Beyond David Letterman, groceries and wishes, I dislike lists. For the most part, lists constitute a lack of inspiration and originality in terms of content. Rare is the occasion, too, for lists to reveal critical depth of knowledge about any given subject or topic. Far too many use lists as an authoritative endpoint instead of an introduction to further conversation, the latter of which Nick Hornby's High Fidelity does rather well.
However, in both the book and the film adaptation, music mixes have greater importance. For all the talk about all-time desert-island top-five lists, Hornby's Rob Gordon is more eloquent and thoughtful about making a mixtape, likening it to writing a letter as "there's a lot of erasing and rethinking and starting again" (88). Furthermore, Gordon admits:
"A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You've got to kick off with a corker, to hold the attention...and then you've got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can't have white music and black music together, unless the white music sounds like black music, and you can't have two tracks by the same artists side by side, unless you've done the whole thing in pairs, and . . . oh, there are loads of rules" (89).
Perhaps these rules, along with lack of real time, discourage some from making mixes instead of throwing together sloppy lists of the top ten most trite love songs from the 1980's. Some might view such rules as limitations because no music mix can be the essential of anything; space requirements are very effective in preventing this. No top-ten list can be the essential of anything either, though that doesn't stop some from being so audacious as to suggest otherwise.
Regarding mixes, the musical elitism held or professed by any one person is limited by their chosen method of distribution. If making a mix by tape or CD, the 80-minute mark is the cut-off point. If making a mix through an online format, such as 8tracks, there is an eight-track maximum. Much can and should be done within these limitations, though, including the reconciliation of stellar opening and closing tracks by way of transitions. In other words, the songs must work together as a cohesive unit, which is an additional rule not as often required of any list.
Because of such limitations, music mixes are a greater invitation to deeper debate and discussion. While one might argue with some ease that the Strokes deserve inclusion on some top-ten list, it could be much more difficult applied to a music mix. Such an argument would have to account for subject matter, theme and transitions. In other words, would any song by the Strokes fit with the rest? Would the amended mix serve a purpose similar to the original? As a way of inspiring discussions about music, mixes have potential greater than that of some superficial top-ten list.
There will never be any kind of top-ten list taking up space in this particular place. Instead, I plan to offer up a quick mix of music every week (on Mondays, more often than not). However, my first offering has no theme beyond good transitions. It is a point of pride in every mix I make that transitions are strong. If a track fades out, the next one fades in. If a live track ends with audience applause, the next track begins with audience applause. If a track meets an abrupt end, the next track has an abrupt beginning. The following meets this standard and still manages to feature some all-time favorites. Enjoy, dear reader, enjoy...
- “(I Hope U) Don’t Survive” – Silkworm
"She Took A Lot Of Pills (And Died)" - Robbie Fulks
"There She Goes, My Beautiful World" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
- “Holland, 1945” – Neutral Milk Hotel
“I Don’t Know” – Beastie Boys
“Far Away” – Clearlake
“3rd Planet” – Modest Mouse
“-” – Pelican
Movies, television shows and even video games can be rather influential in portraying certain jobs. In the field of education, for example, we have Robin Williams (Dead Poet’s Society), Roland "Prez" Pryzbylewski (The Wire) and Dewey Finn (School of Rock), Michelle Pfeiffer (Dangerous Minds), Hilary Swank (Freedom Writers) and Jeri Ryan (Boston Public) as well as the teaching faculty in Bully and Grim Grimoire. From such examples, what sort of precedent do various media set regarding male and female positions in a particular profession?
Therefore, take in at least five different movies, television shows and/or video games somehow related to your major/intended profession. The relationship can be direct (Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney for law, Black Hawk Down for military, Grey's Anatomy for medicine), peripheral (The Shining for creative writing, High Fidelity for small business) or even absurd (Harvey Birdman for law). Also, keep selections timely; of major concern should be the more current representations of a major/intended profession. Be sure to either take notes while viewing or engage in reflective free-writing as the end credits roll.
Furthermore, the following questions are intended to provide guidance in the writing process:
Are those of your major/intended profession predominantly male/female, young/old, upper/middle/working class, African/Asian/European/Mexican American?
How do you compare/relate to the media’s representation(s) of your major/intended profession? Do you see yourself as part of the majority/minority? How/why?
In the media viewed, are representations of your major/intended profession more glamorized, romanticized, satirized or criticized?
How accurate are these representations? In other words, are they quality portrayals? If so, what makes them quality? If not, what needs revision?
light-hearted and all about linguistic play.It is from Pop Up Video and Howard that I drew inspiration for "Pop Up Scholarship," a three-part writing and speaking sequence that asks students to engage in a dialogue with a particular text. "Pop Up Scholarship" suggests students not only make note of discursive features but also amend and comment on their selected text(s). Doing so emphasizes Bakhtin's work on dialogism and that, as Helen Rothschild Ewald paraphrases in her chapter contribution to Landmark Essays on Advanced Composition, "all discourse is a response" (88). It also stresses reader creativity in the act of meaning making, encouraging abandonment of "the notion that the text is the sole, even primary, repository of meaning in written discourse" (88). As a past student explained in their reflective essay, "By doing this assignment, not only did we learn about different types of articles, but we also learned about our own writing in general."In past courses, this assignment occurred later in the semester, often marking the point at which students were more familiar with the discursive practices associated with their major fields of interest and study. While this made it easier for students to articulate such practices to colleagues, I now think it might be more beneficial to introduce "Pop Up Scholarship" earlier and sustain such engagement throughout the semester. Rather than suggesting students follow some formulaic method of annotation, I think this assignment has the potential for greater worth, advocating instead a more individual and unique way of interacting and understanding sources academic and otherwise. I also plan to make various and sundry amendments to "Pop Up Scholarship," tailoring it more or less to first-year, advanced and technical writing students as I think all could benefit from this kind of reflective research engagement. To eliminate any confusion, though, I present an overview of the assignment as it existed for my ENG 112 Critical Writing & Reading course at the University of Michigan-Flint:
Pop Up ScholarshipBy engaging in “Pop Up Scholarship,” students will:
• work in greater detail with a major piece of writing in their field of study
• showcase awareness of discursive practices within that field of study
• present knowledge to an audience of colleagues
• reflect on these discursive practices (perhaps even draw some comparisons)Part 1
At this point in the semester, you should have some knowledge of the discursive practices associated your major field of study. In order to demonstrate this to your instructor and to your colleagues, choose a recent article from a journal/magazine oriented to your major field of study. After conversion from .pdf to .doc (or a simple cut & paste action), go under the Tools menu in Microsoft Word and select “Track Changes.” Go through the entire document as you would in peer review. In other words, make observations on format/style, ask questions oriented to the text/field of study, delete unnecessary sentences, insert new sentences and be sure to give justification for all changes. Track/insert at least 3-5 changes/comments per page and insert a brief end comment after the concluding paragraph.Part 2
Upon completion of Part 1, use it as a basis for developing a presentation on particular discursive practices within your major field of study. How you present the information is up to you. Possibilities include a walkthrough of the “track-changed” document or a more conventional collection of bulleted points. Make sure to have some conclusions about the nature of the discursive practices in your major field of study, if you see any problems or if you think all disciplines should adopt them (and why).Part 3
Having finished your PowerPoint presentation and been an audience for others, compose a piece of writing in which you reflect further on not only the discursive practices within your own major field of study but also the discursive practices of others. Ask yourself about similarities and/or differences and what this might reveal about the very nature of academic discourse. Think as well about whether or not you look forward to writing in such a style/format and if/how this will change the way you currently compose.
More than two years ago, I submitted a book chapter for The Computer Culture Reader, an edited collection to be published by Cambridge Scholars Press. Entitled "The Personal as Public: Identity Construction/Fragmentation Online," my chapter addressed Kenneth Gergen's concept of multiphrenia, a new pattern of self-consciousness itensified by the increasing “number and variety of relationships in which we are engaged, potential frequency of contact, and expressed intensity of a relationship” (The Saturated Self 61). Part of my argument involved taking as fact that we are all the more engaged in multiphrenia because of the multiplication of computer-assisted modes of communication. Because of this, self-awareness is not so much necessary as it is inseparable from the very formation of online identity.
Furthermore, the wide variety of interactive possibilities afforded by online communicative technologies make the creation and maintenance of identity a kind of lens through which we may sharpen focus upon particular aspects of our selves. As Sherry Turkle in Life on the Screen observes, all online activities are embodied by personal beings engaged in "our cultural work in progress" (177). Any genre-specific online act is a continual exercise in identity construction, a consistent, perhaps even repetitive, creation of boundaries both real and virtual.
Blogging, the ultimate focus of my chapter, constitutes such an act. It is an opportunity for simple self-expression and a context for discovering who we are and wish to be (Turkle 184). My ultimate aim, then, was to illuminate and complicate this act by emphasizing how blogging fragments and even limits identity construction, and also how such fragmentation holds the potential for greater honesty in our online endeavors. In other words, the fragmentary aspects of constructing and maintaining online identity was something to be embraced rather than feared. This is because the many opportunities afforded by various online communicative technologies like blogging involve the externalization of multiple selves on the screen.
With near-infinite amount of space in which to do so, we can put as much or as little of our selves online as we desire and in as many different ways as we need or want. The Internet encourages identity multiplication, making for the sort of society in which the very concept of multi-identities is valorized (Identity, Culture and the Postmodern World, Madan Sarup, 142). Blogging, and other online communicative technologies, is therefore more than "a space for growth" (Turkle, 263) and, instead, a vital part of the continual exercise in identity construction online and offline.
I created this blog more than six months before writing for that chapter for The Computer Culture Reader, as evidenced by earlier entries, most of which were part of a graduate-level course with Dr. Kris Blair at Bowling Green State University. Rather than delete them, I decided to keep them in this space as a reminder of where I was and just what I want to do here in the future, writing not only about composition pedagogy, rhetoric and technology but also about music mixes and video games. You, dear reader, are more than welcome to come along for the ride.