Rough Theory

Theory In The Rough

Category Archives: Admin

And… Er… Their Space Too…

Just a quick note that we’ve decided to engage in a miniature group blogging experiment during the reading group’s diaspora. Different members of the group will alternate introducing specific texts, so that I don’t monopolise the “framing” of our discussions, and so that the workload of preparing introductory posts (which, at least for me, are generally harder to write than responses) is spread out. Depending on their mood and inclination, perhaps some of the group members can be enticed to branch out a bit – conference blogging? PhD-related thoughts?

But small steps… small steps… ;-P

Since we haven’t completely clarified how anonymous, etc., our guest bloggers want to be, I’ll allow them to introduce themselves as and when they’re ready. Just wanted to explain for regular readers why you may finally see some variety of authors cropping up on the blog over the next month or so.

The Ouroboros

I’ve recently gotten several questions from people about what “that snake thing” is in the logo for the site. For those who aren’t familiar, the site logo is an ouroboros – a serpent eating its own tail. I chose the ouroboros as a logo because I spend a lot of time talking about self-reflexive theory – about the need to ground ideals within our own historical experience, rather than reaching beyond our experience for some external perspective – and the ouroboros seemed as good a symbol as any for this purpose. (Although I should note that, since the ouroboros has historically primarily been used as a symbol for religious and alchemical movements, the symbol’s antifoundationalist heritage is somewhat suspect… But I’ve taken to heart Benjamin’s advice that historical materialists must brush history against the grain…) I had originally actually intended the current image to be a short-term stopgap, to be replaced with a better-drawn ouroboros, but have somehow never quite gotten around to it.

Wide Margins for Error

In the latest round of marking, I’ve noticed that one of my students has submitted an essay with these almost ludicrously wide margins. It’s a good essay, and comfortably long enough for the assignment, so I don’t believe they were trying to make their work look longer than it is – my guess is that they’re trying to provide more room for my comments, which have a tendency to scrawl around the borders and dwindle to illegibility when the margins are small. Wide margins as an iatrogenic consequence of a pedagogical – or, in this case, feedback – style…

This round of marking has also gotten me thinking about random patterns in student assessment: you occasionally get these long runs of papers at a similar level of quality – this time around, my marking started with a very long run of papers that had really struggled with the assignment; last time, my marking started with a series of excellent papers. I know from experience that, as you move through the bulk of the marking, the results eventually begin to distribute more normally. Nevertheless, it’s hard to prevent some anxiety when you hit these long runs at the beginning – was the assignment massively too easy? much too difficult? There’s a strong temptation to search for meaning in the data before the picture is complete…

On a more administrative note: the site is open again for comments, but may still be periodically up and down for the next little bit. If anyone notices any odd issues, feel free to post about them here.


Site problems again… You may see some odd issues over the next several days, as we play around in the back end…

Well, That Was Exciting…

Apologies to anyone who tried to reach the site earlier today – my web host has been experiencing technical difficulties (of the sort that cause pages to be replaced with l33t messages…). They have been working valiantly to get everything back to normal, but the site may continue to experience slow response times and other random errors for a bit. Unfortunately, I have one of those days when I will be unable to road test the site properly until very late tonight. If you notice specific problems, please don’t hesitate to make a post here or send me an email – it will be extremely helpful.

Spam as Found Poetry

Maybe it’s just me, but email spam to this domain seems to be getting more poetic lately. The current day’s offerings include the intriguingly random:

“Order status, off thrown”

Some nascent political commentary:

“Your money, oil filled”

And the haiku-like:

“Very sad
German statistics say
in average”

A bit less poetic is the spam that has been getting through my existing filters, and into the published comments sections recently. I’ll spend some time over the weekend trying to minimise this problem…

And, yes, I will write something about social theory again soon… Perhaps a meditation on the theme “Habermas: very sad German statistics say in average”…

Blog Software Update

Just a quick note that, at some point over the weekend, I’ll be changing over to the latest version of WordPress. In theory, the testing of the new version will occur in the background, and there should be only a brief disruption to the blog at the moment the new version goes live. In practice, well, we all know there’s a gap between theory and practice…

If you happen to notice that something breaks, please let me know.