* So, look: I’m not saying the Democrats are definitely going to blow it. But they’re more than capable of blowing it.
Posts Tagged ‘Tolkien’
And here’s the Infinite Jest syllabus. This one turned out to be a surprisingly difficult puzzle to put together, just because I felt strongly that the book absolutely had to be finished by the class period before the class period before Thanksgiving (and later determined that we really needed a whole week to talk about the book just as a whole) — while I also felt (after the experience of the Tolkien class was so great) that it would be really good to have a slow start where we talked a bit about Wallace as a thinker and read some of his other work. This seemed especially urgent to me because of the fact of the suicide, which really does seem to risk retrospectively poisoning some aspects of the book and Wallace’s larger career (I’ve included the MLA panel we’re doing explicitly in the course as a last-day exercise, though I realized yesterday while prepping the course that I seem to have completely cryptomnesically ripped off Tom Bissell in my panel abstract — very embarrassing).
I decided early on that “beginning with the end” was the way to do this course, discussing the suicide openly and concretely at length at the very start of the class. My workshopmates in my Jesuit pedagogy seminar last semester very helpfully suggested some strategies for making the course a comfortable place to talk about some very uncomfortable things, and strongly suggested that I include an explicit content note in the syllabus (which as you can see, I did, a fairly lengthy one; I don’t think I’ve ever done one before, except in briefly offering the possibility of an alternate assignment for Lolita in a sophomore-level survey).
The result of all this is a syllabus that I’m pretty happy with and that I hope won’t be too demanding. I’ve thought a lot about not just trying to generate buy-in and a spirit of shared endeavor, but also how to make sure I don’t lose a ton of people along the way. In the end, with a MW class meeting trying to read a 1,079-page novel in nine weeks while leaving space at the beginning and end for other conversations about Infinite Jest, I decided I just couldn’t do much better than around 50-70 pages per class period for the long haul, especially in the back half. I hope the assignments and the structure of the course pull them through, and give them space to get something valuable out of it, even if (as seems inevitable) some number of them completely hate both the book and me by the end…
As before, full syllabus with course procedures and all assignments at the link, but here’s the day-by-day schedule:
|M||Aug 29||FIRST DAY OF CLASS
audiobook: “This Is Water” (Commencement Address to the Kenyon College Class of 2005) (in class)
|W||Aug 31||“Alas, Poor Yorick” monologue from Hamlet, Act V, sc. i [D2L]
George Saunders, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]
Jonathan Franzen, “Informal Remarks from the David Foster Wallace Memorial Service in New York on October 23, 2008” [D2L]
roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Sad Things, Together
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #1
|M||Sep 5||LABOR DAY—NO CLASS|
|W||Sep 7||David Foster Wallace, “The Planet Trillaphon as It Stands in Relation to the Bad Thing” (1984) and Afterword by Kevin J. H. Dettmar (2016)|
|M||Sep 12||David Foster Wallace, “Octet” (1997/1999)
Guest Lecture: Tom Moore
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #2
|W||Sep 14||David Foster Wallace, “Octet” discussion continues
Infinite Jest forewords by Dave Eggers (2006) and Tom Bissell (2016) [D2L]
roundtable discussion: How to Talk About Literature, Art, Artists, Genius, Greatness, Pretension, Ambition, “Trying Too Hard,” Success, Failure, Annoyance, Fondness, Commitment, Honesty, Community, Solitude, Work, Intellectual Experiences That Might (or Might Not) Change Your Life, &c.
(after class) Mandatory D2L Post #3
|M||Sep 19||Infinite Jest through p. 17
brief primer: How to Read Infinite Jest [in class]
|W||Sep 21||Infinite Jest through p. 63||46|
|M||Sep 26||Infinite Jest through p. 127||64|
|W||Sep 28||Infinite Jest through p. 171||44|
|M||Oct 3||Infinite Jest through p. 226||55|
|W||Oct 5||Infinite Jest through p. 283||57|
|M||Oct 10||Infinite Jest through p. 342||59|
|W||Oct 12||Infinite Jest through p. 398||56|
|M||Oct 17||Infinite Jest through p. 450||52|
|W||Oct 19||Infinite Jest through p. 503||53|
|M||Oct 24||Infinite Jest through p. 589||86|
|W||Oct 26||Infinite Jest through p. 648||59|
|M||Oct 31||Infinite Jest through p. 711||63|
|W||Nov 2||Infinite Jest through p. 775||64|
|M||Nov 7||Infinite Jest through p. 845||70|
|W||Nov 9||Infinite Jest through p. 911||66|
|M||Nov 14||Infinite Jest through p. 981
|W||Nov 16||Samuel Cohen, “To Wish to Try to Sing to the Next Generation: Infinite Jest’s History”
N. Katherine Hayles, “The Illusion of Autonomy and the Fact of Recursivity: Virtual Ecologies, Entertainment, and Infinite Jest”
OPTION #3 PROSPECTUS DUE BY TODAY
|M||Nov 21||Research Workshop with Heather James (Raynor)
Bring in the general topic you think you might want to write about, as well as some useful research questions.
* Infinite Jest pages per day (approximate) (not counting footnotes)
|M||Nov 28||OPTION #1 and #2 PROSPECTUS DUE TO ME ON D2L
Michael Pietsch, editor’s note, The Pale King (2011) [D2L]
David Foster Wallace, “Good Old Neon” (2001) [D2L]
|W||Nov 30||Lee Konstantinou, “No Bull: David Foster Wallace and Postironic Belief” [D2L]
Adam Kelly, “David Foster Wallace and the New Sincerity in American Fiction” [D2L]
|M||Dec 5||Ed Finn, “Becoming Yourself: The Afterlife of Reception” [D2L]
Kathleen Fitzpatrick, “Infinite Summer: Reading, Empathy, and the Social Network” [D2L]
MetaFilter.com, “RIP, DFW” [Web]
The Howling Fantods, Wallace-L, etc.
|W||Dec 7||FINAL THOUGHTS: MLA 2017 panel: “Infinite Jest at 20” [D2L]
Bring in four copies of the prospectus for your final project.
LAST DAY OF CLASS
|W||Dec 14||FINAL PROJECT DUE BY 12:30 PM|
* Donald Trump Isn’t Going to Be President. Trump Has Won and the Republican Party Is Broken. Clinton Releases a Brutal Anti-Trump Ad. 5 not-totally-crazy electoral maps that show Donald Trump winning. Could Trump Put Georgia in Play for Democrats? Only a Democrat can stop Trump now. Misperceiving Bullshit as Profound Is Associated with Favorable Views of Cruz, Rubio, Trump and Conservatism. The six days of Carly Fiorina’s vice presidential campaign, ranked.
* Why graduate students should be allowed to see the letters we write on their behalf. I was in strong disagreement with the headline but was won over by the text.
* Recommendation for a quick, great read: Nnedi Okorafor’s novella Binti, an Afrofuturist space-age riff on Harry Potter with more than a little bit of Octavia Butler in there…
* Another thing I’ve been enjoying, which you might too: “Hardcore Game of Thrones” on howl.fm. (First three episodes available for free here.) It’s completely sold me on the viability of a prequel spinoff, and I may actually like it more than the actual series.
* Two Great Tastes: On Civil War and Hamilton. Meanwhile, a great review from Abigail Nussbaum asks whether Civil War (which I liked a lot) has ruined the MCU.
* The Norton Writer’s Prize will be awarded annually for an outstanding essay written by an undergraduate. Literacy narratives, literary and other textual analyses, reports, profiles, evaluations, arguments, memoirs, proposals, mixed-genre pieces, and more: any excellent writing done for an undergraduate writing class will be considered. The winner will receive a cash award of $1,500. Two runners-up will each receive a cash award of $1,000.
* “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”
* Unable to analyze meaning, narrative, or argument, computer scoring instead relies on length, grammar, and arcane vocabulary to do assess prose. Should you trust a computer to grade your child’s writing on Common Core tests?
* Conservatives can be spotted in the sciences and in economics, but they are virtually an endangered species in fields like anthropology, sociology, history and literature. One study found that only 2 percent of English professors are Republicans (although a large share are independents). In contrast, some 18 percent of social scientists say they are Marxist. So it’s easier to find a Marxist in some disciplines than a Republican.
* Ivy League economist ethnically profiled, interrogated for doing math on American Airlines flight. This situation is absolutely untenable and I cannot believe the airlines are willingly participating.
* Maps of the end of the world. The post keeps going after the image!
* U.S. Justice Department officials repudiated North Carolina’s House Bill 2 on Wednesday, telling Gov. Pat McCrory that the law violates the U.S. Civil Rights Act and Title IX – a finding that could jeopardize billions in federal education funding.
One of those grants, $48 million for Isle de Jean Charles, is something new: the first allocation of federal tax dollars to move an entire community struggling with the impacts of climate change. The divisions the effort has exposed and the logistical and moral dilemmas it has presented point up in microcosm the massive problems the world could face in the coming decades as it confronts a new category of displaced people who have become known as climate refugees.
* Happy Mother’s Day: Kids’ Screen Time Is A Feminist Issue. Keep scrolling!
* University of Oxford acquires rare map of Middle-earth annotated by Tolkien. There’s still more after the image!
* Before Hamilton, there was… An Oral History of Rent.
* Grimdark realism isn’t realistic: where is kindness on Game of Thrones?
Ultimately, there’s not much you can say about Daredevil because its not-goodness derives from the fact that it doesn’t have anything to say. This makes it hard to say anything about the way it’s not saying anything. Based on the first season, I would have argued that the show uses the superhero genre tode-familiarize gentrification and the way crime plays into struggles over urban land use. Similarly, I would contend that Jessica Jones uses the superhero-detective genre to de-familiarize trauma and addiction. Coming out — dare I say, being flushed out — of Daredevil season two, I would say that it uses the Batman-genre to re-familiarize the Ninja-genre. And for all the violence it does to its characters and setting, the real problem is this reinvestment in the fetish of ninja violence. The show uses the spectacle ofliteral violence to render unnecessary the organic narrative flow of people just being people in the world. Instead of the hidden injuries and traumas of class, as they play themselves out across our lives, we get a story of a ninja fighting ninjas because, well, ninjas.
* CEI et al. argue that TSA’s final rule fails to consider one important factor related to the deployment body scanners: a potential increase in highway injuries and deaths. If that sounds crazy, let me explain. Past research suggests that post-9/11 airport security policies were so invasive that a number of would-be air travelers decided to drive instead. Given the fact that auto travel is far more dangerous than air travel,three Cornell University economists found that TSA’s invasive, time-consuming airport screening policies resulted in about 500 additional highway fatalities annually in the years following 9/11—more than a fully loaded 747 per year.
* Educated people are usually critical of absolute truths, no matter if they come from statistics or religious revelation. Facts need to be understood within a larger cultural context in order to be deemed plausible or implausible. Today, however, we see an increasing tendency to describe the world not in terms of cultural values, but in terms of fundamental truths. In the cases of fundamentalism and neoliberal education of excellence, as I’ve shown here, this “deculturation” takes the form of a dangerous combination of religion and pseudoscientific thought peddled as excellence.
* Sure, let’s clone Leonardo da Vinci. Things could hardly get worse.
* And some scenes from the Anthropocene: Zone Rouge: An Area of France So Badly Damaged By WW1 That People Are Still Forbidden To Live There. Fort McMurray Wildfire: 80,000 Evacuated Over Out-of-Control Blaze. Fleeing Fire in Oil Country. Alberta Wildfires Expected to Double In Size and Burn for Months. The First Coral Reefs Are Starting to Permanently Dissolve. Facebook is a growing and unstoppable digital graveyard. Have a great week, everybody!
* A new page at Marquette: a $96 million residence hall development.
* There’s more than one way to brand a college. Like at least three or four.
For the television series, it’s more complicated. The crucial question is this: How do you take a story that’s written as a deliberate repudiation of 1990s fantasy norms and make it work, twenty years later, with an audience that didn’t necessarily grow up with Terry Brooks and Robert Jordan novels? The story is generally strong enough that it’s managed to survive and thrive; the failures of the Starks are not just reversals of fantasy convention but overall storytelling convention. But the longer the series goes, the less able it is to draw upon such clear subversions.
* Hamilton, the musical you may be tired of hearing about because it is literally impossible to get tickets to see it until 2047, made Tony history Tuesday morning, scoring a record-breaking 16 nominations.
* Jessica Jones season two is doomed watch: Trouble On The Set Of Jessica Jones Season One Was Calmed By David Tennant.
* You just can’t win: After ‘The Biggest Loser,’ Their Bodies Fought to Regain Weight.
* “Poet & Vagabond”: Roberto Bolaño’s business card.
* Like the lady said: the goal should be a society without classes! Fights on planes 400% more likely when there’s a first class section.
* Famous last words watch: Republicans have a massive electoral map problem that has nothing to do with Donald Trump.
* And if you want a vision of the future, imagine increasingly disappointing Star Trek (2009) sequels every three years, forever.