More for English 548

As the semester progresses and Mike confirms that that some/many of our readings aren’t meant to possibly be fully understood on the first, second, or even third reading, I find myself sifting through for what I can understand and what might be relevant to me. I have given up understanding the philosophy and theory  behind digital humanities within this semester. With The Two Virtuals by Alexander Reid I find understanding both with the help of some of his youtube videos and website blog entries. Given my background in student services, social media for my student services program and teaching one-time workshops and small-group tutorials, the pedagogy parts of what I’ve read in the digital realm make the most sense (though my courses focused solely on pedagogy also make my head spin). Reid touches on pedagogy many times and places throughout his book. I like Reid for his priority on pedagogy. He ends his book with a subsection entitled “Whatever Discipline” culminating ideas of cybernetics, pedagogy as a material space and conflicting ideas on how the realm of digital humanities will evolve. As teachers this raises a lot of challenges and questions; Reid specifically names, “Without a clear method or response, the question remains in our discipline and others: how to response to technology? How to response to growing corporate influence?” (189). He continues with the ‘two’ or binary theme of technology as a savior of the field of English versus technology as “evidence of the growing crisis” (190). It is the seemingly eternal debate that comes up, usually lighthearted though always earnest, almost weekly in our English 548 class and without a doubt it comes up weekly as some point, some time in my graduate seminars (particularly the point of access and utilizing technology). I find it interesting that even as he recognizes corporate influence he follows with pedagogy not being about control.

Reid is absolutely embracing technology though perhaps not blindly or without critique. But I have to wonder about pedagogy not being about control. On the one hand I think he is merely recognizing that we cannot possibly have one pedagogy that will address and properly teach and/or filter without error. Pedagogy cannot protect our classrooms from corporate influence perhaps. But I wonder if he is bringing this up as a sort of justification in using technology even though there are issues of power, influence and control and within that, issues of access.

Moving forward without much transition, I am unclear as to his reference to ‘the whatever’ (191-92). Is this the same ‘whatever’ we read from Alexander Galloway in Interface Effect last week? (I didn’t really understand the concept). On corporate influence and the ‘whatever’ (maybe the whatever?): “Corporate culture may indeed come to shape the logical organization of the university (as if there were a time when the university did not serve the state), but with such topological processes of knowledge production at its foundation, discipline can never be anything except whatever it is” (192).  I cannot decide if I despise what he is saying or if it is pragmatic and empower – you can beat the system once you understand it, type of thing.