Friday, December 30, 2011
I turned in grades almost ten days ago. And ten days has left me enough time to defrag what was the Fall 2011 semester (also enough time to see The Muppets, watch Breaking Bad through season 3, and finish Shields' Vonnegut biography, And So It Goes). The highlights follow, in no particular order.
- I taught three classes, 50+ students altogether: a new (for me) grad class, ENGL505: Rhetoric of Science and Technology, and two sections of ENGL328: Writing, Style, and Technology. 505 went well for the most part; I'll probably return to Metaphors We Live By and Science in Action when I teach it again in Fall 2012. But I'll replace The Social Life of Information with Kuhn, Polanyi (lectures), or Darwin. Or Mol, if I can ever get around to reading Body Multiple. Maybe add some of the "rhetoric as epistemic" conversation.
- The two sections of ENGL328 ran back to back on Mondays and Wednesdays. One section was in a preferable lab; the other section was in one of the worst teaching labs I've ever set foot in. A horrible space. And this was an improvement--an upgrade--from the space into which it was originally scheduled. Consequently I had more conversations than I can count with IT folks about why certain lab configurations work differently than others for teaching. This was one of the most nagging and unavoidable frustrations of the semester.
- These two classes were as night and day as any two I can remember teaching. Same projects. Same readings. But drastically different personalities.
- My teaching was observed three times in the second week of the semester, and the timing, while somewhat less than ideal in my opinion, had everything to do with the October 15 deadline for my third-year review materials. Why less than ideal? Well, it's plain to me that my classes are stronger, move lively, and more representative as a scene of teaching and learning in the last one-third of the semester than in the first two weeks. Semesters follow arcs; relationships develop. The observations were overall fairly favorable nevertheless.
- Other than teaching, the first half of the semester was consumed with preparing the third-year review binders (which went in without incident and, by all appearances have been well received at the various stop-offs they've reached thus far) and planning and organizing the WIDE-EMU Conference.
- The conference went well, especially considering it was an experiment in conference-hosting with no costs to anyone, but had I to do it over again, I don't think I'd both plan a conference and give a talk at that conference--on the same day third-year review materials are due. Too much. Everything went fine, but it left me sapped for the second half of the semester.
- In the second half of the semester, I gave a "Tech Talk" to our Art Department on "A Quick Rhetoric of QR Codes." Basically it was 30 minutes of examples, how-to, and a plea for more discriminating uses. I also carried a digital-installation-qua-"poster" into the HASTAC Conference in Ann Arbor in early December.
- I attended commencement, heard George Gervin's address and saw a half dozen students I'd had in class recently accept their diplomas.
- I helped the Honors College revamp its Presidential Scholars essay prompts and assessment tool (as a member of the HC Advisory Council). I also interviewed Presidential Scholar candidates in early December.
- I touched up the Masters Degree Consortium site, added a map, and more importantly, collaborated on a survey and all of the required IRB solicitations so we can proceed with circulating the survey in early-mid January.
- We released two issues of EM-Journal, one on the first day of the semester, and the second on December 1 at the Celebration of Student Writing.
- At our symposium on pursuing graduate education in written communication, I gave a short spiel titled, "Graduate School in Ten Understatements." Tricky to offer one-size-fits-most advice that avoids 1) being discouraging and 2) meaningless platitudes.
- Nudged along a proposal for an online version of ENGL326 I'll likely teach in the spring term. I think it's finally, officially approved, and I spent a couple of hours this morning on the course materials.
- And then there were a small handful of proposals and ms. submissions at various stages that crossed my desk, that waggled through my in and outbox--one ms. revised and accepted, another conditionally accepted, and two different chapter proposals (one accepted; the other in the eds.' hands).
- For the first time in a long time, I didn't submit any proposals for a spring conference. No C&W. No RSA. And that's in small part because travel funds will have long since dried up by then, I have a busy CCCC docket in March, and I'm usually too fatigued by May to feel all Let's Go! about academic conferences. Might keep an eye out for the WPA Albuquerque CFP though. Or, if there's a Great Lakes THATCamp this spring, might check it out.