Hello There

by Freddie deBoer


Hey guys, my name is Freddie deBoer, and I’m very happy to be filling in for Andrew this week.

For five years (exactly), I wrote a blog called L’Hote, which I named as a joke based on the fact that before I started blogging, I was a commenter on other people’s blogs. (L’hote, in French, means both the host and the guest.) For about a year or so now, I’ve been blogging under the title Interfaces of the Word at my professional website. I write about everything and anything, but I write a lot about education and education reform, professional writing and journalism as cultures, and artificial intelligence. I have also written for n+1, Jacobin, The New Inquiry, and a bunch of other places.

I’m an academic, from an academic family. My father was a professor and his father was a professor and his…. I’m currently a fourth year student and doctoral candidate at Purdue University, in the Rhetoric and Composition program. My academic work occupies the overlap between composition studies, applied linguistics, and education, with a focus on assessment and testing, second language learning, and program administration. If I’m pressed to name my field, I sometimes say educational linguistics, sometimes literacy education, and sometimes just composition. I’m not really caught up on labels. I care about writing, I care about language, and I care about teaching and researching both. That’s my field.

I consider myself a quantitative researcher, and a lot of my work involves corpus linguistics, computerized textual processing, and statistics. At the same time, I value qualitative, historical, and theoretical work as well. What I’ve gained from studying rhetoric and composition generally, and at Purdue’s program specifically, is freedom– immense freedom to define my own interests, my own methodologies, and my own path. I’m currently writing a dissertation on the Collegiate Learning Assessment+, a standardized test of college learning that is being adopted here at Purdue. My dissertation involves testing and assessment theory, empirical evaluation of piloting results, the history and rhetoric of the higher education assessment movement, and other issues, which suits my interdisciplinary interests very well. (I hope to write a post about the test for you guys this week.) I’m on track to graduate this coming May on a four year plan, and the academic job market is rushing up at me in the coming months.

I’m also a socialist, from a socialist family. In that, I mean that I believe in an economic system based on a societal obligation to secure basic material security for all of its people, and that this responsibility cannot be fulfilled by reforming capitalism. My personal preference is for the implementation of a system of market socialism through the vehicle of a universal basic income. What comes after that, I can’t say, but it should stem from the recognition that economic outcomes are the product of forces beyond the control of the individual, and that the market will never deliver moral outcomes unless it is forced to by society. I also reject the ideas of religion, intrinsic sexual identity, patriotism, and empire.

I have a cat, named Suavecito, and a dog, named Miles, who are both crazy in very different ways. You can see my neurotic dog and my sociopathic cat in the picture above.

I also have a reputation. Because I believe in being direct, and I like to fight, and more I believe it’s our democratic responsibility to fight. So when you think I’m wrong, write me an email, and let’s argue. I’m looking forward to it, and I’m grateful for the opportunity.