Counter-Productivity Survey

Borken ComputerThis October, The Material Collective will host a session called “Counter-Productivity: Valuing Scholarly Processes” at the 4th Biennial Meeting of the BABEL Working Group.

In advance of this session, we are conducting an anonymous survey of scholarly working processes. It has just 5 questions, and should only take a few minutes. We will use the results in the session. Please follow this link and take the survey now:

The session description is below:

Session 6. Counter-Productivity: Valuing Scholarly Processes
Organizer: Marian Bleeke + Asa Simon Mittman, The Material Collective
This session shifts attention to that which typically remains “off” of our own scholarly books, journal articles, essays, conference papers, and the like — that is, the practices through which we develop exactly those works, those “finished products.” The existing discourse on scholarly practices, and on scholarly writing practices in particular (hosted by the Chronicle of Higher Education, among other venues), is typically focused on reforming practices or adopting new ones in order to enhance productivity and so meet career goals (earning tenure, for example). While this material can be valuable, and while the goals it supports are valid, it is also unfortunately of a piece with other contemporary pressures on those of us engaged in academic work to be increasingly productive in order to justify our work and so ourselves to our employers, to politicians, and to a public increasingly skeptical of higher education. This session instead shifts attention to our practices precisely in order to counter such a heightened emphasis on productivity. Thus, the session is not intended to present tips and techniques for increasing productivity, but instead, to foster reflection on our own practices as a way of granting them value independent of their final products — indeed independent of their success or failure in generating final products. To do so, we (The Material Collective) ask the following questions of the members of the Babel community: What do you actually do when reading for a research project? When you get to the library, archive, museum, or other site of research and encounter the manuscripts, collections of papers, works of art, or other materials that you have come to see? What do you do when you are thinking? When you sit down to write? And what do you find yourself doing instead when you are meant to be doing any of these things? Finally how and why did you develop your own scholarly practices? Have your practices as a scholar shifted over time and if so how and why?

The session that enacts this questioning will consist of two parts, each 30 minutes in length. The first part will be a roundtable in which the five participants will give brief presentations in which they reflect on some aspect(s) of their own scholarly practice(s). The second will feature small breakout group discussions, each facilitated by one of the roundtable participants, that will encourage members of the roundtable audience to reflect upon their own practices. A survey that will inform the discussion will be circulated online before the conference and at the registration table in Toronto.

Counter-Presenters >
Marla Segol (University at Buffalo, SUNY)
Lara Farina (West Virginia University)
Brendan M Sullivan (New York University
Joyce Boro (Université de Montréal)
Mary Kate Hurley (Ohio University)
Marian Bleeke (Cleveland State University)

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