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Faculty reading groups reflect a significant way for Macalester colleagues from different departments, divisions, and ranks to discuss common intellectual interests. Depending upon the conveners’ goals, groups may focus on teaching or research concerns, issues about higher education as an industry, or the pleasure that comes from discussing literature with colleagues. To join an ongoing group, contact the convener. To propose a new group, contact .

Fall 2017 Reading Groups

Teaching in the Age of Trump: Race, Class, and Politics
Convened by Duchess Harris, Adrienne Christiansen, and Julie Dolan
This semester-long reading group aims to answer the question "Why do working class Whites and Blacks respond to politics differently?" We also mean to help faculty prompt reflection and curiosity in our students as they work to understand the recent presidential election results. Participants will first read J.D. Vance's "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis," followed by Duchess Harris' "Black Lives Matter," which can serve as a useful lesson plan for when classes begin at Macalester. We will also read Harris' newest unpublished manuscript "Race and Policing" followed by sociologist Arlie Hochschild's "Strangers in their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right."

This group will meet every other Thursday from 4:30-5:30 pm starting on January 26th in the Jan Serie Center, Suite 338 of the Library. This other dates are February 9, February 23, March 9, March 23, April 6 and April 20.

Reimagining the Academic Library
Convened by Terri Fishel
An academic library with smaller print collections? Faculty choosing open access publishing options at their institutions over traditional avenues? Students tinkering, making, coding and creating in library spaces? Disruptive forces are upending “business as it was” in academic libraries and institutions of higher education. What might the DeWitt Wallace Library be in ten years? Twenty? One vision for the future is articulated by David W. Lewis, Dean of the IUPUI University Library, in his book “Reimagining the Academic Library.” Lewis discusses the fundamental changes that economics and technology are bringing to academic libraries. He provides a possible, sometimes radical, roadmap for navigating these changes, including “Ten Things to Do Now.” We believe that our Macalester community members have a role to play as we grapple with the disruptive forces and transformative opportunities affecting academic libraries. To that end, this reading group will help increase understanding of how all academic libraries are changing as well as help inform upcoming conversations about the future of the DeWitt Wallace Library and how we can continue to be an integral and inspiring contributor to Macalester’s learning community. We look forward to having lively conversations and developing a shared understanding of the changes outlined in this book as well as how you would like us to shape the future directions of the library.

This group will meet on Wednesdays: February 8, February 15, March 1 and March 8 from 3:30-4:30 pm, Library 320.

Meeting 1 - Preface and up to Force 4 (p.43)
Meeting 2 - Force 5 & 6 Economics of information & Demographics (p.45-74)
Meeting 3 - Interlude and Steps Down the Road (p.75-152)
Meeting 4 - Conclusion - Ten Things to Do Now (p. 153-158)

Speech, Privilege, and Marginalization in Higher Education
Convened by Brian Lush
The goal of this reading group will be to explore two texts that address the themes of systemic privilege, marginalization, access and speech in higher education. To this end, we will be reading and discussing the PEN America report "And Campus for All: Diversity, Inclusion, and Freedom of Speech at U.S. Universities" (2016), as well as Natasha K. Warikoo's "The Diversity Bargain: And Other Dilemmas of Race, Admissions, and Meritocracy at Elite Universities" (University of Chicago Press, 2016). Participants will be invited not only to respond to the texts under discussion, but also to draw upon their own experiences, perspectives and expertise in responding to the questions of equitable access to higher education and inclusiveness on college and university campuses.

This group will meet on Wednesdays: January 25, February 8, February 22, March 8, March 22, April 5 and April 19 from 4:00-5:00 pm at the Serie Center, Suite 338 of the Library.

Empathy and its Discontents
Convened by: Dianna Shandy, Jim Dawes and Mark Mazullo
Today, the international conversation about empathy is urgent and divisive. The idea is championed and challenged in equal measure by neuroscientists, human rights activists, arts critics, psychologists, philosophers, and commentators from many other fields. This reading group will serve as a precursor to the Fall 2017 International Roundtable and consider the work of three leaders on this topic including the work of Roundtable speakers. Readings include: Frans de Waal, "The Age of Empathy," Paul Bloom, "Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion," and an essay by Kimberle Crenshaw. This reading group will be capped at 12 participants.

This group will meet on Mondays: January 30, February 6, February 20, March 6, March 20 and April 10 from 3:30-4:45 pm in Markim Hall 303.

Mon, Jan 30: Overview/Introductions: Empathy and the IRT
Mon, Feb 6: De Waal, Pt 1
Mon, Feb 20: De Waal, Pt 2
Mon, Mar 6: Bloom, Pt 1
Mon, Mar 20: Bloom, Pt 2
Mon, Apr 10: Crenshaw essay and conclusion

Era of the Anthropocene
Convened by Arjun Guneratne (Anthropology)
In the early 2000s, the chemist Paul Crutzen, whose 1995 Nobel Prize was awarded for his work on the hole in the ozone layer, proposed that the impact of human activities on the planet was such that the modern era be defined as a distinct geological epoch, the Anthropocene. Fundamental to this idea is that humankind does not simply impact the environment but is a force that alters the way the earth system works — climate change being the most obvious example. Although he does not use the term, it is this concept that informs the historian John McNeill’s environmental history of the modern world, "Something New Under the Sun," published in 2001. On August 29, the Anthropocene Working Group consisting of 35 people from a broad range of disciplines, recommended that the period since 1950 be defined as a new geological epoch, shaped by human activity and defined in part by the “radioactive elements dispersed across the planet by nuclear bomb tests.” This reading group will explore the concept of the Anthropocene with particular reference to how the humanities and social sciences can engage with, deepen and enhance our understanding of it. We will meet at least six times over the course of the academic year, three times in the fall and three in the spring. We will read Amitav Ghosh’s new book, "The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable." Other possible texts may be discussed at our first meeting.

This group will have an organizational meeting on Thursday, February 16 from 11:30 am - 1:00 pm in Library Room 320.

A Slow Read of The Slow Professor
Convened by Chris Wells and Diane Michelfelder
Feeling a bit frenetic? Worried about the culture of speed in the academy? Join us for a slow reading of Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber's new book, "The Slow Professor." This group will meet from 4:45-5:45 on two Thursday afternoons and at a final potluck and discussion.

Dates: TBD