November 8, 2011

From Gerald R. Lucas

Forced Separation

It started yesterday: boxes that had begun appearing in the hallway were being moved out. The Humanities Department is finally no more. We are now the English Department and the Department of Media, Culture & the Arts. The former is moving upstairs. It’s sad.

I think we were better together, but during the summer of 2010, we were divided arbitrarily and for political reasons. Or maybe practical ones? I’m not sure, as I was never told exactly why. I does make sense to have an English Department, but what was left over does not. We decided on Media, Culture & the Arts as a name for: several English faculty, Art, Music, Theatre, Communication, and Foreign Language. What is that? Perhaps we should have called ourselves the Department of Leftovers.

This morning, I certainly feel that way.

There are some positives about this split. I think we were able to revitalize the CIT degree, even changing the name to NMAC. I didn’t get the program I wanted, but my colleagues and I came up with something good. The Art program has gained a new life with new faculty. IDS is prospering, though I’m afraid at what Monica’s move will mean. We face other challenges as an ad hoc department—ones I hope we’ll overcome.

Still, I will miss my other friends and colleagues, particularly Heather, Laura, Amy, and Nancy. I know they’re upstairs, but while the physical distance is spanned by a flight of stairs, the figurative distance is further, and will likely grow.

However, I do hope this physical move doesn’t widen the gap further. I think it will. I was hoping to work with the English folks to compose and propose a graduate degree, but after talking with a few people, I don’t think the powers that be would look favorably on this right now. I’m not sure why. It really seems that someone wants the gap to remain wide and uncrossable.

I, too, wonder at my fate. I word for a decade to earn a Ph.D. in English with concentrations in modern and postmodern literature, the epic genre, and computer-assisted pedagogy. It appears as if I’ll never get to teach a literature class again. Yes, there are the left-over humanities classes, but I wonder at my capacity both officially and intellectually to teach those. I have been for a couple of semesters now, and the prep is brutal. I do like that challenge, but coupled with increasing administrative responsibilities, I’m, well . . . not feeling very grounded. I don’t think I’m alone.

Losing the physical proximity of my trusted colleagues has just made this all the more real. Someone convince me this is a good thing.