The Schlegel Blitz ("Only connect…")

April 29th, 2010 |

(Note: I didn’t apply to THATCamp, but I decided that I get to propose a session anyway, since I’m darn well coming in my role as Regional THATCamp Coordinator. That’s what admin privileges do for you, heh heh.)

In E. M. Forster’s novel Howard’s End, the bohemian intellectual Schlegel sisters, Margaret and Helen, both try to connect with men outside their normal bohemian intellectual circles. It’s a rather naive idea, and it turns out rather tragically for both the bright working-class dreamer Leonard Bast and the muddled bourgeois businessman Henry Wilcox, but in the end there’s some good at least that comes of it. David Lodge played with this idea in his novel Nice Work, too, and in that novel it turns out rather better.

My idea is to spend a session simply connecting with people we don’t usually connect with, people outside our normal professional and disciplinary circles. That might mean calling a prof in the Computer Science department at your own university to see if s/he’ll come speak to your Literature class; or it might mean getting in touch with Apple to see if they’ll give your library an iPad to lend out; or it might mean arranging for someone from a community college, someone from K-12, someone from a university, and someone from business to all have lunch together for no particular reason at all. I’m often meaning to do this kind of connecting and never getting around to it — I figure we could do a little brainstorming, a little Googling, and then a little e-mailing or calling in an hour fifteen, and who knows what might come out of it?

We might also use some of the time to discuss the ethics of corporate sponsorships of academic projects, including THATCamp. Though of course that might easily be a whole separate session.

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3 Responses to “The Schlegel Blitz ("Only connect…")”

  1. patrickmj Says:

    So, you’re putting yourself in the role of naive bohemian intellectual?

    Sounds good to me!

    That would be interesting, especially in context of the ethic of inclusion that Lincoln wrote about recently. This might test just how far we want to/are able to take that, which I think would be important and relevant to address.

  2. Christa Williford Says:

    In libraries, I’ve observed a lot of reticence to work with people outside professional boundaries except in specific professionally sanctioned contexts (providing reference or research services, for instance, or instructional technology consultations). One of the goals of a current study I’m advising is to help people in libraries involve scholarly experts, technologists, and others in their work with collections. So hearing how others manage this in different contexts would be valuable. It also might help to think about a few of the reasons why people hold back from making those connections, and strategies for mitigating their concerns. The potential for mutual gains and a sense of shared responsibility, as well as trust, are necessary to make these kinds of interactions productive down the line. Is it possible to have a strategy for reaching out that maximizes this potential?

  3. cjceglio Says:

    For me, participating in THATCamp is my Schlegel blitz! Having come to graduate school after a career as a writer and editor in the advertising, arts, museum and medical fields, I’ve only recently discovered this exciting—and intimidating—thing called digital humanities. I say intimidating because my technical abilities and experience are, as yet, very limited. I don’t know how to code. I only recognize some of the many acronyms that fly around in conversation and on the blogs. And so forth. So, I’ve lurked, read and played around a bit with WordPress, Omeka and other easy points of access. So, discussion of the “ethos of inclusion” that Lincoln Mullen outlined is of interest to me, too. And, I think that goes along with Christa’s suggestion that it would be useful to also think about barriers to inclusion and connection and the strategies that will facilitate more adventuresome attitudes in this area.

    (In closing, on Amanda’s topic of the ethics of corporate sponsorship for meetings, this was significant issue in one of my prior fields, ophthalmology.)


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