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Graduate student life – how to make academic work relevant

April 30, 2011

In following up with the semi-naval gazing (yet highly relevant piece) on what the training of graduate school and the entire processes we go through afford, I want to advocate making our learning (especially for many of us in the humanities) more explicitly transferable to the community. I don’t suggest throwing out high-theory or dense philosophies from the curriculum. In fact, I consider such theories and philosophies to be useful in helping open up our worlds, provided we are willing to spend the time to learn the lingo that is the accoutrement of such philosophies.  But how do we bring any of these theories into the world and install them to be part of an active engagement with the world?  More importantly, how would such engagements make any real difference to the ‘macro’ world? I don’t think there is an easy answer to that but I do believe that as our world is pushed open a little each time, the answer becomes more obvious. One of it is related to how our affect, emotions, cognition and social lives are all connected to each other. In reading a book about reading that takes insights from different writers who were also readers of all sorts, one comes to terms with how the density or fluidity of language used to conceptualize and generalize one’s experience is, largely, related to theorizing and therefore, the creation of that theoretical language to embody rather than merely represent one’s experience.

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