Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘my teaching empire

Tuesday Links!

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* I put up my Fall syllabi yesterday, if you missed it! Courses on Tolkien, Hamilton, and “Utopia in America” this time out.

* Jaimee has two new poems out in Mezzo Cammin: “Good Women” and “Perseveration.”

* SFRA Review 321 is out, with a interview with Cory Doctorow.

* Octavia Butler, remembered by her friend Shirlee Smith.

* A bar joke. Simulationism. Dadproof. Honestly, how did you miss this?

* A nice interview with Adam Kotsko about his book on the devil.

Somewhat surprisingly, in the early centuries of Christianity, there was a durable minority position to the effect that the devil would be saved. Ultimately that view was condemned as heretical, and what interests me is how vehemently theologians rejected it—the emotional gut reaction always seemed out of proportion to me. And the argument, such as it is, always boils down to the same thing: if the devil can be saved, that misses the whole point of having the devil in the first place. It is as though Christian theology gradually came to need a hard core of eternal, unredeemable blameworthiness, a permanent scapegoat who can never escape.

* CFP: Utopia and Apocalypse (SUS 2017, Memphis). And there’s still time jump on our “After Suvin” roundtable at SUS, if you get something in to us ASAP…

* CFP: ExRe(y) 2018. Exhaustion and Regeneration in Post-Millennial North-American Literature and Visual Culture.

Gender Issues in Video Games.

* Tenure track job in carceral studies.

Professional romance novelists can write 3,000 words a day. Here’s how they do it.

Yes, Your Manuscript Was Due 30 Years Ago. No, the University Press Still Wants It.

* The backfire effect failed to replicate, so it’s safe to be a know-it-all again.

* The grad school horror story of the moment: Why I Left Academia.

http://academiaiskillingmyfriends.tumblr.com.

Undergraduates Are Workers, Too.

“Grade Inflation” as a Path to Ungrading.

The idea of white victimhood is increasingly central to the debate over affirmative action.

* UCI has reversed itself on rescinding admissions. Good!

* “The Loyal Engineers Steering NASA’s Voyager Probes Across the Universe”: As the Voyager mission is winding down, so, too, are the careers of the aging explorers who expanded our sense of home in the galaxy.

A Trip To The Men’s Room Turned Jeff Kessler Into The NCAA’s Worst Nightmare.

* Race and reaction gifs. Race and speeding tickets. Race and dystopia. Race and police dogs.

* Privilege and video games.

Google Employee’s Anti-Diversity Manifesto Goes ‘Internally Viral.’ Google Fires Author of Divisive Memo on Gender Differences.

You Are the Product.

The guiding principle in Mr. Trump’s government is to turn the politics of white resentment into the policies of white rage — that calculated mechanism of executive orders, laws and agency directives that undermines and punishes minority achievement and aspiration. No wonder that, even while his White House sinks deeper into chaos, scandal and legislative mismanagement, Mr. Trump’s approval rating among whites (and only whites) has remained unnaturally high. Washington may obsess over Obamacare repeal, Russian sanctions and the debt ceiling, but Mr. Trump’s base sees something different — and, to them, inspiring.

We have a political problem no one wants to talk about: very old politicians.

No One Should Have Sole Authority to Launch a Nuclear Attack. No one should have that authority, period.

* Rules don’t matter anymore, stupids. What the Trump-Russia grand jury means. The very thing that liberals think is imperiled by Trump will be the most potent source of his long-term power and effects. If you want a vision of the future.

* 2018 won’t save you. Really. And obviously the Democrats won’t. Obviously.

* But sure I guess everything is fine now.

* Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Abolish ICE. Shut these guys down too.

* Fired/Rehired: Police departments are often forced to put officers fired for misconduct back on the streets.

* Also it’s weird how we don’t have a State department anymore and no one cares.

* After #TheResistance.

* When Trump trumps love.

* Can the subaltern vote?

Big Data Is Coming to Take Your Health Insurance.

How Trump’s FCC aided Sinclair’s expansion: Use of a regulatory loophole will allow Sinclair to reach 72 percent of U.S. households after buying Tribune’s stations.

* Y’all ready for debt ceiling? Democrats should do exactly what is described here.

Hey Marvel, please don’t take away female Thor’s hammer. Don’t give Confederacy the benefit of the doubt.

* For the dinosaurs, ten minutes separated survival and extinction.

* On names.

* Neurolinguistic programming: how to win an argument edition.

* More on Amazon and anti-trust.

* A short film about Chris Ware.

* “Karate Kid but the bully is the hero” has been a go-to joke for years, but only Netflix could make it real.

* Disconnect your Internet-connected fish tank now.

“Adversarial perturbations” and AI.

* How close are we to a Constitutional Convention?

The Only Place in the World Where Sea Level Is Falling, Not Rising. American Trees Are Moving West, and No One Knows Why. Wildfires in Greenland. Coming Attractions. The Atlas for the End of the World.

Yes, we’re angry. Why shouldn’t we be? Why aren’t you? Why Does Being a Woman Put You at Greater Risk of Having Anxiety? Suicides in teen girls hit 40 year high.

* Your labor in the process of being replaced. Your opinion is increasingly irrelevant. Your presence on Earth will soon no longer be required. Thank you for your service; the robots are here.

* Jeff Goldblum is The Doctor in Doctor Who (dir. John Carpenter, 1983).

* The question of Klingon head ridges has officially become pathological.

* Agricultural civilization may be 30,000 years older than we thought.

* A People’s History of the Gray Force.

* A People’s History of Time Lord Regenerations.

* A People’s History of Westeros.

* The Dark Tower: What The Hell Happened?

* Pitching Battlestar Galactica.

* Littlefinger for New Jersey is tough to argue.

When Will Humanity Finally Die Out? There’s always death to look forward to.

* Smartphones and The Kids Today.

* Zero at Rotten Tomatoes.

* Twitter is bad, YA edition.

* Time for some game theory.

* More scenes from the collapse of the New York City subway system.

Africa has entered the space race, with Ghana’s first satellite now orbiting earth.

* Are you ready to LAUGH?

Reminder that Kurt Russell probably wrote the IMDB trivia section for Escape from L.A.

* I knew it.

* Same.

* And please consider this my resignation.

Written by gerrycanavan

August 8, 2017 at 10:10 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Fall 2017 Syllabi! Tolkien! Utopia! Hamilton!

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I’ve put the syllabi for my fall classes up at my professional site:

HOPR 1953: Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton

ENGLISH 4610: J.R.R. Tolkien

ENGLISH 6700: Utopia in America

The Hamilton class is new, a one-credit pass/fail seminar for the honors program. The Tolkien class and the Utopia class are both revised a lit from the last times around; for the grad class, I’ve swapped in two Kurt Vonnegut and two Octavia Butler books for Utopia, Sula, and Man in the High Castle, in part due to known student interest and in part because I have some ideas about sequelization and utopia that I want to start exploring. For the Tolkien class the changes were much more minor; by moving a few things around and not going on as many trips this semester I was able to squeeze out about an extra week, which I devoted to more time to discussing the ending(s) of Return of the King and more time on The Silmarillion (the second change strongly desired by some of the students last time!). I also changed some of the language I used around the final assignment, including adding a creative option, and added a bit more architecture to the syllabus regarding suspense and spoilers. I thought the class worked great last time around but this will give me a chance to structure the initial discussions in the class a little more inclusively than I did last time (I hope).

Really looking forward to the next couple months…

Summer Classes Syllabi! “Science Fiction” (Sophomore Survey) and “The Law of Genre” (Grad Level)

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This weekend marks the tragic end of my research leave — I’m teaching two summer classes beginning Monday, a newly revamped version of my sophomore survey on science fiction (swapping in Never Let Me Go for Slaughterhouse-Five, Black Mirror for Avatar, and Ted Chiang for basically everything else) and a new graduate-level course on genre studies. I’m excited about both, but especially the grad course, which is laser-focused on books I find interesting.

I pulled back a bit on the writing assignments compared to last year because I think there’s a bit more reading, but some of that reading is deliberately structured as “secondary” so hopefully it won’t feel excessive. Main texts after some reshuffling are Never Let Me Go, The City and the City, Beloved, The Handmaid’s Tale, and Lolita, with guest appearances by Get Out, the Kubrick Lolita, The Twilight Zone, and Donald Barthelme…

Here’s the week-by-week:

M May 22 Introduction to the Course

viral video: “Too Many Cooks” [YouTube]

T May 23 Daniel Chandler, “An Introduction to Genre Theory” [D2L]

Donald Barthelme, “The Joker’s Greatest Triumph!” [D2L]

W May 24 Darko Suvin, “On the Poetics of the Science Fiction Genre” [D2L]

China Miéville, “Cognition as Ideology” [D2L]

(in class) The Twilight Zone: “The Eye of the Beholder” [Netflix]

 

secondary:

Gerry Canavan, “The Suvin Event” [D2L]

Th May 25 John Rieder, “On Defining SF, or Not: Genre Theory, SF, and History” [D2L]

Ted Underwood, “The Life Cycle of Genres” [D2L]

M May 29 MEMORIAL DAY—NO CLASS
T May 30 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part One)
W June 1 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part Two)
Th June 2 Kazuo Ishiguro, Never Let Me Go (Part Three)

 

secondary:

film trailer: The Island [YouTube]

Martin Puchner, review of Never Let Me Go [D2L]

 

LESSON PLAN #1 DUE

M June 5 Carl Freedman, “Marxism, Cinema, and Some Dialectics of Science Fiction and Film Noir” [D2L]

China Miéville, The City and the City (first half of Part One)

T June 6 China Miéville, The City and the City (second half of Part One)
W June 7 China Miéville, The City and the City (Part Two)
Th June 8 China Miéville, The City and the City (whole book)

China Miéville, “Notes on Walls” [Web]

 

secondary:

Carl Freedman, “From Genre to Political Economy: Miéville’s The City & The City and Uneven Development” [D2L]

China Miéville, “Unsolving the City” [Web]

S June 10 THINKPIECE #1 DUE BY 5 PM
M June 12 Toni Morrison, Beloved, pgs. 1-63
T June 13 Toni Morrison, Beloved, pgs. 63-165
W June 14 Toni Morrison, Beloved, whole book

 

secondary:

Carl D. Malmgren, “Mixed Genres and the Logic of Slavery in Toni Morrison’s Beloved” [D2L]

Grady Hendrix, “Beloved: The Best Horror Novel the Horror Genre Has Never Claimed” [D2L]

Elizabeth B. House, “Toni Morrison’s Ghost: The Beloved Who Is Not Beloved” [D2L]

Th June 15 film: Get Out

 

secondary:

Steven Thrasher, representative Get Out thinkpiece [Web]

 

LESSON PLAN #2 DUE

M June 19 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (first half)
T June 20 Margaret Atwood, The Handmaid’s Tale (second half)

Charlotte Sturgess, “The Handmaid as a Romance Heroine” [D2L]

W June 21 Margaret Atwood, “Historical Notes on The Handmaid’s Tale

Margaret Atwood, “The Road to Ustopia” [Web]

 

secondary:

John McAdams, “Marquette Gender and Sexuality Resource Center: Demonizing Men” [PDF ON D2L]

Margaret Atwood, “What The Handmaid’s Tale Means in the Age of Trump” [Web]

Lili Loofburouw, “How Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale succumbed to the feminist curse” [Web]

The Handmaid’s Tale (Hulu series)

Th June 22 READING/WRITING DAY—NO CLASS
M June 26 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: “Foreword” and Part One, Chapters 1-22
T June 27 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita: Part One, Chap. 23, through Part Two, Chap. 22
W June 28 Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita (whole book, including “On a Book Entitled Lolita”)

Stanley Kubrick, Lolita [Netflix]

Th June 29 VIRTUAL SYLLABUS WORKSHOP DAY! POST YOUR SAMPLE SYLLABUS AND COURSE NARRATIVES ON D2L AND SHARE QUESTIONS, SUGGESTIONS, AND OTHER HELPFUL COMMENTS!
S July 1 THINKPIECE #2 DUE BY 5 PM

Tuesday Morning Links!

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* The course descriptions for Marquette’s Fall 2017 English classes are up at the department website. Check them out! I’m teaching Tolkien and a grad seminar on utopia. 

* Also in Marquette news! Marquette to host ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ conference in April.

Becoming a parent forces you to think about the nature of the problem — which is, in a lot of ways, the problem of nature […] the realities of aging and sickness and mortality become suddenly inescapable. […] [My wife] said something during that time I will never forget. “If I had known how much I was going to love him,” she said, “I’m not sure I would have had him.” Mark O’Connell on transhumanism and immortality.

* From the great Ali Sperling: Reading Lovecraft in the Anthropocene. And this review of Alan Moore’s Jerusalem from the great David Higgins!

* Adam Roberts reviews New York 2140. Another review, from a climate scientist. And an interview with Stan. My review comes out in LARB this weekend…

The Most Cringeworthy Monuments to Colleges’ Innovation Jargon.

Perverse outcomes: UC Berkeley deletes 20,000 audio and visual lectures in the name of compliance with the ADA.

Speculative Fiction and Survival in Iraq.

* Is it really so hard to understand that when your students go broke just trying to graduate they aren’t exactly moved to donate later?

harcourt_fenton_mudd_2267* The liberal arts at Harvey Mudd College, whose graduates out-earn Harvard and Stanford.

* You-might-be-from-Wisconsin-if at Ask MetaFilter.

President Roosevelt signed the order on February 19, 1942, almost exactly 75 years ago. By spring, American citizens would be arriving at the Fresno and Pinedale camps: our neighbors.

* Wisconsin is apparently harassing trans state employees.

* Chaos, again. This is fine. Even James Comey. Twilight of Reince Preibus. Ten Questions for President Trump. Ten More Questions for President Trump. Remember when it was scandalous that Obama, years before he became a politician, once sold his house?

It is through the Justice Department that the administration is likely to advance its nationalist plans — to strengthen the grip of law enforcement, raise barriers to voting and significantly reduce all forms of immigration, promoting what seems to be a longstanding desire to reassert the country’s European and Christian heritage. It’s not an accident that Sessions, who presumably could have chosen from a number of plum assignments, opted for the role of attorney general. The Department of Justice is the most valuable perch from which to transform the country in the way he and Bannon have wanted. With an exaggerated threat of disorder looming, the nation’s top law-enforcement agency could become a machine for trying to fundamentally change who gets to be an American and what rights they can enjoy.

The emerging effort — dozens more rules could be eliminated in the coming weeks — is one of the most significant shifts in regulatory policy in recent decades. It is the leading edge of what Stephen K. Bannon, Mr. Trump’s chief strategist, described late last month as “the deconstruction of the administrative state.”

* “Forever war, but too much.”

An Afghan family of five that had received approval to move to the United States based on the father’s work for the American government has been detained for more than two days after flying into Los Angeles International Airport, a legal advocacy group said in court documents filed on Saturday. Profiles of immigrant arrested in Austin. Thousands of ICE detainees claim they were forced into labor, a violation of anti-slavery laws. (Note this lawsuit was filed in 2014.This Stunningly Racist French Novel Is How Steve Bannon Explains The World. And if it were a book, it’d seem laughably contrived: A letter written in 1905 by Friedrich Trump, Donald Trump’s grandfather, to Luitpold, prince regent of Bavaria. Resisting ICE. Here we go again.

* 4chan and the Great Meme War.

* Russia and the Cyber Cold War.

* And while we’re on the subject: The Basic Formula For Every Shocking Russia/Trump Revelation. I think this is a very good reminder of the need to stay calm and detached from the chaos of the news cycle.

Instead, a new model is proposed: the president keeps everyone in a constant state of excitement and alarm. He moves fast and breaks things. He leads by causing commotion. As energy in the political system rises he makes no effort to project calm or establish an orderly White House. And if he keeps us safe it’s not by being himself a safe, steady, self-controlled figure, but by threatening opponents and remaining brash and unpredictable— maybe a touch crazy. This too is psychological work, but of a different kind.

* Democrats keep trusting demographics to save them. It hasn’t worked yet — but maybe this time…

NASA unveils plan to give Mars an ‘Earth-like’ atmosphere.

House Republicans Unveil Bill To Repeal Obamacare. The GOP health bill doesn’t know what problem it’s trying to solve.

Austerity measures don’t actually save money. But they do disempower workers. Which is why governments pursue them in the first place.

* No! It can’t be! Researchers have found strong evidence that racism helps the GOP win.

* Losing West Virginia.

Contrary to What You Learned in Sex Ed, You Can Get Pregnant While Pregnant.

* Mid-decade gerrymander in Georgia.

* Autism and Addiction.

* What We’ve Learned from Giving Dolphins LSD.

In a world first, a teenager with sickle cell disease achieved complete remission after an experimental gene therapy at Necker Children’s Hospital in Paris, researchers say.

* Possible lynching outside Seattle, in 2017.

* The end of suburbia.

* In the richest country in human history, children have “lunch debt.”

The only way in which a game is guaranteed to end is when the player abandons their device. Everything else is game design.

“These devices don’t have emotional intelligence,” said Allison Druin, a University of Maryland professor who studies how children use technology. “They have factual intelligence.” How millions of kids are being shaped by know-it-all voice assistants.

* Finding a jury of your peers in a racially segregated society.

* A colony in a nation.

Divination hasn’t disappeared; it’s taken over the world.

But these second-order obstacles aren’t enough to explain the current collapse of poll-driven political certainty. They’re just excuses, even if they’re not untrue. Something about the whole general scheme of polling—the idea that you can predict what millions of undecided voters will do by selecting a small group and then just simply asking them—is out of whack. We need to think seriously about what the strange game of election-watching actually is, in terms of our relation to the future, our power to choose our own outcomes, the large-scale structure of the universe, and the mysteries of fate. And these questions are urgent. Because predictions of the future don’t simply exist in the future, but change the way we act in the present. Because in our future something monstrous is rampaging: it paces hungrily toward us, and we need to know if we’ll be able to spot it in time.

When I said that opinion polls are sibyls and soothsayers, it wasn’t just a figure of speech. Opinion polling has all the trappings of a science—it has its numbers and graphs, its computational models, its armies of pallid drones poring over the figures. It makes hypotheses and puts them to the test. But polls are not taken for what they are: a report on what a small number of people, fond of changing their minds, briefly pretended to think. Instead, we watch the tracking graphs as if the future were playing itself out live in front of us. The real structure of the electoral-wonk complex is more mystical than materialist: it’s augury and divination, a method handed down by Prometheus to a starving and shivering humanity at the faint dawn of time. Behind all the desktop screens and plate-glass of his office, the buzz of data and the hum of metrics, Nate Silver retreats to a quiet, dark, and holy room. He takes the knife and slits in one stroke the throat of a pure-white bull; its blood arcs and drizzles in all directions. He examines its patterns. And he knows.

There’s a never-ending fount of stories you can write about when someone is breaking away from canon or not, and create many controversies all the way through preproduction and production and even until a movie opens, about whether or not they’re breaking canon. Is it a blasphemous movie or not? At some point, you gotta stop and say, Is there this expectation that it’s like we’re doing Godfather Part I and II, only it’s going to nine movies? And we’re just gonna cut them into this kind of Berlin Alexanderplatz that never ends? We’re gonna suddenly take a moment to really savor the fact that these movies exist in an identical tone? The reality to me is that you can’t have interesting movies if you tell a filmmaker, “Get in this bed and dream, but don’t touch the pillows or move the blankets.” You will not get cinema. You will just get a platform for selling the next movie on that bed, unchanged and unmade. James Mangold on Logan.

* The making of The Silmarillion.

* And we have but one choice: the Ring must be destroyed.

Written by gerrycanavan

March 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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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