Foucault Vivant

Black and white photo of Michel Foucault in a leather jacket

Teaching Foucault to undergraduates can be a daunting task. However, I find that an enthusiastic group can handle short portions with ease when appropriately prepared.

Good Writers Borrow, Great Writers ...

Joel Perlman sculpture Square Tilt framed by city skyline

In a recent blog post, Alex Reid makes the not uncommon argument that if the Humanities are to “survive” this era of fiscal belt tightening, scholars must realize that “the traditional arguments” for their relevance “are not timeless,” and must adapt to changing “historical and material conditions.”

Bringing the Uncanny into the Classroom

Sepia photo of doll dressed in frontier-style dress with rocking horse

As cliché as it sounds, as an English teacher I've always thought it one of my tasks to make literature come alive in the classroom by sustaining a sense of engagement and connection in class. While generally this entails rather obvious things like talking to students rather than lecturing at them, and engaging on a one to one level, I find it takes more than this to really drum up interest about our texts. To this end I try to show them how literature that may be one or two hundred years old still lives on, in important ways, in our own lives.

Technology Aids Analysis

Drawing of clock with the question Do You Know Where Your Attention Span Is?

Most folks these days—avid and casual users of technology alike—are probably aware of the myth that online readers have short attention spans. However, that myth may be, shall we say, "problematized" by recent research. It's also getting a bit of pressure from classroom practices.

The End-of-Semester Talk

Sign reading Obama Isn't Working hangs in front of American flag in empty factory

Towards the end of the semester, I always like asking students to reflect upon what they have learned and to assess the value of it. This is probably a fairly standard practice – I remember teachers doing it to myself since second grade – but it seems more necessary in these days of budget cuts and attitudes fostered by entitled entertainment. Big pictures are good, especially when you’re teaching rhetoric to a room full of science and business majors.

Digital Midterm

Blue sky with clouds

In the week or two before Spring Break, it’s customary for lab chit-chat to turn towards what we look forward to on break. This spring, as my colleagues told me how they anticipated getting out of town or getting some writing done, I told them that I was looking forward to my students’ midterm. “I’ve never given a midterm,” was the repeated response. Before this semester, neither had I. So I’ve decided to write here about why I gave the midterm and how I used the Lab resources to enhance it.

Finding Trial Transcripts Online and Exploring 18th-19th Century Crime Broadsides

Broadside depicting crowd at an execution

I’m teaching an upper-division rhetorical theory course about legal rhetoric in which I focus students on the rhetoric involved in adjudicating particular cases in dispute. The initial unit in the course focuses students on the rhetoric of narrative, memory, and proof surrounding factual disputes in particular cases. Although there are many examples of such discourse, the most classic example is in a legal trial.

Peer Reviews Work: Observations and Reflections

3 students working on a laptop

As we approach the end of the long academic year and my students prepare their first draft of their final paper for peer review, I thought it would be fitting to reflect on the pedagogical practice of peer reviews in a writing course.

Having Fun with Technology in the Classroom

Photo of student working on video next to iMovie logo

As instructors, we all know how haggard most students look on the day that a paper is due—the sunken cheeks, the bleary eyes, the undaunted yawns all signal to me that heady material isn’t going to be as quickly (or as enthusiastically) received as usual. So, many of us make it a point to have some sort of fun activity on the day that a paper is due. We all know the kind of activity I’m talking about—the kind where students don’t have to have read or prepare prior to coming to class.

Community and the Rhetoric Classroom

Photo of Jeff and Britta from the sitcom Community

Jeff Winger is Socrates’ worst nightmare. As an former lawyer disbarred for having a phony bachelor’s degree, and whose central skill on the NBC sitcom Community is manipulating others’ emotions with his words, Jeff bears out almost all of the concerns Socrates expresses in the Phaedrus and Gorgias about what can happen when training and skill in rhetoric is divorced from a strong moral code.



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