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CAA News Today

News from the Art and Academic Worlds

posted by Christopher Howard — Sep 23, 2015

Each week CAA News publishes summaries of eight articles, published around the web, that CAA members may find interesting and useful in their professional and creative lives.

What Ever Happened to Google Books?

It was the most ambitious library project of our time—a plan to scan all of the world’s books and make them available to the public online. “We think that we can do it all inside of ten years,” Marissa Mayer, who was then a vice president at Google, said to the New Yorker in 2007, when Google Books was in its beta stage. “It’s mind-boggling to me, how close it is.” Today, the project sits in a kind of limbo. (Read more from the New Yorker.)

There Is No Excuse for How Universities Treat Adjuncts

Apart from feeling sorry for the underpaid faculty, why should we care that college professors have the same job conditions as day laborers, fast-food workers, cashiers, taxi drivers, or home-care aides? They did, after all, choose to pursue a career in higher ed. Administrators at these institutions of higher learning argue that they need to use adjuncts because it is the only way to keep tuition from rising even faster than it has. And isn’t access to education the higher good? (Read more from the Atlantic.)

Why Is College So Expensive If Professors Are Paid So Little?

Twenty-five years ago, a student at a public college or nonresearch university campus would see twice as many faculty as administrators on average; now the ratio is roughly equal. Just 20 percent of the teaching workforce in 2013 were permanent or tenure track. About half worked part-time or as adjuncts, often stitching together temporary gigs at different institutions. (Read more from the Nation.)

Is This Art?

The State University of New York at Buffalo community was reeling last week after signs saying “white only” and “black only” appeared beside water fountains and bathrooms around campus. The signs were “posted by a student for a graduate art course,” said John DellaContrada, associate vice president for media relations and stakeholder communications. “We’re still looking into it.” (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

Exposing White Privilege

Uproar over a controversial and racially charged art project at the State University of New York at Buffalo spread well beyond campus over the weekend—with people responding to both the project and the artist’s explanation of it. Ashley Powell, a graduate student in art who placed “white only” and “black only” signs around campus last week, did so without any explanation. But amid the uproar, she published a lengthy defense of her work in the campus newspaper. (Read more from Inside Higher Ed.)

Participation in the Arts Is Driven by Education, Not Class

Among sociologists, the arts have traditionally been examined through the lens of social class. Much research has found the well off and well connected are more likely to appreciate the arts, suggesting that highbrow taste is a significant signal of status. But those studies, as a rule, have failed to distinguish between passive enjoyment of the arts (say, going to the ballet) and active involvement (actually taking a dance class). A new study from England finds making that distinction is quite revealing. (Read more from Pacific Standard.)

Why Conference Book Exhibits Persist

Absent from the debates over the relative merits of academic conferences—either as disciplinary revival meetings, intellectual proving grounds, or ancient tribal gatherings—has been any discussion of book exhibits. We usually assume those ubiquitous spaces are part of the cost of registration, and we only notice them when they’re not there. Apart from the plenary and concurrent sessions, the workshops and roundtables, book exhibits are a middle ground between scholarship and commerce. (Read more from the Chronicle of Higher Education.)

Three Tips for Handling Discussions in Online Classes

I’ve been teaching a large online class for the first time this semester. Because the course involves looking at a number of challenge interactive works and games, I emphasize discussion forums and critical debate. Discussion forums, however, present many potential problems in an online class. We only have to read the comments anywhere on the web to see that the online medium offers huge potential for miscommunication, personal attacks, trolling, and harassment—even when in the space of a virtual classroom. (Read more from ProfHacker.)

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