend. As with the sex abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic church, what I find most fascinating, from a rhetorical and ethical standpoint, is the behavior of the administrators. Joe Paterno (whom everyone, perhaps rightly, reveres as a sort of saint of college football) and Graham Spanier (the President of PSU) knew about these charges a long time ago, but said nothing publicly.