"Course-features" © Brenda Padilla | Flickr
CapitalismEducationO.O.P.S.Sex & GenderTheory & Practice

O.O.P.S. vs M.O.O.C.s: Midterm Report, Part 1

“The proponents of M.O.O.C.s (Massive Open Online Courses) look for the magic bullet, hoping to find a technological solution to the crisis in education. The O.O.P.S. (Open Online Public Seminar) project is to use the new technology, the potential of the web, to extend education’s promise.”

With these words, I closed my introduction to a New School for Social Research experiment, using the resources of Public Seminar to realize the intellectual mission of engaged social science in and beyond the classroom. Since then we have been pushing forward. …

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MOOC poster explores the meaning of "Massive Open Online Courses" © Mathieu Plourde | Flickr
CapitalismEssaysSex & GenderTheory & Practice

OOPS versus MOOCs

I first thought of writing this post over a year ago as a follow up to my piece “Against the Educational Uncertainty Principle.” I was struck by the way that recent interventions to address the various dimensions of higher educational crisis have made matters worse. MOOCs, Massive Open Online Courses, are a particular case in point. As I wrote then:

“I worry about magical solutions: MOOCs, substituting television for face to face inquiry, even though using the web to strengthen educational practices makes sense to me. …

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Street art clenched fist © another sergio | Flickr
EssaysThe Left

Shifting Geographies Rather Than Defections

The debate on feminists and the Left continues

We share Zaretsky’s desire to understand the trajectory of the Left past, present, and future. We disagree with him over the nature of the Left itself and with his account of the dynamics of political change. Where Zaretsky looks to the long duree and to political breaks as sources of current decline, we argue that the Left was always a more protean political formation in which lines of affiliation and disagreement were porous and changing. Finally, we insist, that if we are to understand the fate of the Left we must put it in dynamic relation with the actions of capital. Without expanding the political field, we mis-specify the geographies of political action — then and now. …

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Women Say NO To Torture, Outside The Third Guantanamo Hearing (Washington, DC), 2007 © Jim Kuhn | Flickr
EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionThe Left

Look Out Kids: On the New and Next Left

A reply to Eli Zaretsky

Bundled into Eli Zaretsky’s unmistakable claim that second wave feminism was substantially to blame for the undoing of the 60s-era Left is another curious charge: that no American Left exists today, or has for a long time [“Rethinking the Split Between Feminists and the Left”]. In their response, Ann Snitow and Vicky Hattam expose the flimsy basis and maladroit construction of the first charge [“The Women Did It?”]. While adding to their case, I address mostly the second. I do so not as one who “was there” in the 1960s but as both a scholar of the period and an activist since the 1980s in what I’ve always considered the Left. Zaretsky’s rebuttal of the Snitow/Hattam response further confuses his original argument while modestly improving its terms. I deal with it briefly at the end.

Uniting both of Zaretsky’s claims is a dismissive view of the experiences and perspectives of others. Second wave feminists might feel proud of their efforts to establish battered women’s shelters, health and day care collectives, rape crisis centers, alternative schools, peace camps, and more accepting versions of the family. …

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1969 Cornell Conference on Women exhibit poster © Mann Library | Flickr
EssaysRace/ismsSex & GenderThe Left

The Women Did It?

A reply to Eli Zaretsky

We are living through dark times. Many lament the decline of a vibrant Left in American politics; why the right has been ascendant for the past quarter century is a matter worth extensive exploration. Zaretsky’s “Rethinking the Split Between Feminists and the Left,” however, both underestimates the deep roots of the American right and overestimates the power of feminism (Perlstein, Lowndes). In doing so, Zaretsky makes it difficult to rethink the possibilities and obstacles for the Left now. Zaretsky’s account of feminist politics runs amuck because of the ways in which he links feminism with madness and distances it from radicalism and race. Let us untangle the ways in which Zaretsky puts these elements in play in ways that distort past, present, and future.

Let us begin at the beginning — with madness. Zaretsky starts with a fine recognition of Shulamith Firestone (1945-2012), and her work as a radical feminist thinker (The Dialectic of Sex) and activist. …

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