Dawn of the New Semester

New semester dawns in a little over one week. The syllabi for ENGL328 and ENGL505 are ready (I have two sections of the first, one section of 505, plus an independent study). The grad course is also a new prep for me. Our graduate students in Written Communication at EMU aren’t obligated to follow a sequence, but ENGL505 is positioned more or less as the first course (i.e., lowest numbered course) in the Professional Writing track. We’re reading a short stack of articles, a few books, and working through a couple of different projects that ought to familiarize everyone with selected frameworks for doing rhetoric: dramatisms, stases, appeals, situation, and process/procedure (I realize the slash in this last item stands rather like a stick of dynamite, judging by Ian Bogost’s recent entry, which I’d like to come back to one day soon in an entry of my own).

ENGL328: Writing, Style, and Technology is a course I’ve taught 8 times in two years (twice online in the shortened spring term; you might not realize this, but 8 is actually a vertical infinity symbol). I think of it like this: if ENGL328 was a horse and my other teaching assignments were its rivals in a horse race, it would have lapped every other course seven times. Or infinity times, depending on how you decipher such ambiguous alphanumeric symbols. Oh, de doo-da day.

Between now and Wednesday, Aug. 31, the first day of classes, we are also unpacking our boxed and binned office wares in the refurbished Pray-Harrold. We can get that underway this Wednesday. And then in the week between this Wednesday and the start of classes, I have—as of now—9.5 hours of meetings showing on the calendargh. To be fair, our annual department retreat (shouldn’t retreat be set in left-leaning italics?) has the biggest share with its six hours, and the others are on different days. And there’s a good chance I will have to ditch one of the other meetings because local school children don’t have their first day until Sept. 6, and Is. starts Kindergarten. It’s a question with choices: What to do? A. Hire a sitter. B. Skype. C. Take her to the meeting with me. D. Go for ice cream.

One last note about the new semester. I mentioned that we begin on a Wednesday this fall. For Monday evening classes, such as the one I am teaching, this means we will have our first meeting on Sept. 12. The university calendaring committee adjusted for this by setting the last day of classes on Monday, December 12. Exam week begins on Tuesday the 13th and runs a full week. Just wanted to note that it feels odd (especially when figuring out a class schedule) to end on a Monday late in the semester. Call me old fashioned, but I after creating schedules for this fall’s classes, I’ve realized how much I prefer semesters with x number of whole weeks starting on a Monday.