Among the most potent archetypes in modern American culture is the English major cum budding novelist scriptwriter turned hipster barista. A guaranteed (if lazy) punchline, that a humanities degree ensures a middling career in the food service industry is a truism served up hottest by opportunistic politicians across the spectrum. (Here’s a right-wing governor, here’s a conservative presidential candidate, oh, and here’s the president of hope and change.) Despite the discipline’s best attempts to dispel the myth of the “impractical” English major, career marketability remains a constant source of anxiety within the walls of the academy itself. The most popular majors in U.S. colleges, big and small, remain those fields with ready professional tracks–Business, Psychology, Nursing, Education, Criminal Justice–and there’s good reason for it, even if, as Natalia Cecire tweeted recently, the rationale might sometimes[…]

Note: I wrote this “welcome” blog post to my TU Dortmund  students  for a course on Anarchism in America, March 2014. I think a lot about work. Thinking about work is an important part of my jobs, all of my jobs. Practitioners of “cultural studies” are self-reflexive about methods, disciplines, and canons; the best teachers interrogate lesson plans and classroom decisions to no end; and graduate students waver precariously between the roles of apprentice, colleague, and professional, with a variety of tasks — including research, writing, teaching, networking, professionalizing —  attending our every waking thought. I am grateful that today’s lesson returned me to Emma Goldman’s “Anarchism: What it really stands for,” an essay that already saved my life twice in graduate school.[…]

Note: I wrote this “welcome” blog post to my TU Dortmund  students  for a course on The New York Poets, March 2014. I admitted in our first meeting that this is a new kind of course for me. I have never taught a class committed entirely to poetry or to the twentieth-century. My other offering this term, a cultural history of anarchism in the United States, is much more typical (that is, if I’ve been around long enough to have a “type”). I entered a graduate program in literature with an uneven bundle of interests: Walt Whitman, Marx/Hegel, labor history, and not making a fool of myself. I’ve come to love poetry, but it was a long, stubborn struggle. Sure, I was “a Whitman guy,”[…]