10 Signs You May Be Ready for Grad School

from PhD Comics by Jorge Cham

10) You find yourself hanging out in your professor’s office for no other reason than the stimulating conversation.

9) You take certain classes because you’re “looking for a challenge” or found the other classes to be “far too easy.”

8) You can’t decide if you should be proud or insulted when your professor doesn’t notice that you B.S’d your way through that whole essay.

7) You spend more on books each month than some people do on food. (And the books may be reproducing on their own because you’re pretty sure you didn’t have stacks leading down the hallway last week).

6) You walk into Office Depot because you love to stare at all the pens and pencils and dry erase markers and notepads… and you keep buying them for no reason whatsoever – except perhaps that they smell good.

5) You have a bad habit of volunteering/applying for more things (jobs, clubs, committees, projects, etc) than a reasonably well-stocked militia could reasonably be expected to deal with.

4) You then proceed to scream and rant and cry about your insane schedule which has become so full you discover you’re actually signed up to do 2-3 things at once and haven’t scheduled yourself time to sleep or eat for at least the next 6 months. …And then you proceed to sign up for more.

3) You’ve decided that sleep is something you can worry about when you’re dead, and food is best enjoyed in sporadic bursts of first forgetting to eat for a couple days, and then eating an entire large pizza in one sitting. (Also tums and ibuprofen are you’re first and last meal every day).

2) You have a large persistent streak of masochism that refuses to be eradicated despite the friends who beg you to stop working yourself into the ground, the parents who remind you do occasionally have to eat, the accumulating therapy bills, and the enormous bar tab that should be a sign you may be a bit stressed…

And the top sign that you are ready for grad school…

1) The idea of joining the “real world” — with a 9-5 job, a 401k, buying a house, paying off your already-enormous students loans, and all that other “normal adult stuff” — is so terrifying or abhorrent to you that even 3-10 more years of collegiate torture (and even more student loans) (and possibly an ulcer or two) seems like heaven in comparison.

also from PhD Comics by Jorge Cham

Crowdsourcing a Compilation of Adjunct Working Conditions

For those who are unfamiliar with adjuncting conditions, here is some good (and depressing) information about what many of your college instructors live on. Folks, it ain’t pretty. There has been much discussion in various places (such as the MLA, various teachers organizations, and a few individual departments) about assuring that adjuncts can receive a livable wage and some basic benefits. But the chances of forcing universities and colleges to do this when they’ve been getting away with not doing it for so long are pretty slim unless enough people make enough noise about it.

You’re All Invited!

Free-For-All Friday: You’re All Invited!

Okay, I know I said I would do a review of the second Sherlock Holmes movie, and I will try to do that on Monday, but I wanted to spread the news about something I’m a part of.

Here at University of Houston, we, the graduate students of the Literature program, are trying to build a larger community for sharing our work and learning about the work of others.  To do this, several UH Literature students started a new student-run academic journal called Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature, and also decided to a host a conference: The University of Houston Graduate Student Literature Conference.

“Reviving and Revisioning Work: Examining Class in Literature and Language”

Second Annual Graduate Literature Conference

With Keynote Speaker Dr. Rosemary Hennessy

from Rice University’s Center for Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Saturday 31 March 2012
Open to the Public

“Class in society is determined by voice” — Marshall McLuhan

Between the recession, partisan rhetoric about class war, and the current Occupy movement, class has moved to the forefront of American political consciousness. Class is also something we can’t avoid in the academy–whether we’re talking about the relative place of men and women (Schell); WPAs, professors, and TAs (Bousquet, Scott); literature and composition (Miller); the university and the community (Mathieu); undergraduate students; or the literary canon and authors that we study. This is a kairotic moment to reexamine our assumptions about class and look more deeply at the class implications in our literature, our languages, our classrooms, and our communities.

We invite presenters to consider topics that include classroom experiences and literary research, but as this is Houston, we also invite you to consider and focus on issues of class in the Houston area. Our city is brimming with local writing– fiction, nonfiction, poetry, music — populating coffeehouses and bars alike. How is class represented in local literature as well as global and “canonized?”

As you may be able to tell, this is the second annual conference. Last year was the inaugural conference, and it went very well, if I do say so myself.  I presented a paper, and enjoyed listening to the work of my fellow UH graduate students, as well as several graduate students from other universities (including one who came all the way from New Mexico).  And then the first volume of Plaza was published, featuring the papers that were presented at the conference.  This year we are really hoping to spread the news, and gain a wider audience and a wider group of conference presenters.

To that end, I would like to extend this invitation to all of my blog followers.  Even though it’s called the “Graduate Student Literature Conference” (that’s only because we’re the ones running it), this conference is open to all undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines.  We are looking for presentations that fit this year’s theme of class.  In other words, we are looking for student-written critical research and creative non-fiction works that examine the role of socio-economic class structures in such things as literature, rhetoric, composition studies, folklore and ethnography, language and cultural studies, linguistic studies, technical writing, and gender studies (among others).  However, there are always a couple panels open for non-theme-related presentations as well, so please submit an abstract proposal even if you don’t think it fits the theme.

Some Things To Know:

1)     Abstract Proposals should be approximately 250 words in length.

2)     Abstract Proposals are due by January 30th, 2012.

3)     You will be informed of acceptance by February 15th, 2012.

4)     Individual Presentations should be 15-18 minutes in length in order to allow time for questions.

5)     For more information, include contact information, presentation guidelines, and submission procedures please see the UH Graduate Student Conference Website.

So, that’s what I’ve got, folks.  I know at least some of you are undergraduate and graduate students.  And I know some of you don’t live all that far away either, so travelling to Houston for a weekend wouldn’t be that difficult.  I urge you all to dig through all those papers you’ve written in the semesters and see if you can find one that would fit the theme (or even one that doesn’t), that you could dust off, clean up, and present.  Or, perhaps there’s a half-started research project that you’ve been meaning to work on?  Here’s the opportune moment!

I and others would really love to see this conference become a big deal someday, and it all starts with getting some presenters from outside the UH school system to come and present and spread the word themselves.

I hope we hear from you!

Have a good weekend, and see you on Monday!

Science Fiction Studies

Bookworm Wednesday: Science Fiction Studies

The SFS logo

Okay, so this isn’t actually a BOOK, it’s a scholarly/academic journal called Science Fiction Studies, published out of DePauw University in Indiana, but it’s ABOUT books (and film, and video games, and so on)…  And it’s a very enjoyable read for anyone interested in science fiction from a more academic, theoretical perspective (as well as from a more personal entertainment perspective).

I’ve read a few articles from this journal before, but I was required to do a history/review of a scholarly journal for my Doctoral Studies course we had to choose any scholarly journal that we thought we might be interested in submitting to in the future and it seemed like a good opportunity to do some more reading into this journal.  And I thought I’d share with you all a little of what I learned about this journal, and what it means for those who study science fiction (or would like to, if only English departments took it more seriously, *cough* UH! *cough*), and for those of us who write science fiction.

R.D. Mullen of Indiana State University and Darko Suvin of McGill University, Montreal founded the journal Science Fiction Studies in 1973.  At the time, there were already two other journals that took a scholarly/theoretical approach to science fiction Extrapolation, founded in 1959, and Foundation: the International Review of Science Fiction, founded in 1972.  There had also, since the 1960s, been a growing interest in science fiction in colleges, thanks in part to the founder of Extrapolation, Thomas Clareson (who also founded the Science Fiction Research Association in 1970), and to a handful of college teachers such as Sam Moskowitz, who taught the first non-credit science fiction course in 1953 (Moskowitz 413, Parrinder xv), and Mark Hillegas, who taught the first for-credit science fiction course in 1962 (Williamson 375).

Despite science fiction’s in-vogue status in the 60s and 70s, and the large class-sizes such courses were able to produce, however, there was a general lack of acceptance among most college administrations and faculty members.  Barbara Bengels explains that despite beginning her science fiction course in the 70s when such classes were popular, and despite stressing that her course “would be an historical approach beginning with the classics,” she still dealt regularly with “polite smiles from [her] colleagues and downright sneers from the more rigid traditionalists” (428).  She adds that even nearly twenty-five years later, in the 1990s, she still feels a need to “apologize for teaching a course that [she] love[s]” and explain “how many literary gems are included in [her] syllabus and how intellectually challenging the course is” (Bengels 428).  Furthermore, as Gary Westfahl explains in his introduction to Science Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy, “of all forms of once-neglected literature that now receive significant scholarly attention, science fiction has attracted and continues to attract the most academic resistance” (2).  Even today, many English and literature departments often refuse to allow science fiction courses to be taught, do not allow graduate students to pursue dissertations on science fiction, and sometimes even punish faculty members who publish works on science fiction.  (For instance, the University of Houston does not treat science fiction, or any kind of genre fiction, with much interest or respect.)

And so, in 1973, Mullen and Suvin set out to prove that science fiction studies could be a serious, rigorous, and even important area of literary scholarship.  As Mullen states in the “Notes in Retrospect” of the first volume of Science Fiction Studies, one of the main goals of the journal and its contributors was to “bring the apparatus of critical scholarship fully to bear upon representative works [of science fiction]” and to thus demonstrate that “‘modern science fiction’ can be profitably studied not only as a phenomenon of popular culture but also as literature.”  This remains the goal of Science Fiction Studies currently.

The first issue of Science Fiction Studies should give you an idea of how good this journal would be.  The first issue contained seven articles and book reviews by: David N. Samuelson, Patrick Parrinder, Stanislaw Lem, Mar Angenot, Robert M. Philmus, Ursula K. LeGuin, and Darko Suvin. Both Stanislaw Lem and Ursula K. LeGuin were already enormously well-known and celebrated science fiction novelists (I often wonder how Mullen and Suvin first approached them about contributing to the journal).  They have remained associated with the journal throughout its existence, contributing many articles over the years, and even on occasion appearing as Editorial Consultants.  On the list of Editorial Consultants of the first volume were a few familiar names: James Blish, a well-known fantasy and science fiction novelist who also wrote literary criticism under the pseudonym William Atheling, Jr; Mark R. Hillegas, already mentioned as the first to teach a for-credit science fiction course; and Northrop Frye, the influential literary theorist/critic.  By 1975, Blish had died, but Fredric Jameson, a very well-known Marxist literary theorist, had been added to the list and had also contributed several articles to the journal.

The journal has grown a reputation for being especially strong in the areas of genre, international science fiction, feminism and queer theory, and postmodernism (Zook).  This is evident in such recent articles as “The First Wave: Latin American Science Fiction Discovers Its Roots” by Rachel Haywood Ferreira, and “Becoming Medusa: Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood and Sociobiology” by Adam J. Johns; as well as in Vol. 38:1 (Mar 2011), the special issue on Bruce Sterling’s 1989 essay “Slipstream,” a term coined by Sterling to discuss fiction that was not strictly science fiction but continued “anti-realistic” elements what is generally referred to now postmodernism (Sterling).  The journal has also become increasingly more open to other mediums, including film, comic books, television, art, video games, and even music.  Just as an example: in Vol. 29: 3, the special issue on “Japanese Science Fiction,” several articles discuss Japanese animation such as in “When the Machines Stop: Fantasy, Reality, and Terminal Identity in ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ and ‘Serial Experiments: Lain’.”  Also, in Vol. 37: 2 there was included an article called “‘Sounds Like a Human Performance’: The Electronic Music Synthesizer in Mid-Twentieth-Century SF,” which discusses the role of electronic music and instruments in mid-century science fiction.  These are just a few examples of the variety of mediums that have been added to the canon of science fiction by virtue of the journal’s willingness to treat them seriously.

I could go on about this journal for hours, if you let me, but this bit of history should give you some idea of the scope, seriousness, and prestige of this journal but more than that, it should be obvious how much these editors and the writers who submit essay to this journal love science fiction and everything connected to it.  While the journal is often very theoretical, I think just about anyone with a serious love and fascination for science fiction should be able to get something interesting and/or useful out of reading one or two issues of Science Fiction Studies.  And keep an eye out, because SOMEDAY I’m going to have articles published in it too.

Note: here are a few of the articles I reference in this, for those who are curious:

Bengels, Barbara. “The Pleasures and Perils of Teaching Science Fiction on the College Level.” Science Fiction Studies 23:3 (Nov 1996): 428-431.

Moskowitz, Sam. “The First College-Level Course in Science Fiction.” Science Fiction Studies 23:3 (Nov 1996): 411-422.

Mullen, R.D. “Notes in Retrospect.” Science Fiction Studies 1:1 (Fall 1973): 3.

Parrinder, Patrick. Science Fiction: Its Criticism and Teaching. London: Methuen, 1980. Print.

Westfahl, Gary. “Introduction: Masters of the Literary Universe.” Science Fiction, Canonization, Marginalization, and the Academy Eds. Gary Westfahl and George Slusser. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002. 1-4. Print.

Williamson, Jack. “On Science Fiction in College.” Science Fiction Studies 23:3 (Nov 1996): 375-376.

Zook, Jim. “Daring Journal of ‘SF’ Theory.” The Chronicle of Higher Education Jun 1, 1994. Chronicle News Archives <http://chronicle.com/article/Daring-Journal-of-SF-Theory/91159&gt;

Gerald Graff’s Many Blind-Spots, or, Why Professing Literature Is Problematic

Free-For-All Friday: Or Saturday… Whatever.

I know.  I’m late.  I’m sorry.  In my defense working on your PhD is not easy.   I have been frantically churning out a paper for the last few days, and simply haven’t had the time to catch up on blogging.  But, I thought some of you might be interested in seeing the kind of writing I do in my academic field.  It is not, actually, all that different in tone from how I write my blog (though, of course, the “Academese” jargon is still present).

So, for lack of anything better to do, and because I really do enjoy this kind of writing in a weird, masochistic way, here are some passages from the paper I am currently working on.  It is a critical analysis of a book called Professing Literature: An Institutional History.  And I’m pretty much ripping the book apart (as will become quickly apparent).

The paper is titled: “Gerald Graff’s Many Blind-Spots, or, Why Professing Literature Is Problematic

As Graff claims in the first sentence of the first chapter, “Introduction: The Humanist Myth,” “Professing Literature is a history of the academic literary studies in the United States, roughly from the Yale Report of 1828, which assured the primacy of the classical over the vernacular languages in American colleges for another half-century, to the waning of the New Criticism in the 1960s and subsequent controversies over the literary theory” (1).  By the end of this introductory chapter, however, it becomes clear that while the book is organized in roughly chronological order, it is not exactly a book about historical events or even, really, the development of literary studies or the English/Literature department.  Graff explains as much at the end of the chapter when he states that the history he is discussing is rather about a “series of conflicts” (13) such as that of “classicists versus modern-language scholars; research-investigators versus generalists; historical scholars versus critics, New Humanists versus New Critics; academic critics versus literary journalists and culture critics; critics and scholars versus theorists” (14).

Furthermore, Graff argues that the universities institutionalized the “field-coverage model,” in which academia is split into departments, fields, and sub-fields, and each subject is considered “covered” when the department has enough faculty teach each sub-field (6).  This system made the institution highly flexible, but also led to “patterned isolation,” which made it easy for the conflicts and controversy within literary studies to be hidden from view and allowed instructors to avoid the “need to discuss the reasons they [are] doing what they [are] doing” (Graff 7).  This led to confusion and fragmentation where, Graff argues, coherence would have been more useful.  Rather than teaching a fragmented array of various periods, genres, themes, and theories, with the assumption that these will add up to a coherent vision of literature which Graff states is based in the humanist myth that “literature teaches itself” (9) literature teachers should be “teaching the conflicts” so that students can more clearly see how all the various field and sub-fields hang together, and why they are taught they way they are (viii-xiv).


Graff’s ability and willingness to employ such a wide variety of texts allows him to reveal some fascinating elements of and thoughts about the development of literary studies.  The use, especially, of personal accounts from students and teachers, paints of a deep, personal picture of the cultural situations.  However, Graff exemplifies two of the problems that many New Historicists seem to fall into.  First, he has a tendency to view each “era” in his history as unified by and indicative of a particular zeitgeist (Ellis 96-97) in his case, each era is defined by what Graff points to as that era’s conflict of choice: in 1828-1876 it was conflict between Humanist and philological; in 1875-1915 it was investigator versus generalists, et cetera. Second, he, like many New Historicists, works under the assumption that politics is the most important factor, and thus has a tendency to ignore sociological and economic concerns (Ellis 96).  Thus, Graff’s New Historicist theoretical stance and his focus on the “conflicts” leaves him blind to many important aspects of the history of literary studies.  In fact, certain issues are almost completely erased from Graff’s account.  Two of the most important and most conspicuously absent elements of such a history are issues of class/economics, and women.

It can hardly be denied that class and economics have played an enormous role in the development of literary studies in general and English departments, yet Graff largely ignores the issue, excepting a few quick references mentioned without reflection.  For instance, despite the enormous impact the G.I. Bill had on colleges in general, and English departments specifically, war veterans are mentioned only a handful of times, and the G.I. Bill only once.  When discussing the changing behaviors and attitudes of students in the 1940s, Graff states “the postward student body, swelled by numerous beneficiaries of the G.I. Bill, was a peculiarly serious one” (155), as if the only influence war veterans had on colleges was to make the overall student body a more somber group.  He also mentions that college enrollment rose to 40 percent from 1940 to 1964 (a seemingly clear indication of the number of veterans coming to college), but then quotes Laurence Veysey’s claim that “war veterans made up only one segment of this dramatic increase, which more broadly reflected an awareness within a greatly enlarged sector of the middle and skilled working classes that some version of college was necessary” (155).  This quote is significant for a number of reasons: first, it allows Graff to diminish the importance of war veterans on colleges without having to actually say it himself; and second, it does not ask question of where exactly Veysey (or Graff) thinks this new “greatly enlarged” middle and working class is coming from, if not from the war veterans and, soon, their children.


One issue, however, is even more thoroughly erased from Graff’s history than questions of class and economics, and that is the issue of women.  That is not to say, of course, that Graff does not have a single mention of women.  There are a few.  He discusses women’s college in exactly four places (pp 37-38, 84, 102, and 211), but these are very brief mentions that usual center on the male professors teaching at the Seven Sisters colleges such as Mount Holyoke, Radcliffe, and Wellesley.  On a few occasions, Graff even discusses the influence of a particular woman scholar, most particularly Vida Dutton Scudder of Wellesley, who preached “Christian socialism” (84).  Graff describes Vida Scudder as “one of the most remarkable of the forgotten figures of early American literary studies” and “virtually in a category by herself” (84).  However, even the impressive Vida Scudder is allotted only a single paragraph to herself, after which she is mentioned once or twice more when Graff mentions the generalist male scholars who happened to agree with her views as if being adopted by male scholars is what makes her views truly valid.

Beyond simply neglecting to discuss important women scholars, Graff also quotes and relates various attitudes and assumptions about women and effeminacy without any kind of reflection or analysis.  For instance, in the explaining why women’s colleges usually took on the same classical curricula as colleges like Yale and Princeton, Graff explains that “the decision to give women of these colleges [Vassar, Smith, etc] the standard fare for males ‘was dictated by the necessity to prove that women could undertake a serious course of study’” (37).  Here, Graff is once again quoting someone else so we may excuse his use of the word “necessity” rather than, say, the “perceived necessity.”  However, Graff makes no attempt to interrogate this assumption that women needed to prove themselves capable of the same coursework as men.  I do not mean, here, to imply that Graff actually believes this statement.  But he seems unwilling or unable to critically examine such statements, exposing only a vague understanding of why it is problematic.  He seems to understand that such attitudes about women are “wrong,” but he lacks the theoretical grounding to examine these attitudes, or to recognize when he is, in fact, replicating such attitudes within his text.


Finally, I would like to point to what I see as Graff’s underestimation (or perhaps misunderstanding) of how ideology works.  This is visible throughout the text, but I will point out just a few of Graff’s statements to make my point.  First, the only conception of ideology he discusses is that of deconstructionists, which while important and powerful, is not the only way to discuss ideology.  Second, even his representation of deconstruction is over-simplified, such as when he states: “I see nothing inherently self-undoing or illegitimate about all idealizations as the deconstructionists do, and I doubt that all institutional patterns can be explained as effects of ideology, power, ‘logocentrism,’ or subjugation” (Graff 11).  Graff’s understanding of deconstruction here empties out all the complexity of the method/theory, which Derrida developed as a way to examine all the complex, contradictory, but connected assumptions and meanings that lay at the base of a text.  The point of deconstruction is not to illegitimate all idealizations but to demonstrate how the many idealizations within a text contradict (and perhaps illegitimate) each other in ways that allow for multiple legitimate and meaningful interpretations of a single text.  Graff also accuses deconstruction of tending to “accept the same working model of institutional history as the traditionalists, merely ‘reinscribing’ it in an accusatory vocabulary” (11).  This is clear meant as an insult, even an attack on deconstruction, which is all well and good if he can support his claim with any kind of proof.  Yet Graff does not even take a moment to explain what precisely he means by this, and certain makes no effort to explain why he thinks so.

So there’s that!  If you were brave/crazy enough to read the whole thing, I applaud you!  Please tell me what you think.  I’d love to hear it!  Also, please come back on Monday for the Top 10 SciFi TV Shows, Pt 2.  I promise not to throw anymore theoretical jargon at you for awhile.

What Was I Thinking?

Free-For-All Friday: What Was I Thinking?

stressed like this

This week has been crazy.  Frantic, stressful, exhausting, and amazing.  As some of you know personally (and others know from reading my ‘About’ page), I began my PhD in Literature this week, after being out of school for a little over a year.  I was more than a little worried that after all that time off I would not be able to switch back into “school-mode” early mornings, heavy work loads, enormous stress, etc.  And the first week of class did not make it easier, that’s for damn sure.

I do not have classes on Monday, but I began the week on campus in order to fill out paperwork, take care of some logistics, finalize my syllabus (because I also teach Freshman Composition as a Teaching Fellow), and so forth.  I was greeted with ridiculously hot and humid weather (even for Houston), long lines, downed computers, and a screw-up that meant I would not be able to access the office I share with several other Teaching Fellows until NEXT Monday.  Not an auspicious beginning for the semester, to say the least.

Tuesday was my first day of actual classes.  For those of you who are curious, my classes are: French for Non-Majors (which I need to fulfill my foreign language requirement) on Tues and Thurs, teaching one Freshman Composition course on Tues and Thurs, Intro to Doctoral Studies on Tues, and Sociolinguistics on Wed.  By Wednesday night, having been to all of my classes once, I was already exhausted, stressed, and laden with homework assignments.  I already have to read two entire books and give a group presentation by Tuesday.

I guess my professors don’t want to give us any illusions about how easy the PhD is going to be.  “Welcome to the first day of your PhD. Now get to work!”  Part of me keeps screaming in the back of my head: WHAT WAS I THINKING???

One thing I can say is that my Sociolinguistics course, while extremely difficult, is going to be absolutely awesome!  The subject matter is simply so fascinating to me, and the professor seems understanding, friendly, egalitarian in her treatment of graduate students, and more than a little funny.  And seriously, I get to talk about language all day!  How could that be anything but a good thing?

I also think my students this semester are going to be wonderful.  After only two class periods the first of which was merely getting all that introductory stuff out of the way they seem to be mostly attentive and at least somewhat interested in the class.  Granted, these are all college freshmen in a composition class, and few of them (if any) really enjoy writing research papers.  But at least they were all willing to enter into discussions in class.  That is always a good sign.

All in all, I suspect this is going to be a very long semester.  I think (I hope) I can manage it, but it’s not going to be easy.  You may hear some exhausted whining on this blog, though I will try to keep it to a minimum.  I just thought I should give you all some fair warning.

surprised a little like this

However, what really made this week particularly insane, was being featured on WordPress’ Freshly Pressed page.  I’m not sure you can imagine my shock and glee when I was told on Tuesday morning by the lovely Piper Bayard on Twitter that she had seen me on the front page of WordPress.  I never saw it coming!

It was an absolutely wonderful feeling to check my email in between classes on Tuesday and see how many people had commented, liked, and subscribed to my blog.  Of course, I was far too overwhelmed by the sheer number of comments to do much more than sit back and stare at my computer screen in awe.  But it was (and continues to be) an absolutely astounding sensation.  Once again, I cannot thank you all enough for your interest and support.

I am currently trying to go through all the comments.  I read every single one of them, but unfortunately there is simply no way I can respond to all of them.  I am trying to respond to as many as I can, but I hope you’ll forgive me if I fail to respond to your comment.

I also hope you’ll forgive me if this particular post is a little too personal and boring to keep the interest of all my new readers.  But I wanted to get this out there.  I promise that next week’s blog posts are all written, ready to go, and far more interesting than this one.  So I hope you’ll bear with me and come back on Monday.

yeah, kinda like that

In the meantime, I need to read Professing Literature: An Institutional History by Gerald Graff.  And possibly put my head through a wall.  So I’ll be going.

Have a wonderful wonderful weekend everyone! Thank you again! And I’ll see you next week!

World of Warcraft Invades Language Arts Class (via #EdTech Leadership)

This is an absolutely fantastic idea! I never would have thought of this, and I must applaud the teachers who were innovative enough and engaged with the students enough to do this. Thank you to #EdTech Leadership for bringing this in the spotlight!

I do not play World of Warcraft myself, but I can see the value. And, no doubt, my friends who are WoW players will especially love this.

I never would have even thought of using WOW as a learning tool in schools until I saw this post and student responses given in the project. This is the kind of outstanding risk I like seeing teachers taking to incorporate technology in the classroom.  While there should be caution when using games like this that have violence included, there is a great deal of learning involved, especially in communication with a game like this. I too play WOW f … Read More

via #EdTech Leadership

Going to Utah in October

A few days ago I submitted a paper abstract for a literature conference taking place at Brigham Young University in October.  The conference is called “Literature and the Sacred,” and, as may be obvious, focuses on the various intersections between Literature, Religion, and Philosophy.  As some of my friends know, that is an area I’m extremely interested in, and so this conference seemed right up my alley.  In fact, I already had a paper that I wrote last semester that I thought might make a good presentation for this conference.  So, with a little help from my good friend Clay, I wrote an abstract, sent it in, and was accepted.  Yeah!

So, from October 14-16, I will be in Provo, Utah, at Brigham Young University.  At my very first academic conference ever.  The only concern is how expensive it’s going to be for the flight, hotel, food, and taxi (from Salt Lake City to Provo, since Provo doesn’t have an airport).  Joy.  Oh well, it’ll be worth it to finally get a little exposure, experience, and something good to put on my C.V.

For anyone who might be curious, here’s the abstract I sent in:

“The Scent of a Pine Tree”: Reconciling Spirituality and Postmodernism in D.M. Thomas’s The White Hotel

In certain areas of postmodernism, religion is often dismissed as yet another modernist narrative that forecloses difference and attempts to master the world through an authoritative and oppressive conception of Ultimate Truth.  However, to completely dismiss or vilify religion is simply to deny one more possibility for mystery, for anything beyond the physical, as well as denying an integral part of many cultures – precisely what postmodernism usually wishes to avoid.  Instead of considering institutionalized religion, which is often problematic from a postmodern viewpoint, I propose considering a spirituality that, though often expressed through more traditional aspects of religion, is ultimately outside doctrine, and opens up the possibility for difference and mystery.  It is this kind of spirituality that D.M. Thomas explores and advocates in The White Hotel, by employing a wide variety of religious images in new and surprising ways.

I demonstrate, first, how Thomas removes authority from Freudian rationalism and shifts his attention to Jung’s more mystical spiritual symbolism.  I then systematically explore Thomas’s use of Jungian, mystical, and Christian symbols.  These symbols offer multiple meanings that Thomas keeps in play throughout the novel, combining opposites and creating a space that exists outside representation and rationality. The kind of spirituality that Thomas demonstrates in this novel is not a modernist narrative that erases difference, denies mystery, or forecloses subjectivity.  Instead, the novel as a whole becomes a place that is open to play, multiplicity, mystery, and faith.