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Syllabus of the Month (January)

This month’s honoree is:

PHL289: THE PHILOSOPHY OF ADJUNCTING

Instructor: Kevin Temple
Office hours: By text message

Course Description

There is no such thing as the Philosophy of Adjuncting; but rest assured, this course is authentic, for I am being deliriously underpaid to teach it. As the “instructor of record,” I have made the syllabus distinctly my own because that tiny gasp of freedom is to tenure what adjunct pay is to an actual salary. What have I put on it? Nothing of use. It is self-defeating, for that is what a philosophy of adjuncting must be.

  1. THE STRUCTURAL PROBLEM

Week 1: Marx on alienation

My adjunct friend says, “The irony of adjuncting is being alienated labor while teaching future alienated laborers about Alienated Labor.” Read the Alienated Labor section of Marx’s “Economic-Philosophic Manuscripts.” Alienation happens in a bunch of ways; for example, when instead of doing something great on your own terms, an arbitrarily powerful person forces you to do it his way. He ruins what you do by breaking it down into a series of distinct tasks, automating whatever can be automated, measuring how long each remaining task takes, and then paying you as little as possible per task. That’s how administrators created adjuncting. It’s almost like they’ve read Marx.

Week 2: Adorno saw it coming

We discuss the “culture industry.” Universities as a whole have what Adorno called a “culture monopoly.” As such, he says, “They cannot afford to neglect their appeasement of the real holders of

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OSP wins a Digital Science ‘Catalyst Grant’

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve won a Catalyst Grant for innovative research tool-building projects, offered by Digital Science.  The grant will support the extension of the OSP into other languages, beginning with German, Spanish, and Japanese (languages in which we have large document collections). 

We’ll begin this process soon after the launch of the next version of the Syllabus Explorer–currently a couple months away.  We think that in 2018 the OSP will grow from a mostly US-based curricular resource to a global one capable of mapping  curriculum across a wide range of countries.

More info on the Catalyst Grants.

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Syllabus of the Month (June)

This month’s honorees are Carl Bergstrom and Jevin West from the University of Washington for their very ambitious INFO 198 / BIOL 106B course:

Calling Bullshit in the Age of Big Data

Our learning objectives are straightforward. After taking the course, you should be able to:

  • Remain vigilant for bullshit contaminating your information diet.
  • Recognize said bullshit whenever and wherever you encounter it.
  • Figure out for yourself precisely why a particular bit of bullshit is bullshit.
  • Provide a statistician or fellow scientist with a technical explanation of why a claim is bullshit.
  • Provide your crystals-and-homeopathy aunt or casually racist uncle with an accessible and persuasive explanation of why a claim is bullshit.

We will be astonished if these skills do not turn out to be among the most useful and most broadly applicable of those that you acquire during the course of your college education.

More.

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Syllabus of the Month (February)

This month we highlight RISD Professor Clement Valla’s course, Uncreative Design, and ponder its relationship to the OSP.

DESCRIPTION

“In 1969 the conceptual artist Douglas Heubler wrote, ‘The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more.’” So opens Kenneth Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing, published in 2011. Following Goldsmith’s lead, this class will explore various strategies in art, writing and political activism that will lead us to an uncreative design. We will make use of copying, repetition, appropriation, detournement and bricolage in a series of studio experiments. Though the class will be focused on ways of (not)making, class participation and discussions of assigned readings will also play a major role in guiding studio work, and in evaluating student projects. There are no prerequisites, though students should be willing to take major risks and have a very open approach to different modes of working.

Creativity, intuition, improvisation, composed, hand-made, unique, original, subjective, genius, authored. These are all to be avoided in this class. Rather what we create will be uncreative, systematic, scripted, chance based, calculated, mass produced, digital, appropriated, objective and copied. The role of contemporary producers is no longer be to create new things, but to channel, frame, re-assemble and contextualize existing things – from creative production towards an ‘uncreative’ production. Uncreative Design explores how new meaning is produced by collecting, archiving, captioning, erasing, parsing. There are many examples of this work and theory in other disciplines, including writing, art, new media, music, film

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Syllabus of the Month (September)

September’s ‘Syllabus of the Month’ is a 1994 University of Chicago class, “Current Issues in Racism and the Law,” by a junior faculty member you may have heard of.  (Click the image for the full syllabus).screen-shot-2016-09-12-at-10-27-07-am

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