Winding down a semester that saw a lot of excitement: the inaugural semester of our First-Year Common Experience (featuring a lecture by Ta-Nehisi Coates), an exhibition of the work of Norman Rubington, writing, teaching — all culminating in great thesis presentations by our senior English majors…and a departmental assessment report. I know that last one sounds less than thrilling, but it’s prompted some really productive conversations in our department around teaching and learning.
Speaking of — looking forward to debuting a new course on Graphic Narrative this spring. I’m trying a few new things, involving students earlier in the design, planning a Google Hangout panel chat (hopefully with Comics Grid colleagues), and some reflective journaling.
Lots of traveling, too — a sample:
- The pre-meeting symposium at the AAC&U Annual Meeting: ”New Designs for Integrative Learning,” January in DC
- A paper on Leann Shapton at the 2014 Narrative conference, March at MIT
- Keynoting at the Northwest Undergraduate Conference on Literature, April at University of Portland
As always, you can find me over at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus.
This semester there will be an additional place to find me online: Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 9-10pm I’ll be holding online office hours. Visit on Google Chat and Skype.
You can also find me in Cincinnati in November for the annual National Women’s Studies Association Conference. I’ll be joining Brenda Bethman, Liana Silva, and Mary Churchill for a roundtable on our Twitter chat for women in higher ed, #femlead. As always, I can be found at the University of Venus blog over on Inside Higher Ed.
Check out the Widener University Art Gallery, where I’ve curated an exhibition on the American expatriate artist Norman Rubington, who also wrote for the Olympia Press under the pseudonym Akbar del Piombo; visit the website here.
And finally, I’m delighted to spend a few evenings this fall talking Jane Austen as part of the Lantern Theater Company‘s production of an adaptation of Emma.
One of the projects I got to work on this spring was an introduction to a new US edition of John Braine’s 1957 novel Room at the Top. The edition is coming from Valancourt Books, a specialty micropress focusing on new editions of rare 18th, 19th, and 20th century literature, especially Gothic, weird, supernatural, mystery, and queer literature. Braine’s novel is a classic of mid-century British fiction, part of a moment loosely called the Angry Young Men. It was also made into an equally significant film of the British New Wave.
image from the Valancourt Books website
The novel tells the story of Joe Lampton; at the start of the novel, set in the present, he is successful but complacent, looking back at his ambitious youthful self ten years earlier with a mixture of admiration and scorn. The narrative unfolds in a tracing of his rise to affluence and the women he loved, lost, and used to get there. Room at the Top is a compelling look at the moral implications of a society defined by increasing affluence and the stark gap between haves and have-nots. It asks whether material success and comfort is worth the loss of your soul.
While this is a little outside my usual areas of research, I do teach the Angry Young Men and British New Wave, and it was a real pleasure to delve into Braine’s career and think about this novel. I’m happy to see it back in print and available from Valancourt–with the original cover art from the first edition.
Thanks to a brief Twitter exchange a week or so ago, I’ve decided to make past course evaluations available here. The syllabi are included in order to give the comments some context and to fill out the picture one might get of my teaching. I’ve chosen to keep it fairly recent (Fall 2011-Fall 2012), since I imagine my style and method has changed somewhat over the years I’ve been offering these courses. (I’m not holding back bad ones!)
The point of this exercise is to give current and future students (and anyone else) a sense of my expectations and practices, a sense of what they might expect from me, and an idea of what they might get out of the course. And to get helpful feedback/constructive criticism from anyone interested enough to offer it. Plus I do think that if I’m going to advocate for teaching and learning in the humanities, I should demonstrate what I do in a more public way.
I’ll be filling out the collection as I go, and replacing old evaluations (and syllabi) with new ones when more recent iterations come up — and I’ll post the evals from the courses I’m teaching right now once the semester wraps up. As always, comments welcome.
In addition to finding me in the classroom, you’ll be able to find me in assessment meetings as we revise our first-year writing program and our departmental goals and objectives — and hopefully you’ll find me in my office making some long-awaited progress on Erotic Biography.
Online and off, I’ll be:
- Attending the Annual Meeting for the National Humanities Alliance/Humanities Advocacy Day in March once again;
- Working on an introduction for the Valancourt Books edition of John Braine’s Room at the Top;
- And, of course, blogging at Inside Higher Ed/University of Venus
Also: watch the Widener English blog this January for writing from my fall semester students on why we read — and need — fiction.
Looking forward to the return of THATCamp Philly on September 29th. I’ve proposed an idea for a session on using digital archives in research and teaching: check it out.
Classes at Widener begin on August 27, but before then I’ll be participating in a few chairly-type retreats focusing on governance, leadershipping, etc., so very much around. Here’s what I’ll be teaching this fall, and when you can find me for office hours.
In and around town — and beyond:
- Continuing my work at the Swarthmore Public Library leading a book group on biography called “Women’s Lives”
- Joining a few Twitter colleagues for a roundtable on modernism and social media at MSA 14 in Las Vegas, October 18-21; I’ll also be chairing a panel I put together entitled “Modernist Necrophilia”
- Recent posts up at University of Venus/Inside Higher Ed as well as The Comics Grid
Finally – very pleased to be joining the editorial team at College Literature as an Associate Editor. They’ve undergone a redesign and a shift in focus with new editor Graham MacPhee, and I’m excited to be part of it.