Poems after the Styles of Others: Greatest of the Name

Now that April’s well and since begun,
And March is put away with all its fun,
And broken springs are mended on their way
While students of all ages look to play
In summer sun that has yet to appear
In diverse places, known both far and near
As sites for pilgrimages to undertake
Before the wallet grows thin as a rake
In pockets of shorts from closets pulled
And rated highly as from websites culled
Reports will come from users pleased and not,
The people look to see weather grow hot
In northern reaches of the globéd world,
Across whose skies the Milky Way’s unfurled
And where the mighty Dipper ladles stars
At times when all-aged folk look for their bars
And others stare up into inky night,
The darkness welcome respite for their sight.

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Class Report: SPCH 275, 4 April 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of sourcing and research. Examples of speeches were considered, along with concerns of audience and content. Discussion ranged far afield.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 9 April 2018
  • Week 6 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 9 April 2018
  • Week 6 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 9 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; one attended, assessed informally. Class participation was excellent. No students attended Monday office hours.

Poems after the Styles of Others: An Old One

Have we not heard     how, in days of yore,
In that best of bard-craft,     boasting of deeds
Passing in power     the potent among us,
Even the ablest     in might of arms
Unlocked a word-hoard     to open a way
As often as ever     angry hands raised,
Gripped with grim walkers     in grime and in mire?
Much did the mighty     make of the riches,
The treasures of tongues     that told of their deeds,
Passed on their proverbs,     pieces of wisdom.
Words on the wind     whisper through ages.
Put them on paper,     and they pass down,
Read at remove,     and recall the past,
Nurture the now     and needs deep fulfill
When fate has gone as it must.

Class Report: ENGL 135, 31 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to concerns of drafting and revision, offering a model of writing processes. As usual, a professional example was examined, and attention was given to upcoming assignments, noted below:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Course Project: First Draft, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 2 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; seven attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

Poems after the Styles of Others: A Peculiar Favorite

O, witty master of the flea,
Twas in St. Paul’s years past I did you see
And gloried that I’d come to stand
And look on whom I’d read in foreign land.
Both pale and silent, you looked out
On many visitors who milled about,
But few to you respects did pay
As I made sure to do that years-gone day–
And to my shame, alas! I could not stay.

Other masters, I have read,
And their verses ring yet in my head,
Yet yours of twin bloods’ pamper’d swell
Remains in mind; I do yet know it well,
And teach it every chance I get.
It strikes the students near where they are set
And shows them more than most the glee
That comes in reading older things; they see
That structured words might their minds free.

So, though my studies take me back
Before your time, yet your words, I’d not lack,
So glad am I to’ve read your verse–
The words that, even now, I would rehearse.
I thank you, then, whose work is done
And turn to mine that’s scarce begun
That I might serve as I’ve been served
And in time come to find praise well deserved
And, like you, thought of me be well preserved.

Want better? Help me devote more time to it!

Class Report: SPCH 275, 28 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of prosody. Examples of speeches were considered, along with concerns of audience and content. Live speech practice finally took place again, as well.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Week 5 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 2 April 2018
  • Week 5 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 5 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 2 April 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; four attended, assessed informally. Class participation was reasonably good. No students attended Monday office hours.

In Response to Joseph Conley

On 8 March 2018, the online Chronicle of Higher Education published Joseph Conley’s “Just Another Piece of Quit Lit.” In the piece, which seems to have been prompted by Erin Bartram’s own piece of quit lit–about which more here–Conley puts forth the idea that more people ought to leave academe than have–and earlier than tends to be discussed. After acknowledging the difficulty in making the decision to quit, he notes to readers that, at least in his case, nobody made much of his decision to leave–and few were willing to extend him any consideration for having studied as he did. Conley also acknowledges that he was wrong to begin his course of study, summarizing years of undergraduate and graduate experience as a slow decline into self-destructive, alienating behavior encouraged by academe. After repudiating that way of life, he pivots into noting that things get better–with time and effort before making an attempt at humor and concluding that sticking with a choice made in early adulthood, rather than exploring other options, is what quitting really is.

As someone who has largely left academe and who is in a “real world” position that acts with more care and respect for me than my teaching largely seemed to, I found myself nodding along with Conley’s piece at many points. Like him, I am better off for having (mostly) left the field, for taking a job that is just a job and that I can leave behind me at the end of the work day. (That I have been largely able to treat the teaching I still do as that kind of thing helps. And even these comments are done as relaxation and practice, something I enjoy doing rather than something I have to do.) Too, I am married to a wife who made a similar decision; we met in our MA program, and I moved to New York to be with her as she pursued her PhD, but when she moved to Stillwater because I landed a job and we found out that our daughter was on the way, she decided that a doctorate in support of a career she did not want and could not really expect to have was no longer worth pursuing.

She, and later I, found that the sense of shame inhering in giving up, which Conley describes, does not fade quickly. My wife seems at peace with things, but I clearly do not, else I’d not continue to follow quit-lit pieces or comment on them, or bring up my own status as an academic expatriate so often as I do. Other people do seem to be happy with us, our value not bound up in dwelling in the ivory tower, and both of us scrabbled to find jobs that now afford us a better standard of living than we had enjoyed for several years–certainly since leaving New York, if not ever. So the experience of my family is much like what Conley describes; his account rings true for me.

If only I’d been able to get my piece in the Chronicle

One thing that comes out for me in Conley’s piece, though, is a certain amount of bitterness. Comments he makes throughout the article–many of which amount to “nobody cares about you or your academic work”–may be accurate, but that they are made at all betrays dissatisfaction with the state of affairs. That would not be a problem, except that the purported point of the article, the sentiment on which it concludes, is exactly the opposite of it. If we are better off for quitting academe, why the jabs at those who remain in it, those who are already suffering (if Conley is correct)? At best, they come off as jokes that fall flat. More likely, they represent a bit of sour grape-ism, bitter swipes at those who were able to enact their long-held dreams.

I understand the allure, certainly; I am not without my own bitterness in the matter. Having seen people objectively less qualified than I get jobs for which I applied stung, and the sting has not yet faded; it is not to be wondered at that I would harbor some resentment while I still feel the pain. And I can easily imagine that Conley does, as well, despite the therapy he mentions and the good job he reports having, just as I do despite the many good things in my life and the greater freedom to be me that I have more or less outside academe than I had while trying to nestle deeper into it.

Perhaps there may be some balm for that hurt for Conley–and for me.

Care to help me find my way to healing? This can help!

Class Report: ENGL 135, 24 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous meeting, discussion turned to annotated bibliography, generally and in regards to current coursework. Examples from professional contexts (one previously sent to students by email) were examined, offering models of composition for student consideration.

Students were also reminded about upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Course Project: Annotated Bibliography, due online as a Word document before 0059 on 26 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 0900 in Room 114 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed 13 students, unchanged since last class; three attended, assessed informally. Class participation was good. No students attended Monday office hours.

On Reading Webcomic Archives

That I read webcomics should come as a surprise to nobody. I have made no secret of my nerdiness, and webcomics–a combination of online life and graphic narrative–represent a junction of two of the more traditionally “nerdy” arenas of human endeavor. Nor should it be a surprise that I read them voraciously; there are several I check regularly (depending on their update schedules), and others I poke in on occasionally to see what all is still going on in them, if anything.

Relatively recently, I read through the complete runs of both Something Positive and Questionable Content. I did so in part to refresh my memory of plot points that had been coming up in more recent comics–and, once I started, I figured I had to read through the rest of the archives. Completeness matters, after all, and I do tend just a little bit towards the obsessive/compulsive, nerd that I am.

As I read through the archives, I did note the shifts in graphic art style across the many years of each comic’s run. The quality of writing has remained largely consistent, however, which I am sure I could try to parse, somehow, to make some statement about the relative development of artistic techniques and media. (I will leave that for those who are not quite on the fringes of academe, as I still am, to handle.) And I was reminded of why I have continued to read those comics for as long as I have; I find the characters compelling and the plots intriguing, even if there are occasional fumbles of both.

More to the point, however, I found myself strangely hollow after completing the reading. I do not know if it was a matter of having finished the things and not yet having more of them to read–but I have not tended to react thus when I have re-read such writers as Tolkien, Asimov, or Hobb. Their works are reasonably complete, however, so that might be the reason–except that Chaucer’s, which are not complete in any copy of which I am aware, do not evoke the same hollow longing that I feel from reading once again the webcomics’ incomplete runs (for both are still in production, so far as I know).

Wherein the sense of dissatisfaction lies, then, I am not sure. There is more to explore, to be sure, so it is not the foreclosure of possibility. And I admit to having been greatly distracted by the re-reading, my attention taken from other matters with which it ought probably to have been more fully occupied, so that I should be relieved at being released from the task of plowing through several thousand strips (is that the right word?) in each webcomic. But I am not happy to have ended the re-reading; still do I not know why, and I think it will bother me that I do not–at least for a while.

Until, of course, I either do it again, or something else emerges to ring hollowly within me.

Care to help support my webcomic habit?

Class Report: SPCH 275, 21 March 2018

After addressing questions from the previous class meeting, discussion turned to concerns of visual aids. Examples of speeches employing visual aids were considered, along with their expected audiences. Live speech practice was postponed again due to low attendance.

Students were also reminded of upcoming assignments:

  • Discussions, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Week 4 Homework, due online as a Word file before 0059 on 26 March 2018
  • Week 4 Course Project Discussion, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018 (remember that the class has but one group)
  • Week 4 Presentation, due online before 0059 on 26 March 2018

Submission guidelines for the assignments are in the course shell.

The class met as scheduled, at 1800 in Room 108 of the San Antonio campus. The course roster listed six students enrolled, unchanged from last week; two attended, assessed informally. Class participation was excellent. No students attended Monday office hours.