Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Teaching PARASITE!

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I’d solicited Parasite readings on Twitter and Facebook, and there was some interest in the results, so I figured I’d consolidate what i’m doing on the blog for anyone who wants to see what I’ll be doing.

This is for the course on the “hypercontemporary,” all texts that were either created or rose to prominence between 2019 and 2021. It’s one of two films the students chose for the film sequence in the course; the other one they picked is Soul, which makes for a nicely odd one-two punch.

I landed on a two-day structure. Day one is politics:

Day two is devoted to matters of form, both with respect to the way Bong puts the film together but also the complicated way we read Parasite as Westerners encountering a subtitled film from an Asian nation whose politics and culture are not especially well-known to the US and European audience:

The sandbox post is wide open this week but I do invite their thoughts about what the rumored HBO adaptation might do differently.

As I noted on Twitter, Parasite was the last film I saw in a movie theater before the world ended so this is very much a “nature is healing” moment for me personally. I can’t wait to talk about it.

I got a good question on Twitter: “Did you come across any pieces critical of the film?” Here’s the answer, such as it is…

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March 27, 2021 at 1:16 pm

Friday Links!

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GSV25: Death March, Power Rankings, and Celebratory Clambake

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March Links!

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March 6, 2021 at 9:04 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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GSV24: “Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow”!

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Marquette English Has Podcast Fever!

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Marquette English has podcast fever! In addition to the world-famous Grad School Vonnegut (new episode coming this week!), there’s Sub Titles (substituting each entry on Spin and AFI “Best of” lists), The Annotated 80s (turning a scholarly lens on 80s pop culture), and the brand new, very fun Mismatched Texts (talking about two texts you wouldn’t normally talk about together, together). And these are just the ones I know about…

Have a listen!

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February 17, 2021 at 2:39 pm

GSV23: GALÁPAGOS!

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This is the one the podcast has always been building towards: Gerry, Aaron, and special guest Brian Thill take on Galápagos. Does it hold up? Is it secretly the best Vonnegut novel? Can Kurt wriggle out of being canceled one last time? Only our big brains know for sure…

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February 9, 2021 at 2:16 pm

Emergency Tab Closure Post – 2.9.21

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As Tolkien observed in an essay of the late 1950s, even Sauron’s motive was initially to attain a form of political utopianism: “He loved order and coordination, and disliked all confusion and wasteful friction.”46 As many characters are hopeful utopians in their political orientation, any opposition to this standard soon becomes a radical alternative: “It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.”47 In this scheme, the utopian-political becomes the conventional, while the utopian-ontological becomes the radical; indeed, the latter’s radicality derives not from making different political choices but different personal ones. This is no clearer than in the case of Faramir who, unlike his brother Boromir and father Denethor, will not allow himself to be tempted by the Ring:

I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs.

In these positive characterisations, with their exemplary portrayal of heroic subjective values, we can identify aspects of Levitas’s argument for a utopianism of the wholeness of being and human flourishing. As Levitas suggests, many utopias do their work by advocating better ways of being rather than by illustrating better forms of social organisation.

A Hypercontemporary Literature Syllabus! And More!

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The first week is already over and I realized I never got around to putting up my syllabi. I’m teaching two classes this semester, an all-Zoom revision of my Tolkien class and an all-Zoom survey of 21st Century Literature that I decided to focus on texts from more or less the last two years. (I also have an independent study on Gender and Sexuality in New Wave SF that’s been terrific; no formal syllabus for that one but we’re reading Le Guin, Russ, Delany, Tiptree, Lem, the Tarkovskys, all your faves.)

Thanks so much to everyone on Facebook and Twitter who flooded me with suggestions for the 21st Century course. In the end I was so overwhelmed by the possibilities I solicited suggestions directly from the students, which allowed me to craft a syllabus that was both inside and outside my usual wheelhouse, hopefully in ways that will be fun for both my students and myself. And we still get to be surely the first class in the world to study Ishiguro’s new book.

The syllabus doesn’t list the films they picked, but our class vote landed on Parasite and Soul for the last two weeks of class, an intriguing dialectic arraying the full possibilities of the human experience…

synchM1/25FIRST DAY OF CLASS
synchW1/27Among Us game and thinkpieces [D2L]
asynchF1/29Giorgio Agamben, “What Is the Contemporary?” [D2L]
    
synchM2/1PLAY/MOVIE: Heidi Schreck, What the Constitution Means to Me (including bonus material) [Amazon Prime]
synchW2/3What the Constitution Means to Me discussion continues
asynchF2/5POEM: Andrea Gorman, “The Hill We Climb” [D2L] and online reactions 
    
synchM2/8SHORT STORY: N.K. Jemisin, “Emergency Skin” [Amazon Kindle]
synchW2/10SHORT STORY: Ted Chiang, “Anxiety Is the Dizziness of Freedom” [online]
asynchF2/12Jemisin and Chiang sandbox assignment
    
synchM2/15COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part one
synchW2/17COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part two
asynchF2/19COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part three sandbox assignment
    
synchM2/22COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part three discussion
synchW2/24COMIC: Chris Ware, Rusty Brown, Vol. 1, part four
asynchF2/26Haruki Murakami, “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey” [D2L]optional: Haruki Murakami, “A Shinagawa Monkey” [D2L]
    
synchM3/1Haruki Murakami, “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey” discussion
synchW3/3Hades [Steam or Nintendo Switch]
asynchF3/5Hades sandbox assignment
    
synchM3/8Hades discussion continues
 W3/10UNIVERSITY MENTAL HEALTH DAY—NO CLASS
asynchF3/12Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 1-16
CLOSE READING DUE
    
synchM3/15Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 17-30
synchW3/17Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 31-45
asynchF3/19Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 46-60
synchM3/22Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 61-74
synchW3/24Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, chapters 75-90
asynchF3/26Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future, whole book
    
synchM3/29Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future and responses
synchW3/31Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future and responses
 F4/2GOOD FRIDAY—NO CLASS
    
synchM4/5Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchW4/7Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
asynchF4/9Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
    
synchM4/12Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
synchW4/14Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
asynchF4/16Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun (page range TBD)
MINISTRY RESPONSE DUE
    
synchM4/19CREATIVE NONFICTION: Zadie Smith, Intimations (first half)
synchW4/21CREATIVE NONFICTION: Zadie Smith, Intimations (second half)
asynchF4/23MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
    
synchM4/26MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
synchW4/28MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
asynchF4/30MOVIE or TV SHOW TDB
    
synchM5/3MOVIE or TV SHOW TBD
W5/5UNIVERSITY MENTAL HEALTH DAY—NO CLASS
synchF5/7LAST DAY OF CLASS
INTIMATION DUE

GSV22: “EPICAC”!

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Gerry and Aaron return for a discussion of “EPICAC” (1950)! Join us for a meandering tour of automation, machine learning, feminism, suicide, the war machine, masculinity, STEM, and so much more…

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January 15, 2021 at 3:34 pm

GSV21: PLAYER PIANO!

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What’s that? There, in the back, behind the Christmas tree? Why, it’s a very special, two-hour episode of Grad School Vonnegut, guest-starring Matt Hauske & Hilary Strang from the Marooned! on Mars podcast! We talk Player Piano, automation, capitalism, revolution, utopia, Kim Stanley Robinson, Ministry for the Future, failsons, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, the Ghost Dance, and so much more…

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December 29, 2020 at 2:54 pm

Ye Old Link Roundup!

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GSV20: “All the King’s Horses”

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This week Gerry and Aaron’s guest is Cameron Kunzelman of the “Just King Things” and “Game Studies Study Buddies” podcasts! We talk Vonnegut’s 1951 short story “All the King’s Horses,” adaptation, chess, Go, games, game theory, the Cold War, the 90s, Stephen King, The Queen’s Gambit, esports, Pikmin 3, and finally taking down the Vonnegut Library! #FreetheGame #FreetheVonnegutBoardGame

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December 20, 2020 at 7:36 pm

It’s Been a Minute: Links!

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GSV 19: GOD BLESS YOU, DR. KEVORKIAN!

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Gerry and Aaron’s whirlwind tour of the late Vonnegut reaches a resounding anti-climax in 1999’s God Bless You, Dr. Kevorkian, based on Vonnegut’s recurring WNYC segment Reports on the Afterlife! Our next novel is the very first one, Player Piano (1952)…

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December 12, 2020 at 1:08 pm