henchminion (henchminion) wrote,
henchminion
henchminion

Internet awesomeness and the future of academe

Hey, wow! The first 39 volumes of the Selden Society series are now online. The whole world (or at least the privileged minority with an internet connection) can now geek out on medieval English lawsuits.

You know, two or three years ago, you could tell when a student had researched a paper without bothering to get up from their computer. Nowadays? Not so much. The other day an acquaintance who's writing a fantasy novel asked me for some leads on medieval feuds and dueling, and I discovered that all the sources I thought he should see are available as either Google books or articles that I can e-mail to him in pdf form.

When I think about this in light of the bitter recent strike by the contract faculty at York University, I wonder about the future of higher education in general. Increasingly, universities are opting to hire people to teach only one or two courses at a time on a part-time basis. Full-time faculty who have the luxury of doing their own research are becoming rarer. I think it's getting to the point where people who want to do history research are realizing that they're better off getting a nine-to-five job outside of academia and an alumni library card for the online databases. Maybe I'm being overly dramatic here, but I wonder if universities aren't turning into teaching factories while the exciting ideas of the future are going to come from the hobbyists.
Tags: i love/hate academia, medievalist wank
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