Posts Tagged ‘David Foster Wallace’
* The end of UW: Gov. Scott Walker to propose 13 percent cut, more freedom for UW System. UW System predicts layoffs, no campus closings under budget cuts. Layoffs, Building Closures, Slowdown on Admissions. But “few details.”
Giving students access to an important, brilliant, historically significant corpus of art seems to be an entirely appropriate activity for the undergraduate classroom at a university. After you have taken a Zombie Course, you may discover you have actually just taken a Great Books (or in the case of Ware, a Great Box) course without realizing it, and you may also decide that any Great Books course worthy of its name cannot afford to ignore the recent surge of brilliant zombie art. If anything, we need more Zombie Courses than we have, and one hopes — in time — even full-blown Zombie Majors (or at the least Zombie Double-Majors).
* “What I would say about the university today,” he says, “is that we’re living through an absolutely historic moment – namely the effective end of universities as centres of humane critique, an almost complete capitulation to the philistine and sometimes barbaric values of neo-capitalism.”
* Punch-Drunk Jonathan Chait Takes On the Entire Internet. It’s a terrible op-ed that makes an important point badly in the midst of saying a bunch of incorrect things, all in the service of a fundamentally bad framing — so of course it’s all we can talk about.
It was a guardianship petition filed by the nursing home, Mary Manning Walsh, asking the court to give a stranger full legal power over Mrs. Palermo, now 90, and complete control of her money.
Few people are aware that a nursing home can take such a step.
* One aspect of that danger is the “abstract authority” of astrologers, now mirrored by the black-box algorithms of the cloud. The opacity of the analytic method lends forecasts their appearance of authoritative objectivity. In “Astrological Forecasts”, Adorno notes “the mechanics of the astrological system are never divulged and the readers are presented only with the alleged results of astrological reasoning.” “Treated as impersonal and thing-like,” stars appear “entirely abstract, unapproachable, and anonymous” and thus more objective than mere fallible human reason. Similarly, as Kate Crawford pointed out in an essay about fitness trackers for the Atlantic, “analytics companies aren’t required to reveal which data sets they are using and how they are being analyzed.” The inaccessible logic of their proprietary algorithms is imposed on us, and their inscrutability masquerades as proof of their objectivity. As Crawford argues, “Prioritizing data—irregular, unreliable data—over human reporting, means putting power in the hands of an algorithm.” As Adorno puts it, “The cult of God has been replaced by the cult of facts.”
* Today, more U.S. women die in childbirth and from pregnancy-related causes than at almost any point in the last 25 years. The United States is the one of only seven countries in the entire world that has experienced an increase in maternal mortality over the past decade.
* I linked to a story about this the other day, but here’s the resolution: Vanderbilt Football Players Found Guilty of Raping Unconscious Student. Of course the next horrifying story in this wretched, endless series is already queued up.
* American Sniper focuses in tight on one man’s story of trauma, leaving out the complex questions of why Kyle was in Iraq being traumatized in the first place. The Iraqis in the film are villains, caricatures, and targets, and the only real opinion on them the film offers is Kyle’s. The Iraqis are all “savages” who threaten American lives and need to be killed. There’s some truth in this representation, insofar as this is how a lot of American soldiers thought. Yet the film obviates the questions of why any American soldiers were in Iraq, why they stayed there for eight years, why they had to kill thousands upon thousands of Iraqi civilians, and how we are to understand the long and ongoing bloodbath once called the “war on terror.” It does that precisely by turning a killer into a victim, a war hero into a trauma hero.
* Freakishly Old System Of Planets Hint At Ancient Alien Civilizations. Okay, I’m in for three films with an option on a television reboot.
* Vulture says Jason Segel is good as David Foster Wallace in The End of the Tour, but I’ll never accept it.
* It’s finally happening, and of course it’s starting in Florida: ‘Zombie cat’ crawls out of grave.
* And while this may be of interest only to those whose children have made them watch untold hours of Dora the Explorer, it’s certainly of interest to me: Swiper the Fox has a totally bananas backstory.
Course Number: 4610/5610
Course Title & Subtitle: Individual Authors: J.R.R. Tolkien
Course Description: This decade will see the hundredth anniversary of J.R.R. Tolkien’s earliest writings on Middle-Earth (The Book of Lost Tales, begun in 1917) alongside the completion of Peter Jackson’s career-defining twenty-year project to adapt The Lord of the Rings for film (1995-2015). This course asks the question: Who is J.R.R. Tolkien, looking backward from the perspective of the twenty-first century? Why have his works, and the genre of heroic fantasy which he remade so completely in his image, remained so intensely popular, even as the world has transformed around them? Our study will primarily trace the history, development, and reception of Tolkien’s incredible magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings (written 1937-1949, published 1954-1955)—but we will also take up Tolkien’s contested place in the literary canon of the twentieth century, the uses and abuses of Tolkien in Jackson’s blockbuster films, and the ongoing critical interests and investments of Tolkien fandom today. As Tolkien scholars we will also have the privilege of drawing upon the remarkable J.R.R. Tolkien Collection at the Raynor Library here at Marquette, which contains the original manuscripts for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Farmer Giles of Ham.
Major Readings: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and selected additional readings
Assignments: two shorter papers, one final paper, weekly forum posts, one presentation, class participation
Course Number: 6700
Course Title & Subtitle: Studies in Twentieth Century American Literature: American Literature after the American Century
Course Description: In 1941, Time Magazine publisher Henry Luce called upon the twentieth century to be “the first great American Century,” and it’s been ending ever since. This course takes up American literary and cultural studies from the post-everything standpoint of the “after.” What is it to study American literature today, after the American Century, after American exceptionalism, after modernity, after the university, after the idea of the future itself? Our shared investigation into contemporary critical and scholarly practices will focus on key controversies in twentieth- and twenty-first-century literary study, including the ongoing reevaluation of “the canon” (Lolita), popular culture studies (The Body Snatchers), identity and identity politics (Dawn), nationalism and transnationalism (Tropic of Orange), postmodernity and neoliberalism (the short stories of David Foster Wallace), and ecocriticism in the Anthropocene (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves). Our reading will also draw heavily on recent scholarship in critical theory, especially “the new American studies” and the emerging discipline of critical university studies. Alongside weekly reflections and enthusiastic class participation, students in this course will produce a 15-20 page seminar paper on a subject of their choosing related to the themes of the course, as well as present their work to their peers in a conference-presentation format and develop a sample syllabus for an undergraduate course in American literary or cultural studies.
Readings: Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita; Jack Finney, The Body Snatchers; Octavia E. Butler, Dawn; Karen Tei Yamashita, Tropic of Orange; Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; the short stories of David Foster Wallace; selected additional readings
Assignments: weekly reflections, class participation, conference-style presentation, seminar paper (15-20 pages), sample syllabus
The deal is this. You’re welcome to this for READINGS if you wish. What I’d ask is that you (or Ms. Rosenbush, whom I respect but fear) not copyedit this like a freshman essay. Idiosyncracies of ital, punctuation, and syntax (“stuff,” “lightbulb” as one word, “i.e.”/”e.g.” without commas after, the colon 4 words after ellipses at the end, etc.) need to be stetted. (A big reason for this is that I want to preserve an oralish, out-loud feel to the remarks so as to protect me from people’s ire at stuff that isn’t expanded on more; for you, the big reason is that I’m not especially psyched to have this run at all, much less to take a blue-skyed 75-degree afternoon futzing with it to bring it into line with your specs, and you should feel obliged and borderline guilty, and I will find a way to harm you or cause you suffering* if you fuck with the mechanics of this piece.
* Apocalypse, New Jersey: Matt Taibbi reports from Camden. Camden has been like this for decades — while the discourse in the state is always about whether Newark and Jersey City can be “saved,” Camden is simply and permanently written off.
* “The countervailing voices of this notion that student-athletes are being taken advantage of has been the dominant theme and had played out pretty loudly in a variety of outlets,” Emmert said. “The reality is schools are spending in between $100,000 and $250,000 on each student-athlete.” Good news, everyone, I just figured out a really painless way to solve university budget crises!
Prosecutors were hoping to send Couch to jail for up to 20 years, but the defense made the case for why Couch should be let go with just an ankle bracelet and a court order to go to rehab for a while. Their main line of argument was that Couch was actually a victim too. His parents enjoyed a life of wealth and privilege and due to that never bothered to teach Couch that actions had consequences, an expert brought in to defend Couch dubbed the condition “affluenza.”
* BREAKING: Dissent isn’t Possible in a Surveillance State.
* That reality TV show that wants to send a group of people to go die on Mars is really making of go of acting like they’re serious about it.
* Dark horse apocalypses: Yellowstone supervolcano ‘even more colossal’ that previously thought.
* The Desolation of Smaug is basically Tolkien fan fiction, and Salon says that’s just fine.
* Draw feminist inspiration from this Pantene ad. No, really!
* And science proves Mitochondrial Eve was killed by a really scary spider: Phobias may be memories passed down in genes from ancestors. And not to mention: Fear of Snakes Drove Pre-Human Evolution.
* It’s official: J.J. Abrams will ruin Star Wars (more).
Imagine a documentary that depicted the Holocaust in a cool, disinterested way as a big industrial-logistic operation, focusing on the technical problems involved (transport, disposal of the bodies, preventing panic among the prisoners to be gassed). Such a film would either embody a deeply immoral fascination with its topic, or it would count on the obscene neutrality of its style to engender dismay and horror in spectators. Where is Bigelow here?
* Anti-war activism at the University of Wisconsin, c. 1940.
* Stunning read on living as a victim of child abuse from the New York Times: The Price of a Stolen Childhood.
* David Foster Wallace and depression, in the Los Angeles Review of Books.
* Steve Benen and Maddowblog has been all over the Republican vote-rigging scheme, even going so low as to cite one of my tweets. What The 2012 Election Would Look Like Under The Republicans’ Vote-Rigging Plan. Scott Walker, of course, is rigging-curious. And a delicious little bit of schadenfreude.
* It is a sin against the new world of mediocrity to be distinct or distinguished. We are in the chain-store, neon-lighted era. Almost every city looks the same. The same people all dress the same – kids as Hopalong Cassidy, men with loud sportshirts and Truman suits, women in slacks. Sometimes you can tell whether a trousered individual is a man or a woman only by the width of the buttocks. Only a few cities have individuality. They are the seaports, New York, New Orleans and San Francisco. Boston reeks of decay, and is not genteel. The rest are all Cleveland.
Would you believe me if I told you that President Obama is in constitutional trouble—with hundreds of decisions of the National Labor Relations Board from the last year now potentially invalid—over the meaning of the word the?
* So we’re going to destroy the world: Australian shale oil discovery could be larger than Canada’s oilsands.
None of these past challenges compares with the one under way now. While other humanities disciplines—philosophy, linguistics, and modern languages, for example—have relied upon a range of foundational practices at the modern mass university, many English professors have depended on literature (narrowly defined), written discourse, and the printed book as the primary elements in teaching and scholarship. But hidebound faculty members who continue to assign and study only pre-computer-based media will quickly be on their way toward becoming themselves a “historical” presence at the university.
That’s why I specialized in iPad-2-era Twitter-based fan-fiction, and frankly I’ve never looked back.
* Open, New, Experimental, Aspirational: Ian Bogost vs. “The Bill of Rights and Principles for Learning in the Digital Age.”
* New research indicates tuition has little correlation with educational outcomes.
* If markets are efficient and if markets make things better, then there is no explanation for why we have the worst media in the world rather than the best. The problem is that markets don’t really make things better or more efficient. They make things cheaper and they’re responsive. That’s why we get the news we want rather than the news we need.
* Defending freedom: A St. Paul man who recently purchased an assault rifle out of fear of an impending gun ban threatened his teenage daughter with it because she was getting two B’s in school rather than straight A’s, according to a criminal complaint filed Friday.
* Adam Mansbach: My fake college college syllabus.
* Debunkng the “the Soviets used a pencil” gag. The more you know!
* New Mexico Bill Would Criminalize Abortions After Rape As ‘Tampering With Evidence.’ Republicans, honestly, we have to talk.
* Seriously, though, I could fix the whole damn system if they’d listen to me.
* And a little something just for the Harmenians: “I wanted a memorable Harmontown show in Kansas City, and for my sins they gave me one.” Dan Harmon predicts pain.