Humanities in the Age of Austerity: A CFP

While I wasn’t afforded a photo-op and ceremonial signing moment in the North Dakota Quarterly office, this call-for-papers is among my first acts as the new editor of NDQ:

As readers of the Archaeology of the Mediterranean World, you guys always get the drop:

Humanities in the Age of Austerity

In 2016, the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of North Dakota made the decision to cut support to the nationally-recognized and century-old public humanities journal, North Dakota Quarterly. This included defunding the position of our long-timer managing editor and support for our office assistant who was reassigned elsewhere on campus. These cuts were part of series of large budget cuts at the state level which impacted all state institutions including colleges and universities. The way in which the cuts happened spawned both outrage and critical reflection on the priorities, organization, and leadership present at the state and university levels. While the impact of the UND budget cuts were distinctly local, their significance resonate around the world as education, culture, and the humanities face the growing challenge of fiscal austerity.

As part of the transformation of North Dakota Quarterly, we are excited to announce a call for papers dealing with the humanities in the age of austerity. We invite contributors to consider how the humanities can and should understand and respond to austerity both in the context of higher education and in the public sphere. References to UND and the situation with NDQ are encouraged only in as much as they make a larger point concerning the humanities, and we are seeking national and even global perspectives on this pressing issue.

The plan is to publish the contributions in an edited, digital volume in the spring of 2018 and then as part of an annual paper volume of North Dakota Quarterly in the fall of 2018. Contributions of any length and in any genre are welcome. Deadline is February 15 or earlier. Please send contributions to billcaraher[at]gmail[dot]com with the word “Austerity” in the subject line.

More Punk Rock (with an interview)

I used to do this more often (and I probably should do it more), but today, I’m going to send you over to the North Dakota Quarterly page where I have a long interview with Brian James Schill about his recently published book This Year’s Work in the Punk Bookshelf, Or, Lusty Scripts (2017). It’s a good book and was just reviewed by the LARB in an article about a few new books on literature and pop music, and Brian was a really good sport about talking with me over a string of emails. 

It was pretty hard to do an interview without constantly blurting out “YEAH, you think you’re SO COOL? Well, I know some OBSCURE BANDS TOO, man! And, like, I also produced a book about PUNK ROCK MUSIC. So, you’re not THAT cool. I mean, pretty cool, but only because you’re LIKE ME, not because you’re book. I did my book in 2014, and MOST PEOPLE only like the earlier stuff.” 

I think I more or less managed avoid to say those exact words, but I think the sense of that is still there in the background. What can you do, right?  

It’s an epic interview with a bunch of music and a really cool playlist at the end and some fun links to music throughout. 

So go and check it out.

Lots to Read, just not here

These are busy days here in North Dakotaland. I’m working on the massive introduction that David Pettegrew drafted for the Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology, putting the finishing touches on the paper version of Eric Burin’s Picking the President, maintaining some momentum on Codex, and trying to keep an eye on the news, navigate budget issues on campus, and generally remain sane.

The upshot of this is that I haven’t anything to write about today on the new blog. But fear not, if the constant flow of worrying news in your social media feed isn’t enough to get your restless eyes consuming words, go and check out what my long-time collaborator Richard Rothaus has to say in his review of Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America  Taylor Brorby and Stefanie Brook Trout, editors. (North Liberty, Iowa: Ice Cube Press, 2016) posted on the North Dakota Quarterly page. This book definitely has a place on our “Bakken Bookshelf” next to the Bakken Goes Boom and my forthcoming The Bakken: An Archaeology of an Industrial Landscape (NDSU Press 2017) as well as recent Bakken classics like Lisa Peter’s Fractured Land: The Price of Inheriting Oil (Minneapolis 2014) (my review here) and After Oil from the Petrocultures Research Group (my thoughts here).

I’d be remiss if I also didn’t point to my other professional commitment, Eastern Mediterranean archaeology, and thank Susan Ackerman and the staff of the American Schools of Oriental Research for making a clear statement on recent moves my the new administration to hinder the movement of people – including numerous ASOR members – from countries where we have experienced hospitality, collegiality, and friendship. She and her staff also voice their support for both the NEH and the NEA which are at risk of defunding.

Please take the time to read the full statement by Prof. Ackerman and the ASOR staff and check out Richard’s review of Fracture. I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled blogging soon!

Thomas McGrath and North Dakota Quarterly

This November is the centennial of Tom McGrath’s birth. He is perhaps North Dakota’s most globally recognized poet and perhaps no author is more closely associated with North Dakota Quarterly than Thomas McGrath.

So NDQ has posted its archive of works on McGrath with a new introduction by Dale Jacobson, a leading McGrath scholar. Here’s what I wrote:

In recent years, his work as a definitive poet of the Northern Plains and the American West has received renewed interest and attention. Charlotte Mandel’s recent essay in Poets’ Quarterly captures the scope and tone of McGrath’s work as well as any. McGrath’s biography at the Poetry Foundation demonstrates his deep roots in the American heartland, in a dreamlike reality, and in the pages of North Dakota Quarterly.

In recognition of McGrath’s 100th birthday, we asked McGrath scholar Dale Jacobson to share his thoughts on the poet and to frame McGrath’s work in North Dakota Quarterly. Jacobson’s essay is below and links to McGrath’s contributions to the Quarterly follow.

Go check it out here.

If you find yourself needing more McGrath (and frankly, who doesn’t need more) and are in town, go check out our reading of McGrath poetry on November 20th:

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Me in the Media: Outrage and the Bakken

It’s been a hectic week here in North Dakotaland. So hectic, in fact, that I don’t have time to write about myself. The self-promotion machine has run up against the oppressive reality of … life and books and outrage!

Fortunately, when I’m too busy to promote myself, other people do pick up the slack.

I was really excited to see this article by Megan Gannon in the MIT-based UnDark Magazine. She discusses the North Dakota Man Camp Project in the context of other – frankly more established and well-known – archaeological projects that focused on the contemporary world. It’s a real honor to be discussed next to the seminal work of Bill Rathje, Larry Zimmerman, and Jason DeLeón. 

The Grand Forks Herald has a short piece on the NDUS Arts and Humanities Outrage Summit that begins tomorrow. Check it out here.

Finally, on Tuesday, North Dakota Quarterly re-published my little article on the historical context for Elwyn Robinson’s History of North Dakota. It’s a nice little piece that ties together Robinson’s career as a teacher and a leader in the Department of History with his crowning achievement. 

Lots going on this week!

Standing Rock and the Dakota Access Pipeline

It seems like quite a few of my colleagues have been following with interest the Dakota Access Pipeline crisis and the protest initiated by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe that has quickly garnered international attention. The issues at stake involve North Dakota’s mercurial petroleum economy, the challenge of extracting, moving, and using oil without damaging the environment, the need to recognize and understand a range of cultural sensitivities, and the role of archaeology in managing material cultural resources of the entire community (not just when its convenient or when it fulfills one’s cultural explanation).

Needless to say, I feel profoundly unqualified to address any of these issues much less their complex intersection that gave rise to the Cannon Ball protest camp. Fortunately, my colleague Sharon Carson, over at North Dakota Quarterly, compiled a wide range of links that provide a range of (largely sympathetic) perspectives on both the Cannon Ball protest camp and the larger DAPL crisis. 

So go read her post today and surf around the links that she provided!

Traveling North Dakota

Maybe it’s the waning days of summer or my plans to head back west to check out the Bakken (or maybe that I just finished revising my tourist guide to the Bakken), but for somer reason I’ve been thinking a good bit about travel in North Dakota.

The most famous guide to North Dakota likely remains the WPA funded, North Dakota: A Guide to the Northern Prairie State (Fargo 1938). 

When I was pulling together articles on Hemingway from North Dakota Quarterly, however, I stumbled upon two articles fueled my thinking about travel in North Dakota.

The first is by James E. Boyle, who was an economist at the University of North Dakota before making his name in agricultural economics at Cornell. He traveled the state for 30 days in the spring of 1916 and published some of his findings on that trip in the 1916 NDQ (which were reprinted in 1996). Among the more striking (and perhaps immediately relevant) observations is that on his trip he stayed mostly in farm houses, but during his trip they only stayed in three “American homes.” He described a landscape of almost evenly placed houses, barbed-wired fences, wheat fields, creameries, decent roads, and prosperity: “The farmer with brains and good health is more prosperous than his city brother of similar attainments.”

The second article is by Anne Rathke and it’s titled “The Image of North Dakota in Recent Travel Literature,” and it appeared in NDQ 56 (1988). For Rathke, recent means about 50 years and her article starts with John Gunther’s 1947 Inside the USA and tracks references to North Dakota through William Least Heat Moon’s 1982 Blue Highways. The image presented by Rathke is far from the kind of rustic, prairie idyll that one might expect. Instead, she shows how the North Dakota experience is complex and fueled the imagination of a generation of travelers who perhaps expected little more than an empty block on the map.

 

George Starcher and The Future of the University

It’s the first day of classes here at University of North Dakota and the first semester for our new President Hon. Mark Kennedy. It could be an exciting new era here or it might not matter at all. The important thing is the we should all believe that it matters and look ahead to a new day here at UND. To celebrate this, I’m reposting a post for the North Dakota Quarterly page, which is, in turn, a repost of an article published in the 1956 volume of NDQ

62 years ago, the University of North Dakota welcomed George F. Starcher and two years later, North Dakota Quarterly awoke from its 23-year, depression-induced slumber. In the first volume of its return, NDQ featured an article by then President George F. Starcher titled the “Future of the University.” Starcher probably did more for UND as an institution than any president since Webster Merrifield, and while overshadowed by his popular successor, Tom Clifford, Starcher remade the university as a modern institution adaptable to the new responsibility and expectations of higher education in the post-war world. Whatever one thinks of the modern university, at the University of North Dakota, George Starcher set campus on that course. North Dakota Quarterly was part of that vision. For a retrospective on Starcher’s important term as president, check out the 1971 volume of NDQ where Elwyn Robinson tells the story of Starcher’s term in office. We wish UND’s new president Hon. Mark Kennedy the successes of George Starcher as he pilots UND into the heart of the 21st century. 

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George W. Starcher

It is never easy to look ahead and predict things to come. Yet it is essential that all of us at the University be continuously engaged in planning for the future. An educational institution, by its very nature, cannot stand still. Knowledge is ever growing, and ways of thinking change, too. Since we cannot know what new ideas the future may bring, we do not expect.a perfect blueprint for the University, accurate in every detail. But we can look ahead and see what the pattern will be like. If we are to meet the challenge that lies ahead, every step taken now must fit the larger pattern. Too often large complex institutions build only to meet a clearly evident present need.

We must always keep in mind our past history and the place of the University in the entire system of higher education in the state. The University was established by the territorial legislature in 1883 as the first institution of higher education in North Dakota. With the coming of statehood people felt the need for colleges distributed over the state providing specialized training. The Agricultural College, the School of Science, the School of Forestry and the five State Teachers Colleges all have special functions which we recognize as we plan for the future of the University. The founders of this University were interested in a “good education”, and from the beginning the people have insisted that emphasis be upon quality of education rather than upon size of enrollments or numbers of athletic contests won. The people who support a program of higher education of such variety and extent believe in the importance of all higher education to the state. The University will work with the other institutions in the state in seeking public support to strengthen and improve our total program, for what we all do is so interrelated that we can no longer afford competition for funds for one institution at the expense of another. Nowhere is it more important than in education to recognize that “the rising tide lifts all the boats,” for what helps one strengthens all. I believe the people will continue to support the Governor and the Legislature in any steps to continue the development of their University and Colleges along sound lines.

Good teachers and the excellence of their teaching are far more important than fine buildings in developing a great university. With this in mind, I believe that in the future higher salaries will enable us to meet the growing competition for distinguished professors who stand out as peaks of excellence in any university. The University will go farther toward relieving the faculty of concern for the future by securing added retirement benefits, insurance, and some form of protection against calamity.

The faculty will be spending even more time studying their courses and teaching methods. They will continue to search for better ways to do a better job and to keep· the unit costs of instruction at the lowest possible level consistent with an adequate program and effective teaching. Curricula will change – they need to if they are to be realistic and appropriate for tomorrow’s world. Better and more up-to-date equipment and teaching devices will be available. We shall probably teach fewer courses, always trying to improve the quality of our teaching rather than to multiply courses in a race to keep up with expanding knowledge. There will be more self-education by students Throughout the whole range of curricular and extra-curricular activities there will be more attention to character and responsibility as fundamental to the success, happiness, and usefulness of future University graduates.

Future Enrollments

It is always risky to venture a predic-tion of enrollments because so many factors, known and unknown, determine how young people will decide about their future. However, there are certain clear facts and signals we cannot ignore. We know that we shall have approximately 50 per cent more college- age youth in North Dakota by 1970. The increase in enrollment in all institutions of higher education in North Dakota in the fall of 1955 was nearly 20 per cent, while for the nation it was less than 9 per cent. If this means that a higher percentage of North Dakota youth of college age going to college, and/or that more of them are remaining in the state for their higher education, we can expect the trend to continue. If it does, we could have over 5,000 students at the University by 1970. This would be possible only if we have the housing and the facilities on campus to give them the education they will want and need. We are still a long way from realizing the aim of our founders – to make education possible for every boy or girl who has the ability and is willing to work. If we can see our student financial aids develop to the point where no worthy applicant is denied, then a prediction of 5,000 by 1970 is perhaps too low.

Student financial aid will grow. Many of our most outstanding schools have more than one-third of their students receiving scholarship aid, while state schools often exceed one in four. The people, who are concerned about realizing an equal educational opportunity for all, will see to it that there are more scholarships to be awarded on the basis of need to those able to profit from attending the University.

The physical plant will change. Fortunately, for more than thirty years a careful plan for campus development has been followed. There will be more attention to landscaping and many visitors will acclaim the campus one of the most beautiful in the country. We shall be dreaming of beauty achieved by appropriate placement of buildings and suitable landscape effects rather than by expensive architecture and elaborate horticultural displays not possible in the area.

A completed quadrangle unit of six dormitories can house one thousand men in the Hancock Hall area. A third dormitory for women west of Johnstone and Fulton Halls, with a dining unit, would give accommodations for a total of about five hundred women. Building in that section of the campus would force removal of the temporary service building. By that time we may be able to bring together all maintenance services in one unit.

A new administration building will add more than accommodations for widely scattered offices. It will permit better organization of administrative routines and provide facilities for procedures in accord with the best practices in university administration.

The future University may have a full day radio schedule and television outlet for educational programs produced on the campus. It is possible that North Dakota may undertake the support of a television network covering the state and carrying to schools and adults a systematic program of educational television. This would make it possible for every citizen to have access to the store of knowledge and cultural benefits from each of the state’s institutions of higher education as they share program time on the network.

An essential adjunct to the modern university is a program of convocations and performances that brings to the student body the constant stimulus of musical, dramatic, lecture, and other cultural experiences that require a large auditorium and a theatre.

Student Life

The future will see closer faculty-student relationships, better faculty counseling with students, and more student participation in committees. Custom will build traditions of greater student-faculty cooperation on committees concerned with fraternity and sorority affairs, athletics, social functions, radio and television. Students will participate in planning for their own welfare; and thus, they will know what is going on and have a part in it. They will seek advice of their elders, more than in the past and appreciate and respect even more fully the kind of responsibility that rests with the faculty and administration. The social life of students will be even better organized, with more emphasis on housing places as social units. Students will control themselves and be the means of achieving the basic aims of the University through their own concern for the intellectual and cultural life of the University, as well as for activities which develop social skills and cultivate habits based on sound character and a true sense of responsibility.

Academic Life

The future will see increasing emphasis on education for responsibility as a citizen. The development of personality and personal assets will be stressed both in extra-curricular activities and in the formal curriculum. Students will increasingly demonstrate that they want to prepare themselves to do worthwhile things rather than to pursue purely selfish and economic ends alone. They will want to include courses that emphasize character development and human relations skills.

The faculty will be continuously studying and revising their courses. Accelerating change will mean that lectures will have to be revised more often and be kept up-to-date. We shall get used to the fact that a course with a given title may be quite different from year to year. With a trend toward fewer and better courses, changing with knowledge, there will be modifications of basic degree requirements. Minimum requirements may be reduced in number, but there will be increased emphasis upon faculty advisement, as well as greater student interest in fundamental courses and in planning programs to give the best academic preparation for service in the world of tomorrow.

The University College will stress basic general education and preparation for specialization, but it will find two types of students not satisfied by present curricula. One is the student who is unable to meet the academic standards required for a degree. The other is the student who cannot or who does not wish to plan a four-year program, yet wants something that will permit two years’ preparation for some vocation. A two-year general and vocational edu- cation program in the University College is inevitable if we are to continue to meet the challenge of educational opportunity for all, on an equal basis, and at the same time maintain, high standards for our four-year degree programs. Moreover, a two-year program for some will help solve enrollment problems of the future by enabling certain students to complete their work in two years.

There will be new curricula and new emphasis in some of these we now have. Some programs will be curtailed. There will be a greater use of audio-visual aids and television in teaching. Discussion classes will be more common – perhaps combined – larger lecture groups. The case method of teaching, which was first adopted by the law schools, then taken up by the medical state and now by the business schools, will find its way more and more into the citizens undergraduate classroom as an effective way to teach certain courses. It will require a generation to develop the cases, to obtain the staff, and to secure general enough acceptance of the values derived from such teaching for us to have many of these courses. Curricula in areas now untouched will appear; for example, the appropriate program for the teaching of atomic physics and related phenomena will find an adequate place in our program.

Graduate work will develop. The state will see to it that we more nearly meet the demand for masters and doctors in North Dakota. Even if we are slow to fully recognize that this need is as important as others, we shall see that a program, comparable to what we do in the medical and law school for supplying these graduates is supported.

Summary

By the year 1970 the University will not be so large as to have lost any of its present advantages, but rather there will be more systematic attention to counseling and developing close faculty-student relationships both inside and outside the classroom. The physical plant – laboratories, shops, classrooms and lecture halls – will have to expand, with more attention being given to special-purpose classrooms. Funds appropriated for building in 1957 will not produce buildings ready for use before 1960. The first bulge from the increased birth rate, babies born in 1940, will be ready to go to college in 1958. If only half of an additional 1500 students need university housing, we shall have to add three large dormitories to what we have already scheduled.

Since the quality of what we do depends first upon the faculty, we must secure top people fully prepared for their tasks, with adequate personal and academic qualifications, from a market more highly competitive than anything we have ever faced. In addition to normal replacements we might have to add one hundred new staff members by 1970. The cost will represent an investment in the discovery and development of the most important natural resource the state possesses – its youth.

The road ahead must widen as the University grows in usefulness to the citizens of the state through curricula that will reach even more people and through increased research both pure and applied. The University has had a healthy growth; and it can now look to the future fortified in the strength of a sound administrative organization, a Board of Higher Education with vision and imagination dedicated to the ultimate good of the state, a well-prepared faculty, a vitally concerned student body, and loyal alumni. With the continued friendly interest and support of citizens, the respect of its institutional neighbors and the good will of the state’s elected officials the University will do its part to achieve the goal of a good education for more and more students.

 

A Little Secret Hemingway (and some Tom McGrath too).

Last week, the managing editor at North Dakota Quarterly mentioned that a few folks were inquiring about whether they could pull together all of the articles and special editions on Hemingway published by NDQ over the past 30 years. It so happens that Robert W. Lewis, the long-time editor of the Quarterly, was Hemingway expert and under his leadership, NDQ became an leading outlet for scholars of Hemingway. These folks wanted to publish an edited volume that made the most significant contributions to NDQ available to a wider audience and to add a new introduction and some editorial comments.

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Fortunately, by releasing most of the NDQ to the world under an open license, folks are free to do with it what they please. At the same time, we’re happy enough to lend a hand and to make the more significant contributions to the journal accessible to as wide an audience as possible.

So go and check out North Dakota Quarterly’s contributions to our reading of Ernest Hemingway. I haven’t made the NDQ page live yet on their website, but I likely will this week. 

And while you’re at it, check out the publications of poet and essayist Tom McGrath as well. This year is the centennial of his birth and NDQ will celebrate him with a volume dedicated to his legacy. 

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North Dakota Quarterly and Budget Cuts: What Can You Do?

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We’d like to thank everyone who has sent notes of support, word of encouragement, and thoughts our way as we begin to look ahead toward a new future for North Dakota Quarterly

We particularly appreciate the willingness of subscribers, contributors, and colleagues to be part of this process. To keep this conversation going and to keep you informed our plans, new projects, and collaborative opportunities, we’d like to encourage you to add your name to our email list. We will not pelt you with requests for contributions or fill your inbox with frivolous updates. We do, however, recognize that at least part of NDQ’s future will be digital, and we want to make sure that people who care about the Quarterly are kept informed of new (and classic!) digital content.

We’d very much like to keep in touch as NDQ moves forward. Please add your name to our email list here to be the first to be receive updates on our plans, new content, and other NDQ news as well as to contribute to the ongoing conversation as we seek to transform the one-hundred year legacy of North Dakota Quarterly.

So click here to sign-up!

The image at the top of this post is painting by Elmer Halverson from Wheelock, North Dakota. Wheelock is a small, nearly abandoned town in the heart of the Bakken oil patch and this painting is of the North Dakota badlands. The oil boom has put pressure on the badlands, briefly re-invigorated small towns like Wheelock, and is partly responsible for the current financial challenges across the state. This painting was on the cover of NDQ 24.1 (Winter 1956) which was the first NDQ volume to appear after a 13 year hiatus during the Great Depression and World War II.