Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘The Hobbit

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

Christmascism

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* I’ve started something new and a little bit experimental at Marquette this month: I’m teaching one of the courses in the pilot January session. Mine is a departure for me in a number of ways; in addition to being a very abbreviated, intensive session, it is also entirely online and links literary study with short-story writing in a way our intro classes typically haven’t. Three days in, I’m enjoying the experience a lot! Designing and producing the course materials over the fall was a hectic experience, to say the least, but having all the material ready and up front on launch day certainly makes the day-by-day operation of the course easier.

* Elsewhere on the Marquette beat: the university has recently purchased a first edition of The Hobbit. I’ve asked to teach my Tolkien class again in the fall, so maybe they’ll let me look at it, if not touch it…

* Also coming this fall: The five stages of fascism. This piece from the Post has filled me with renewed dread that Trump is actually going to be very good at this. He seems to understand exactly how superficial and how fundamentally stupid the American public sphere has become. I don’t think he’ll have any trouble manipulating the press exactly how he wants to.

* Tech and Trump.

* I can’t wait to find out who wins the 2016 election.

* I loved this piece on the Reddit community that is sure Sinbad played a genie in a movie in the 1990s. I asked Jaimee afterwards if she remembered the film; she remembered it immediately and is now furious with me. Of course it reminded me of my own benighted quest to find the TV show intro theme where someone opens a door and gets a paint roller over their head. Yes, you remember that one too, no, it doesn’t exist…

* Putin, Comey, Putin, Comey: Almost all the US jobs created since 2005 are temporary. And it’s likely to get a whole lot worse very soon.
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* : the gerry canavan story

* Jonathan Lethem and Kim Stanley Robinson talk Philip K. Dick.

* Wild! Google sued over policies ‘barring employees from writing novels.’

* Still more on the original ending of Rogue One, with confirmation that it was very different.

* Food, floods, flu, and the Doomsday Vault.

* Strange days: Brianna Wu says she’s running for Congress.

‘Jeopardy!’ contestant didn’t live to see her winning streak on TV.

* Playtesting the coming cashless dystopia in India.

I Was All Set to Become the Most Popular Guy in the Cancer Ward. Then I Met My Nemesis: Ben.

* And you can’t argue with science: Apparently cat owners might be more into bondage and BDSM than everyone else.

Blogging from the Mid-Atlantic, But the Other Way

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An awakening anatomy of the average life’s two years of boredom, 6 months of watching commercials, 67 days of heartbreak, and 14 minutes of pure joy. 14 minutes of joy seems low even for a single day. What are you people doing with yourselves?

* The Voyager records, as art.

* I’m With™ Clinton’s ‘Innovation Agenda’ for Higher Ed.

* Republicans seem pretty obviously right about this one. I don’t see how there’s any case for its propriety, but here’s a try.

The Humiliating Practice of Sex-Testing Female Athletes.

Estimate of U.S. Transgender Population Doubles to 1.4 Million Adults.

* For 20 years, the center has blocked off female-only hours to accommodate the area’s large Hasidic population. The pool has no male-only hours, and some Hasidic men swim during the hours that are open to all genders. An anonymous complaint was lodged recently with the city’s Human Rights Commission, which sent a notice to the parks department this spring saying that the policy might violate a city law barring gender discrimination in public accommodations.

Using the budget usually reserved for the committee, they created a program called Dudes Understanding Diversity and Ending Stereotypes, or DUDES.

He said he’s glad colleges have found the research useful, but he is cautious about the institutions that are taking it as an absolute. Mr. Sue said his goal had always been to educate people, not punish or shame them, if they engage in microaggressions.

* Boris Johnson and the Cuckoo Nest Plot. Now even Gove says he won’t Brexit before the end of the year. Sanders and Corbyn: The Survivors. Brexit Might Never Happen. Brexit: a disaster decades in the making. So you want to con a country. Based on a close reading of Frank Bruni’s Brexit commentary, “A Bachelor Named Britain, Looking for Love” (reproduced below the question), please describe the bearing of the New York Times op-ed staff on the collapse of serious political argument in American establishment institutions in the early 21st century.

How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front. Bonus Tolkien! How To Tell If You Are In A J.R.R. Tolkien Book.

A wizard has roped you into a quest because one of your ancestors invented golf.

* Westeros Is Poorly Designed. A Followup: It’s Okay That Westeros Is Poorly Designed. Some more nerdery on the subject.

When asked how fast the ships in Babylon 5 travel, creator J. Michael Straczynski replied that they travel “at the speed of plot.”

How big is Westeros? “Plot-sized.” How many people live there? “Plot thousand.” How do they make their living? “Tilling the plot.”

Game of Thrones season 6 was good TV that shows why the series will never be great.

Why did the Stars Wars and Star Trek worlds turn out so differently? Please Stop Marrying Fictional Characters to People They Met as Children, It’s Creepy. I started thinking absently about Steve Rogers’ jogging route during my run today and then i couldn’t STOP thinking about it because there’s literally NO WAY it makes sense unless you accept that he is specifically fucking up his entire morning routine to get another look at the cute boy he clocked on his run.

* How to Get Tenure. Counterpoint: You Probably Won’t Get Tenure.

* How to Give a Conference Paper.

* Elsewhere on the academic beat: Study Finds First-Year Students Who Take 15 Credits Succeed. Why Can’t My New Employees Write? The New McCarthyism. Right-Wing Elites Love Your Abigail Fisher Hot Take.

* Rationalia has already garnered some powerful enemies.

* Amazing, awful: Author Gay Talese disavows his latest book amid credibility questions.

Unprecedented’: Scientists declare ‘global climate emergency’ after jet stream crosses equator. The Window for Avoiding a Dangerous Climate Change Has Closed. The Day After Tomorrow Happened 30,000 Years Ago. Geoengineering at the CIA.

Physicists just confirmed a pear-shaped nucleus, and it could ruin time travel forever. Not if I undiscover it yesterday!

* America is lying about its involvement in Africa: AFRICOM’s reports simply don’t add up.

* Secret History of the AOL Disc Campaign.

* More from the twilight of the law schools.

* “This is the single greatest panel ever published in a Transformers comic.”

* Trumpocalypse watch! Another boondoggle. And another. And another. And another. This one is probably the best yet. 4 Ways Cleveland’s Colleges Are Bracing for the Republican Convention. Who will win the presidency? Why not play along at home! And if you want a vision of the future: imagine Trump’s vice-presidential candidates stomping on a human face, forever.

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Written by gerrycanavan

July 1, 2016 at 9:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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Remember, Sunday Is Procrastination Day, Always Procrastinate Safely

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* CFP: The Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference, June 2016, Liverpool, England. I’ll be there, talking in some way or another about the world of the great Wisconsin SF writer Clifford D. Simak.

* CFP: In More’s Footsteps: Utopia and Science Fiction.

* #altac: Seattle to pay poet to live in a bridge.

The poet cannot actually live in the bridge… the room where the “living” would take place is not well heated and there is no running water.

* The very weird Dem primary is really heating up. Face It: A Vote for Hillary Clinton Is a Vote for War. That Clinton hasn’t easily put away Sanders should be very worrying for the people assuming she can defeat anyone the Republicans put up.

* Elsewhere on the 2016 election beat.

2007 is when the human species accidentally invented telepathy (via the fusion of twitter, facebook, and other disclosure-induction social media with always-connected handheld internet devices). Telepathy, unfortunately, turns out to not be all about elevated Apollonian abstract intellectualism: it’s an emotion amplifier and taps into the most toxic wellsprings of the subconscious. As implemented, it brings out the worst in us. Twitter and Facebook et al are fine-tuned to turn us all into car-crash rubberneckers and public execution spectators. It can be used for good, but more often it drags us down into the dim-witted, outraged weltanschauung of the mob.

* Kylo Ren, undercover boss.

How These 5 Famous Billionaires Are Dismantling Black Public Schools.

NASA Has Opened a Planetary Defense Office to Protect Earth from Cosmic Collisions.

* The New Marvel Universe and Afrofuturism.

* I think I’d rather it was Hellcat, but I’ll take it.

* Springsteen covers “Rebel, Rebel.” Returning a favor, as he says in the video: The real find for that link is probably the Bowie cover of “It’s Hard to Be a Saint in the City.”

* And another one I fear I may have done before: The Soviet Hobbit (1976).

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New Year’s Links!

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* The Journal-Sentinel has links to its original coverage of the Steven Avery trial highlighted in the Netflix series Making a Murderer.

In a statistical analysis that controlled for a host of other influences, we found this: Negative racial views about blacks were the single most important predictor of white opposition to paying college athletes.

As college sports revenues spike, coaches aren’t only ones cashing in.

* What to do when you’re not the hero anymore.

* Old Navy hates art and artists and all things that are beautiful.

* The end of Cosby. The Real Cosby Story: Prosecutors Have Had Enough Information To Charge Him For More Than A Decade.

George Lucas Says He Sold ‘Star Wars’ to ‘White Slavers.’ Uh, sure.

* Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Paranoid Style of American Policing.

What is 21st Century Photography?

* A favorite from the archives: Modern art was CIA ‘weapon.’

Tolkien Reads from The Hobbit in Rare Archival Audio from His First Encounter with a Tape Recorder.

* Academic freedom and its limits: The New Hampshire Supreme Court on Wednesday upheld the University of New Hampshire’s 2013 firing of Marco Dorfsman, an associate professor of Spanish, after he admitted to altering a colleague’s student evaluations. Appeals court rules U of Hawaii was justified in denying student teaching experience to man who was qualified academically but whose statements about adult-child sex and students with disabilities alarmed professors.

The forgotten contest between colonists and seafaring Indians for command of the American coast.

* This one is almost directly out of The Sheep Look Up, if not Silent Spring: Many pregnant women across Brazil are in a panic. The government, under withering criticism for not acting sooner, is urging them to take every precaution to avoid mosquito bites. One official even suggested that women living in areas where mosquitoes are especially prevalent postpone having children.

* Frankly I’m amazed they’ve let this go on as long as they have: CBS bites itself in the ass, sues makers of crowdfunded Star Trek fan film. In other Star Trek news,  I collect stamps now.

* Elsewhere on the copyright beat: The Diary of Anne Frank and Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf Both Enter the Public Domain on Friday

Aldous Huxley’s Predictions for 2000 A.D.

* Why time is the fire in which we burn, explained.

* Yes, yes, bring back Animaniacs, Pinky and the Brain, the whole enchilada.

* How did they limit themselves to just 50?

* Literature, y’all.

* Meanwhile: Bizarre, Deadly Weather Is Sweeping the Country. The Scariest Part of This Season’s Weird Weather Is Coming Soon. The Storm That Will Unfreeze the North Pole. Even fireworks aren’t fun anymore. Happy new year, one and all!

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No, *These* Are the Weekend Links

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What Day Is It? Links

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* Jaimee’s book was reviewed in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel last week. We spent the weekend in DC for her book launch and reading at the Folger, which was amazing. She just absolutely killed it. Buy her book! And come to her reading in Milwaukee next week…

Part of the issue is an image problem around the impact of humanities research on the wider world. The public should know about Priscilla Wald, an English professor at Duke University, whose explanation of the “outbreak narrative” of contagion is changing the way scientists think about the spread of infectious diseases. Yeah they should! Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored.

* “The Time Traveller,” a story in tweets by Alberto Chimal.

* “Nuclear War” Turns 50: A Fun Game about Human Extinction.

Slave labor either physically built the modern American university or was the wealth vehicle that conditioned its making.

* Professorial anger, then and now. A bit more here.

Every NYT Higher-Ed Thinkpiece Ever Written. How to write an essay about teaching that will not be published in the NYTChronicle, IHE, or anywhere else.

* Bousquet against alt-ac.

* The semipublic intellectual.

* What happens when you fiddle with just one knob on the infernal machine: rich people get richer.

* Billionaires and superstorms.

* Nice work if you can get it.

* Meanwhile.

Are Public Universities Going to Disappear?

* The care work of the (mostly female) academic: “I estimate that someone cries in my office at least once every three weeks.”

* Playboy‘s science fiction.

* An incredibly rare Tolkien-annotated map of Middle-Earth was just discovered in a used bookstore.

* Highly irregular: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child will be considered the eighth book in the Harry Potter series.

In a final speech to the synod, Pope Francis endorsed Senator Bernie Sanders for President of the United States, while taking some clear swipes at conservatives who hold up church doctrine above all else, and use it to cast judgment on others.

What Happens if a Former CEO Actually Goes to Prison?

Cop Attacks High School Student In Her Classroom.

The Hoverboard Scene In Back To The Future 2 Nearly Killed A Stuntwoman. Amazing story.

* Look, I’m not made of stone.

* A Google Tour Through The Underground: How to Read a Russian Novel Set in the Moscow Metro.

* NLRB Returns to Grad Student Unions.

* Bring on the climate trials: ICN has demonstrated that as early as the late 1970s, Exxon scientists were briefing top executives that climate change was real, dangerous, and caused by their product. By the early 1980s, their own climate models were predicting—with great accuracy—the track the global temperature has taken ever since. Meanwhile.

* David Mitchell on A Wizard of Earthsea.

* College sports: still the worst.

A statue of Vladimir Lenin in the Ukrainian city of Odessa has been given a sci-fi twist – by being transformed into Darth Vader.

* Portugal has apparently smartly baked the potential for coups in its official constitutional order.

Emolument took data from both the US and UK and found that while science grads get a bit of a headstart straight out of university in terms of pay, in later life it’s people with humanities degrees who tend to get bigger pay cheques.

* How to Make a Virtuoso Violinist: One mother’s devastating study of 100 musical prodigies.

A DEA Agent Who Helped Take Down Silk Road Is Going to Prison for Unbelievable Corruption.

The Ecological Uncanny: On the “Southern Reach” Trilogy.

* Boondoggle watch: The City of Milwaukee has been awarded a $14.2 million federal grant for construction of a spur connecting the streetcar with the lakefront.

* “Many Colleges’ New Emergency Plan: Try to Account for Every Possibility.” Well, that’ll work.

Should a Cal State Fullerton math professor be forced to have his students use $180 textbook, written by his boss? Why is Cal State letting the math department chair require his own book?

The Man Behind the Dragon Tattoo: Former Internationalen editor Håkan Blomqvist on the socialist politics of his colleague Stieg Larsson.

“They didn’t hire me, they hired me minus 35 pounds,” Fisher recently quipped.

* The arc of history is long, but Subway will finally pay for calling an eleven-inch sandwich a “footlong.” Next up: they shouldn’t be allowed to call that bread.

* Miracles and wonders: Landmark Huntington’s trial starts.

* Star Wars but with philosophers.

* “Blood alcohol concentration predicts utilitarian responses in moral dilemmas.”

* Sesame Street will introduce an autistic muppet.

* I hate it when Yglesias is right, but sometimes he’s right: Democrats are in denial. Their party is actually in deep trouble. Down-ballot the Obama years have been a complete disaster in ways no one in the party seems ready or able to face.

Wesleyan University’s student assembly is considering substantial cuts to the student newspaper’s budget, in a move that is surely *completely unrelated* to a truly stupid recent uproar when the paper published an unpopular op-ed. The paper is soliciting donations to stay alive.

* My brilliant colleague C.J. Hribal on his old house.

* The secret linguistic life of girls.

* Talkin’ Trash with Brian Thill and Pinar Yoldas.

Police “disappeared” more than 7,000 people at an off-the-books interrogation warehouse in Chicago, nearly twice as many detentions as previously disclosed, the Guardian can now reveal.

* A literary history of whales.

The Deadly Legacy of HIV Truthers.

Things Men In Literature Have Died From.

Exploring ‘Cartozia Tales,’ The Crowdfunded Fantasy Anthology for Readers of All Ages.

* Nabokov v. Kafka on drawing the monster.

* “Gentlemen, I just don’t belong here”: throwing shade the Le Guin way.

* Guys, we are definitely living inside a simulation. And possibly just a few years away from either crashing it or figuring out how to hack it.

* And teach the controversy: Luke Skywalker, Sith Lord. I really think this is just an effective viral marketing ploy, but I’ll concede I’m starting to have my doubts.

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Written by gerrycanavan

October 27, 2015 at 7:00 am

Posted in Look at what I found on the Internet

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