Making Jane Austen: 3d Printing, Digital Commonplace books, and Reading Realism

Fall semester has just ended, my desk is piled with papers to mark, and I find myself procrasti-planning future courses. I’ve been re-reading Paula Byrne’s The Real Jane Austen, a biography written through traces of material culture extant from Austen’s life and featured in her novels. As others have written, Byrne’s biography is an innovative approach to understanding Austen, and reads like a “delightful rummage through a Regency chest of drawers” (Looser). Such an approach offers a sense of intimate access to the writer’s lived experience, an achievement that makes reading the biography both satisfying and self-aware of biography’s generic voyeurism.... Read More | Share it now!

Regret, Gratitude, and Hope: The Last Week of Class

One thing I love about my life in academia is its seasons. Living in Southern California, I find it difficult to distinguish between summer and winter by the weather, but I always know where I am in the year by the semester clock. I am always either approaching a new semester, bringing one to a close, or anticipating the next. Academic life is full of beginnings and endings, of fresh opportunities, and regrets at the daily (hourly?) mistakes of teaching and advising. While research just keeps moving forward at its own slow crawl, teaching is endlessly various. Marathons disguised as sprints. Fourteen week bundles gift-wrapped with intensity and pathos.... Read More | Share it now!

Teaching in the wake of the Ferguson non-indictment

Yesterday, it was announced that there would be no indictment of Darren Wilson, the police officer who shot Michael Brown in Fersugon, MO on August 9, 2014. Demonstrations around the US took place last night, and continue as I type these words. Images of demonstrations and words of both anger and hope from thousands of people around the country fill my Twitter feed and invade my dreams.... Read More | Share it now!

Cool Stuff #TvsZ Players Made

#TvsZ 6.0 is in its final hours, but I can’t help stepping away just to record a few–sadly few!–of the many amazing media artifacts that players have created in the past few days. Here’s a sample, and there’s much much more. What a wealth of imagination, creativity, collective learning to use new tools, networked knowhow, and sheer fun! Enjoy.... Read More | Share it now!

Playing Together to Experience Belonging

#TvsZ 6.0 Starts Friday 11/14 Noon EDT – Sunday 11/16 6pm EDT

This weekend a group of faculty and friends I met on Twitter will be hosting a new edition of Pete Rorabaugh’s epic Twitter literacy game, #TvsZ (new website coming soon). Our version, 6.0, is a significant hack of the original game. We’ve changed the underlying narrative premise, and therefore rewritten the game actions to work within the new paradigm. We are in the process of updating and building the new game components. (Sign up and join in!)... Read More | Share it now!

Public scholarship and undergraduate teaching

“Certainly those determining acts of her life were not ideally beautiful.  They were the mixed result of young and noble impulse struggling amidst the conditions of an imperfect social state, in which great feelings will often take the aspect of error, and great faith the aspect of illusion.  For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it. …But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive, for the growing  good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts, and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life and rest in unvisited tombs.” (George Eliot)

I’ve been participating–with varying degrees of engagement, though with unflagging enthusiasm–in #connected courses this fall. As with so many other MOOCs and mooc-like online learning experiences, I find myself most engaged by the small conversations that happen around the edges of the organized course content. This is why I like Twitter, I think. I like to dip my toe in the endless stream, to be aware of what people are talking about, to engage, to meet others, to browse some of the blogs I would never otherwise encounter. I am, I suspect, a fox by practice even if a hedgehog by conviction, to abuse Isaiah Berlin’s immortal metaphor.... Read More | Share it now!