Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘my teaching empire

Upcoming Courses, Summer and Fall at Marquette! SF, Tolkien, Genre Theory, Utopia, Hamilton…

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Summer 2017!

ENGLISH 2010: Literature and Genre
MW 5:30-9:00pm
Thematic Title: Science Fiction and Genre

Course Description: What is a “genre”? How does the idea of genre impact the way we read and understand literary texts? In this course we will explore these questions by studying the development of the science fiction genre in the twentieth century. What defines science fiction? What makes science fiction different from other sorts of fictions, or other types of texts? Does the name “science fiction” designate a certain set of intellectual concerns, a certain set of narrative and visual clichés, even perhaps a certain type of reader? Is it all just a marketing strategy? What makes one text “science fiction,” another text “literary fiction,” and still other texts “fantasy,” “horror,” or “fairy tale”? Does science fiction imply a certain type of politics, or a particular sort of ethics? Can it teach us anything? Is it good for us or bad for us? We will draw from a wide variety of short stories, comics, novels, games, television series, and films as our archive as we seek to understand how science fiction has adapted and thrived as a genre, even as the “real world” itself becomes more and more indistinguishable from science fiction with each passing year.

Readings: Octavia Butler, Dawn; Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life and Others; Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go; Robert Kirkman, The Walking Dead vols. 1 & 2; coursepack

Assignments: Midterm, final project, in-class presentations, class participation, and weekly responses

 

ENGLISH 6800: STUDIES IN GENRE
MTWTh 3:05-4:35pm
Thematic Title: The Law of Genre

Course Description: The law of genre, Derrida wrote, is “a principle of contamination, a law of impurity, a parasitical economy.” While genres may initially appear to us to be discrete, even obvious publishing and marketing categories, in fact these boundaries are often incredibly fluid, and difficult to define or police. In this special summer session course we will thus explore texts that operate at the weird intersections of genres — texts which seem to operate in more than one generic mode, or which switch fluidly or unexpectedly between genres, or which challenge our understanding of the aesthetic structures, commercial pressures, and political-ethical assumptions that undergird our generic categories. The course includes both literary and popular texts, allowing us to explore how genre circulates within multiple contexts and communities of discourse; in lieu of a traditional seminar paper, your assignments will be directed instead towards the generation of teaching materials and “thinkpiece”-style mini-papers, potentially suitable for publication at digital outlets or as review essays in scholarly journals.

Readings: I am open to suggestions for substitutions based on student interest, but the current planned book list for the course is Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, China Mieville’s The City and the City, Toni Morrison’s Beloved, Nabokov’s Lolita,and J.K. Rowling’s The Cursed Child. We will also explore short stories from Flannery O’Connor, H.P. Lovecraft, David Foster Wallace, and Donald Barthelme, as well as academic and popular criticism and at least one recent film.

Assignments: Class participation; weekly reading journal; two “thinkpieces” / mini-papers; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy



Fall 2017!

ENGLISH 4610/5610: INDIVIDUAL AUTHORS
MWF 12-12:50
Thematic Title: J.R.R. Tolkien

Course Description: This decade has seen 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 that 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 often contested place in the literary canon of the twentieth century, the uses and abuses of Tolkien in Jackson’s blockbuster films, the special appeal of Tolkien in politically troubled times, 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 among other treasures the original manuscripts for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and Farmer Giles of Ham.

Note: No prior knowledge of Tolkien is required. The course is designed for a mix of first-time readers, frequent re-readers, and people who are returning to the books for the first time as adults after many years away.

Readings: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and selected additional readings

Assignments: final paper or creative project; weekly forum posts; one presentation; enthusiastic and informed class participation

 

ENGLISH 6700: STUDIES IN 20TH CENTURY LITERATURE
MW 2:00-3:15
Thematic Title: Utopia in America

2016 marked the 500th anniversary of Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, which inaugurated a literary genre of political and social speculation that continues to structure our imagination of what is possible. We will read Utopia and selected 19th-century utopian texts from the U.S., as well as consider utopian critical theory from thinkers like Fredric Jameson, Darko Suvin, Carl Freedman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Susan Buck-Morss, and Michel Foucault. But the major task before us will be exploring the role utopian, quasi-utopian, dystopian, and downright anti-utopian figurations have played in the work of several key canonical writers of the 20th century: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Flannery O’Connor, Kurt Vonnegut, Margaret Atwood, Philip K. Dick, and Octavia Butler. 

Readings: Major texts will include Utopia, One Hundred Years of Solitude, Slaughterhouse-Five, Galapagos, Oryx and Crake, The Man in the High Castle, Parable of the Sower, and Parable of the Talents, as well as short stories and critical readings distributed via D2L.

Assignments: class participation; weekly forum posts; in-class presentations; sample course syllabi, lesson plans, and statement of teaching philosophy; seminar paper

 

UPDATE: Oops, forgot one! It’s not a traditional course, but in the fall I’ll also be doing a twelve-week seminar for the honors program on Hamilton.

HOPR 1953: FIRST-YEAR HONORS SEMINAR
F 2-3:15
Thematic Title: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton

This twelve-week course is devoted to interdisciplinary study of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash musical Hamilton, looking at the play from a variety of disciplinary perspectives: literary studies, history, cultural studies, theater studies, fine arts, and more. Closely studying the musical first in its entirety and then moving through it track-by-track, we will also explore the unexpectedly wide impact of Hamilton in the larger world of popular culture and national politics, including (in multiple ways) the 2016 presidential election. Why Hamilton? Why *this* Hamilton? And why now? Hamilton’s immense popularity, its rich intertextuality, and its incredible internal structural complexity make it a perfect opportunity to become acquainted with academic methods that will, I hope, serve you well across the rest of your time at Marquette and beyond.

Written by gerrycanavan

February 14, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Happy First Day of School Links!

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The Japanese have a word for blogs that have fallen into neglect or are altogether abandoned: ishikoro, or pebbles. We live in a world of pebbles now. They litter the internet, each one a marker of writing dreams and energies that have dissipated or moved elsewhere. What Were Blogs?

* Phew, that was a close one: In a new book, conceptual poet Kenneth Goldsmith argues there’s no such thing as time wasted online.

* …successful universities – surely including the University of Chicago – are congeries of safe spaces that factions of scholars have carved out to protect themselves from their intellectual enemies. More concretely – the University of Chicago has both a very well recognized economics department and a very well recognized sociology department. There is furthermore some overlap in the topics that they study. Yet the professors in these two departments protect themselves from each other – they do not, for example, vote on each other’s tenure decisions. They furthermore have quite different notions (though again, perhaps with some overlap) of what constitutes legitimate and appropriate research. In real life, academics only are able to exercise academic freedom because they have safe spaces that they can be free in.

Graduate Students Are Workers: The Decades-Long Fight for Graduate Unions, and the Path Forward.

The problem with revolutionary politics, in short, is that it tends to be naïve about political institutions.

* From prison to campus.

* Median income vs. public university tuition, 2000-2016.

What Colleges Can Do Right Now to Help Low-Income Students Succeed.

* Secrets of my success: Yes, Students Do Learn More From Attractive Teachers.

Health Experts Recommend Standing Up At Desk, Leaving Office, Never Coming Back.

The long, strange history of John Podesta’s space alien obsession.

With a shift in martial arts preferences, the rise of video games — more teenagers play Pokémon Go in parks here than practice a roundhouse kick — and a perception among young people that kung fu just isn’t cool, longtime martial artists worry that kung fu’s future is bleak.

The Rebel Virgins and Desert Mothers Who Have Been Written Out of Christianity’s Early History.

All Mixed Up: What Do We Call People Of Multiple Backgrounds?

Paris Is Redesigning Its Major Intersections For Pedestrians, Not Cars.

* Vice: All the Evidence We Could Find About Fred Trump’s Alleged Involvement with the KKK.

Louisiana, for instance, made headlines earlier this summer when it was revealed that the state had spent more than $1 million of public funds on legal fees in an attempt to defend its refusal to install air conditioning on death row at Angola prison — even though the air conditioning would cost only about $225,000, plus operating costs, according to expert testimony. That astonished U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson. “Is this really what the state wants to do?” Jackson asked, calling the bill “stunning.” “It just seems so unnecessary.”

* The Baton Rouge flooding (and the Milwaukee riots) proves just how little coastal elites care about the rest of America.

* The deep story of Trump support. The New York Times And Trump’s Loopy Note From His Doctor. Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem. Trump might already be out of time. It’s Too Soon For Clinton To Run Out The Clock.

* When Steve Bannon ran BioDome.

The Welfare Reform Disaster.

Obama the Monument Maker. Obama Just Quadrupled The World’s Largest Natural Sanctuary.

* Tumblr of the year: The Grad Student. Keep scrolling! School hasn’t started yet.

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The Average Joe Accused of Trying to Sell Russia Secrets.

* The short, unhappy life of the Soviet Jet Train.

The first theory of evolution is 600 years older than Darwin.

Forget about drones, forget about dystopian sci-fi — a terrifying new generation of autonomous weapons is already here. Meet the small band of dedicated optimists battling nefarious governments and bureaucratic tedium to stop the proliferation of killer robots and, just maybe, save humanity from itself.

* They say the best revenge is a life well-lived. There’s a study out this year that suggests Frenchmen can feel pain. I don’t wanna be one of those people who think everything got worse around the time he hit his mid-twenties.

* My statement of teaching philosophy.

* Happy 101st, Alice Sheldon. Kirby’s 99th.

Ursula Nordstrom and the Queer History of the Children’s Book.

* “No Man’s Sky is an existential crisis simulator disguised as a space exploration game.”

* Great moments in FOIA requests.

Colin Kaepernick Is Righter Than You Know: The National Anthem Is a Celebration of Slavery.

* Big data, Google and the end of free will.

* Being Chuck Tingle.

* The logistical sublime: A Map Showing Every Single Cargo Ship In The World.

Why There’s a Media Blackout on the Native American Dakota Oil Pipeline Blockade.

Year-Long Simulation of Humans Living on Mars Comes To an End.

* Replication projects have had a way of turning into train wrecks. When researchers tried to replicate 100 psychology experimentsfrom 2008, they interpreted just 39 of the attempts as successful. In the last few years, Perspectives on Psychological Science has been publishing “Registered Replication Reports,” the gold standard for this type of work, in which lots of different researchers try to re-create a single study so the data from their labs can be combined and analyzed in aggregate. Of the first four of these to be completed, three ended up in failure.

Under pressure to perform, Silicon Valley champions are taking tiny hits of LSD before heading to work. Are they risking their health or optimising it? I reject the premise of the question.

* A special issue of Transatlantic devoted to Exploiting Exploitation Cinema.”

So last night, on a whim, I started collecting links to doctoral dissertations written by members of the House of Commons, and posting them on the Twitter.

* The Guardian reviews the new edition of Italo Calvino’s Six Memos for the New Millennium.

* Missed this somehow in June: rumors of the four-point shot in the NBA. I’m not much of a sports person, but this fascinates me just as a lover of games.

* Marvel has released its charming “Where was Thor during Captain America: Civil War?” Comic-Con video.

* Le Guin honored by the Library of America (while still alive).

King Camp Gillette introduced his safety razor, with disposable double-­edge blades, around the turn of the 20th century. But before he was an inventor, Gillette was a starry-­eyed utopian socialist. In 1894, he published “The Human Drift,” a book that, among other things, envisioned most of the population of North America living in a huge metropolis powered by Niagara Falls. Production would be fully centralized, making for the greatest efficiency, while all goods would be free to everyone. That’s the only way Gillette saw to ensure that the benefits of technological development would be shared. “No system can ever be a perfect system, and free from incentive for crime,” he wrote, employing a prescient metaphor, “until money and all representative value of material is swept from the face of the earth.” His blade was a model socialist innovation: Gillette replaced toilsome sharpening labor with the smallest, most easily produced part imaginable. The very existence of the Gillette Fusion is an insult to his memory.

The Big List of Class Discussion Strategies.

Soviet sci-fi movies in English online.

* Your one-shot comic of the week: Ark.

* And, finally, my story can be told.

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Written by gerrycanavan

August 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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New Course Descriptions for Fall 2016: “Alternate History” and “INFINITE JEST”

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So, this is what I’ll be teaching in the fall.

I’m a little swamped this morning so I can’t do the longer post on the Alternate History course I’ve been meaning too, but I wanted to thank the people on Twitter and Facebook who gave me such good ideas for additional texts in the course and really helped me expand my vision of what was possible. I’ll have a post about that sometime in the next couple of weeks, I hope…

ENGLISH 2000: LITERATURE AND GENRE

Course Title: Alternate History
Course Description: What if Hitler had never taken power? What if the United States had never dropped the atomic bomb on Japan? What if the 9/11 terror attacks had been foiled? What if Gore had beat Bush? What if slaves in the American South had successfully revolted, or China had discovered the New World, or the Black Plague had killed 99% of Europeans instead of only 25%? What if cloning had been invented and perfected in the 1970s? What if Superman’s rocket ship had landed in the Ukraine instead of Kansas? Is history made by Great Men, or by social movements, or by technological progress, or by random chance? Does history follow some set of laws or rules, or is it all just a bunch of stuff that happens? This course will explore all these topics and more through dedicated exploration of the literary genre typically called “alternate history”: stories of worlds that are exactly like ours, until some historical event, big or small, goes another way…
Readings: This course will explore the alternate history genre through a wide variety of media forms including prose fiction, film and television, comics, and games, but major readings for the course will include Mark Millar’s Superman: Red Son, Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go, Abdourahman Waberi’s In the United States of Africa, Terry Bisson’s Fire on the Mountain, Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Lathe of Heaven, and Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, among others.
Assignments: two 4-6-page papers; one 6-8-page final paper; online discussion forum; active class discussion; presentations

 

 

ENGLISH 4615/5615: TEXT IN CONTEXT

Course Title: Infinite Jest
Course Description: I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I guess a big part of serious fiction’s purpose is to give the reader, who like all of us is sort of marooned in her own skull, to give her imaginative access to other selves.… We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. —David Foster Wallace

This course explores the literary, cultural, and intellectual legacy of David Foster Wallace (1962-2008), widely considered by admirers and detractors alike to be among the most influential and important writers of his generation. In particular we will study his magnum opus, Infinite Jest (1996), twenty years old this year, a book which not only continues to speak with shocking relevance and delightful irreverence to our present, but which seems, in many ways, to have accurately predicted it. Slowly and carefully reading Wallace’s epoch-defining novel together will open up a window on the last twenty years of American life, letters, entertainment, and art, while the unavoidable shadow cast by his 2008 suicide will raise important questions for us about literary celebrity, biographical criticism, and the often troubled relationship between public personae and the real, lived lives of writers and artists.
Readings: David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest; coursepack
Assignments: seminar paper (12-15 pages); two “thinkpiece”-length “mini-papers”; online reading journal; active class participation; presentations

Supersized Post-Computer-Crash Weekend Feel-Good Happy Links

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Sorry I’ve been MIA. John Siracusa’s OS Mavericks review didn’t tell me the update would completely nuke my computer for three days. Fairly big omission, JS.

Only by the grace of God did I not wind up on Senator Session’s anti-NEH hit list.

* Apple screws up Capitalism 101 by having its products remain useful on a too-long obsolescence-cycle.

“If part-time is so good, why don’t we have part-time administration?”

* Against student evaluations. UPDATE: Of course the natural form for discuss this is a Twitter fight.

* Rape culture at UConn. Really stunning report.

Carolyn Luby, a student who organized the complaint, said the university failed to stop harassment she faced for criticizing the school’s new “powerful and aggressive” Husky logo in an open letter to UConn president, Susan Herbst. Luby saw the redesigned logo as “glorifying intimidation with an already prevalent rape culture.”

In reaction, commenters on Barstool Sports posted links to her Facebook page. Rush Limbaugh did a segment criticizing Luby in which he stated, “I, El Rushbo, have amplified it and made it even bigger. Let’s see what happens.”

Luby subsequently received rape and death threats. People walked by her on campus and called her “a bitch,” she said. One email she received told her, “I hope you get raped by a husky,” and another said, “I wish you would’ve run in the Boston marathon.” Fraternity members sexually harassed her, Luby said, making statements like, “Don’t worry, we won’t rape you,” as they drove by.

“[The university] would send campus-wide emails about picking up trash, but no warning about hate speech and harassment,” Luby said.

Unlike Georgetown University’s president, who sent a campus-wide email defending Sandra Fluke after Limbaugh and others made her a target in 2012, UConn did nothing, Luby said. Herbst remained silent, and Luby said one school official told her, “That’s kind of the risk you run when you publish something on the Internet.”

University police suggested she keep a low profile and wear a hat on campus, Luby said.

* I ranted about this one enough on Twitter, but this story about the University of Iowa TA who accidentally emailed nude photos to her class (which I feel dirty even linking to at all) is also rape culture in action.

62% of higher education professionals report experiencing workplace bullying.

Talking with Students about Being an Adjunct. Totally insanely, CUNY hasn’t been paying its adjuncts for months.

The UC Davis Pepper-Spraying Cop Gets a $38,000 Settlement, $8000 more than his victims.

City College of S.F. outlines closing plan.

* Thinking (only) like an administration: Faculty Couples, for Better or Worse.

We have the rare opportunity to chronicle a labor movement’s development in real time from its infancy as we watch the organization of college football players.

Confessions of a Drone Warrior.

Flood Insurance Jumping Sevenfold Depresses U.S. Home Values. I wonder if even “the market speaking” could pull us out of the death spiral now.

* Climate change cost you the McDonald’s dollar menu. Greenland Has Melted So Much That We Can Mine It for Uranium Now. Arctic Temperatures Reach Highest Levels In 44,000 Years. Gambling with Civilization.

* The men’s rights movement is a nightmare from which we are trying to awake.

* Rortybomb on striking fast food workers and the neoliberal failings of Obamacare. From the second:

Conservatives in particular think this website has broad implications for liberalism as a philosophical and political project. I think it does, but for the exact opposite reasons: it highlights the problems inherent in the move to a neoliberal form of governance and social insurance, while demonstrating the superiorities in the older, New Deal form of liberalism.

* The Decline of Wikipedia.

Yet Wikipedia and its stated ambition to “compile the sum of all human knowledge” are in trouble. The volunteer workforce that built the project’s flagship, the English-language Wikipedia—and must defend it against vandalism, hoaxes, and manipulation—has shrunk by more than a third since 2007 and is still shrinking. Those participants left seem incapable of fixing the flaws that keep Wikipedia from becoming a high-quality encyclopedia by any standard, including the project’s own. Among the significant problems that aren’t getting resolved is the site’s skewed coverage: its entries on Pokemon and female porn stars are comprehensive, but its pages on female novelists or places in sub-Saharan Africa are sketchy. Authoritative entries remain elusive. Of the 1,000 articles that the project’s own volunteers have tagged as forming the core of a good encyclopedia, most don’t earn even Wikipedia’s own middle-­ranking quality scores.

The main source of those problems is not mysterious. The loose collective running the site today, estimated to be 90 percent male, operates a crushing bureaucracy with an often abrasive atmosphere that deters newcomers who might increase participation in Wikipedia and broaden its coverage.

* Mitch Hurwitz at the New York Television Festival.

* Davis Sedaris writes about the suicide of his sister Tiffany.

* We should put hyper-efficient rich people in charge of everything: How to lose $172,222 a second for 45 minutes. That’s why they earn the big bucks, I guess.

Condé Nast Discontinuing Internship Program. The first of many, I’d bet.

* After all this time I’m completely amazed that people still talk to the Daily Show at all. “They made all those other people look like total idiots! I’d better be super-careful as I make my wise and reasoned argument!”

* From the archives: How They Made Bottle Rocket. 1995.

* Wisconsin conservatives file challenge against state’s same-sex partnership law. Special Prosecutor Looking At Wisconsin Recall Elections. Milwaukee has still not enrolled anyone for ACA.

What Good Wife Storyline Did CBS Kill to Avoid Pissing Off the NFL?

* They said it: Fox News: Anti-Bullying Policies Limit Conservatives’ Free Speech.

America’s Most Popular Boys’ Names Since 1960, in 1 Spectacular GIF.

* The Harvard Crimson says don’t teach for America.

American Schools Are Missing 389,000 Teachers. Study: Charters Pose a Financial Threat to Already-Struggling School Districts.

* The Duke Chronicle says walk out on Charles Murray.

A man is stealing your home, poisoning your food and burning the forests around you, all the while explaining why you should thank him. Maybe you are allowed to question his genius, and maybe he answers. Some nod; others frown.

And you watch the flames rise, knowing at least you have engaged in “discourse.”

Mayor Bloomberg grants Metropolitan Museum of Art right to charge mandatory entrance fee.

The homeless population of New York City is higher than it’s been in decades. Nobody seems to notice.

List of reasons for admission to an insane asylum from the late 1800s, supposedly.

California Deputies Shoot and Kill Boy Carrying a Fake Gun. Black Teen Detained by NYPD for Buying an Expensive Belt.

Zombie Simpsons: How the best show ever became the broadcasting undead.

* It’s handled: Scandal has its own scandal after popular fan blogger turns out to be ABC executive. UPDATE: Followup!

* Old villains never die, they just fade away: Diebold charged with bribing officials, falsifying records in China, Russia, Indonesia; fined nearly $50 million.

* Gawker is seriously arguing no one should be fired for uncritically publishing an entirely fact-free smear job so ludicrously inaccurate it didn’t even last two hours. I disagree!

* We’ve all been there: Groom Who Called in Bomb Hoax to Own Wedding Sentenced to Year in Jail.

Facebook OKs Decapitation Videos (But No Breastfeeding).

* OMG WTF TSA.

* And today’s apocalypse: “We’ve Reached ‘The End of Antibiotics, Period.’”

Written by gerrycanavan

October 25, 2013 at 9:32 pm

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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