Dear J…

I am working to bring to my university’s online teaching and learning platform, Blackboard. I sent this email to my contact person, J. She has agreed to help me convince the techsters to enable a pilot program for the university. I would be the instructor of record in the pilot.

Here is my letter to her:


I am attempting to engage my fellow faculty with as a social annotation tool. One of my colleagues, Alex P., sent this link to the English listserv. He shared it with our Department Head, Rob H., as well.

Normally, this would be the end of that discussion unless it was picked up F2F in the hallways or in a committee meeting or, very rarely, an email exchange. With I am able to annotate and share with them here.

I hope they will take me up on my offer to collaborate on this text with them instead of its just becoming (as it so often does) another dead end, another “Hey, here’s a link for you to read.” I think that if we had this tool in Blackboard we might reach a tipping point among faculty users so that would bleed back out into folk’s everyday browser use and from there back into the classroom. And from there into the communities we live and share within.

Our faculty and students need this tool. In an age of collapse (and I can no longer think of our planet as in anything less than a state of ecological collapse) we need every possible tool to help us collaborate on ameliorating that terrible state. I am no longer teaching courses that have learning objectives that don’t include teaching the skills necessary to survive in an age of collapse. I think this might be one of those tools to teach those skills.

Yeah, I know that seems a bit of a stretch to say that one tool can help save our ecosystem, but anything that helps us network and share and engage each other has got to be a big net plus, doesn’t it? We have to start where we live and where we work. This is one of the places I live and work.

I use this tool every day. It has had much the same effect on my writing as blogs did when I first started using them nearly 20 years ago. Join me in annotating the article if you wish. I would value your notes because you come at the idea of “public humanities” from another orbit, but that orbit crosses mine in unexpected ways and adjacencies.

Schools a-comin’ and I hope you have gotten in plenty of summer fun. I look forward to hearing from you soon.


Looser, Devoney. “The Hows and Whys of Public Humanities – Profession.” MLA Profession, Spring 2019,

I am happy for anyone else to join in this “orbit” and share. I am sorry to say that our department and our university are struggling to be relevant in this radically changed ecosystem. I am looking for every way to adapt that I know of. You are welcome to kibbitz and comment to your heart’s content. You can help by annotating.


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