"The real problem is this: Students know that professors must read their papers, no matter how poorly they might be written, how irrelevant their cited examples, or how 'uncollegiate' their content. Poor writing persists because students know that professors are obligated to suffer through endless garbage in hopes of finding something salvageable. They are well aware that many professors will highlight their papers' weaknesses and then allow rewrites, and that some professors will accept nonwritten extra-credit projects to improve their final grades. In short, students know there are usually ways to avoid putting forth a gallant effort on a paper."
In my inaugural post, I explained this blog as a space for bringing together ideas and interests that might appear divergent, as a kind of online repository for identity characteristics. I also intend it to be a public record of the directions my research interests take, a document detailing the revision of select dissertation chapters into journal article submissions and the composition of conference presentations and book chapters.
However, as perhaps all those visiting here know, this is but one facet of my presence online, for I am also persistent on Facebook, FriendFeed and Twitter. These online spaces allow me to network not only with colleagues at my university but also with those at other institutions. Such networking involves discussion of important issues within our respective fields of interest as well as the sharing of important and/or provocative links. The majority of what I share comes from one of the scores of academic blogs and online news outlets I peruse every day via Google Reader.
Twitter in particular allows me to make new contacts in my fields of interst and provides a new venue for sharing related news and information. By posting articles and links relevant to others interested in education and technology, composition and rhetoric, online research and writing, I support and encourage the work of others. I remain engaged in learning on a level that is both similar to and different from conversing with colleagues in the halls of the English department. Such online engagement is a worthwhile kind of public intellectualism and it continues to impact my pedagogical and publishing interests.
I also view these online activities as important academic work because, like my chapter in The Computer Culture Reader, it puts forth an identity representing the university as well as myself. How I present myself and engage with others online says volumes about me, but it also reveals something about the university. In other words, I'm an online representative of the English department at the University of Michigan-Flint and I remain mindful of this in every online action I take.
"You Don't Know Jesus" - Mogwai
Five Scots who create such beauty without singing a word. This song serves as a good explanation as to why they are near the top of my list of to-see bands."Happiness Is A Warm Gun" - the Beatles
All-time favorite band and one of their best songs. Of course, almost every song by the Beatles is one of their best."Curmudgeon" - Nirvana
I remember watching MTV with two friends and how we moshed when the "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video was featured. One friend tripped and fell back into the den wall. Because of a later well-placed chair, his parents didn't discover the ass print in the wall for two months."Introduce The Metric System In Time" - the Hives
High-energy Swedes who know what punk is. "Time" - Pink Floyd
Masters of the concept album, the Floyd knew how to construct songs of absolute truth, and the guitar work ain't half bad either. David Gilmour's one of the most overlooked guitarists in rock."Iron Clad Lou" - Hum
Far too many only know this band for their one hit, "Stars." Such a tragedy."Bullet In The Head" - Rage Against The Machine
Rather self-explanatory."Where Eagles Dare" - the Misfits
This was one of the first songs I learned on the guitar. It also opened the door to combination curse words."Easter" - Bill Hicks
We lost this man far too early; we need him all the more right now."Sorrowful Wife" - Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
This is a brief sampling of the masterful artistry of Nick Cave. I thought about making an all-Cave tape, but figured easing in might be better.
Side B: Fulfillment
"Blueprint" - Fugazi
While not all that familiar with Fugazi, I know that I could not pass up the chance to see such a legendary group. This song was my favorite of the evening. Quite beautiful."Toxicity" - System of a Down
This is one of the few better-known bands I respect and like. The video for this song gets regular airplay on MTV and I heard it played live a week before I left for Texas. With Rage Against the Machine gone the way of the dodo, SOAD appears poised to take over that political podium."Bitches" - Mindless Self Indulgence
This SOAD opener are perhaps the most offensively fun band I've ever heard. "You're The One" - the Trip Daddys
A psychobilly band from St. Louis, MO, and one of the best. Guitarist Craig alone was quite the scorcher."More Than This" - the cure
This legendary goth band performed as many old songs as new ones during their almost three-hour set (no openers!). For as much as I enjoyed them, I only have one of their songs."A Good Woman Is Hard To Find" - Orchestra Morphine
The story behind this group is much too long to recount here, but I'd be happy to do so another time elsewhere."Part Of Me" - TOOL
I saw these guys two days after 9/11, which made for a very emotionally charged show. It ended up being the most intense concert experience of my life so far."Inside What's Within Behind" - Meshuggah
From Stockholm, Sweden, they opened for TOOL to a chorus of boos, but I liked them. Still do."El Nino" - Henry Rollins
This man speaks the truth. Writer, performer and vocalist for the Rollins Band, Henry's a nonstop laborer for the cause of independence in an increasingly corporate world. Check out Solipsist, or one of his many other books."Paranoid" - Black Sabbath
These heavy metal gods blew me away on their first reunion tour with a stop at Van Andel Arena. This concert was the highlight of that first failed relationship."Let's Hear It For Love" - the Smoking Popes
While I saw the Popes during my first semester at Hope College, I remember them more for being played while Ben, Joe, Tom and I cruised down the mountain into Ashland, Oregon. "This is kickass So-Cal punk!" Ben exclaimed, and I swallowed the urge to explain that the Popes were from Chicago."Mouse" - Marzuki
I still have a crush on Shannon Stephens, all because I think she smiled at me once while singing this song. Marzuki was such a great band, a perfect melding of so many different musical styles who managed to still sound so original.
Seconds First1. “Boys Better” – Dandy Warhols
2. “Harnessed in Slums” – Archers of Loaf
3. "God's Gonna Cut You Down" - Johnny Cash
4. "White Winter Hymnal" - Fleet Foxes
5. "Evil" - Interpol
6. "Dear Head On The Wall" - Alejandro Escovedo
7. "Don't Run Our Hearts Around" - Black Mountain
8. "The Way I Feel About You" - The (International) Noise Conspiracy
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.