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to sea for pearls
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Date:2005-11-22 23:31
Subject:don't teach 5 classes at 3 schools
Mood: numb

Note to self:

Remember these weeks.
You're the one who arranged for the four full-length undergrad classes to go into hibernation for three weeks so you could teach the short-length grad course.
You only have yourself to blame for getting in six assignments in the last twelve days.
The remaining mound of midterms, essays, and publishing analyses is your fault.

I'm looking forward to next semester, the bliss of just three classes at (sigh) three schools....

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Date:2005-10-29 12:42
Subject:new music to love

Who else has found music online that's now part of the personal soundtrack?

My favourite web-introduced music indulgence is The Arrogants, and not just because I love the name. A few of their songs have really spoken to me, especially the title track from _Nobody's Cool_, the acoustic version of "Lovesick," "Will You Notice When I'm Gone," and "Nothing Good Can Ever Come of This."

Their first full-length album is now available at http://www.arrogants.com/releases/bye.html, with a couple of songs freely downloadable as samples. Buy it, love it, give it for Christmas.

Just about the entire back-list is also freely downloadable at http://www.arrogants.com/songs.html, and I strongly encourage you to check out the above-mentioned songs -- but to remember as well that indie bands tend to exemplify variety, so you might prefer a version of The Arrogants that isn't my own favourite!

Sample lyricsCollapse )

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Date:2005-10-21 22:49
Subject:looking for answers

Check me out, reduced to begging others to track down unresolvable quandaries:

I have this faint recollection that some prominent 18th- or 19th-century writer had as his preferred mode of composition pacing up and down his garden, speaking aloud, until he had a paragraph complete, at which time he'd dash inside and copy it down.

No doubt treating himself to a brandy while in the study.

Can anyone remember this one?

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Date:2005-10-01 14:11
Subject:guts in knots
Mood: drained

Every teacher's favourite activity: telling a student that s/he's been caught for plagiarism. Had to do four this week.

Four zeros on the assignment. Two I have to consider expelling from class, which would mean expelling them from the program they've dedicated over a year to. No easy way to do it, is there?

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Date:2005-08-30 22:37
Subject:sorry, i've forgotten your name again....

Who says 5 hours of sleep a night isn't enough?

My life these days --

University One:
Just finishing up teaching a junior course in professional writing -- a semester compressed into three weeks. (!)
A month into online teaching a senior course in literary theory and the discourse of justice, ending in December.
A month away from starting a partially online junior course in philosophic backgrounds to the Canadian justice discourse, ending in December.
Six weeks away from teaching a graduate course in professional writing -- again, a semester compressed into three weeks.

University Two:
A week away from teaching introductory academic writing, ending in December. (Freshman comp. for the self-declared smarties, I think, but I'm not sure as I only got hired this morning.)

University Three:
Four weeks away from teaching freshman comp., ending in December.

And the kicker? I hadn't taught at any of these schools before this month, and I haven't (obviously) taught these particular courses before either in these environments.

I hear an element of madness is plaguing the school at which I actually wanted to be teaching but by which I haven't been contacted re same -- but because some readers here (though by no means all!) know the school and persons involved, I'll shut up about that.

Things there do sound interesting, though.

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Date:2005-07-25 21:07
Subject:mission the next
Mood: quixotic

Finished the self-justification to the self-interested, aka explaining literature's merits to business students. Fun stuff, fun.

Now I'm tracking down texts that will introduce literary theory sexily to students in a justice / social work program. The program is only old enough that these are the first students to have made it this far, so I get to decide the readings, all of which have to come from online sources.

Recommendations appreciated, almost as much as a reference to an online version of Derrida's "Law of Genre" and/or "Before the Law"!

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Date:2005-07-22 21:13
Subject:Bogged down like crazy

I’m trying to provide a written summary to help business students have the most fruitful, most straightforward, and maturest experience possible of novels and plays. I’m trying to explain in writing why literary reading and writing should matter to a business student.

It’s not that I don’t remember, but it’s self-evident for people like me, as I am now, and ungraspable for people like them, as they are now.

Somehow it doesn’t sound convincing, even though it’s true, that eighteenth-century georgic poetry helped me learn to interpret the federal Income Tax Act. Do I really say that Microserfs will help them learn to read prospectuses for mutual funds? That Tomson Highway will help them move between registers to serve multiple and diverse client groups? That the minutiae of Henry James novels will prepare them to write financial spreadsheets?

Too excited about my looming upper-level courses at the established uni to get worked up enough about the first-year courses at the newly founded place, I guess, which is a shame all round.

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Date:2005-07-18 22:26
Subject:i saw bob the other night, like a great ring of pure and endless light

Yrs. truly spent an evening with Bob Dylan this weekend -- glory visited my town, and I went there for to see.

Incomprehensibility and communicationCollapse )

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Date:2005-07-15 22:40
Subject:so tired

a lowercase and unpunctuated entry because i cant bear the workload

currently prepping five courses ive never taught before

a firstyear comp and a firstyear lit at an unfamiliar university

a thirdyear professional writing

a fourthyear literary theory and justice course

a grad course in professional writing

the last three at a second unfamiliar university in two different departments

just moved so painted five hours today and a garage sale tomorrow

ow ow ow

my daughters here but i barely am so i miss her terribly

but its alright
cuz its midnight
and theres two more bottles of wine

course tomorrow will be
im on my second cup of coffee
still cant face the day

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Date:2005-06-22 21:51
Subject:in other news...

The new university for which I've been developing student learning materials has decided to open its doors after all. Just a week ago I was quite worried, since they'd recently announced scholarships for every member of the initial cohort (not that this made for a sale price on tuition or anything), and a "guaranteed graduation" program for the MBA they're trying to get off the ground. Neither announcement gave me much confidence, for obvious reasons. Or the reasons were obvious to me, at least.

I've also picked up a gig teaching a third-year writing course, basically a grammar course for established writers, in the communications program at another local university.

All good news, that.

However, my attention is entirely on my daughter, who's now being assessed for mild ataxic cerebral palsy (a sub-version of dyskinetic CP, apparently, though that doesn't feel like information to me).

So many demons out there, so many, all so hungry for our beautiful young.

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Date:2005-06-11 16:45

If anyone needs me, I'll be playing Asteroids at http://www.neave.com/games/asteroids/game.php, where I'm currently #168 on the high scores.

Or possibly playing Hexxagon at http://www.neave.com/games/hexxagon/game.php.

It depends.

[Edit: now #83 ... can't ... bend ... wrists...]

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Date:2005-06-08 22:02
Subject:talkin' 'bout writin'
Mood:tense, tired, achy

I don't recogize my own pedagogy in all this.Collapse )

What I want students to learn is to speak confidently and thoughtfully for themselves, in their own voices, in conversation with other, established voices, and I'm not finding that easily online. I know what I want to accomplish, but I just can't find the sources I need for armour.

Curses -- I'm going to have to actually research this.

x-posted to compositionism

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Date:2005-06-01 23:28
Subject:research oddity

The eighteenth-centry LJ community's been talking about Richardson, and I decided to use the net to find something in _Clarissa_.

After I'd finished reading the novel several years ago in grad school, I wrote a paper calculated to offend and irritate my old-school close-readings-only prof: a feminist film theory, gaze theory, "textual materiality and material textuality" squib. But I couldn't find the perfect reference, a moment where Lovelace compares Clarissa's letters to other women's ... privates, using the term "plications."

The internet is a wide place, and the reference is there now: "the seal would have yielded to the touch of my warm finger ... and the folds, as other plications have done, opened of themselves to oblige my curiosity" (1085).

The kicker is the source of the quotation: a web site from which you can order Viagra but which posts papers by Ruth Yeazell, Nancy K. Miller and David Bromwich.


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Date:2005-06-01 21:08
Subject:harmful books

A friend passed on a link today, to what 15 conservative "thinkers" (ha!) consider the most harmful books of the last 200 years: http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?id=7591.

The usual suspects are there, of course, The Communist Manifesto, Mein Kampf and Quotations from Chairman Mao occupying the top three places. There are some less predictable choices, like the Kinsey reports and Dewey's Democracy and Education, both of which included some befuddling comments, but what interested me were choices in the "honourable mention" section.

To get an Honourable Mention, a book had to be nominated by at least two of the fifteen "thinkers" (again, ha!). On the list, in among Foucault, Adorno, de Beauvoir and Freud:

Charles Darwin, not just Origin of the Species but Descent of Man (because science is Bad);
Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (because pesticides are Good);
Ralph Nader, Unsafe at Any Speed (because cars should kill); and
Margaret Mead, Coming of Age in Samoa (because breasts don't belong in National Geographic).

Darwin and Marx were the only repeats. Marx, OK, but Darwin? Really?

[Insert outraged commentary here.]

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Date:2005-05-30 23:14
Subject:god bless administrators

The well-meaning associate deans at the college where I teach recently invited all adjunct faculty to what was intended to be a casual conversation over coffee, in which we would be encouraged to express ourselves, about all things college, in an atmosphere of trust and so on.

I, of course, immediately emailed the admin assistant for said associate deans to ask whether it was some sort of trick, like the sting operations where police invite wanted criminals to bogus time-share information sessions, but she said it was legit, so I arranged childcare, arrived early so I could do the final barely relevant administrative stuff that's been hanging over my head, and found my way to the scheduled location just 10 minutes late.

Where I was the only adjunct to show up. Period. At any point in the whole hour.

No one else even rsvp'd, which says something about the connection we feel with the institution. I'm exactly arrogant enough to assume that I belong wherever I happen to be (though self-questioning enough to work my butt off so I might eventually belong), but the environment isn't quite as welcoming around here as I'd heard. The new twice-annual full-interview hiring process could be part of it (about which more in a later post), as could comments from HR like "the college has no responsibility for adjunct faculty once the contract for that term has expired." Accurate in relation to the collective agreement, but hardly conducive to good relations between adjuncts and administrators.

On the positive side, I had a full hour in which to tell the associate deans exactly what I think of the institution, including my experiences in individual classes with individual students.

On the negative, ditto. (Self to self, silently, several times: "Shut uuup, dude! Shut uuup!")

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Date:2005-05-26 21:03
Subject:because kiaugh reminded me: "why literary study?"

A new draft section for the student learning module of the new literature course I'm developing. kiaugh reminded me in a response to a previous post that students usually can't or won't understand why literary study is a useful skill for them.

So, behind the cut is my first draft at "why literary study?" -- responses, as always, are appreciated.

My first cut, so it won't work. Sorry in advanceCollapse )

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Date:2005-05-22 21:58
Subject:on studying literature

Literary study is a collaborative expression of individual thought.

Reading is a self-sufficient pursuit. After you finish reading something, there’s no obligation on you to do anything else; you don’t have to figure out what you think about what you read, compare what you think to what others think, or explain what you think to anyone. You often do one or more of these things anyway, because although reading looks like a solitary activity, it is instead a reflection of the community you belong to (or want to belong to), but the point is that you’re not required to do any of them.

Literary study, on the other hand, requires you to do all three things after you read something:
a. figure out what you think about what you read;
b. compare what you think to what others think; and
c. explain what you think to anyone.

In fact, these three actions define literary study. Reading could be considered private, but literary study is inescapably public. Your experience of a piece of literature is the centre of both activities, but literary study is what results when you share your experience with other readers and students.

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Date:2005-05-14 20:43
Subject:not old, but 37 (glenn mcdonald is my hero)
Mood: contemplative

"My company has been acquired twice over, and my useful job designing software that makes people's work lives suck less has disintegrated into a torment of endless meetings arguing about how we would decide what kind of software we and our acquirers would be jointly building if we weren't spending all our time in meetings waiting for them to talk themselves out of all the idiot ideas we've been telling them won't work for a year and a half."

"Even if we keep the corporation we've been swallowed by from pulping and absorbing us into their blotchy thighs, the corporations we're selling to are undoubtably just as grotesque."

"Every tiny joyful thing I do makes me hate the joyless things more."

These gems are from the introduction to Glenn McDonald's "The Difference Between Knowing," issue 481 of his decade-long independent (and often inaccurately defined) music review series, now dearly departed. Subtitled "(37 attempts at a morality of joy)," this one makes me want to sing.

Follow the link, you know you want to....


(The music selection: Barenaked Ladies, an MTV live take of "One Week" that includes the Ladies enthusiastically and admirably covering bits of "Get Jiggy With It" -- Will Smith; "The Boy Is Mine" -- Brandy & Monica; "All About the Benjamins"; "Bittersweet Symphony" -- The Verve; and "Ray of Light" -- Madonna.)

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Date:2005-05-13 22:31
Subject:revision skills

"Remember the goals of formal writing. You are trying to present the most intelligent version of yourself possible, which involves fulfilling as best you can the basic principles of formal writing. If you can’t perform the secret handshake, it’s unlikely that anything you have to say will find the audience you’re hoping for."

I just drafted this as a cautionary introductory paragraph for a student learning module summarizing revision skills for a freshman comp. course. In other words, it's on page one of ten, in module nine of ten. Does this sound like a reasonable way to start the complicated process of retrospectively justifying the dedication of 15% of the course to learning revision skills?

And how important do you think revision skills are, relative to drafting and research?

(x-posted to english_majors and compositionism)

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Date:2005-05-04 23:37
Subject:last five songs

"Nobody Knows Me," Lyle Lovett
"Sex-O-Matic Venus Freak," Macy Gray
"Sights in the City," Guru
"The Broad Majestic Shannon," Pogues
"Lovesick," The Arrogants

Is that wrong?

I'm busy writing ten student learning modules for a new course that a local university is intending to run partly online in the fall, with headphones on and iTunes running. I keep wondering if students will be able to tell which sections were written to Melissa's "I'm the Only One," which to Frank's "Somethin' Stupid," which to the half-dozen really good songs on Rhythm, Country & Blues.

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