Many of us who are in teaching or administrative positions worry often and worry vocally about the future of the profession. On Friday when I had the distinct privilege of chairing a panel at the Honours Colloquium I received a lovely gift: reprieve from worry.
Meet Kaarina Mikalson, Katherine Wooler, and Kristen Flood.
All three of these women will finish their BA degrees this year. On Friday they each presented twenty-minute conference papers on one of the several concurrent sessions of the Undergraduate Honours Colloquium. Kristen’s paper, entitled “Re-Writing Systems of Communication,” which performs a close critical reading of Erin Moure’s O Resplandor, considers the role of translation as a readerly role. In ““Reaching to the Very Corners of the Night,” Kaarina read’s Anne Carson’s Nox as a critical edition of grief. In her presentation, “evolve” Katherine demonstrated her inventive, non-linear editing strategy, which she employed to create a mini digital critical edition of some of bpNichol’s poetry. After their presentations every question the audience posed was prefaced with an acknowledgement of the incredibly high-caliber of critical thinking in all of the papers. As the panelists answered questions they engaged each other’s papers as well as discussing their own.
I left the panel feeling proud, excited, and a wee bit better about the future. When I reached the atrium where all the Colloquium participants and faculty were gathered to celebrate I heard from my colleagues that this intellectual generosity was present in each of the sessions. Bravo students!
This past Friday Aime asked what your sugarplum visions entail. Take a peek in the comments section, you will see that some readers are pragmatic, others are fantastic, and still others mesh the ‘will’ with the ‘wish’ and imagine wild, wonderful, and restful breaks. I found myself thinking about my own sugarplum vision, especially after the lively conversations we have been having here at Hook & Eye regarding the future of the profession. I have imagined jobs for everyone! Academic freedom! Curricular and administrative reform! I have imagined how wonderful it would be if we could stop worrying about breaking hearts and breaking banks and just start living the life of the mind. I didn’t come up with any solutions—I’m tired too—but it was fun to let my mind wander enthusiastically down the aisles of idealism without pulling on its little leash and dragging it back to the land of reality, pragmatism, and grading. I thought about my wish list for the profession all day on Friday, all day until I went to chair a panel at the Dalhousie English Undergraduate Honours Colloquium, that is. Sure, the profession needs a mighty intervention and a great deal of work, but after seeing these students present their work and share their incredible ideas I was reminded again that this is work worth doing, not only for the present, but also—especially—for the future.