Many deep thoughts will come through this area now that the Society for Critical Exchange has found a new home at the University of Houston-Victoria. Institutions of higher learning from as far away as California and London vied for the honor of hosting the organization.
The society, previously based at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, works to create theoretical discussions on specific topics by experts in a wide range of fields. Scholars in literature, culture, law, philosophy and other areas examine a single concept from their own areas of expertise through the presentations of papers and discussions at events held throughout the country.
“Our growing university will be the hub for national critical discussions on important concepts,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences and the driving force behind the recruitment of SCE to UHV. “Ideally, I have a vision of it becoming a hub for international critical exchange.”
Being the coordinating nexus for such critical discussion puts UHV on the intellectual world map, Di Leo said. This wouldn't have been possible without the support of UHV President Tim Hudson and Provost Suzanne LaBrecque.
“Technologies like the Internet are making education increasingly globalized, and location is playing less of a role in where students choose to seek advanced teaching,” Hudson said.
“Organizations like the SCE add to the prestige of UHV and raise our university's profile across the country, and perhaps the world.”
Taking the organization to an international level was one of many suggestions Di Leo made in his proposal to bring the organization to Victoria, which the SCE board approved Jan. 1. Other suggestions included creating an international online community for critical discussion based at UHV, inviting a wider range of experts to join in theoretical discussions, and hosting a Winter Institute in South Texas. The UHV-published journal symplokē (www.symploke.org), which shares similar goals to the SCE, could become the official peer reviewed organ of the society, Di Leo noted.
The organization should be fully transitioned to UHV by May, Di Leo said. Once the process is completed, Di Leo will be the organization’s executive director, and UHV Humanities Professor Horace L. Fairlamb will be associate director. The SCE will employ a full-time executive assistant to assist Di Leo and Fairlamb in the day-to-day operations of the society.
Di Leo just put out a call to the group's 800 to 1,000 dues-paying members to present papers on “anonymity” at the annual convention at the Modern Language Association in San Francisco in December. As with past topics, this one will be presented on and discussed at other smaller MLA gatherings around the country.
Papers may address how the anonymity of the Internet allows people to express themselves more freely than they ever would in real life. But in doing so, an artist can be deprived of the glory that often fuels further creativity. Anonymity also may free people from the consequences of their words.
Past topics have been developed into books such as “Men in Feminism” and “The New Economic Criticism: Studies at the Intersection of Literature and Economics.”