Doris Lessing died yesterday, as you may have heard. As I was making sandwiches for lunches this morning, I heard the NPR top-of-the-hour news announcement about her death, and it actually described her work as “seminal.” SEMINAL! I am serious, as well as seriously disgusted. Dr. Crazy offers some thoughts on her post-graduate discovery and appreciation of Lessing, both The Golden Notebook and her later works.
Last night I finished semi-binge watching Jenji Kohan’s Orange is the New Black and am totally jonesing for season 2. SPOILER ALERT: Continue reading
Check it out: Amanda Hess’s analysis of Jonathan Franzen’s recent essay in which he screams at the children to get off his lawn, and to take their Twitter-machines with them:
Franzen blames the Internet for eradicating “the quiet and permanence of the printed word,” which “assured some kind of quality control,” in favor of an apocalyptic hellscape punctuated by “bogus” Amazon reviews and “Jennifer-Weinerish self-promotion.” Back in Franzen’s day, “TV was something you watched only during prime time, and people wrote letters and put them in the mail, and every magazine and newspaper had a robust books section, and venerable publishers made long-term investments in young writers, and New Criticism reigned in English departments.” He goes on: “It wasn’t necessarily a better world (we had bomb shelters and segregated swimming pools), but it was the only world I knew to try to find my place in as a writer.”
Wow. Not too many white people can openly express their nostalgia for segregation or apartheid and get their 6,500 word essays published in The Guardian! But that’s not all: apparently, guys like Franzen really are victims! Of something. The important thing to know is that Jonathan Franzen can no longer “find his place. . . as a writer” in our modern dystopia. But the pre-internet world doesn’t seem all that awesome in his telling:
And then there is the tale of the German chick, told to pinpoint exactly the moment Franzen became an angry person. Continue reading
Thanks to your many fantastic suggestions way back at the beginning of the summer, I’ve finally made some decisions (and perhaps more importantly, submitted my book orders) for my fall 2013 Introduction to Historical Practice, which all of our incoming M.A. students must take. Here’s the book list I’ve settled on for my focus on “history scandals:”
- Michael Bellesiles, Arming America: The Origins of a National Gun Culture (2000), either the Knopf original hardcover or paper editions or the 2003 Soft Skull Press edition.
- Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, eds. Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (2010)
- Shelley Ruth Butler, Contested Representations: Revisiting Into the Heart of Africa (1999; 2007)
- Anthony Grafton, The Footnote: A Curious History (1997)
- Saidiya Hartman. Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (2008)
- Peter Hoffer, Past Imperfect: Facts, Fiction, Fraud—American History from Bancroft and Parkman to Ambrose, Bellesiles, Ellis, and Goodwin (2004)
- NEW–Ari Kelman, A Misplaced Massacre: Struggling over the Memory of Sand Creek (2013)
- Bonnie G. Smith, The Gender of History: Men, Women, & Historical Practice, 2nd edition (2000)
- Michel-Rolph Trouillot, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1997)
- Deborah Gray White, Telling Histories: Black Women Historians in the Ivory Tower (2008) Continue reading
“Clearly you need to restrict the dimensions to things that more or less have a right answer or several right answers.”
So says Daphne Koller on the challenges of adapting MOOC technology to teach humanities courses. (Many thanks to Jonathan Rees of More or Less Bunk for alerting me to this story. While you’re there, don’t miss his post on “This is How MOOCs End.”)
What Koller really means is that we need not adapt MOOCs to the humanities. We need to adapt the humanities to the limits and demands of MOOCworld, which operates on the assumption that everything we need to know about student progress and achievement can be effectively measured by essay-grading software and multiple-choice quizzes and exams. Who knew that some people read Charles Dickens’s Hard Times not as a critique of the industrial era and the notion that everything (including education) can be automated, but rather see it as a blueprint for modern educational instruction? Continue reading
Anachronistic image of Chaucer from the 17th century
Go read Dr. Cleveland on the uses of academic blogging, and how in many respects it is like Geoffrey Chaucer’s poetry (only with more profanity, lulz, and kitty-cat videos. Warning: he says some nice things about this blog, so file this one under “blogrolling in our time!” Next thing you know, we’ll be blurbing each other’s books!)
You can’t blog your way to a tenure-track professorship.You simply can’t. Even a gig at IHE or The Chronicle for Higher Education is not enough. That doesn’t mean blogging is not professionally useful to you. It means you need to be clear about what it’s useful for.
Blogging and other social media serve academics by bringing you to other people’s attention and building your professional network. It works largely as publicity for your other work, and it widens your potential audience while strengthening your connections. Continue reading
For a comment on a paper that I’m giving this afternoon, I needed to check a quotation from The Journal of John Winthrop, 1630-1649 (1996), edited by Richard Dunn, James Savage, and Laetitia Yeandle, the most recent and authoritative edition of Winthrop’s journals. I should have done this at home, as I own this 799 page doorstop of a book, but luckily I found that the relevant passage was available via Google books. Yay! Mission accomplished. Thanks, internets!
But wait: there are two online reviews of Winthrop’s journal, which I thought was pretty interesting as he’s been dead since 1649. “Imi” wrote, “Thank God we only have to read a small part of it for a lecture, because even those couple of pages were really boring. Continue reading
You’ve heard of The Endless Summer? It sure seems to me like this is the Endless Semester. Maybe it’s all of the snow and slush in April, but more than any other spring semester in recent memory, this one drags on and on. While I’m desperately trying to lasso this semester and tie it up real good, here are some fun links and ideas to keep you diverted: