Miskatonic University Press

Ordering Things

publications york

I’m delighted to say that Ordering Things, by Sarah Coysh, Lisa Sloniowski and me, is now available freely and openly. It is our chapter in the new book The Politics of Theory and the Practice of Critical Librarianship, edited by Karen P. Nicholson and Maura Seale, published by Library Juice Press.

Cover of the book.
Cover of the book.

This book features original research, reflective essays and conversations, and dialogues that consider the relationships between theory, practice, and critical librarianship through the lenses of the histories of librarianship and critical librarianship, intellectual and activist communities, professional practices, information literacy, library technologies, library education, specific theoretical approaches, and underexplored epistemologies and ways of knowing.

Our chapter is a reflective essay and a conversation. It’s about “collaborative reading of critical theory as an act of resistance and inspiration for workers inside neoliberal institutions,” as Lisa put it. Here’s the first paragraph:

In autumn 2010 three librarians at York University in Toronto formed a group to read Michel Foucault’s The Order of Things. Our academic backgrounds were diverse, but we were all hungry for the kind of idea-based conversations that weren’t happening in our bureaucratic workplace. We wanted to move beyond granular discussions about daily operations into reflecting upon the implicit ideologies behind decision-making and practices in our field. Together we sought to explore how these ideological bases connected to broader trends in society, the production of knowledge, and the politics of memory. At the outset at least one of us was fairly skeptical about post-structuralism and its practical application, and none of us were well versed in this literature or in Foucault’s work.

(I was the skeptical one.)

In the chapter we explain what we did in the reading group, what it meant, and how it changed us.

Karen Nicholson and Maura Seale were wonderful editors. Our first draft received very helpful large-scale comments about structure, and as versions went back and forth they got down to very fine detail about sentence structure and grammar. They gave very close attention to every line of our manuscript, and every suggestion was welcome. Of course, any remaining mistakes or complaints a reader might have are our fault, but there are far fewer of them than originally existed.

I haven’t yet read anything else in the book, but am eager to do so when my copy of it arrives. It looks like a great collection and I’m very happy to be part of it.

P.S. I was happy to get my Foucault parody in:

Its representation lay dormant in the recrudescence of its own finalities, simultaneously dissolving and coalescing, becoming fluid and solidifying, disappearing from existence while yet fixedly becoming utterly real.