Monday, January 23, 2012


So, slightly crappy used bookstores in towns where there is a Big Box MegaUniversity? It turns out that they are GREAT if you are collecting secondhand copies of texts that have been assigned many, many times at the Big Box MegaUniversity over the years. I'm now the proud owner of nineteen copies of The Tempest, assorted editions, at an average cost of around $1.50 a pop. Nice.

(And yes, the books are for my students, and no, I don't usually buy their textbooks myself! But I am directing a really exciting Honors project involving The Tempest in performance, and I realized rather late in the game, too late to order textbooks through the usual channels, that it would be a great opportunity to get her and her actors into the Brit Lit I classroom. The fact that the play is apparently subversive enough to be banned in Arizona is a nice little side bonus, although I didn't know about that at the time.)

Plus, I get to show them Helen Mirren as Prospero/a! This is going to be so much fun!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

so it goes like it goes...

So, it's another new semester around here, and new semesters have begun to feel less like an exciting new adventure and more like an endless loop. (This is why I'm such a lousy blogger these days, by the way: it feels like I've said it all before.)

Some notes on the first three days:

-- I'm teaching Brit Lit I for the first time in more than two years. Wow, it's a LOT easier to get people to drop this class than Brit Lit II. Show 'em some examples of Middle English on the first day and have them read 1,250 lines of Beowulf for homework, and a third of the class vanishes. I think I like it. (I now think I need a new strategy for Brit Lit II. Maybe I should hit them with a whopping big chunk of the Prelude?)

-- I'm really liking my Shakespeare class, so far. There are a whole lot of them -- 19, up from 13 last semester -- and they are talkers. I hope they keep up this level of energy.

-- I have seven students in Basic Comp. Six of them failed it last semester. I feel really sorry for the other one, who seems like a nice, responsible kid, and I'm already starting to regret my decision to move toward more peer workshopping in that class. OTOH, I'm glad that we're starting over with fresh assignments.

-- This will probably be my last time teaching Advanced Comp, as we're replacing it with a two-semester freshman comp sequence. I think it'll be a good class. I've got a whole slew of theater majors (they seem to clump together and register for their gen ed courses in bunches), and I always enjoy the theater kids; they are not always the best students, but they're quirky and passionate and interesting, and they tend to genuinely like being in college, unlike the business / pre-nursing / occupational therapy / culinary arts crowd, who are usually just in it for the piece of paper. (I feel a little guilty about stereotyping students based on majors, and there are always ones who defy the stereotypes, but on the whole they hold true.)