Using Basic Media Theory to Teach Rhetoric

This is an image of the Superdome and survivors of Hurricane Katrina living inside of it

“Were all instructors to realize that the quality of mental process, not the production of correct answers, is the measure of educative growth something hardly less than a revolution in teaching would be worked.”

― John Dewey, Democracy and Education

On Weather Cancellations and Digital Media Experiments

Walking path lined by trees, all covered in snow

Normally we have very mild minters here in Austin; however, this winter has been colder than usual. As a result, we’ve had a number of days where ice coated the roads, making the region’s many elevated highways and bridges very dangerous. For better or for worse, UT has closed the campus several times and initiated late starts several times more. Normally these delayed starts began between 10am and noon. As my Rhetoric of Death and Dying class runs from 9:30 to 11 am, any weather delays impact the course.

Distance Peer Observation

George W Bush holding binoculars

One of the greatest resources you can have as a teacher is other teachers’ experience, suggestions, and comments. At the DWRL we are lucky enough to have Blogging Pedagogy, Lesson Plans, and other platforms that help us benefit from each other’s great work.

Truth Baiting

Russians living in Ukraine

Earlier this semester I wrote a post which ruminated on the pedagogic possibilities of Google Docs. I’ve been experimenting with the platform for about a year now and have found the possibilities vast but the actual activities mostly chaotic. Of course, classrooms need a little chaos, and it’s often an environment worth courting. (For more on that first experience, you can check out my earlier post here).

Imitation is the Sincerest Form of ... Learning?

Drawn portrait of Hunter S. Thompson

Awhile back I remember reading that, early in his career, Hunter S. Thompson began every morning typing word for word full chapters of The Great Gatsby. At one point in his early twenties, apparently, he’d typed out the whole book multiple times. As with most things Thompson, his friends and colleagues were baffled. When asked “why?” Thompson said “I want to know what it feels like to write something great.” 

Serious Games

Picture from the first edition of Dorra's Intrigue

Last year I wrote a blog entry on games in the classroom.  The general guist of the piece went something like this: teaching practices, especially the implementation of classroom games, seems to have stalled since the fast and loose days of Hangman and other such earth shattering innovations.  This is all especially odd because games, as a field of thought, are undergoing something of a renaissance right now—and I’m not just talking about narrative advances and new, more immersive interfaces.

Great Minds Leave Academia

Outdoor Conveyor Belt

Correction: In response to a stream of contradictory emails that seek to clarify specific policies regarding graduate fellowships and insurance coverage, I have decided to remove all mention of said policies from the following post.

Field Report: Eighteenth-Century Literature Meets Twenty-First Century Tech

The weekend of March 21st, I was able to attend the annual meeting of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies. While I always enjoy attending panels on subjects related to my academic research, another delight is seeing how other eighteenth-century scholars talk about teaching.

On the Virtues of Student Presentations

A teacher points to a chalkboard with chalk while reaching toward the viewer with other hand

I currently teach Banned Books and Novel Ideas here at the University of Texas, a required course that is intended for undergraduates just commencing work in the major. The reading on my syllabus tends toward Slavic texts, namely various selections from Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Kafka, and Nabokov. Such texts are challenging for students – both in terms of my students’ ability to decode the layers of irony spouted off by such characters as Dostoevsky’s Underground Man, and also in terms of the way these works often spotlight regional pride and arrogance.

On Making Your Class Mad: Some Pros and Cons

There’s nothing quite like having twenty-one angry people gathered in a small windowless room—especially when they’re all angry at you. Now I know to expect (and to look forward to!) just such a class day when I teach Jamaica Kincaid’s 1988 essay A Small Place



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