Posted tagged ‘reading’


October 26, 2009

I often refuse to quit, even when it would be in my best interest. I will run until I puke, instead of walking for a while. I will doggedly continue through a paper cycle, working through the weekend so my students get their papers back on time. I just don’t like to give up.

But this time, I really bit off more than I could chew.

I took my last graduate school class almost 10 years ago. When I was in school, I studied literature. All of my theoretical background is literature based. I haven’t read any composition and rhetoric theory since I trained to be a teaching assistant in 1998.

What does all of this mean?

It means that I am woefully under-prepared to write a theory based article for our freshman comp instructors. And the breadth of knowledge that must be surveyed in order to incorporate the right theory into my article proved to be more than daunting… it turned out to be downright impossible.

I tried to write the article last night. And the writing itself isn’t really a problem. I have a great topic. I am excited about doing the research. But I just don’t know enough theory for my essay not to seem hacked together. And nothing is more unforgivable in academia than sloppy scholarship. I sat there, with all of these thoughts swirling around in my head, and I had no idea where these thoughts had come from. That is simply a recipe for disaster… for plagiarism, to be exact.

So, I quit.

But, on the positive side, I realized that I enjoy rhetoric and composition theory. And that I have a lot to say about my classroom experience—particularly about the FCAT and student agency. And that I need to read A LOT more theory, in order to say anything that will be taken seriously.  Oh, and I won’t embarrass myself in front of my colleagues by turning in an article that is sub-par (my perfectionist nature cannot tolerate sub-par, you realize).

Perhaps I didn’t really quit, as much as I postponed this project until I can do the topic justice.

In the meantime, the Purdue conference preparations await my attention. Blogging as a gateway to academic discourse and the identification of “self” as writer… let the research begin!

Ed. Note:  For those of you who want to read about dinosaurs, come on back tomorrow.  Rawr!


Autumn Evening

October 2, 2009

The arrival of October suddenly makes me feel Autumn settling in.  Feels cozy.  Like a sweater (which I won’t get to wear until at least mid-November) and a cup of hot chocolate (which, thanks to the cool front, I will be enjoying this evening).

Autumn is Summer’s more put-together cousin.  Summer has always been frivolous, with her sun-streaked late evenings and weekend trips to the beach.  Autumn is not without her fun (Halloween!  Thanksgiving!), but she is studious, with horn-rimmed glasses and her hair  in a sensible bun.  Perhaps Autumn will guide me toward more intellectual pursuits … or, truth be told, perhaps I will just have more focus.  I realized tonight that I am reading four books… AT THE SAME TIME.  This simply will not do.  I am a monogamous bibliophile… this polyamory, with its multiple plotlines and competing scholarly works, has got to go.

Besides, I just accepted an additional teaching position at a campus nearby, and if I don’t reign in my flighty attention span, it is going to be anarchy over here.  I am excited about the new position.   There will be 7 students in my class.  And I will get to play with four hour class periods… dividing them up into class activities, discussions, workshop.  I need experience teaching in a larger timeframe (I usually teach 50 minute classes), so this will really allow me to develop some innovative lesson plans and hopefully really foster a sense of community for the students.  And this class adds one more experience to a resume that is starting to look pretty damn decent.  Who knew I would hit my career stride at 34?

Alright, hot chocolate and History: A Very Short Introduction ( by John H. Arnold) beckon… Enjoy the autumn ambiance.

In which I am excitable…

August 12, 2009

When I first quit drinking, I really felt as though I had nothing to say.  I knew my life was more managable, more liveable… but my wit seemed to have forsaken me.  I struggled to find any deep thoughts that existed outside of the bottom of my Oberon pint.  And, trust me, it was a struggle.  Kind of like living in sawdust… not much interesting to say about sawdust, really.

And now, now folks… everything is interesting.  And vivid.  And real.  All of it must be explored.  So many, many things to think about, to turn over in my mind.  And books!  Oh my God at the books that need to be read.  Because there are ideas!  In the books!  I must know about these ideas.  Even more importantly, I must dissect these ideas, hold them up for inspection…

And then, on to yoga!  Oh the yoga.  And the meditative contemplation…

And the coffee!  There is so much coffee to be had!  Even decaf coffee is exquisite.

Sometimes I find life almost overwhelming… the sensory experiences, the emotions (neither dulled nor enhanced by substances), the wonder and the choices that must be made every day about how I will live my life and how I will greet the world.

The sawdust has lifted, my friends.

An E-Book By Any Other Name…

May 7, 2009

As I listen to the hum of the dryer, I am reading an article about the significance of e-books.  (Look, I know that right now I am writing a blog post.  Just try to stick with the story arc)  To be honest, I haven’t thought much about e-books.  I dislike reading online.  Let me qualify that, I dislike reading substantive material online.  I can’t grade my students’ papers online.  I don’t read long articles online.  And this article is precisely about why some, academics in large part, refuse to embrace e-books as “real.”  Seems they are summarily dismissed as lesser than their printed counterparts.

The author is just beginning to link the disdain for e-books to a desire to possess knowledge… which can only be materially reconciled by owning books or having access to printed copies.  If books become widely available via electronic sources, then the masses can possess knowledge freely.  Even more importantly, text can disappear . . . since it never materially existed in the first place (it only existed as electronic impulses).


ETA:  Truly, this comes down to a discussion about capitalism.  After I purchase a book, do I really own its content?  Should I be free to lend it to anyone I choose?  What about copying parts of the text?  Copyright laws say that I cannot reproduce the text.  But that wrong will only be redressed, IF I get caught reproducing the text. However, the encryption process that prohibits e-books from being shared and/or copied gives the consumer less control over goods they have purchased, problematizing capitalism.