The Post-Public University and Its Discontents

Sora Han
Criminology, Law, and Society
UC Irvine

Roshanak Kheshti
Ethnic Studies
UC San Diego

The substantive research of this working group centers not on developing analyses of social issues, but identifying a particularly compelling existing feminist analyses in order to create adaptations of their complexities into multiple genres of cultural literacy including sound, short written forms, poetry, visual art, digital media, design, amicus briefs, and others. The short-term significance of negotiating the tension between the afeminism of public discourse and the narrowing space of feminist thinking in the post-public university, is the possibility of demonstrating how the humanities is capable of taking a dire situation and turning it into something exciting, beautiful, thought-provoking, and ultimately, something with force. The aim is not to appropriate or convert power, but to make power, much like how an artist harnesses the force of art in her various productions. And while the digital humanities and the arts have always been engaged in this sort of intellectual labor, it still remains to be seen what scholars like those assembled by the working group existing outside or at the margins of those fields as its supportive critics can do.

The long-term significance of this project for the humanities is modest and somewhat speculative. Its significance, by designing and implementing a successful model for producing popular adaptations of theory, is the ability to reference some form of academic relevancy which is not measured primarily by its travels in public policy, art or electronic literacy. This project resists the New Vocationalism‚ founding the University of California, and more specifically, the ways in which this new vocationalism has rendered the language of feminist thinking to a specialized code defined by the objectives of academic professions. By this resistance, it respects and experiments with making political power through the coordination of multiple cultures of literacies embedded in feminist thinking.