by Emma Di Pasquale, University of Michigan Library

At the University of Michigan Press, open access is one of many ways we strive to deliver the best scholarship to the broadest possible audience. Over the last decade, the Press has been taking steps to continue developing a publishing program that better aligns with our mission and commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Much of the work we’ve been doing has prepared the Press to shift to an open access monograph program. We’re excited to formally announce the Press’s open access model, Fund to Mission.

Our Journey to Open

The Press joined the university library in 2012, and this merger centered on contributing to the common good as our mission outlines. This was cemented by the University in 2014 when the Press was moved from “auxiliary” to “designated” status. This distinction was significant, as “designated” meant that the success of the Press was judged by how it advances the university’s mission, rather than its financial performance. We further built on this mission later in 2014 by launching Fulcrum, the open-source digital publishing platform. The Fulcrum platform now supports over 10,000 books, including titles from over 125 non-profit presses through the American Council of Learned Societies Humanities Ebook Collection. Fulcrum also hosts over 250 open access books the Press has published over the last decade under Creative Commons licenses. The Press has been able to publish these many open access works thanks to Knowledge Unlatched, the TOME (Toward an Open Monograph Ecosystem) Initiative, research funders, and our own resources. 

Free to Read

While we have been actively working to develop a more open publishing program, the drive to shift to an open model was reaffirmed by the changes we saw in the publishing industry during COVID, particularly in response to a free-to-read initiative that we launched in the spring of 2020. This initiative made all 1,500 titles in the University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection available for public reading for six months, at a time when print distribution and in-person reading were strongly challenged. Not only did the usage of UMP books skyrocket, but it also grew heavily in new geographic areas that we had seen little or no engagement with previously for our title list. Additionally, the reader survey responses were overwhelmingly positive; it really impressed on us the role OA has in democratizing knowledge. Libraries and other funders indicated that they were energized by the free-to-read initiative to invest in more permanent open access approaches as well.

Fund to Mission

Our collective work from the last decade and the data collected from the free-to-read initiative all went into forming Fund to Mission. It is named as such to emphasize the understanding that OA fulfills the inherent mission of our Press and our research university. University presses are non-profit organizations for a reason; their mission is to fill the gaps that commercial organizations do not fill. One of these gaps is that the publications of the best foundational research in the humanities and social sciences are not easily available. The Fund to Mission model recognizes that university presses are humanities infrastructure that need to be funded accordingly: presses matter not just for research, but for teaching, and provide additional visibility, impact, and innovation that benefits the academic publishing community. Investment in this model supports a non-profit organization and community-owned platform that already hosts thousands of university press books.

Through a three-legged approach, the Press is seeking $250,000 from the library community, an additional recurring $400,000 in our budget from the University of Michigan, and $300,000 of other funder payments like subventions and grants. We are incentivizing our library investors by providing unique benefits: supporting libraries will (1) support the conversion to open access of at least half (~45) of University of Michigan Press scholarly monographs in 2022 (we will expand this percentage if we realize our full goal, and will build on it in succeeding years); (2) Receive perpetual access to the remaining restricted frontlist titles and term access to the backlist (~1,500 titles), which will otherwise remain closed to non-purchasers; and (3) Support authors’ ability to publish innovative, digital scholarship leveraging the next-generation, open-source Fulcrum platform.

Opening Content

The Press is committed to being transparent about all aspects of the model, including how much support we are receiving, from who, and how we are approaching decisions around open content. There are three main criteria the Press is using to select books to make open:

  • Is the author excited by the potential of open access?

There are some disciplines (e.g., Classical History) in which authors remain resistant. If we don’t have an author willing to partner on promotion, primarily through their social networks, we won’t see the level of use we desire. 

  • Is the subject matter of the book well-aligned to the benefits that open access will offer?

For example, is it on an international theme that will be interesting in a resource-constrained country? Or is it on a topic that would be of use to public policymakers? Or is it an interdisciplinary book that will be better discovered across disciplines if openly available? Global reach, public policy influence, and interdisciplinarity are three themes we see repeated for the books that do best and familiar to the most motivated authors.

  • Is the author interested in taking advantage of a digital affordance that can be facilitated by open access? For example, by using open commenting via Fulcrum’s hypothes.is annotation overlay or the surfacing of media files that can be used in other contexts, such as OER-based courses. 

Historically, there has also been a financial calculus. Can we afford to make the book OA? Ensuring that we don’t factor in the author’s ability to pay has been crucial for us in accepting a project for publication. However, the Press has had to be creative in finding funding to hedge against the additional risk of sales declines that OA brings when deciding to make the ebook open. With the Fund to Mission model, the Press hopes to avoid those financial considerations and simply factor in the criteria described above. Because most of our books will be OA if we are successful, we are also orienting our future acquisitions program to be more international, more welcoming to precarious or marginalized scholars, more digitally innovative, and more interdisciplinary in scope.

The Impact of OA

The Press is thinking a lot about the impact of open. Because we are in the initial phase of Fund to Mission, we do not have an annual report that shows the impact specifically of opening UMP EBC. However, our direction of travel is consistent, and our most recent Michigan Publishing Impact Report provides some relevant stats. We are building a dedicated website to launch in fall 2021, providing transparency into impact and costs (i.e., how the money is spent). UMP is the pilot site in the USA for the Open Access Usage Data Trust dashboard. The website will include this dashboard which will show impact across the platforms that we host open access books on, including JSTOR Open, Muse Open, and OAPEN/DOAB. The Press is working to prioritize our OA books’ discoverability through various channels. We’re developing a set of metadata best practices and tools for OA titles to ensure consistent representation, especially with DOIs. 

The Future of Open at UMP

The University of Michigan Press Fund to Mission open access model doesn’t just involve our unique funding structure. Rather, it involves three core aspects: (1) our connection to the shared mission of academic publishing; (2) paying attention to the production and distribution of our OA titles; and (3) engaging with our authors to maximize the success of these projects. We are excited to move ahead with this model and openly share our progress and challenges throughout the transition. To learn more about the model, please visit https://www.publishing.umich.edu/features/fund-to-mission.

by David D. Esselstrom

Originally published in Perigraph (University of Southern Florida) & Facet (Arizona). 

A chill November wind whipping through my thin jacket, I darted across the back lawn and shouldered my way into the makeshift study built in the storage shed.  E.M. Forster crouched in the one comfortable chair (the walnut armchair with turquoise seat and back) and stared at my collection of Fantasy and Science Fiction stacked on the floor.  The sleeves of his beige cotton sweater were pushed back to his elbows, which rested on his knees.  His hair, though thin, retained a hint of the striking reddish-brown of his youth.  Bent as he was, a few wisps dangled in front of his forehead.  He looked like his photographs—which is how I knew who he was.  

Although I should have been surprised at finding him there—he being long dead and all—I was not. I’d been somewhat impressed by A Passage to India when I’d read it several years earlier.  However, it was not until Aspects of the Novel that I began to hear that soft but urgent, gentle voice actually talking to me.  The voice became so clear, distinct, and, finally, intimate that, deep into Two Cheers for Democracy, I felt Forster talking to me even when I wasn’t reading him.  He had become a part of my interior review board, joining such writers as Hemingway, Kerouac, Kazantzakis, Didion, and Mr. Pack (my eighth grade English teacher) and Burroughs (Edgar Rice).  Although I had always thought it unlikely that a member of this group would seek a more substantial existence than that of being a mere voice in my head, I did not discount the possibility.  

Although not surprised by Forster, I was embarrassed by the study itself.  A heavy duty extension cord stretched from the house to the shed for electricity.  The foil side of insulation, precariously tacked between bear studs, buckled and folded in compliance with the demands of gravity.  My bookcases pushed against the thee walls.  A Persian rug, dangling from a rafter, separated the “study” from the clutter of ten-speeds, lawnmower, hibachi, and assorted rusting tools.  The room was not the oak-lined, teak-desked, leather-furnished library in which I would delight to entertain Forster, or anyone else from the board.  

“Do you always keep such slack hours?” he asked.  Moving in from the door, I told him that my writing schedule varied according to my other duties and responsibilities.  “One’s duties and responsibilities should vary according to one’s writing schedule,” Forster chided.  He then glanced back to the magazines on the floor.  “Is this what you are trying to do?”  He kicked at the stack.

Seeing I had no response, Forster ballooned his cheeks and expelled a burst of air in evident irritation and then bent down to retrieve one of the fallen magazines.  “Oh, I suppose to be fair I should admit that there are one or two stories that do signify, but for the most part this stuff…” He fanned the pages in my direction.  “…is escape.  And fantasy is not.”

His disdain confused me. How could the author of “The Celestial Omnibus” and other fantastic stories disparage current fantasy?  I’d always thought Forster as much in favor of fantasy as Burroughs.  Of course, I do admit to some qualitative differences between “The Machine Stops” and John Carter of Mars.  Restacking the pile of magazines, I moved them to the edge of the room while asking what fantasy was not.

“Escape,” he answered.  I said that escape is exactly what fantasy is supposed to be.  “Oh, my goodness no,” he exclaimed, settling back into the chair.  “Let me explain by drawing an analogy to the process of metaphor.  In making a metaphor one simply joins two terms that have no business being together.  By joining them one manages to say something that neither term could express singly, something that is much more that the sum of ‘a’ plus ‘b.’  Fantasy joins form, in this case literary form, to something basically formless—the vague yearnings and nameless fears that are housed here.” He tapped his chest.  “By joining these two things that really have no business being together one manages, if fortunate, to say something that is beyond both form and fear, something worth more than entertainment or information.  Fantasy is not escape from everyday life but rather a revealing record of an intimate relationship with it.”  He uncrossed his legs and leaned forward.  “That does make sense, doesn’t it?”  I nodded my head.  “I’m so glad,” he said, “for both of us.”

He leaned back and grabbed my Signet copy of Pride and Prejudice with one hand and my best pipe with the other.  He tilted the pipe in my direction questioningly.  I motioned for him to by my guest.  The aroma of pipe tobacco somewhat camouflages the moldy smell of the storage shed.  As he filled the pipe, a blast of air ripped past me from the partially open door at my back.  The breeze skimmed a few shreds of tobacco out of the bowl of the pipe.  As Forster retrieved the wayward tobacco, I noticed goose bumps on his forearms.  Closing the door, I apologized for the uncomfortable accommodations of my study.  

As Forster spread an old army blanket over his knees, I joked about a little discomfort being good for the artist.  “God knows what you intend to inflict on your readers.  Misery loves company, and all that,” muttered Forster as he retrieved the book and pipe.  

Sitting down at my desk, I flicked on the space heater and set it between the two of us.  I mentioned that my home-crafted insulation job was ineffective, but the thought of my books as a second layer of insulation I found somehow comforting.  Forster chuckled and said, “Yes, oh yes, they are that, aren’t they?”

His voice only half hit whatever word he was emphasizing so that each sentence came out a bit askew.  Even a simple phrase like “oh yes” came out sounding as if it meant something else, meant something more—or less.  I would have thought him purposely abstruse had not pauses—brief suspensions in which he too contemplated in wonder whatever the hell he’d just said—punctuated his conversation.  

The next day I cut short my office hour at the college to get to my study.  The day was clear, but in Oregon clear days often mean colder temperatures.  When I opened the shed door, Forster was in the turquoise chair, puffing on an overstuffed pipe, and covered except for arms and head by the army blanket (U.S. side out).  He greeted me with an ominous clearing of his throat.  “Comfort is a precondition of accomplishment,” he told me sternly as I pointed the space heater in his direction.  

I thought he was truly angry at me until he leaned forward and whispered, “Freud misses the point so.”  He pulled the blanket closer about his shoulders and continued, “It’s comfort that is at the center of things.  Comfort…not that other thing.  The anticipation of getting it or the fear of losing it is what drives us.”  He pulled deeply on the pipe.  It was out.  “That sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?” he asked.  Although I wanted to answer yes, I could sense the question was rhetorical.  “Would that it were true,” he said wistfully and slumped into his chair.  “I probably would have written much more if it weren’t for the other thing.”  

After the room had warmed to a point that I could leave off rubbing my hands over the heater, I finally asked Forster why he was joining me in my study.  “Where else should I be?” he rasped and then quickly returned to his reading.  A bit annoyed, I almost told him that I thought it appropriate he be in the ground. But I could not be flippant with him.  My gaze wondered to my collection of Henry James.  I then told Forster that although I had no idea where he should be, I did imagine that since he was materializing in my study, I could then not be too far amiss in surmising that he was there to be of some aid or assistance to me.  

Waiting for him to answer, I slid the manuscript I was working on, “Odysseus Jones and the Matter Transporter,” into a drawer.  

“I can’t say my presence here is intended to be of aid or assistance,” began Forster, “since it might have the very opposite effect.  But you do need to be talked to.  And I suppose I am a good one to do the talking because, for some reason, people find me authoritative but not threatening.  Personally, I think the perception in error.  Granted my pricks seldom draw blood, but a bubble may be burst as easily with a needle as with a saber.”  

His use of the term “talked to” bothered me.  I did indeed need someone to talk to, and with.  But I certainly did not need to be “talked to” the way an errant child needs the folly of his conduct explained to him, the way a cocky apprentice needs the seriousness and complexity of his enterprise and the stiffness and clumsiness of his fledgling efforts pointed out to him.  

I pulled from the desk drawer a serious effort—ponderous Joycean prose, dense, heavy, thick with profundities, rich with allusion—which I thought more fitting to be working on than the Odysseus Jones thing.  Holding the manuscript firmly, I met his gaze and told him, rather forcefully, I think, that although my efforts were not as serious, as weighty, as significant as his, I sincerely felt that my efforts were honest.  My back straightened as I proclaimed that any honest effort to put one word after another was commendable.  

He nodded his head, bit his lower lip, and gnawed the corners of his moustache.  “I suppose,” he said, “that that is true, to a degree.  Honest effort is always commendable, but it is not always good.”  He continued over my protests.  “That wonderful line Chekhov gives Trigorin in The Seagull comes to mind.  Something about everyone writing what he wants to and what he can.  Ah, what a nice sentiment—liberating, comforting, forgiving.  But I can’t help feeling that Checkhov, as always, is being just a little ironic.  I mean, my god, if we all wanted to write only what we could, I doubt there’d be any great literature at all.  We all want to write better than we can, and the miracle is that, sometimes, we do.”  

A light snowfall—as white and oppressive as a fresh sheet of paper staring up from the typewriter—blanketed the lawn between our house and the shed.  I slid the piece of my dense and profundity-packed prose out of its manila envelope.  I read the first three lines.  The prose I held in my hand was as good as I could write.  No better.

Since Forster was once again buried in the Austen, I decided to pick up Odysseus Jones. When I’d set the story down a few days earlier, I had followed Hemingway’s strategy and mapped out my next move.  But even with a well-planned attack, I am accustomed to one or two false starts before anything good begins to flow.  Hemingway, I am sure, understood that knowing what happens next and telling what happens next are two different things.  Forster’s presence made my false starts all the more false.

Although my back was to him, and five feet of floor separated us, and obviously his attentions were elsewhere, I still I could not bring myself to jot down one word that I felt he did not see.  And his seeing it—my feeling that he did—made each word, each phrase, each sentence stand out awkward, clumsy, and false.  I wanted to write only what would meet his approval.  And I knew he would only approve my best. There I was stuck.  I did not know what my best was; so everything I wrote died on the page even before my pen stumbled dumbly to the end of the line.  

I had tossed my seventh false start in the wastebasket when Forster spoke.  “A few times I had to give up because I felt the project dying, felt it withering all the more as I fed it my best.  Yet even as the story expired on the page, as the voice of my characters faded, as the setting became hazy and I could only focus on the tip of my pen stalled in mid page, even then my belief rested not in my powers—obviously failing—nor in my understanding of craft—weld characters to setting, drive the whole kit and caboodle down the road of plot and over the cliff of climax, sweep up the debris—no, my belief rested in that sense of mystery, that awe one feels when faced with the fact that good writing happens at all.  And my awe was tinged with gratitude that I could be present, on occasion, when it did.”

Exasperated, I told him that great literature was all fine and good, but I was trying to write a simple story about a Soldier/Killer, bound for the allocation games on Mars, who becomes involved in matter teleportation experiments.  

Forster bobbed his head twice, then glanced at my green particleboard bookcase, the second shelf of which contains only the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, except for a copy of Naked Lunch purchased by mistake.  “I won’t argue the merits of the enterprise,” he said.  “But can you accomplish it?  I fear you are looking too far beyond the page, watching the reader.  Writing—all art, really—is illusion.  You, as writer, are a trickster.  But a trick performed well can only be itself.  And that is, really, satisfaction enough.  Watch the audience and your feet miss the wire.  Since you perform without a net, missing the wire can be deadly.”  He paused, surveying the tips of his fingernails.  “Oh, my, a circus analogy.  I don’t often use those.”  

What annoyed me most was his saying something pithy and then directing his attention elsewhere.  Annoyance quickly gave way to anger.  I found his condescension offensive, and I told him so.  In answer, he buried himself deeper in Austen and puffed loudly on the pipe.  Slamming down my pencil, I left the study.  As I crossed the snow-covered lawn, I thought that, for all his insight, Forster was still somewhat a supercilious old fart.  

The next day as I crunched across the lawn to the shed, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted Forster to be there again or not.  I had wanted him to spur my productivity, not rein it in.  As I opened the door, I knew his presence was a miracle I could have lived without and now only wished to live through.  Who was he to sit in judgment of me?  Deft critic, superior novelist, clever essayist, sure, he was all of that—for his time.  But the demands of this age are different.  Aesthetics, like all philosophy, flounders in a sea of probabilities, trying no longer to build something solid, forgetting completely the naïve dream of flight, hoping only to stay afloat for the length of one lousy work.  That being the case, how dare he ask me to touch the heart?  

Pulling back the dangling rug, I found him once again seated in the center of the study, flipping tentatively through my copy of Mailer’s Of a Fire on the Moon.  Mailer I have always defended as giving us a real and effective vision of the world precisely because that vision is filtered so poorly through the thick membrane of his ego.  I explained my stance to Forster.  He gave me one of those looks that skirts condescension by hinting that there might possible be more in what I’d said than I ‘d put there.  

He lowered his gaze to the work in question and said, “What I don’t understand is that you Americans, you American writers, are always so caught up in the expression of yourselves.  It is as if you believe that life itself were a personal achievement and identity an artistic creation.”  

Pulling up my chair, I told him that that was the point exactly.  With the demise in the belief in the consistency of character, what had the twentieth century writer to deal with, without being manipulative and false, except his own sense of self.  That is our curse as children of our time.  The sureties are gone.  We had found the “I am” dubious and were left merely with the “I think, therefore.”  We, and I unabashedly included myself, marked a turning point in the history of literature, perhaps of all art.  

Forster’s eyebrows rose in concert with the corners of his mouth.  “I dare say,” he said finally.  “You almost believe that.”

I said I did.  I believed too that the fixed star of discernible motivation and natural dramatic structure were never in the heavens but only in the eyes of weak romantics craving certitude. The best of us knew the heavens were empty and we stood alone on a cold clod in the dark of space, not screaming defiance but whimpering gibberish.  

“I can agree with you whole-heartedly on that,” he said, fingering the spine of Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow.  “But what strikes me as peculiar is that you put such a high store on unintelligibility.  We all look, sometimes, on our rantings and hope—ruefully to be sure—that they are other than what they are, that they are a new code, a new view.  Luckily, we most often come to our senses and toss our rantings in the waste can.  My god, my dear boy, we don’t publish them.”

I told him that unintelligibility may be all we were left.  History had saddled us—Mailer, Pynchon, Gass, Hawkes, me—with the task of finding a new path, a new view; and we were forced to search with neither landmark nor compass.  

“Oh my,” said Forster, fingering the corners of his moustache.  “You Americans, you American writers, seem always so sure that the world begins and ends with you, or in this case ends and then begins.  You seem always so worried about your place in history.  But Art is not History.  Lots of confusion there, in our thinking that it is or that the two are linked in some way.  Art is illusion masquerading as life; History is life masquerading as illusion.”  He paused, his smile broadening.  “I do believe that an epigram worthy of Oscar Wilde.”  

As Forster reveled in the workings of his own mind, I noticed that my manuscript “Odysseus Jones and the Matter Transporter” dangled on the end of the desk, ready to drop.  I tossed the Lattimore translation of The Odyssey on top of my story to add weight to it.  I covered my actions by whining to Forster that we were just looking for answers.  Certainly, he couldn’t fault us for that.

Forster watched the flight of the volume Homer’s epic as he sucked the cone of flame into the bowl of the pipe.  “Ah yes,” he said, as the smoke swirled about him.  “The search for solid answers, the drive of science, the grail of philosophers east and west since the beginning.  I think the problem is that we misunderstand the nature of answers themselves.  We think of them as stones—hard, lasting, sharp edged.  But answers, I think, are more like flowers than stones.  In the right soil, the right climate, they flourish.  They litter the countryside, like Wordsworth’s daffodils, with their ebullient, but transitory, good health.  And, like flowers, answers bloom and fade.  Any one that doesn’t is false from the beginning.”

He punctuated this last by blowing smoke in my face.  As I waved away the sweet smelling cloud, Forster reached across the desk, pushed aside the Lattimore, and snatched up the manuscript of my science fiction story.  “And here is, I suppose, the concrete result of this abstract mumbo-jumbo you’ve been spouting for the last hour.”  I hurriedly explained that the story was some lightweight fluff that I was writing merely for diversion.  He flipped through the first few pages.  “Twenty pages of a manuscript this heavily marked with corrections is not evidence of diversion but rather of serious commitment.”  I was too embarrassed to respond.  He read a few lines from the middle of the story.  “Oh, dear me,” he said, shaking his head from side to side and glancing from the manuscript to me.  “This will never do.   How can you possible defend this?  Here I’ve read less than half a paragraph, and already I am suspicious that the whole thing makes sense.”  

I told him that it wasn’t a serious effort; therefore, of course it made sense.  He found my comment uproariously funny.  His laughter degenerated into a fit of coughing.  I pounded his back to help him regain his breath.  

“Oh my,” he said, grabbing my hand.  “We do indeed have such a lot of work to do.”  

At that moment, the lights went out.  I stumbled into the house to locate the problem.  From a portable radio, I learned that a power transfer station had blown.  With candles and matches, I trekked back to the study.  When I opened the door and struck the first match, I found the study empty.  Forster was gone. 


About the Author

David Esselstrom, Ph.D., is a teacher and writer who encourages students to express themselves clearly and creatively. He has published fiction and journalism, and has written extensively for the stage and screen. Esselstrom combines his scholarly interests and creative projects with his passion for teaching in such courses as creative writing, composition, literature, and film and media.  Via Azusa Pacific University.

Reprinted with permission of Copyrightlaws.com

by Lesley Ellen Harris

Fair use is one of the most misunderstood principles in the U.S. Copyright Act. It causes frustration, uncertainty and controversy. However, the more you know about fair use, the more useful it may be useful to you. Did you know …

  • Fair use is only recently part of the actual U.S. Copyright Act. While it’s a doctrine created by courts in the nineteenth century, it wasn’t until 1976 that fair use became codified and set out in the Copyright Act.
  • Many who apply fair use complain that it’s ambiguous and should be more specific to fact situations. Fair use is intentionally open and flexible, and its language allows you to apply the doctrine to your own specific fact situations.
  • Fair use may be applied by individuals or corporations, by commercial and noncommercial entities, and in for-profit and nonprofit situations.
  • Fair use is never a certain thing unless a judge in a court of law makes that determination. In practice this means that getting comfortable with fair use is important. You need to be able to make a judgment call as to whether fair use applies to your use of copyright-protected content.
  • Fair use requires a risk analysis. You must understand any copyright risks involved when applying fair use to your situations and generally minimize your risks of unauthorized uses of copyright-protected materials.
  • The application of fair use always depends on the facts of your situation and how your facts fit within the four fair use factors set out in the U.S. Copyright Act.

The factors are:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work
  3. The amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole
  4. The effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work

U.S. Copyright Office Fair Use Index

The U.S. Copyright Office hosts a Fair Use Index, which is a helpful database for understanding fair use. You can search the Index by category (e.g., literary, artistic, musical work) and by your type of use (e.g., education/scholarship/research, parody/satire, photograph, internet/digitization.)

The Index tracks court decisions at various court levels, but it isn’t intended to be a comprehensive archive of all fair use decisions ever made. It’s designed for both and nonlawyers and is user-friendly. The Index sets out the:

  • Name of the case
  • Court
  • Jurisdiction
  • Year of the decision
  • Whether fair use was found by the court

You can click on the case name/citation for a summary of the case that includes the key facts, issue, outcome and more information about the decision.

Fair Use and Fair Dealing

Fair use is not a universal provision found in all copyright laws around the world. Fair use originated in the U.S. from the 1841 court case of Folsom v. Marsh. This case set out the four fair use factors that exist today and that were codified in the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, as set out above.

Fair Dealing in Canada

There is no fair use provision in the Canadian Copyright Act. There is, however, a fair dealing provision for specific purposes: research, private study, education, parody, satire, criticism, review and news reporting.

If the use falls within one of these purposes, then you must determine fairness by applying your facts to the following factors set out in a Supreme Court of Canada case:

  • The purpose of the dealing
  • The character of the dealing
  • The amount of the dealing
  • Alternatives to the dealing
  • The nature of the work
  • The effect of the dealing on the work
  • Any other factors that may help a court decide whether the dealing was fair.

In the 2012 amendments to the Canadian Copyright Act, two new purposes were added to fair dealing: parody and education.

See Available Courses Via CopyrightLaws.com

 

Photo credit: Mike Seyfang, via Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

About the Author

Lesley Ellen Harris, JD, is the founder and CEO of Copyrightlaws.com. Lesley is a copyright consultant, published author, copyright blogger and educator. Her areas of expertise include U.S. and Canadian copyright law, international copyright law, and licensing digital content. (From CopyrightLaws.com)

by David D. Esselstrom

In 1961, my eldest brother, Keith, was discharged from the Army’s 101st Airborne division. From his last duty station in Okinawa, he returned to La Crescenta, California, with a third-degree black belt in Karate, a Samurai sword with three-foot blade, and the conviction that Gautama Buddha, not Jesus Christ, had had it right. I remember watching him unpack his duffel bag. He pulled out a bright red carton of Pall Mall cigarettes, a bayonet, and a packet of books, among them Alan Watts’ The Way of Zen and Jack Kerouac’s The Dharma Bums

My eldest brother, eight and a half years older than I, had it right, in my eyes. He held my bike when I learned to ride and laughed as I kept yelling for him to “let go, let go, I can do it, let go.” He was laughing because he had let go quite some time before. He took me fishing in the streams of the San Gabriel Mountains, taught me how to work a salmon egg onto a hook. He showed me how to step through and string a bow, how to rest my eyes on the target, let slip the arrow and feel the arc of its flight out from the bow, up through air, and into the cardboard box stuffed with newspapers. 

We had our first discussion about religion when I was twelve. I more or less argued Pascal’s Wager—risking delusion is a better bet than risking damnation. Keith ridiculed the position as being beneath his dignity. I felt embarrassed that it was not beneath my own. Looking at it through Keith’s eyes, Christianity seemed a religion for wimps and cowards, a refuge of the weak and afraid. Mostly because of Keith, I began, at thirteen, working my way through The Way of Zen. I remember reaching what I thought at the time was a state of satori early one morning as I tossed copies of the Los Angeles Examiner to the second-floor apartments of a building in Montrose.

I discovered later that Keith and I were typical members of a restless generation, young people coming of age in the sixties. The fifties began in 1948 with the advent of commercial television and ended with the death of John Kennedy in ’63. The sixties started—in earnest—in 1964 with the Beatles’ first tour of the U.S. An interest in the religion and philosophy of Asia that flowered in the forties and fifties in the work of Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as a garden of aesthetic inspiration took root in the sixties in the soil of America’s discontented youth, as much a reaction against everything domestic as an embracing of things mysterious, exotic, and other. Things Eastern, or quasi-Eastern, became part of our cultural landscape—from Zen to Transcendental Meditation, from Hare Krishna to the Bagwan, from being Blissed-out with the Guru Mahara Ji to “getting it” with Ehard Seminars Training. 

We can think of America’s flirtation with the philosophies and religions from Asia as an encounter with the “other.” But we can’t really understand the nature of this encounter nor what results from it until we see that all such encounters are problematic.


There are two ways of looking at “the other.” Sam Keen has noted that throughout history we have often demonized the other, seeing what is different as something that is frightening and therefore must be strictly controlled or ruthlessly abolished. In wartime, the enemy is conceived of as evil, his motives base, his actions reprehensible. Our actions, on the other hand, are seen as necessary, as lesser evils needed to prevent greater ones. There is always a qualitative difference between us and them. When “the other” is closer to us we deal with it in a less brutal, but still brutalizing, fashion. If we dismiss it—usually out of fear or ignorance or arrogance, although the three are often the same—we then ghettoize the other, marginalizing a people, taking away the voice of a culture by ignoring it. If we do not fear it, we pretend to embrace it, or rather absorb the other, using it, making differences commodities that can be worn or heard or watched or, in some other way, consumed. 

The second way of looking at “the other” is to give it unwarranted value. This is the “greener grass” phenomenon. What is over there must be better than what is over here. Chekov’s “Three Sisters” want to get to Moscow. Everything will be better in Moscow. Huck Finn takes off for the west where a man can breathe. I always thought Virginia and Sharon who lived across the driveway from me in the fifties had the better toys. Keith, my eldest brother, thought the quieting of the mind and body before doing battle on the tatami mats with an opponent was better discipline than quiet reflection on a passage of the Bible. 

An anecdote from the sixties might help illustrate these two perspectives. A dinner table argument between a teenager and her father began when the young woman said she admired a friend who had taken up the study of Transcendental Meditation. The father was a first confused, then incensed. Her point was that the friend had found something of spiritual value in his practice. The father’s irritation was with anyone finding anything of value from a culture where indoor plumbing was a rarity. 

The problem is that both of these ways of looking at and dealing with the other—to denigrate or to glorify—are counter-productive. Dismissal leads to loss. Not only is marginalization—whether cultural, economic, or social—unjust to those people who are marginalized, but it costs those people doing the marginalizing as well. The father in the preceding anecdote has trouble valuing any culture he cannot measure by his own yardstick of material wellbeing. Because he can’t or won’t do so, he is cut off from interacting with his daughter. He cannot understand her fascination with emotional or spiritual values that have little to do with material things.

But what about the other side? Glorification of the other. Is this dangerous as well? I think it is. And my brother and myself are cases in point. If we value something before we understand it, we run the risk of chipping away at that value as our understanding grows, a paradoxical but not uncommon phenomenon. I’m reminded of a young woman with whom I went to high school. I was honored by her friendship since she was the smartest student in our school, a delightful conversationalist, and a brilliant actress. She went on to a college in Southern California because of her admiration for the professors there in the English and Theater Arts departments. Two years later when I asked her how things were going, she seemed a bit disappointed. She said she’d found out something quite disconcerting about her professors. “What’s that?” I asked. “They’re human,” she said. “Familiarity breeds contempt” does not tell us something about the situation; it tells us something about ourselves. 

Here’s another illustration. When we are children, “the other” is the world of the grown-ups. Bruno Bettelheim maintains that for the child, the adult world is frightening because it is, in fact, unimaginable. The difference between the two realms is qualitative. Imagine how different our lives would be if we really were, as adults, as fearless, as carefree, as certain as we imagined adulthood to be when we were children. One of the more depressing things you can tell a young person is “These are the best years of your life.” 

Worse than the risk of disillusionment, however, is what happens to our relationship to what is in our own backyard. To glorify the foreign often involves the denigration of the domestic. It’s not only a question of comparative values. Selection always involves value judgments. How we choose to spend our time indicates what we value. But the real danger is one of dynamics rather than status. When one chooses to value “the other ” what often happens is that one’s understanding of one’s own cultural heritage freezes, stops, ceases to grow—may indeed begin to whither. 

For example, my growing understanding of the religious tradition in which I was raised stopped at about my junior year of high school. I thought I understood it, and what I thought I understood, I didn’t like. An understanding that is not growing, that is not dynamic, withers. Luckily for me, my understanding, my relationship with my own tradition, began to show signs of life in the late seventies because of my teaching. I was offering a few courses through Marylhurst college in Lake Oswego, Oregon—I believe the name when I was there was Marylhurst Center for Life-long Learning. Sister Marilyn Guldan, head of the Humanities Division, developed a correspondence/brief residency course on “The Convergence of East-West Thought.” She threw a little work to this hungry adjunct instructor by letting me team-teach the course with her. Initially, I was shocked. I believed that there was no convergence between what I thought I knew of Eastern thought and what I thought I knew of Western thought. What I discovered is that I didn’t know either, and that I had used my exposure to the one as an excuse to stop thinking about both. 

I learned that not only is there a rich tradition of Christian mysticism, but that Christian scholars had long been in dialogue with their counterparts in Japan and India. Later, when I was teaching at the University of Portland, Sister Joan Salfield and I formed the core of a weekly meditation group. My brother never had this opportunity to re-examine what he thought he had learned about others and about himself. The danger is that in glorifying the foreign—the exotic, the different—we marginalize ourselves and our own traditions. 

Another example is an experience that occurred to a friend of mine who grew up outside of any specific religious tradition. In a college course which required students to observe and report on religious services outside their own, he chose to attend a Christian service at a Protestant evangelical church. Noting that his peers were reporting on their experiences in positive and respectful terms, he did the same. His report was deemed unacceptable. When he rewrote the report and placed his observations in more negative terms, his efforts were praised, his insight encouraged. The graduate students reacting to my friend’s efforts remind me of my brother and his inability to see his own tradition as valuable, as worthy of study, as something that he perhaps does not yet fully understand. 

We marginalize that which we do not understand, and often that which we think we do. Some certainties make arguments possible; others foreclose all discussion. We can reach agreement if we both affirm that agreement is possible. And, as Kenneth Burke tells us, that is only possible if both of us are willing to change, if both of us are willing to admit that our own certainties are something less than absolute. Believing, because of fear or anger or ignorance, that you know enough about other people to warrant their separation—as with the Americans of Japanese descent interned during WW II—is needlessly damaging to our society. Believing that you know all you need to about yourself and your world is an unnecessary amputation of the self. 

Therefore, if we don’t want to push others away nor do we want to deny ourselves and our heritage, how can we be accepting of other traditions without adhering to them, how can we be respectful of other points of view while remaining steadfast and true to our own? This is one of those questions that can be answered by turning to the examples given us in literature. The answer is that the question cannot be viewed as a matter of stance—where do I stand? what do I believe? what do I know?—but as a matter of dynamics—what can I learn? where can the discussion lead? what are the opportunities for fuller appreciation of one tradition by way of the others? 

We marginalize that which we do not understand, and often that which we think we do.

Some writers have shown us that interest and respect need not be glorification. We can learn how this is done from the literature that explores the relationship between the other and ourselves without marginalizing either the other—or ourselves. From Forster’s Passage to India to Hesse’s Siddhartha to Huxley’s Island to Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Western writers have been intrigued by the East, not so much as a substitute for their own traditions but as way of getting some distance from which to view and critique those traditions. 

But the critique itself is not Eastern but Western in nature and intent. This is the case because our writers—and others—in the current century have been looking for answers in the East to questions that can only be posed in the West. These are questions of identity and purpose, questions that—as I understand the major currents of thought in Hinduism and Buddhism—are unasked because they are unaskable from inside these traditions. Dr. D.T. Suzuki was criticized by those in his own tradition when, partly as a result of Alan Watts’ writing about Zen, he decided to speak to a Western audience. “The way that can speak its name is not the real way,” says the Tao te Ching.

Literature, as we know it in the West, is a production of human consciousness attempting through language to form, define, and explain the mystery of individual personhood. Literature then is both a culmination and a celebration of individual identity. Yet what fascinates Western writers about the East is the absence of the very dependence on identity that makes such questions possible. The problem for all of us is that identity in its own fulfillment doesn’t supply satisfaction. I know who I am and I know I’m not happy. The paradox is that we, in the West at least, want to know who we are and have happiness at the same time. In fact, the way we think of happiness, as a possession, underscores this paradox. Our own traditions have called the problem with this to our attention several times. “The first shall be last.” “Who loses her life shall gain it.”

The answer? It’s a matter of maintaining a healthy relationship. In our own tradition we are exhorted to love the other as we love ourselves, not less than, not more than, and not in place of. It is in our dynamic relationship with others that we form and define ourselves. To shorten that relationship on either end is deadening; to keep it open is frightening because it leads to a richer, deeper life. 

Photo credit: Eddy Van 300, via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0.

About the Author

David Esselstrom, Ph.D., is a teacher and writer who encourages students to express themselves clearly and creatively. He has published fiction and journalism, and has written extensively for the stage and screen. Esselstrom combines his scholarly interests and creative projects with his passion for teaching in such courses as creative writing, composition, literature, and film and media.  Via Azusa Pacific University.

by Joseph Coulson, Ph.D.

A great many ills have beset the world and our country, our less-than-whole United States of America, and we find not least among our problems an alarming lack of empathy, as if somehow our abilities to reason and empathize were the casualty of an executive order. The current decline of empathy, a downward slope that began years ago, coincides with the decline of community arts programs, cultural organizations, and school curricula and college degrees focused on the humanities. But why has our culture kicked the humanities to the curb? Why do we often speak of empathy as if it were an impractical preoccupation? I can offer no short, easy answers to these questions, but certainly the humanities as a profession began to lose its heart and soul when we stopped talking about stories that matter.

Rather than maintaining the primacy of the story as the way to engagement and learning, we in the profession began questioning our methods and purpose, losing our direction while community and cultural organizations lost funding, college professors became obsessed with literary theory, state lawmakers and school officials aimed at teaching to the tests, and federal agencies legislated in favor of nonfiction as the primary emphasis of English instruction in elementary and secondary schools. The mantra became reading for content, for finding the argument of a text and summarizing it, as opposed to the close reading of imaginative literature which demands much weightier matters of analysis and interpretation. As a culture, we opened the door and greeted expository writing and basic journalism with open arms, and we left poetry, drama, and fiction—we left stories—at the curb.

Only in stories are we asked to look through the eyes of someone that may be very different from ourselves. Only in stories do we come to understand the motives of other people, their limitations and their humanity. Only in stories are we asked to figure out why something happened or why a character behaves in a particular way—feels loved or unloved, victorious or cheated, included or left out, privileged or discriminated against. My high school English teacher declared long ago, “To learn the facts and statistics of the Dust Bowl, read an article or an encyclopedia entry. But if you want to know how it felt, if you want to learn something about its human cost and its moral implications, then read The Grapes of Wrath.” Only in stories are we asked—even forced—to empathize with people and situations that we cannot otherwise know in the limited geography of our lives. Stories in every form, stories in every family, organization, and school, provide the training ground for empathy. The less we traffic in important stories, the more we lose our sense of community and a realistic understanding of our place in the world.

In the light of a new Presidential administration, we must advocate for a renewed allegiance to the humanities. We must advocate for funding, of course, letting our elected officials know that support for the humanities also supports the duties of citizenship and the functioning of representative government. But we must also demonstrate that both the reading and the discussion of imaginative literature, of diverse stories in all forms, provide an age-old means for cultivating and developing empathy. We in the humanities must argue for the primacy of the literary story and then demonstrate its power as an agent of change. Our advocacy should advance the belief that literature is vital to our nation’s survival and that to embrace a celebrated story with respect for its challenges and complexities is also to embrace empathy.

Photo credit: Melissa Hogan, via Wikipedia. CC BY-SA 4.0.

About the Author

Dr. Joseph Coulson is the President and Chief Academic Officer of Harrison Middleton University. He is the past president of the  Great Books Foundation.  Beyond teaching, his poetry, drama, and fiction have been widely published, including two novels, Of Song and Water and The Vanishing Moon, that translated into German and French. Joe studied at Wayne State University and the University of Oxford, and he holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from SUNY Buffalo.

By Lisa M. Ruch

Environmental topics such as climate change and pollution garner widespread attention every April, but increasingly are the focus of more and more people year-round. These crises are not recent, but much of the focus on them has come from scientific disciplines and practitioners. When faced with the unsettling and at times alarming predictions of science, many in the general public shut down, either from fear or from a lack of emotional response to hard scientific data. Musician and composer Geoffrey Hudson, co-founder of Hybrid Vigor Music, Inc., considered the dilemma of how to engage the wider public into deeper thought about the topic to inspire change and realized that music, with its power to evoke emotion, could be the perfect means. His choral oratorio A Passion for the Planet is the result.

 

The piece, which runs to an hour in performance time, is written for adult and children’s choirs, two soloists, and orchestra. Rather than write lyrics for the entire piece, Hudson spent months reading scientific studies, looking for passages to integrate into the work. Books such as David Orr’s Dangerous Years1, Thomas Friedman’s Hot, Flat, and Crowded2, and Bill McKibben’s Eaarth3 provided ample disturbing and stark images, while the now-famous “hockey stick” graph (Mann, et al.) made an ideal nexus point to aurally depict the extremity of crisis.

I was fortunate enough to be invited to sing in the premiere of A Passion for the Planet and went into the rehearsals curious about how this scientific prose and information would resonate in song. It was a novel experience to sing words and phrases such as “chemical sludge,” “primeval goo,” “cancer and cell mutations,” and “pollution and environmental damage.” Other singers seemed to have the same ambivalence at first, but as we became familiar with the texts and the music, acceptance and engagement came quickly. I found myself thinking more deeply about the topics, and fellow singers told me they did as well.

After an introduction that celebrates the Earth’s gifts and humanity’s place within it, the oratorio transitions to the grim depictions of pollution, abuse of natural resources, and overpopulation, rising to a literal crescendo in the seventh movement. Here Hudson composed a musical depiction of the hockey stick graph, with the planet’s average temperature over centuries represented by pitch, extinction rates represented by the number of notes per measure, and the rise in human population represented by dynamics. Over almost six minutes, the sound, steady and droning at first, builds to a cacophony in which the singers repeat phrases and deconstructed words of lament. As Hudson explained, “I didn’t need words for that—the data were enough” (Voth). The movement concludes abruptly and chillingly with a percussive crash followed by an ominous silence; it is emotional to sing and audience members reported that it was eerie and impactful to hear.

It is this ‘deer in the headlights’ fear and paralysis that prevents many people from delving deeper into these ecological issues; considering these crises in depth is frightening, and the problems seem huge and insurmountable. It is at this point in A Passion for the Planet that Hudson leverages a powerful cathartic emotional response by bringing in the children’s choir to sing, “What have you done / with what was given you, / what have you done with / the blue, beautiful world?” (Hudson, Movement VIII). This plaintive query, sung in the pure, innocent tones that only a children’s choir has, leaves listeners shaken and teary. The adult choir then joins the children, adding further details of the distressing impacts of humankind’s unchecked exploitation of natural resources.

Listeners are not left in limbo, however. A shift in tone, akin to the turn in a sonnet, opens the final portion of the oratorio, where Hudson wanted to give the audience hope and encouragement. David Orr’s trope that “hope is a verb with its sleeves rolled up” (Hudson. Movement IX) invokes purposeful action, action carried out not by individuals working piecemeal, but by people working together. The choirs and soloists combine to represent this shared effort as they sing, “Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we are saved by love; therefore we are saved by faith; therefore we shall be saved by hope” (Hudson, Movement X).

To involve the audience in this communal endeavor, Hudson chose to conclude the oratorio in the time-honored fashion with a chorale to be sung by the listeners along with the choirs. For the premiere performance, the audience was taught the chorale before the oratorio began so it was familiar to them. As they rose to sing it in the final movement, the atmosphere was electric. One audience member related afterward that singing it “was one of the most moving concert experiences of my life. When it came time for the audience to join in, I found it hard to sing, I was so overwhelmed—and looking around I realized that many audience members were in the same boat” (“Passion for the Planet”), while the conductor recalled, “It was such a thrill and emotionally overwhelming when the audience joined in during the performance. Many were in tears” (Thornton).

 

Learn More about A Passion for the Planet

 

This coming together as one group is symbolic of the potential power of people joining to address the ecological crises facing the planet and is the goal of A Passion for the Planet. Hybrid Vigor Music’s intention is to facilitate performances nationwide to encourage public involvement with climate and pollution issues and their remedies. The Covid-19 pandemic sidelined performances planned for 2020 and 2021, but in the interim the piece and its aims have been publicized by Hudson and climate scientists such as Bill McKibben and Michael Mann in webinars supported by the National Museum of Natural History, the National Endowment for the Arts, and other organizations.

Such interdisciplinary collaboration is the theme of A Passion for the Planet, showcasing both the powerful impact the humanities can have when leveraged in concert with the sciences—in this case, both literally and figuratively—and the myriad ways the humanities can benefit the public. After all, our planet’s systems are inextricably interconnected; our human endeavors must be as well.

 

Notes

  1. Orr, David W. Dangerous Years: Climate Change, the Long Emergency, and the Way Forward. Yale University Press, 2016.
  2. Friedman, Thomas L. Hot, Flat, and Crowded: Why We Need a Green Revolution—and How it Can Renew America. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008.
  3. McKibben, Bill. Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. Times Books, 2010.

 

Works Cited

Hudson, Geoffrey. A Passion for the Planet, 2019.

Mann, Michael E., Raymond S. Bradley, and Malcolm K. Hughes. “Global-Scale Temperature Patterns and Climate Forcing over the Past Six Centuries.” Nature, vol. 392, 23 April 1998, pp. 779-787.

“A Passion for the Planet.” Hybrid Vigor Music, www.hybridvigormusic.org/our-projects/a-passion-for-the-planet/. Accessed 11 April 2021.

Thornton, Tony. “A Passion for the Planet.” Choral Planet, www.choralplanet.com. Accessed 11 April 2021.

Voth, Ellen Gilson. Music in Response – 3. Farmington Valley Chorale. 21 February 2021. Webinar.

About the author:

Lisa M. Ruch is Professor of English and Communications and Assistant Dean of Liberal Studies at Bay Path University. She also sits on the Board of Directors of Hybrid Vigor Music, Inc. Her training in comparative literature has instilled in her a deep regard for interdisciplinary studies and the public value of the humanities.

by Alissa Simon

Rebecca Mead’s book My Life in Middlemarch weaves a well-researched narrative that involves land, people, women, love, and story-telling, among other things. Mead incorporates her own journey to underscore the way that Middlemarch changes with every decade of life. My Life in Middlemarch explains how one can continually learn lessons from a single book. In fact, it has instructed (and continues to instruct) Mead’s understanding of character, moral, intellect and empathy. She feels that Eliot’s novel cannot be minimized into quotations. Actually, quite the reverse, the book rejects summary. With each decade, the novel speaks to a different aspect of Mead’s own life. Through a variety of characters, Middlemarch underscores the complicated nature of life, reminding us that sometimes the choices we receive are out of our control. Eliot’s book, in other words, looks closely at the many large and small complications in the web of life. Mead’s book echoes this journey by incorporating personal narrative, research of Eliot’s own life, and a sense of Middlemarch itself. 

Via the Washingtonian, CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Near the beginning, Mead introduces questions of motherhood which haunted Eliot who did not have any children of her own. Rather, Eliot grew to love and care for George Lewes’ children. When the youngest child died at the age of twenty-four, Eliot too feels this loss deeply. Mead writes, “A book does not tell us exactly how to live our own lives, but our own lives can teach us how to read a book. Now when I read the novel in light of Eliot’s life, and in the light of my own, I see her experience of unexpected family woven deep into the fabric of the novel – not as part of the book’s obvious pattern, but as part of its tensile strength. Middlemarch seems charged with the question of being a stepmother: of how one might do well by one’s stepchildren, or unwittingly fail them, and of all that might be gained from opening one’s heart wider.” (110). Mead connects with Eliot’s experience because of their shared experience as a stepmother. 

More than understanding our own lives, however, Mead describes Eliot’s book as a passage through the big questions of life. In attempting to understand art and the role of the artist, Mead explores an Eliot quote: “If Art does not enlarge men’s sympathies, it does nothing morally. The only effect I ardently long to produce by my writings, is that those who read them should be better able to imagine and to feel the pains and the joys of those who differ from themselves in everything but the broad fact of being struggling erring human creatures.” (56). Furthermore, she claims that these characters grant us a sort of self-awareness. They offer a lens through which to measure and weigh our own lives. Mead writes, “Looking back from the vantage-point of forty-five, though, twenty doesn’t look quite so far away. We are still recognizably ourselves, with many of the same confusions, even if experience has abated them, and granted us some self-awareness. We can hope, at best, that growing older has given us some degree of emotional maturity, and a greater understanding of the perspectives and the projections of others.” (162-3). Novels provide a space to ask what we might do in another’s situation and Middlemarch presents a great variety of characters of ambiguous morals. These characters address issues of poverty, wealth, religiosity and moral depravity, love and power, among many others. Since Mead herself has grown up with this novel, she highlights many of the same themes in My Life in Middlemarch

Middlemarch gives me a deep love of virtue, but only as it relates to flawed individuals. Eliot expresses the refreshing notion that flaws do not contradict virtue. In fact, virtue is built upon our response to flaws, and Rebecca Mead not only embraces this theme, but reinforces it by scaffolding her own journey with the wonderfully researched narrative My Life in Middlemarch.

About the Author

Alissa Simon is a Tutor at Harrison Middleton University. Though she is interested in (and studies) all sorts of literature, she typically focuses on poetry and translation. When not reading and writing, she spends her time in the outdoors, rain or shine.

by Erin McCoy

After considering the subject “Feminist Perspectives on the Humanities and Higher Education,” the first question that flitted across my mind was: “What do women and the humanities have in common?”

Scrawled across my Snoopy notepad, my answer: “They have to fight to be heard.”


Of course, feminist perspectives don’t always mean “women,” and I’d add that “Higher Education” also often has to sing for its state and donor-funded supper. My vocal range is limited as a woman/feminist; my black and brown colleagues in Higher Education have it harder than me, so my voice must include and make space for theirs. And the Humanities – my official doctoral degree – usually has to raise its voice the loudest in the chorus, creating looping arias about “the importance of the humanities” over the percussive roll of “STEM, STEM, STEM, STEM” across the higher education landscape. Like the road for equality between the sexes, the path of the Humanities in the 21st century has been slow-going. As a woman working in the Humanities, I attribute part of the problem to the exhausting weariness that comes with repeatedly insisting your existence has value.

A few months ago, the University where I teach hired a consultant to assist in “restructuring” academics. As a member of the consultant’s working group – and as someone who teaches English classes – I felt dismayed when drafts of “academic organization” immediately combined my Department (English, Theater, and Interdisciplinary Studies) and the Humanities Department (Languages, History, Philosophy) with others as a first measure to cut costs. I called several colleagues – mostly women – to just listen to their thoughts; they were sharply articulate about the need for resources. One likened combining departments in the Humanities as “over-suffocating the garden”; she pointed out that money, faculty hire lines, and the overall Department budgets get a lot tighter if there’s too many plants in the pot. If anything, the Humanities need more space to breathe, as well as more water, more sunlight – more support.

And while I’d like that support to mean “people in the Humanities need to be paid more,” what I really mean is that the Humanities should be tapped for the wellspring of creative innovation they are. I recently virtually attended the annual Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) Conference. I have been part of HERA – as a member, a newsletter editor, a non-voting board member, a conference participant – since 2011. So, as it is with Covid-19, I saw familiar HERA faces over Zoom, heard the hallmark throat-clear of a long-time HERA member over an un-muted mic, and watched seasoned and green humanities scholars probe ideas. I presented a paper on a course I’m teaching, Sports and the Humanities. I asked my audience: how do I better root the course in the Classical Humanities? I was rewarded with references to Ancient Greek urn art (as sports propaganda), the real name of Plato, and the “culture of celebrity” alluded to in antiquity texts. But it didn’t stop there. My privilege was duly checked, as were questions about including transgender and disabled athletes in the course materials.

That’s part of the problem with the Humanities – it’s so integrative, it is hard to argue that it deserves a room of its own.

To me, these exhilarating discussions essentially turn over and over William Faulkner’s assertion that “the past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” But how does literature, philosophy, Game of Thrones, Freud, Bridgerton fan-fiction, Tik Tok, etc. tell us about humanity, and it’s “present past”? I’d seen a similar exchange, but younger and more diverse, at a conference my University hosted in February – the First Virtual Interdisciplinary Studies Conference.

I’m really proud of that conference, because it was I who supplied the seed of it, and my colleague – a wife and mom and actor – took my arm and we ran with the idea. We were awarded a grant from the South Carolina Humanities Council, which funded our Zoom purchase and speaker fees. We were offered funds from Academic Affairs, but I wanted to prove that we were worth funding outside of the University. It was important that a project rooted in interdisciplinary humanities get money and thus be recognized in newsletters and Faculty Senate notes. People need to be reminded that the Humanities deserves investment. We had lots of help, support, and engagement from a third woman – another dear, female, colleague of mine, whose help with organizing the program was enough. But she went on to create presentations that brought current students and librarians together, and they were talking about race and health disparities with such grace and intelligence; it’s truly beautiful to see, our shared humanity mirrored back at each other.

The collaborative spirit – from our fellow women in the Grants and Accounts offices to our fellow faculty and to our delightful keynotes – underscored the real value of the Humanities. There were plenty of men who helped and supported the cause as well, I should add. We had a solid team helping each other out, which begets a more egalitarian product from the start; as Angela Davis noted in Freedom is a Constant Struggle (2016): “It is in collectivities that we find reservoirs of hope and optimism.” That’s part of the problem with the Humanities – it’s so integrative, it is hard to argue that it deserves a room of its own.


The 2021 NFL Super Bowl featured a spoken-word performance by poetry super-star Amanda Gorman. I cannot recall a time where a poem preceded the Super Bowl; Twitter already surged with academics and literature folks giddy over Gorman’s reading of her poem “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration. The primetime Super Bowl spot put us over the edge. Popular music is full of poetry, sacred geometry found in nature is full of poetry – studying poetry thus helps us understand the world around us. It allows us space to think about different ways to interpret that world and how we might question it, as well as to recognize what came before it.

But it does not exist only to bolster shiny “new” things, like Digital Humanities (by default, everyone working in the Humanities is doing some digital things, because we live in a digital world). I am fascinated by one of my previously mentioned colleague’s work with Medical Humanities, and I think I can contribute to it in some way, even if it’s just supporting her ideas and championing her courses. But the Humanities don’t wholly exist in these new iterations; they have long existed on their own, but in concert with each other.

Credit: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

What’s hopefully clear, in this prose, is some celebration of the Humanities, often done in defiance of the perception that it is “lesser-than” other disciplines. The root of feminism is believing in equality, and the Humanities is a metaphor for the treatment of women inasmuch that the value of Humanities will never be the same as the value of Medicine, for example. My aforementioned partner in conferencing (and opera-trained vocalist), Ms. Libby Ricardo, read a draft of this essay and immediately followed the metaphor: “WE ARE THE ALTOS!  We create the support and foundation while others get to be flashy and thus recognized.  Everyone knows a famous Tenor or Soprano.  But an Alto?  And yet, they create the lushest sound.”  

That’s practical – we don’t hear the alto when we’re paying attention to the soaring soprano. We don’t need the arts and humanities to live (though our quarantine addiction to Netflix tells us otherwise). A friend of mine writes that he’s “a doctor, but not the kind that helps people” in his social media bio – it’s funny, but the self-depreciation also comes with defeat. When a very grumpy man derided the First Lady Jill Biden for using her professional title, Dr. Biden, because it “feels fraudulent,” academia roared back. The grumpy man’s article was also derisive, dismissive (he called Dr. Biden “kiddo”) and sexist. It goes without saying (but bares repeating) that no one would’ve written this crap about a man.

Another glass ceiling breaks, and the chorus sings on – in this anecdotal essay, the song was about women in the Humanities, and my limited, privileged view of feminism in the Humanities. I am writing this on International Women’s Day, which I’m happy to celebrate but feel put out that women only get a day; a week would be nice. But that’s how I approach some of the issues I’ve seen in higher education, in regard to Humanities – sometimes the gesture is made, but it feels half-baked. Yay, a day. Yay, an obligatory one-line “congratulations” email. But the Humanities echoes a strong lesson: If you’re always looking outside yourself (your state, your school, etc.) for support (funding, enthusiasm), you’ll never be complete, or feel “good enough.” But I think our voices are good enough. I think the Humanities has a rightful place in the Higher Education pantheon – and I plan to keep singing. Loud.

About the Author

Erin R. McCoy is an Associate Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of South Carolina Beaufort. Her forthcoming book about the cultural historiography of the Viet Nam War is under contract with McFarland Press.

by AC Panella

A question sometimes asked to help folks reflect on their gendered experiences something similar to, “Do you remember the first time someone asked you to change your behavior, clothing, or language because of your gender?” This question intends to evoke a memory of feeling for folks who may not have thought about their gender in an examined way. The answers to this vary; experiences from toys and imaginary play to being asked to change clothes to ‘something more appropriate’ or something similar. 

Whatever the answer, these memories are important. First, they are interactions that may have encouraged or discouraged or complicated our understanding of how our bodies move in the world. Second, remembering this interaction may have a ripple effect on our understanding of the social practices that come around gender as a society. Finally, something makes them worth remembering. With the myriad of gendered interactions, one has been exposed to and chosen or needed to forget; memory may start to outweigh impact in daily life more than policy regulations or social policing of gender. Memory functions as the historian for gendered practices. Gender, then, as a concept is a mnemonic device for both regulating and remembering in a gendered world. 

Mnemonic devices are more than word play for remembering and retelling information; a mnemonic device can be any system that uses recollection to quickly use complex information. Gender as it’s currently invoked in a U.S. context tends to function to quickly recalling the complex histories of bodies and the expectations those bodies. Gender as a mnemonic device is a complex response to colonial and binary concepts of gender, it is the remembering, forgetting, and responding to memories regarding gender within a collective social group. 

Gender & Memory

Reformulating gender as a mnemonic device builds in the multi-sensory understandings of gender and may offer new forms of interruptions that expand the legitimacy of different gendered knowledges and practices. For gender to function as a mnemonic device, we must understand the development of social memories and how to create interruptions and reposition gendered memory from the personal to the ideological. 

A mnemonic device is an artifact or system to help remember elements or qualities of a particular moment. For example, you may have learned “Every good boy does fine” to learn the lines on the music stave. Or “my very easy method just set up nine planets” to learn the order of the planets, back when we still considered Pluto a planet. These are mnemonic devices intended to quickly recall a particular kind of academic fact.  Mnemonic devices used to capture experiences, memories, or short cuts to understanding. Souvenirs are tangible objects to remind of place experience, photos capture an emotional moment, and, in society, identity categories function as a short cut to understanding the complicated histories and emotions an individual may have experienced because of their connection to social groups.

This last quality of identity may help others and ourselves remember our own notions of that particular identity. When limited to binary definitions a gender, a person may remember ‘what it means to be’ a man or woman. However, gender in its current form of mnemonic device is insufficient for representing the range or experiences of a great deal of people. This is why trans (at its broadest definition) challenges a collective memory of gender¹. The tidy framework of binary gender doesn’t offer a way to reframe gender within the embodied memories of an individual. 

Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History notes, “Because most people have great difficulty recognizing the humanity of another person if they cannot recognize that person’s gender, encounters with gender- changing or gender-challenging people can sometimes feel for others like an encounter with a monstrous and frightening unhumanness.” One reason for this difficulty in recognition, is not being able to have a recall device that challenges one’s ability to enact social practice. Without this device a person may have a destabilizing response to experiencing gender based on a recollection of what gender “should be” or “used to be.” This mnemonic practice needs to be rewritten if we are to engage with everyone’s humanity. 

Art & Memory

Art is one intervention to mnemonic practices. Art can capture and reposition gender in a material and visual way. We can see how image works to captures and reiterate those gendered memories. Sometimes in more impactful ways than direct education or interaction. For example, we are more likely to remember The Last Supper as depicted in the painting, than we might reading the thick description in The Bible. This is one type of short cut to remember a part of a religion. Art by trans folks breaks this mnemonic practice because it invokes trans memory and gives insight to how gendered memories are preserved and passed on in public. 

When this is looked at on a group level, collective memory can be a way of quickly passing on and remembering important information across that shared experience. Memory can be shared through such practices as building physical monuments, holidays, or ceremonial traditions. For example, in the LGBTQ community, June is marked as LGBTQ pride month. Events, statues, and historical landmark designations have been created to honor the memory of the Stonewall Uprisings. This captures an important social turning point. Sharing the story of Stonewall through movies, artwork, and memorials can help in understanding a historic moment and may demonstrate how a collective has shifted. 

Memories, like Stonewall, become similar to a document that has been copied too many times. The original image gets incredibly dulled or distorted the more it’s copied. Collective memory is shaped through this process with each new monument, individual interpretation and reproduction. Today there is a democratization of knowledge and memory because of technology, social media, and other projects of globalization. When it comes to gender, trans people are gaining access to seeing and learning about trans histories, mythology, and memory. 

These memories for trans people can inform and validate identity; highlighting the complicated ways gender as a concept reinforces oppressive social structures based on patriarchal and colonized thought cementing binary gender as a memory construct. There is a myriad of trans artists who tackle trans history, futurity, and memory in their work. Chris Vargas, Nicki Green, and Vick Quezada are trans identified artists who challenge the way memory functions through interrogating institutionalization, religion, and biopolitical systems of gender. Their work contributes to material interruptions of gendered mnemonic practices. 

Photo Credit: Newtown Grafitti, via Flickr

One of the most commonly displayed works of Chris Vargas’ is The Museum of Trans Hirstory. A traveling exhibit, it uses real and created objects to codify moments of trans history. Objects include Sylvia Rivera’s high heel, signs from bars, and a mug from Compton’s cafeteria. Vargas says of this installation:

 “Stories of gay and lesbian civil rights victories like the dissolution of sodomy laws, the creation of employment nondiscrimination protections, and gay marriage all tend to trace back to rebellion, while the critical role that transgender women, many of color, played in these advances has slipped deep into unseen corners of historical memory” (99). 

What Vargas produces shines a light to that “unseen corner of historical memory.”  He connects trans lineage by displaying tipping points in trans history. These objects both memorialize trans experience and elevate its importance by positioning them within a historical institution. Vargas’ work inspires us to rethink how we might ‘trans’ art and museum space to reflect the vast array of genders their memories. 

These memories for trans people can inform and validate identity; highlighting the complicated ways gender as a concept reinforces oppressive social structures based on patriarchal and colonized thought cementing binary gender as a memory construct.

Museums are one way culture institutionally transfers gendered information; religion is another. Deeply connected to memory, religion often invokes gender in ritual thus preserving it in a collective memory. Nicki Green recreates artifacts related to gendered religious traditions through ceramics and sculpture. There are many Jewish traditions that Green has been excluded from because of her trans identity. She has recast ritual objects centering a trans feminine perspective; recognizing that the memory of these objects is layered and complicated across gendered experiences. As she says,

“I’m interested in the bedikah cloth because it’s a material way of recording the body. I recognize this practice and other ritual related to the regulation of women’s bodies can be and have been traumatic for many who participate. As a trans woman, I have this distance from these rituals because my body is not halakhically or historically included in these traditions, and that distance allows me the privilege to repurpose them in a way the feels empowering” (406). 

By repurposing ritual practice to be inclusive of trans experience, Green offers trans people a pathway to reconnecting and rethinking rites of passage and celebration within Western spiritual practice. Of note is that it is a Western colonized spiritual practice; there are a variety of indigenous practices that have capaciousness for genders beyond the binary. 

Artist Vick Quezada critiques colonialism by centering their art around indigeneity and on colonialist rewritings gender. They describe their work saying, 

“Plants, like humans, can be queer; they, too, are assigned genders. In terms of my work, gender is not always explicit, but it’s certainly embedded. I am the maker so I bring myself everywhere I go, right? But my critique of settler colonialism is consistent throughout my work. The structures created by Western colonial ideologies are the same ones that create systemic oppression and control gender constructs” (np).

Through their work, Quezada demonstrates how nation states codify and reinforce what gendered expectations should be. Often pulling from and erasing indigenous resources. 

These artists show how gender is a shorthand for societal expectations, historical knowledges, and predictive mechanisms for desire and connection. Gender as a memory device, highlights the ways we reinforce and distribute power and privilege in our society through placing emphasis on gender expectations. Trans people undermine this mnemonic practice by inhabiting multiple perspectives, creating new gender identities and challenging religious and social traditions that are tied to gendered expectations. To trans gender is to make new mnemonic devices for understanding and inhabiting bodies. 

Conclusion

People with trans identities and practices defy gender as a mnemonic device because rather than relying on historic social memory, gender practices are individualized and reinvented. These practices may be ignored throughout time because memory of a binary gender system is so strong. Consistently exposed to mnemonic devices that reinforce binary gender and not challenge it; this process is built through a combination of social practice and capitalist governmental forces. We check boxes, create policy, and build environments that all reinforce historic practice of gender making it nearly impossible for trans people to find themselves in space, history, or memory in public practice. Trans activist Marsha P. Johnson has said, “History isn’t something you look back at and say it was inevitable, it happens because people make decisions that are sometimes very impulsive and of the moment, but those moments are cumulative realities.” Our world can reflect our vast human experience and interrupting binary gender systems through artistic intervention is a way to reflect and share each new iteration.

Notes

  1. For this conversation, I’m defining trans as the actions and embodiment of people who do not use their gender assigned at birth to dictate their social expectations regarding tradition and desire. This can include transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive communities. This is a type of trans practice rather than a limited trans identity. For the sake of brevity, I’ll be using the term trans throughout the rest of this article but please know it’s not as an intention to obscure or erase these experiences but rather to encompass those identities and practices.

About the Author

AC Panella is a trans Ph.D. candidate in the Humanities at Union Institute and University. He has worked on a variety of projects including the Trans Leadership Academy, The LA Trans Health Coalition, and this year developing the Trans Oral History Project in conjunction with Georgia State University. His research is focused on trans collective memory and history as it’s represented in visual and material culture. When he isn’t nose deep in research, he is a full-time teacher, pet parent, and truncle (Trans-Uncle) to a super adorable three-year-old.

Feature Photo Credit: Ted Eytan via Flickr

 

by Volker Frank

I. By Way of Introduction: A Sociological Perspective of the Problem

A little more than a century ago, Emile Durkheim wrote his last book The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. In it, he explained why religion and faith are such universal human phenomena, regardless of their particular expressions, Gods, or sacred texts. To him, religion’s fundamental value was not the saving of the believer for an afterlife, but what religion – in its organized and collective form – did to those who believed and practiced it: they were members of a community of values. While Durkheim succeeded in making the point, he unfortunately failed in his other goal – the recovery of a consciously and collectively shared human morality, for which the Elementary Forms was a sort of preliminary study, a foundational perspective. Durkheim realized that modern life with all its scientific revolutions and progress (technological, medical, etc.) raised a serious challenge to community life of all sorts (the nation, the Church, the citizenry, the rural towns, the educational institutions). In fact, he argued, the birth and evolution of modern life produced secularizations and separations of all kinds. Even religion itself was not immune to this development. This was a problem, he argued, because while modern life produced a more complex division of labor that gave specialization, it also weakened our social and moral ties. He was quite skeptical about modern life’s ability to reproduce – in secular form – what religion had (presumably) accomplished before the arrival of modern life. In this vision that modern life will be diverse and yet profoundly divided, confused even, about values and what values we should nurture and protect and teach, he was not alone. Other famous Sociologists, Politicians, and Philosophers also feared that modern life will be increasingly about what we have and less about who we are and who we want to be and how we see ourselves as a part of something bigger. 

II. Diversity and Inclusion, Diversity or Inclusion?

 What has happened to Durkheim’s concerns? Has the University managed to address a central problem of modern times? And has the University not only addressed it, but arrived at a “good enough” conclusion or recommendation among its teachers and with its students? I am not so sure. In other words, while a lot of Universities and Colleges, and especially those who teach the Humanities, have recently – and rightfully so – engaged more intentionally with issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, frequently we are still not addressing a fundamental question: what are our values and beliefs, why do we have the values and beliefs we have, and what’s so unique about the Humanities in their attempts to clarify values for us? Is there a trade-off between diversity and inclusion? What lies underneath our talk of diversity and inclusion?

Let us assume for a second that the problem lies not so much with our attention given to diversity, but with inclusion. Many argue that finally, the Humanities are paying more attention to diversity of all kinds: here at “home” in the West (e.g. race, ethnicity, multiculturalism, gender, trans-gender, etc.) but also there “abroad” in the non-West (e.g. indigeneity, coloniality, cosmopolitanism). In the classroom, and among colleagues, talk about non-Western cultures, religions, and belief systems is not always easy. There are many reasons for this but two should be mentioned here. First, a lack of familiarity with “abroad” (produced, in part, by education biased toward the West, limited exposure to other cultures, reinforced by language limitations, and a lot more). To be blunt, or overly simplistic, not everybody who teaches about Africa, Latin America, or Asia, did what Levy-Strauss, or Geertz or Mead could do: spend years “abroad”. 

Second, and perhaps more importantly, a profound philosophical bias towards one-sided reason. Here we could mention a long line of intellectual thinkers who continue to have great influence over our Humanities: Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Smith, Darwin, Habermas, Foucault etc…Is it because they are all white males or is it because they share something that goes beyond race/ethnicity and gender? Maybe what they and others share is “subjectivism”, i.e. their ontological and/or metaphysical belief, philosophy, and their neglect of what in Anthropology is called a “wholistic worldview.” Looking beyond what is offered not only by Kant and company but also by most Sociologists and so many Social Theorists in terms of an explanation of who we are as human beings, is it possible that we are looking at a false dichotomy, and therefore not really looking at the bigger picture?

In other words, instead of looking at humans either as “agency” or “part of structure”, homo faber or homo ludens, instead of  disagreeing over whether we are, as Kant, Descartes, Smith, or Darwin had it, individuals in a competitive world, unable to fully understand and connect with the outside world, or instead of wondering if there is still a “grand narrative” since the Enlightenment (the modernization, democratization, secularization of the world), or whether the grand narrative is now a text to be de-contextualized, broken down into separate, distinct and different parts, instead of approaching the world from the perspective of Western vs non-Western, religious vs secular, developed or developing, rural or urban, rich or poor, healthy or sick, diverse and global, inclusive for some and exclusive for others, we ask again, who, what, and where are we as simple humans? But this time, we do so from a less “nominalistically” influenced world view. By nominalist I mean a world-view that assumes a dichotomous world: mind – world, subject – object, individualism – objective world, human nature is social vs. non-human nature is not social. Aristotle, Descartes, Kant, Marx, Nietzsche, Weber, and Habermas, and others, present this world-view, their philosophical stand, their theoretical position, for some even their political position, and thus their theories represent a value to the degree to which they describe what is, what is natural, what is not, what we are, what we are not, what is reason, what is rational, what is not rational, what belongs to God and what belongs to humans, what is fact and what is (to them)  “mere ritual” and finally, what deserves to be learned and what not. These are then, at one and the same time ontological affirmations, metaphysical accounts, epistemological recommendations.

Looking beyond what is offered not only by Kant and company but also by most Sociologists and so many Social Theorists in terms of an explanation of who we are as human beings, is it possible that we are looking at a false dichotomy, and therefore not really looking at the bigger picture?

It is not that some would not have warned us. Here, one could mention a few voices: Weber argued quite eloquently that “the fate of an epoch which has eaten of the tree of knowledge is that it must know that we cannot learn the meaning of the world from the results of its analysis, be it ever so perfect; it must rather be in a position to create this meaning itself. It must recognize that general views of life and the universe can never be the products of increasing empirical knowledge” (Giddens 1971:136). E. F. Schumacher echoes Weber’s warning in that he asks “we know how to do many things but do we know what to do? He goes on to argue that the current crisis (moral, political, economic, and environmental) of western civilization is due in large part to a crisis of education. There has been, so to speak, a “metaphysical collapse” of our deepest convictions and he concludes “education which fails to clarify our central convictions is mere training or indulgence and education, far from ranking as man’s greatest resource, will then be an agent of destruction, in accordance with the principle “corruptio optimi pessima” (Campbell et al. 2002: 555).  

And so, steeped in this tradition, today our Humanities face some serious challenges. From a nominalist perspective, how do you make sense of a statement like this: The Dagara people (Southern Burkina Faso, North West Ghana), explains M. P Somé, “have no word for the supernatural.” Moreover, “the world of the Dagara does not distinguish between reality and imagination” (Somé 1995:7). Likewise, Achebe (1994) argues that, as a consequence of a Western-imposed world-view, economics and politics, philosophy and science, the “problematique” of post-colonial Africa is how to get its people “back to the authentic” or “out of” this modern or post-modern Africa. In a similar vein, Maldonado-Torres, following Heidegger, asks how can we remind or convince non-Western people that for many former colonial subjects, it is not Descartes’ I think, therefore I am, it is I am, therefore I think. How do you unpack this?! 

The good news is that there are some really interesting proposals how to get us out of this bias. And so, re-reading Achebe or Somé and others (e.g. Halton), I wonder, do they propose what in my view constitutes a non-nominalist theory, a philosophy that might acknowledge the other, the stranger, or that might even “otherize” and yet still explore common elements in our humanity as the real foundation? Thinkers like Goethe, Mumford and Gandhi, Morrison, among others, present us with the possibility that rationality (including the one so strongly represented in the Social and Natural Sciences, in the Humanities and in Philosophy), is only a part of what makes us human, and there is more to the human condition, as religion, as extra-rational, as nature shows us and perhaps unlike at any time before now, is even trying to tell us.  

III. A Modest Proposal

The way we understand each other, the way we communicate with each other, the way we are and who we might become is far from an individualistic project alone. Our common project is rational but it is also so much more, it is reasonable, emotional, symbolic, and yes, it is calculating and sometimes dishonest and, lately, very conflictual. Halton argues that ”the reasonable is far more than the rational and runs deeper than cultural and biological reductionists can admit. It includes empathic intelligence, which can feel what rational mind cannot know, as well as projective intelligence, which can body forth ideas, images, feelings, and forms utterly irrationally, though reasonably” (Halton 1995:74). Many theories and philosophies see the rational individual as the center of attention – and hence as the place from which to explain the social, yet in doing so they risk missing more than what they reveal. Emphasizing diversity at the cost of inclusion is also bound to make the same mistakes, to fall into the same bias. Diversity and Inclusion are distinct ways of looking at the world, but maybe Inclusion is more than the sum total of Diversity. Inclusion is more than adding stories about “diversity at home and diversity abroad” – as important and timely as these may be. Inclusion is about shared humanity, regardless of place and time. 

 

Works Cited

Achebe, Ch. Things Fall Apart. New York Anchor Books, 1994.

Giddens, Anthony. Capitalism and Modern Social Theory, An analysis of the writings of Marx,

Durkheim and Weber. London, Cambridge University Press 1971. 

Halton, Eugene. Bereft of Reason. On the Decline of Social Thought and Prospects for Its Renewal.

Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1995.

Maldonado-Torres N. “On the Coloniality of Being” In Cultural Studies, 21:2, 240-270.

Routledge, 2007.

Schumacher E.F. “The Greatest Resource – Education.” In Asheville Reader The Individual in the

Contemporary World. Edited by G Campbell, M Gillum, D Sulock, M West. Copley Custom Publishing Group, 2002, 540-555.

Somé, M. T. Of Water and the Spirit. Ritual, Magic, and the Life of an African Shaman. New York,

Penguin, 1995. 

Tantillo, A. O. Goethe’s Modernisms, New York, Continuum 2010.

Wiredu, K. and Gyekye K. Person and Community. Ghanaian Philosophical Studies I. Washington,

Council for Research in Values and Philosophy. 1992.