. . . not quite like Sarah Palin though. A couple of weeks ago, new-media and digital-culture scholar Mirko Schaefer posted an interesting column called “Rogue Scholars in the Sim City University.” Here is the subhead for the article:
University managers create a virtual university for themselves, a sort Sim City academia. Columnist Mirko Schäfer calls it Sim Sity as in SIMplified univerSITY. He pleads for rogue scholars, who come up with solutions for problems without bothering at all the encrusted superstructure of administrators.
What follows is quite inspiring and makes me want to stick it to the man (especially since the man won’t let me play in his ivory sandbox, but that’s another story). He talks about departments setting up impromptu, ad-hoc symposia, lectures, and workshops, a group of grad students who took it upon themselves to put together a program website they thought “was not embarrassing for a new media program,” and a few other examples of faculty and students carrying on the work of scholarship while bypassing the morass of bureaucratic interference. It resonates with some initiatives happening in the humanities and social sciences, such as the stuff happening with Open Humanities Press and Liquid Books, projects which are, in part, taking cues from the hard sciences as proposals for new paradigms of publishing that respond more quickly to shifting trends in scholarship than traditional methods can hope to do.
Going rogue does sound attractive, but I wonder if the sorts of tactics that Schaefer proposes carry the legibility and legitimacy needed for junior scholars to bolster their credentials, especially considering the vulnerable position of the liberal arts today and how (perhaps paradoxically) slow they seem to be in breaking with entrenched ways of doing things.