Sample Assignment Response: Current Event

One of the assignments students are asked to do in ENGL 135 in the November 2019 session, following a course redesign, is a summary-and-response piece that looks at two treatments of arguable topics in current news and related media, summarizes each, and compares the two. Each of the summaries is expected to be three paragraphs in length, formatted appropriately; the comparative passage should be some two to three pages. Since APA formatting is requested, a title page and a references list are likely expected, as well. And, following my long-standing practice, an example of the kind of work I hope to see on the assignment and a narrative of how I put it together follow.

Murder of Abel from BL Royal 19 D II, f. 10v
Murder of Abel from BL Royal 19 D II, f. 10v; I’m told it’s a public domain image.

Clearly, the first task to do to complete the assignment is to select a topic. I tend to restrict topics I’ll accept from students, and I am doing so for later assignments in the session, so I will follow the restriction as I generate the present example and steer away from treating abortion, gun control, legalizing marijuana, LGBTQIA+ rights, political ideology (in the sense of party alignment), and religious ideology. Doing so avoids “hot-button” issues about which most people have preconceived ideas that are more or less articles of faith. Experience suggests that most students–indeed, most people–are not willing to concede that they can be wrong about them, and a willingness to be wrong is necessary for learning. But even aside from the obvious topics, there is much to discuss, and in some detail.

Among the things to discuss is an issue prevalent in the academic field I sought to enter (about which more here and here). That field, medieval studies, is currently grappling with its racist appropriations and underpinnings, with a particular event (recent to the time of this writing, meaning within the last 60 days) and reactions to it standing out as exemplary of the struggle still ongoing and still needing to be done. There are many articles surrounding the event, as a quick Google search for it revealed (and I admit to being helped by being familiar with the topic already), and I selected two such, one from the Washington Post and one from Inside Higher Ed.

After selecting the topic and the articles to treat in the example assignment, I opened a Word document and began to format it for use in the assignment. That is, I set it to double-spaced 12-point Times New Roman type with one-inch margins on letter-size paper; inserted my running head, headers, and page numbers; and stubbed out sections for my title page, main text, and references list. Doing so obliged me to develop a title–easy enough, given that APA asks for descriptive paper titles–and it allowed me to record citations for my articles so that I would not forget to do so later. The latter is particularly important, as I’ve had many students lose points or fail papers entirely because they “forgot” to add citations that they “meant to go back and put in later.”

That done, and knowing I would need to summarize the articles, I read them. As I did, I made marginal notes (I printed the articles, as I read better and more swiftly from a physical page than a digital) and identified major points of argument, as well as strengths and weaknesses of the pieces as I read. I began with the earlier-published piece, the chronology seeming to make sense.

Having read the pieces, I began to write my summaries of them. As with the reading, I began with the earlier-published piece. Even before moving through the summaries, though, I stubbed out the direction I wanted my text to go, making sure that movement between the parts of the paper would be clear and indicate to readers how the new part connects to the previous. It also allowed me to move towards a thesis–which I hold a comparative piece should have. That is, comparative works should move past simply listing similarities and differences to make a claim about the things being compared–usually in terms of some value-judgement (“Ð is a better example of writing than Þ because…”).

Once I had my thesis in place and my summaries done, it came time to actually argue the thesis. That is, I had made a claim, so I needed to support it. The response portion of the paper is supposed to take some two to three pages. I average 325 words per page, making my target length somewhere between 650 and 975 words for the portion–figures which I looked at because my summaries ended at a strange point on the page. My habit in all but the shortest papers is to make a counterpoint and rebut it before moving into my central argument, and though 650 words is quite brief, 975 allows me space in which to make the more nuanced presentation.

As I wrote, knowing that the piece is intended for student use as an example, I strove to make the text accessible to first-year composition students. Consequently, I wrote in relatively short paragraphs (approximately 85-150 words), keeping the average reading level right around the end of high school, per Flesch-Kincaid grade levels. I revised to keep the reading level in line as I composed, thinking it important.

After arriving at a decent stopping point that fell within the word-count range I’d established, I reviewed the text I’d written for overall adherence to APA usage standards. Finding no problems (but acknowledging that my own eye for my work is not without flaw, and that proofreading immediately after writing is other than optimal), I put the text in a form others could access, which I present here in the continued hope that what I do will be of use to others, both in my class and in others that may be taught: G. Elliott Sample Current Event.

I continue to appreciate support for drafting new teaching materials.

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 43: Royal Assassin, Chapter 18

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Elderlings,” opens with an account of the defection of one of the warships Verity had had put into service and outfitted; the vessel turned to piracy rather than fight for the kingdom that had supported her. It moves to Fitz working on a garden with Kettricken. He puzzles out that the Fool has taken to using her to see to Shrewd, since Fitz and Verity do not, and she quizzes him over what he knows of the Elderlings. As they talk, she arrives at the idea of seeking them out to request their help, as legend had said an earlier King in Buckkeep, Wisdom, had done. At Verity’s Skilled behest, Fitz takes Kettricken to her husband to discuss the matter, and Verity takes the idea to heart–to her sorrow.

kettricken - Google zoeken
Image found on Susan Botes’s Pinterest page, here, and used for commentary

After being dismissed from Verity and Kettricken, Fitz muses on Molly and the looming courtship with Celerity. Seeking distraction, he calls upon Patience, who subtly suggests to him that his repeated assignations with Molly are having an easily anticipated effect. Neither the time with Patience nor the later brief encounter with Burrich do much to ease his mind. Nor does his response to Shrewd’s summons–which is, in fact, Verity’s; Fitz is to witness Verity’s request to depart to seek the Elderlings. Shrewd is somewhat skeptical of Verity’s own going, though he sees the value in making an attempt.

Regal inserts himself into the discussion, and the tension between the half-brothers is made abundantly clear. Regal capitalizes on an opportunity to eliminate a rival, and Shrewd assents to Verity’s request. As they leave, Verity reminds Fitz of the import of his witness, and Fitz purposes to visit Molly only briefly, to thank her for what she does. In the event, though, he is overwhelmed by Verity’s Skilled interlude with Kettricken, the memories of which linger.

In the chapter, Fitz muses on the unseen sacrifices made for him, noting that he does not know them and feeling some angst at that lack of knowledge. The novel is written perhaps early to make much of the name, but the concept of emotional labor is clear in the text. Again, I find myself reading affectively, and I find that I cannot help but think about the emotional labor done on my behalf during my adolescence. (Some is still done, I know, but I am more aware of it, and I try to minimize the need for it. I am told that I have some success in it, but I have to wonder if that telling is not itself emotional labor…) Certainly, I was not as aware of it as Fitz seems to be, and he is not very aware of it–and the awareness seems apt to fade, though adolescent hormones are strange and powerful things, indeed…

Another point comes to mind, one less bound up in my own affect. The comment is made that the earlier king, Wisdom, was thought eccentric or worse in pursuing the aid of the Elderlings, for which he had later renown. Given the Six Duchies’ propensity towards emblematic names, it seems quite telling that a putative religious madman is called wise…

I ate the Frito pie; help me go get some antacid?


A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 42: Royal Assassin, Chapter 17

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Interludes,” opens with a brief and enigmatic statement about the Elderlings before moving into Fitz responding to a summons from Shrewd. He notes his refusal to call on his king prior to the summons, despite the imprecations of the Fool and Verity. He also notes his coldness towards Shrewd as the latter presents him a scroll that Celerity had sent with a missive from her father. Shrewd also commands that Fitz will compose a reply to be sent back that afternoon.

Shrewd also takes the time to explain himself to Fitz, a strangely warm gesture from the aging king. He still intends to see Fitz wed Celerity, looking at it as a way to offer Fitz legitimacy and a more “normal” place. Shrewd also tacitly sets aside the idea that Fitz and Molly might wed. When Fitz pens the commanded reply letter, he does so with that idea in mind, and his thoughts turn to dark places as he delivers it back as he is bidden.

Later, after making contact with Nighteyes, Fitz heads into Buckkeep Town. He shadows Molly unobtrusively and “ambushes” her with an impromptu picnic that turns into another assignation. Narrating, Fitz glosses informing Molly of matters with Shrewd and Celerity, to which she responds as could be expected: with a solid understanding of what is to come, what the political circumstances will mean for them. Fitz does not share her maturity, and he grouses after they part.

Chade summons Fitz that evening, and they confer about Shrewd’s state of health–and Fitz’s impending betrothal. Chade tries to be sympathetic, but Fitz, enrwapped in adolescent passions, cannot accept it. Fitz apologizes for his outbursts, and Chade warns him that apologies will not always suffice before telling him the reason for the summons: Fitz will be hunting Forged Ones again. They commiserate over the work to come.

The bit about forgiveness late in the chapter seems to stick with me as I read again. I know that I have had something of a mouth on me for quite a while, and there were no few times in my childhood that my lip won a fist in return, suddenly applied. There were no few times, too, that my mouthiness hurt one or more people I really ought not to have hurt, and while some of them have forgiven me my faults, there are some I know never will. There are even a few of those to whom I have apologized, to no avail. (I am arrogant or evil enough to think that some of those I have mouthed off at have deserved whatever pain I have caused them.) I regret many of those words, even those that others seem to have forgotten or passed over–but the arrogant ass that I was in my youth would not believe in such regrets.

I am glad to be less of a fool now, though I am still very much a fool.

(In case the image caption doesn’t show, it’s fitz + molly from risoria’s Tumblr, here; the image is used for commentary.)

I’ll be at a football game tonight; pick up my Frito pie?

A(nother?) Rumination on Teaching

With another session of teaching looking at me, it occurred to me that I might take stock of the teaching career I have had–as opposed to the ones I had wanted to have and clearly now do not. After all, I’ve been at the work of teaching college classes since 2006, and I’ve been working on being an educator since 2000, at least; I’ve got a bit to look back over, and I’ve kept records of most of it. Maybe I can even get something good out of the data.

I do have to admit that my records are incomplete; there are some teaching sessions for which I no longer have my gradebooks. I am not sure why. Too, there are other gaps in my records because there are gaps in my teaching; while I was in constant rotation through Spring 2012, after that, my teaching grew more…intermittent. And, owing to different grading practices at different institutions, I have had to normalize grades reported, making them all conform to a single, simple standard (percentile grading to three decimal places, reported on an uninflected A/B/C/D/F scale, with some scores rendered negative by departmental policies rendered as zero). So there is that to consider, as well.

Even so, I can provide a fair bit of information. I have records of 1,547 students completing the college classes I have taught since the Summer 2006 term (again, noting that there are several terms I taught from which I no longer have student records). Those records cover 34 terms of teaching (with concurrent terms at different institutions considered different terms), for an average of 45.5 students taught in each term. Their average grade was 66.139/100 (D), with a standard deviation of 22.595. Some 104 of those students (approx. 7%) earned an A or the equivalent, 418 B (27%), 375 C (approx. 24%), 220 D (approx. 14%), and 429 F (approx. 28%). Percentages are approximate due to rounding.

Student Grades to 20 October 2019
Student Grades to 20 October 2019
Number of Students by Term to 20 October 2019
Number of Students Taught by Term to 20 October 2019
Average Scores by Term to 20 October 2019
Average Score (out of 100) by Term to 20 October 2019

Breaking grades out by term taught yields some interesting information, some of which has been reported in this webspace previously. (I have offered grade reports for many teaching sessions I have completed, although not all. I did not anticipate I would be offering a report on myself in such a way as to need a comprehensive record. I probably should have, though.) In reporting the distribution of letter grades across time, I have worked in percentages, since a teaching term with 99 students will necessarily report higher direct numbers than will a teaching term with 45.

Percentage of Students Earning As by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning As by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Bs by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Bs by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Cs by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Cs by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Ds by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Ds by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Fs by Term to 20 October 2019
Percentage of Students Earning Fs by Term to 20 October 2019

Notably, the proportion of As has risen, as have those of Cs and Ds, while the proportions of Bs and Fs have fallen (overall; I am looking at trendlines). Even so, there are some definite troughs in students earning As, and there are some tall, tall peaks in students earning Fs. While some of that is on the students (I can only award one score to work not submitted, and a lot of students have left a lot of work not turned in), there are some I would adjust at this point if it were available to me to do. There have been times I have been overly harsh in assessing my students’ performance (not as many as the students think, however), and I realize it now, with the benefit of a perspective I could not summon while I was doing more teaching–much more–than I am now.

In truth, I am not sure what the data show. That is, I know what the numbers are, but I am not sure how to parse those numbers to extract any meaning from them. I am sure some will say that the facts speak for themselves, and perhaps they do, but if they do, they do not do so in a language I can understand or at a volume I can hear.

Teaching still doesn’t pay much here. Care to help?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 41: Royal Assassin, Chapter 16

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

Coming after, “Verity’s Ships” opens with a gloss of early military actions against the Red-Ship Raiders. It moves on to Fitz glossing the shape of his days for the rest of the season, which keep him quite busy. They also begin to include postings to the Rurisk, the first of Verity’s warships, where he learns seacraft and some of the language of the Outislanders.

Image result for longship
The ship’d be something like this image from, which is used for commentary.

At length, Fitz is able to find a private moment with Shrewd, during which he broaches the topic of marrying, thinking to wed Molly. Shrewd, however, has been approached by Celerity of Bearns and her father, Duke Brawndy, whom Fitz met earlier in the novel and seems to have impressed. Fitz attempts to speak out, but Shrewd harshly rebukes him, conflating him with his father for a moment.

Noting his heartsickness, Fitz continues relating the passage of the season, laying out the disposition of the Skilled with whom he had trained under Galen and their arrangement on the warships of the chapter’s title. It ranges to a training exercise that is ostensibly Skill-assisted, and that is interrupted by Skilled orders from Verity that direct the Rurisk to Antler Island, where a Red-Ship raid is in progress. The crew of the Rurisk joins the melee, and Fitz makes quite a showing for himself in a berserk rage that falls upon him. He does not comport himself as well in the wake of the battle as in the midst of it, and he has little time to rest; more fights follow in the succeeding days and weeks. During one such, Fitz glimpses a white-hulled ship that affects him oddly. It is not present after the battle, and others do not recall seeing it, but it remains disquieting.

Fitz continues to work the Skill with Verity, and he learns him in doing so. He also has something of a sour patch with Molly, and not because he relates Shrewd’s words to her; he does not. And when he calls on Kettricken, he finds he mulling over some thought to bring an end to the realm’s troubles.

I’ve argued before that there is a tendency, owing to Tolkien, to read fantasy novels as borrowing largely from the European medieval–particularly Celtic and Germanic Europe, and that tendency ranges to Hobb’s Elderlings novels. Such chapters as the present one help prompt reading Hobb as European medievalist fantasy, with the single-sailed clinker-built ships and some of the geographical descriptions, as well as other such tropes long present in the series.

It may be the case that the Realm of the Elderlings moves away from the European in the author’s mind as more work gets done on it. Hobb notes her own grounding in Tolkien, and Tolkien’s influence is…substantial, as many, including Luke Shelton, argue and attest. And it makes sense that earlier compositions will cleave more clearly to established patterns, both for the author’s own ease (deliberate or not) and for the audience’s. So there is some cause, even if other interpretations come out better as the series goes on.

Stand me a cup of coffee?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 40: Royal Assassin, Chapter 15

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The next chapter, “Secrets,” opens with the commissioning of the warships Verity has had built. It moves to Fitz’s minimally successful hunt with Nighteyes, after which Fitz finds himself confronted by the Fool. Fitz asks the Fool after his origins, and the Fool replies as plainly as he can, noting his prophetic powers and the system that allows them to flourish. As Fitz turns the ideas over in his mind, he is taken by the damage done by the poisoning at the end of the previous novel, and he collapses.

anaryawe:“I finally got my reserved library copy of the Fools Assassin, just in time for holiday reading! Here’s a festive Fool to celebrate. ”
I found this on ambersapricotbrandy’s Tumblr page, here. I’m not sure of any earlier sourcing, but I’m using it for commentary.

Amid his fit, Fitz wanders Buckkeep as if drunk or fevered. Patience manages to extricate him from a potentially awkward social moment, and, later, Chade quizzes him–as well as noting another source of Fitz’s malady. Chade also lays out assignments for Fitz to carry out before dismissing him back to his bed. Fitz enjoys an assignation with Molly, instead.

The next morning sees Burrich summon Fitz for more training. It does not go well to start, fatigue telling on Fitz. But at a point in it, something clicks for Fitz, and he seems to catch the knack of what it is he needs to do.

The (partial) revelation of the Fool’s origins in the present chapter has long-reaching ramifications in the Realm of the Elderlings novels as a whole, such as will receive comment in later installments of this rereading series. For now, though, a few points worth considering come up in the Fool’s explication of himself to Fitz:

  • The Fool openly acknowledging himself as a prophet confirms things that had been suggested earlier in the series. Positioning himself as such, with Fitz as the agent through which he will work change, reinforces the already-noted status of Fitz as the protagonist of the series–he can hardly not be, even without the Fool’s revelation–and puts the Fool in a seemingly similar position, if uncomfortably. It also introduces to the novel a stronger element of the fate/free will discussion that continues to pervade many, many systems of thought.
  • The comments about philosophy being necessary to everyday life are, perhaps, to be expected from someone who makes a living writing; writing and reading demand thinking, which is the source and substance of philosophy. But that there is some self-interest in an author commending reading and contemplation through the voice of a protagonistic character–which the Fool is, clearly–does not mean that the advice is not good. And it is always dangerous to assume authorial intent in characters’ speech, in any event; even if Hobb does not believe what her Fool says, it remains a good thing to note.
  • The comments about the value of the individual function similarly. Each of us is a part of a future recollection; each of us can affect what will come, and in ways we cannot necessarily foresee. That does not mean what we do is without value, and that is a hopeful thing to think upon.

Help me keep this going!

A Rumination on Dance and Cheer

This marks 800 posts to this webspace. Yay!

While I was in high school, I was a bandsman, marching a saxophone on the football field in the fall or slinging it in songs through the rest of the year. And I admit to being jealous of the football players in the glory they accrued even when they lost game after game after game, when an award-winning band could hardly get noticed, and a state-qualifying volleyball team got only passing mention. And I admit, too, to no small disdain at the time for the other common accompaniments to the football team: the cheerleaders and the dance team.

The varsity cheerleaders at the local high school at the time of writing
Image from Kerrville ISD, used for commentary

I’ll admit, too, that my opinion did not improve while I was an undergrad or a grad student; if anything, it soured further in graduate school, when I was a teaching assistant and got to field complaints from such students, their coaches, and their parents that I graded their papers with the same intensity that I graded any others. (The grade distribution I reported most recently is perhaps less generous than my earliest college teaching, though it occasioned fewer complaints. The first class I taught at college saw more than a quarter earn As and 65% earn Bs, while the first time I taught an equivalent of the session’s class saw more than a fifth earn As and more than a quarter earn each of Bs and Cs.) And in the years after graduate school, while I was making a go of being a full-time academic, I was…less sanguine yet.

Image result for tivy high school cheerleaders
The varsity dance team at the local high school at the time of writing
Image from Kerrville ISD, used for commentary

As happens with a great many people, having a child changed my outlook. My wife and I enrolled our daughter in dance classes early on, and our daughter, Ms. 8, thrived. She did so even more when we switched her dance school to one that has operated in my hometown–Kerrville, Texas–for decades. Ms. 8 enjoys the classes, even if she is still not at a point to have the discipline to practice the way she’ll need to do to more with it. (And I am aware of the problems in such a worldview as would push a five-year-old towards that kind of discipline, thank you. I am also aware of a number of other applicable circumstances, and I have to consider them, as well.) So when there was an opportunity for us to get her a little bit more work and a bit of a different perspective on it, courtesy of the local high school’s cheer and dance programs, my wife and I took it on Ms. 8’s behalf.

Our girl seemed to do pretty well, and I was gratified to see it. There are things she’s learning in her cheer and dance classes that I will never be able to teach her, and I am aware of the benefits of her knowing them. Ms. 8 gets good exercise, and she is making more friends through the classes. They do her no harm, so far as I can see. And I cannot hold them to fault when they are doing for my beloved daughter what they are.

Help support Ms. 8 in doing what she loves?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 39: Royal Assassin, Chapter 14

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The chapter that follows, “Winterfest,” opens with a description of how the holiday of the chapter’s title is marked at Buckkeep. It moves to Fitz’s continued work on the tasks assigned him and his ruminations on the current state of Skilled practice in the Six Duchies. He soon falls asleep, though, his exertions and the medication given him overtaking him.

Banquet menus consisted of many types of food
Certainly something worth attention…
Image from Medieval Recipes, used for commentary

Nighteyes’ announcement of Molly’s arrival wakes Fitz from sleep, though. She asks him after going to see Shrewd about their nuptials and broaches the topic of rumors about his recent actions in the field. Fitz turns the questions aside, and the two enjoy another night together.

Molly leaves in the early morning, and Fitz falls asleep again, only to be roused by Burrich summoning him to his training appointment in Verity’s tower. After Burrich stalks off, the Fool calls upon Fitz, offering an apology for his earlier misdirection. He also urges Fitz to call upon Shrewd again, floating the idea that they may be united in their opposition to Regal. They confer, and Fitz reports for training.

His progress in that training is sketched in, and, once it is done, Fitz attends to his many other duties. The first of them is to call on Shrewd, as he had intended. Verity accompanies him through the Skill, noting oddities in his father’s conduct as he does so. Fitz forces his way past a putative attendant and works to set Shrewd’s chambers to rights. The attendant fetches Regal, who interferes–to an extent, before Shrewd issues his orders. Fitz departs, his mind reeling at what he has seen.

I think Hobb does well, overall, at capturing the throes of teenage romance. Fitz’s conduct and thoughts in the present chapter–and several preceding it–bear it out; the propensity towards grandiosity and dramatic declarations rings true for me, as I think has been the case for many other people. (I am not entirely pleased with how I acted in my younger days. Those who know me can probably guess why. And I do not think I am alone in it.) Looking back, both on my teenage years and their “romances” and on a series of novels I have read before, I cannot help but cringe, knowing as I do that what is coming is. For while there are some adolescent loves that linger and deepen, most teenage amorousness leads to other ends than might be desired, and it is not the case that an assassin is like to have a happy ending…at least, not in the short term.

The passage of decades can change quite a bit, however.

Care to fund my holiday events?

A Robin Hobb Rereading Series: Entry 38: Royal Assassin, Chapter 13

Read the previous entry in the series here.
Read the next entry in the series here.

The chapter that follows, “Hunting,” opens with Fitz musing on the different teaching styles of the then-last two Skill Masters at Buckkeep. It turns then to the morning after Fitz’s assignation with Molly, when he reports to Verity. Verity gifts Fitz with a sword and reminds him that he, himself, is still but a servant, chiding Fitz for not warding his mind as he had been taught.

all senses keen by katya-h on DeviantArt, image used for commentary

Verity also tasks Fitz with refining further his control over the Skill, even as he works on exterminating the nearby Forged Ones. The exercise is something of a strain for Fitz, as he works to keep his mind focused on the needed tasks and not to dwell on other matters, particularly Molly and Nighteyes

While taken with his thoughts, Fitz hears a scream and moves to investigate. He finds Forged Ones fighting over a child they have taken, with one having begun to eat her before she dies in the hands of the others. Fitz falls into a rage and attacks, Nighteyes helping him. They prevail with difficulty, and Nighteyes departs moment before riders reach Fitz.

The riders try to make sense of events, and Burrich, who is among them, tends Fitz’s wounds–with clear questions that Fitz does not answer. As Fitz debriefs afterward, Verity ruminates on Fitz’s survival and tasks Burrich to teach him fighting with an axe. Burrich agrees, but he expresses reservations about sending Fitz to do more of the work he has been doing. Verity reminds Burrich that Fitz has little choice in the matter–that none of them do. Fitz surprises both by asserting his willingness to continue.

I’ve noted before that foresight is a dominant theme in the series, making foreshadowing a common device. Having read the books before, I note with some amusement the gesture towards such foreshadowing Hobb makes in Verity’s Skilled comments to Fitz about the child Verity’s mother had used to gather information. Without spoiling too much (insofar as a novel in print for decades as I write can be spoiled), I can note that something similar happens, and more than once, to Fitz–even as he, himself, was formerly positioned to be such an actor.

I’ve also noted that I tend to read Hobb affectively. The present chapter is not an exception to that. Having a daughter who is not much older than the child described…it was not an easy read this time around. (Not that it ever has been; I’ve long been more sentimental than it’s good for me to be, and it’s gotten me into trouble more than once.) I do not find fault with Hobb for refusing to indulge in what TV Tropes describes as “Improbable Infant Survival,” but that does not mean it was comfortable for me to read it. I’m not sure what all it says about me, and I’m not sure I’m eager to find out. I am, though, eager to read on.

Care to send something my way, support my still working on this?

Initial Comments on the November 2019 Session at DeVry University

I have been offered and have signed a contract to teach a class at DeVry University for the November 2019 instructional session, a section of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition. It is wholly online, with the session spanning 28 October 2019 to 5 January 2020; consequently, instruction will be almost wholly asynchronous, though I will hold a regular office hour, likely on Wednesday evening, given other scheduling concerns I have at the moment.

An IStock image by Jaroslav Frank appearing on Robert Ubell’s 13 December 2016 Inside Higher Ed article “Why Faculty Still Don’t Want to Teach Online,” used for commentary

The redesign I mentioned previously seems still to be in place, but they seem to tend to less grading than I recall from earlier experiences teaching ENGL 135. I will have to generate new examples, of course, but I need to be doing more writing, anyway, and students continue to benefit from having the models to follow. Given broader events, I am not sure how I can produce ethically sound examples that will still do what I need them to do; I am not the master of my own curriculum, here, but am obliged to follow a prescribed sequence once again. I knew that going in, though; my comments from more than a year ago still seem to hold.

For all the problems that are in place with the kind of teaching I will be doing, I am still glad to have the opportunity to do so once again. Though I presently need the funding less than I have in the past–the regular job I work treats me pretty well in that regard and in several others–it is still welcome. More welcome is the chance to once again put to work the skills I spent so long developing; I hope they have not atrophied such that they will no longer serve me or the students enrolled in my class.