With all the casual references to the “ivory tower” of the universities these
days, I thought readers might wish to be reminded of Northrop Frye’s
reference to that location, in his convocation address to students at Carleton
University in 1957. “Soon,” he said, “you will be in the ivory towers of
business, in the escapist retreats of the suburbs, in the charmless magic of
teaching, or in the schizophrenic fantasies of government. Wherever you
are, you will be in a labyrinth, and only your four years at Carleton will give
you the clue to it.” I have no special knowledge of Carleton University,
but this may well be a clue we all need to better appreciate the relevance
of a university education worthy of the name.
Dr. Frank is a professor of history at the University of New Brunswick.
A more creative way to write
in his latest column (“The pressure to keep it
short,” The Associate, May 2015), Alan MacEachern
discusses pressures on faculty to assign fewer
readings, shorter assignments and shorter theses
to students today. I’ve noticed the same trends,
teaching at Western University and in the U.K.
I’ve come to appreciate the blog form, the
tweet (perhaps less so), the crossover article for
a wide audience, the academic article and the
book (shorter for a wide audience, longer for an
academic audience, diversified anthologies for
diverse audiences) as different ways to reach different, yet equally valuable, constituencies. I’m
trying to become reasonably adept at as many of
them as possible. When I had a monograph published early in my career, I felt like I’d hit the
jackpot. Now I realize my monograph is among
the least-read things I’ve written; my blog isn’t
super popular but, without doubt, it’s more read
than that book. I’ve just completed a short book
for students that I think may become the most-read output of my career.
All this to say: perhaps we should actively be
encouraging our graduate students to think about
different venues, different voices, different lengths,
different audiences. It is a more creative way to
encounter writing, perhaps a less stressful way to
actually start writing, and it will better serve us in
communicating the public value of the humanities
and social sciences in the future. Alongside this
effort, we need to press our peers and university
administrators to understand multiple publishing platforms, including digital, as valuable and
worthy of tenure and promotion.
Dr. Solga is an associate professor of theatre studies
in the department of English and writing studies at
Don’t cut the tasty bits
alan maceachern’s article “The pressure to
keep it short” is a funny (and insightful) article.
Were it cut to two columns of text instead of
three, I bet many of the quips would have been
omitted. Then the article would just be insightful
and I probably would not have read on. The short
can be an amuse-bouche or it can be a multivita-
min. I don’t do vitamins.
Dr. Slepkov is an assistant professor in the department of
physics and astronomy and holds the Canada Research Chair in
the Physics of Biomaterials at Trent University.
Good old days
i know “we” have made progress, but it was still
disheartening to hear of the struggles of mothers
and fathers in academe regarding both child care
and breastfeeding (“The breastfeeding conference
presenter,” In my opinion, May 2015).
Cultural change is needed. Yet, in 1978 when
I gave birth, the faculty of social work at the University of Calgary was very supportive, and my
late partner Jim Gripton and I had no difficulty,
the week after the birth of our son, in offering