The University of Glasgow is undergoing a comprehensive academic reorganization; all the departments will be dissolved, and the various [now-called] Subject Areas will regroup into larger Schools. The ostensible rationale for this process mostly involves economies of scale, although some colleagues intimate that more sinister administrative priorities lurk behind that innocuous corporate façade. I regret the process; a few years ago, my appointment would have resided in a School of Divinity, then a Faculty of Divinity, then the Department of Theology and Religious Studies that I now inhabit. After those more glorious designations, a “Subject Area” sounds pretty shabby.
The reorg involved smaller departments such as ours finding larger departments that were willing to take us under their wing. Such negotiations involve politics, finances, personalities, rivalries, and every other sort of complexity, so it was a relief to learn that TRS would end up with the relatively congenial departments of English Literature, English Language and Scottish Literature. Give the strong literary interests of many TRS staff, this seems like a terrific match.
That much was decided a month or two ago; since then, though, we’ve been in a smouldering struggle to select an appropriate name for our newly-unified staff. One might think that “Humanities” would make a fitting label, but the History-based cluster grabbed that one first. “Letters” was mooted as one possibility, “Letters, Language, and Religion” as another, but nothing suited a preponderance of the decision-makers. Today, a final decision was announced: we will be a constituent of the School of Critical Studies, which suits me just fine.
I was talking to my across-the-hall office neighbour, and we decided the whole ludicrous drama should be written up in a David Lodge novel. That would make it easier to just laugh at the Sturm und Drang, rather than feeling vaguely apprehensive about what it all portends.