Sunday, April 29, 2012

End of semester thoughts

Seeing so many facebook statuses about scrambling to finish end of semester papers, I'm feeling incredibly grateful to only be auditing a course this semester.  Not having papers to finish is quite a relief, though one slightly offset by having two sections of papers to grade.  I just finished reading rough drafts, and it was a bit exhausting.  My student papers really are all over the place--I have some really polished, well-argued, well-researched papers, some that show promise, and some that are half the required length which don't seem to be arguing anything.  I'm trying to keep my focus on the fact that I do see an overall trend of improvement in most of my students.

I'm also proud of the fact that at least a couple of my students went into their research with opinions which changed over the course of their research.  In all of my teaching, my greatest feelings of pride are in those students who have changed their mind doing research.  In fact, while I was at the Unite Women rally yesterday, I reflected on the fact that I really feel that the most useful activism I am engaged in is teaching.  If I can teach students to identity argument fallacies and to keep an open mind while researching an issue, I think that's much more effective than waving a sign around.

Still, I went to the rally yesterday and held a sign and worked the Clothesline Project table.  (And no, I did not "woman" it.  I have such a negative response to the word "woman" as a verb.)  My cynicism continued, though I do feel a bit hopeful about the idea of starting a serious campaign to revitalize the ERA.  (Once again, I feel like teaching is the most effective means of activism for me--on my Intro WGS exam, students had to identify the text of the ERA--and once students learned the actual text of the ERA--it doesn't say anything about bathrooms!--they were generally in support of it.)  And working the table a couple of times now, I do think that it does raise awareness of domestic violence--but I would still like to have a conversation about clarifying how it works, because it also at times flirts with flippancy, or has the potential to make participants uncomfortable if asked to talk about their participation. 

In terms of feminist activism, I'd prefer to get away from the kinds of activism which seem to be reinforcing binary gender stereotypes, and instead has the potential for more measurable efficacy.  Voter registration, for example.  I do realize, though, that these more confessional, interactive events are in fact meaningful for many--as is probably apparent, I'm feeling rather conflicted about it.  I want to say that I hope others will continue to work on these projects as long as people find meaning in them, and that I wish to focus my energies on projects which I find meaningful. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Possible WCML Headers

Here are some screenshots of possible header photos for the website.  Comments?




Slanted Pens

Type Bars

Typewriter Keys

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I read this post about lecturing at Inside Higher Ed.  It occurred to me that, while I've taken a pedagogy class and read a lot about teaching, I've never actually learned to lecture.  I've learned why lecturing is bad, and alternative teaching methods, but never how to actually lecture.

I've written and given conference papers, which have ranged from 10-30 minutes (and the 30 minute one was actually the time I was allotted). I've given one conference paper where the conference planners specified I was *not* to simply read from the page, but should give a presentation.  I've done plenty of presentations in graduate classes, which have included summarizing texts, giving background information, and leading a discussion.  (And a couple of times professors even gave me feedback on those--but not always.)  And when I taught two sections of a WGS course that had 35 people in each section, I would often present information to the class, which I would supplement with powerpoint slides (primarily because with that many people, not everyone could see what I wrote on the board).

But I've also taken large lecture classes (a couple of which actually had professors who asked questions to the giant, several-hundred person class--and sometimes the handful of us who would answer would get into sort of interesting discussions), and I know that the basis of those classes is the lecture.  I've certainly experienced some really interesting lectures (along with some terribly boring ones).  So, even though it's frowned on, where do I learn to lecture? 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

End of Spring Break

Oddly enough, I can't seem to find a video clip from Heathers, of Veronica's dad asking how spring break withdrawal is coming along.   Oh well.

Tomorrow is the first day back after this terribly late spring break.  I'm mostly happy with the balance of work and not-work I achieved, although I'm still erring on the side of not-work.  I'm quite pleased that I met my goal of finishing the 518-page Haunted Bodies: Gender and Southern Texts, an edited collection on my southern list.  It took a while--after getting through that behemoth, it only took me a day to read The Color Purple (which I'd read before, but it's been years.  Plus, it has the line, "The lord don't like ugly" in it, which is pretty important to my work).  I also finished the abstract for the Berry Southern Women Writers conference I've been working on, and got that submitted.  And I polished up a paper to submit for the department writing contest, which has tomorrow as its deadline.

In not-work news, we went to New Orleans Thursday for the book release/Eudora Welty's birthday event at Maple Street Books.  There was wine, champagne, cheese & crackers, and birthday cake.  The book, which is about the restoration of Welty's garden in Jackson, is a beautiful coffee-table book, and that author was quite entertaining.  I love Welty people.

I slept a lot the last week, and worked out a decent amount.  Knitted some.  Put away my clothes and suitcase that was still out since the SSSL conference.  Wore my pajamas until 3 and 4 in the afternoon many days.  Repotted some seedlings.  I also discovered that there's a jazzercise location much closer than the one I tried when we first moved here (as much as I love jazzercise, there's no way I'm driving 45 minutes each way for a class).  This one's in more the 15-20 minute driving range, which is much more reasonable.  And the student rate is $25/month, which is cheaper than the Y, which I was considering joining.  I love jazzercise.  So, I intend to try it out this week.  That would be fabulous if I could start going to jazzercise regularly.

I also managed to go a week without washing my hair, which may be a record (yay for ponytails!).  I shall now go and wash my hair in preparation for returning to school.  Still, this week is logical fallacy week in the classes I'm teaching, which is a not-labor-intensive week for me.  It's a nice way to ease back in.