Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Blog Is Dead. Long Live the Blog.

*plays Taps*

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Custer, American Indians, Patriotism

Michael Elliott has a great op-ed in the LA Times today.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is Google making us stupid?

Nicholas Carr's essay in The Atlantic is also a brief on the necessity of teaching literary reading in the digital age as well as a warning about its challenges.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New wiki on digital reserach tools

A new wiki on digital research tools -- here: http://digitalresearchtools.pbwiki.com/

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Killing Internet in the Classroom

In the three years since I've taught a regular class here at Emory, I've watched the increase in wireless access throughout the campus and have wondered what it will mean for the classes I will teach this fall. Undoubtedly it will be a good thing in some cases, but in others it's an opportunity for students to be Facebooking, IMing, or shopping during class. This idea rankles me somewhat. So it was interesting today to read a quick article from the Chronicle's Wired Campus blog about a professor considering banning laptops from his classroom. The comments to this post are predicable: some people arguing that we can't deny students a tool and that students have the right to choose how they learn and some people arguing that students are not customers and that the professor is in charge of learning in hir classroom. It also links to a longer article about the University of Chicago's law school getting rid of wireless access.


Thursday, April 24, 2008

Last class!

I recall a colleague of mine saying, not long after I started teaching at Emory, that the best thing about semesters is that they end. At the time, I may have thought that was a little cynical. But now I think I understand him better. I take genuine pleasure in the ending of a class. There is something deeply rewarding about participating in something that has a definitive conclusion; of course, its the same pleasure that narrative affords in novels and films. As you all know from narratology 101, that pleasure has to do with the fact that our real lives do not have the kind of definitive conclusions that short stories and survey courses do. (And as you know from narratology 102, the ending is never really an ending, but still.)

Anyhow, I'm pleased to have finished teaching for the semester today, and looking forward to the season of endings and beginnings.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Prof. Bauerlein's pans

If you were thinking of getting Mark Bauerlein that Quentin Tarantino boxed set for his birthday, think again. See his list of bad films that academics (mistakenly) like.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The coming crackdown on e-reserves

According to the AJC, Cambridge UP, Oxford UP, and SAGE have joined together to sue Georgia State for making copyrighted material for download. It's a short article, but it sounds like the contention is that the publishers claim the university was exceeding fair use in the amount of material it made available via something like e-reserves. (If the Ga. State system is different from ours, I'd be curious to know it, since that could make a difference.

It will be interesting to learn more about the particulars of the suit, and also see how vigorously the University defends its practices (if at all). In my opinion, the trend has been for universities to crumple at the sight of lawyers instead of vigorously defending their practices as falling under the fair use doctrine.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Research, the easy way

Speaking of projects that have implications for the way we write, this article in the NYT yesterday really threw me for a loop. Philip M. Parker, a management professor, has "written" over 200,000 books using computers to compile information publicly available online. Why waste our time laboring over a monograph when a computer could do the research for us?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Insert clever reference to Hogwarts here

I am wondering if this case about a Harry Potter encyclopedia could have ramifications for other works of literary scholarship, particularly "companions" to other books/authors.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A little precision...

If there were any justice in the world, or if the world were just, you know, more fun, the academic blogosphere would be more like the London Underground in the mid-1960s and people would be filling random comment boxes with the anonymous tagline, "The Little Professor Is God." (If you don't get that reference, don't worry, the important part is next.)

Unlike, well, just about everyone who has been puffing up over Wm. Deresiewicz's recent piece on the decline of English majors, The Little Professor (aka Prof. Miriam Burstein) actually went in search of some data. She doesn't comb through it all, and in fact she notes that some data that she would like doesn't seem to be easily available. In particular, she would like to see what kinds of institutions are producing English majors, and in what number. However, she does identify something crucial: The raw number of English majors is actually on the rise. It's the percentage of college graduates majoring in English (or the market share) that's on the decline.

She does link to more data than I've seen any of the other Deresiewicz posts do. Anyhow, read it here. This reminds me of the wonderful posts that she wrote collecting data in response to the "Vanishing Shakespeare" report.

Think Inside the Bubbl

If you have not yet seen this interesting little tool, take a minute to check out bubbl.us, a free, online, flash-based idea-mapping application. The "Features" page does an excellent job of using bubbl itself to explain the basics of the bubbl interface, which is both minimalistic and intuitive. As with most technologies, however, it's best to jump right in and start playing around, which thankfully you can do without having to create an account first.

Bubbl may seem at first glance to be yet another instance of technology making a simple pen-and-paper process exponentially more complicated. But account creation allows you not only to save, print, link to, export, and embed your maps, but also to share and collaborate on them with other bubbl users, who may be given either read-only or full access. Unfortunately, the map is "locked" while one user is editing it, so users cannot collaborate in real-time, a restriction similarly imposed by most wiki platforms.

I can see bubbl having a variety of pedagogical uses, both individually and collaboratively, both inside and outside the classroom. From teaching brainstorming in composition courses, to having students collaboratively trace the genealogy of the novel, to providing a graphic representation of intertexuality or patronage networks to accompany a lecture or in-class discussion, potential mapplications of bubbl abound.

P.S. According to their blog, the administrators of bubbl are working on adding features and modifying the user interface prior to a beta release in the next couple of months.

P.S.S. You may also want to look at Mindomo and Mindmeister, two other mind-mapping apps.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mourning our loss

I'm trying to think of an event that could have more terrible implications for the graduate program than the sudden, unpredicted closing of Inman Perk.

I've been in denial about this all week, and am now moving to the other stages of grief.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

NEH goes digital

Inside Higher Ed has a good article on the creation of a new NEH Office of Digital Humanities and the history of digital humanities projects. Here.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Pandora for Books?

So I'm prowling the Web 2.0-verse today in connection with ECIT, and I just came across Booklamp. It is project that, since 2003, has been scanning books and developing software that allows them to determine plot, pacing, characterization, and more of individual books. Apparently the project began Pandora.com existed, but the developers have now decided that describing their works as "Pandora for books" is an easy way to describe it for others. Another good summary article can be found here.

So what can you do with the tool? Well, eventually you could use it to find books that have a similar plot structure to one that you already like, but that, perhaps, are paced a little quicker. Because the system is based on their algorithms, it is supposedly impervious to advertising, instead delivering information only about the literature.

Booklamp is now trying to figure out what they should do with their technology, but I think it raises interesting questions for our profession. What would we learn from something like Booklamp that we can't learn from concordances? What role should computer-assisted reading play in determine a text's literary quality? Is it possible to outsource art criticism to a machine?

You can watch the video here.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The English Major in Decline

A smart post at ads without products responding to last week's book review/assessment in The Nation about the English professing gig.

Both pieces, and the book in question , seem like pieces of conversations we should be having.

Jason gets it right....

Jason Jones has just saved me 15 minutes by writing out his own response to the question below, which echoes many of the things I would have said. He also offers his own career as a real-life (and successful) example. Read it.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Brian's post makes me miserable and I wanted something else at the top of the page.

To graduate or not?

Tenured Radical wrote yesterday about whether one should graduate or not when one doesn't have a tenure-track position lined up. In short, her advice is to stay in school--if possible--, polish your diss, and get some articles out. She sees adjuncting or VAPing as taking too much time to allow you to polish your writing.

Others thoughts?


Thursday, March 13, 2008

Social scholarship

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Working and whining

Mark Bauerlein on working and whining.

Update: Some responses, here, here, here, and here.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Don't know much...

A NY Times story on another depressing survey about how little students know about history. What's interesting about this one -- besides it being sponsored by a group skeptical of No Child Left Behind -- is that it includes literature. It turns out that students don't know much about literature, either. It's nice to be included.

Update: You can download the report here.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

In the Times

I hope you caught the story on teaching The Great Gatsby at Boston Latin (well-known urban school). It gives a small window into the teaching of fiction at the high school level, something I think college teachers (especially me) know too little about.

I also liked this story on the semicolon on the NYC subway.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Digital Litearcy and the Wikipedia

David Parry from academhack has a new editorial at Science Progress that advocates for the importance of digital literacy and uses the Wikipedia as a model. Good reading.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Adaptation news

In order to stave off disappointment, I generally keep my expectations of films (and, well, most things) low, but I am pretty excited to hear this.

Archives wiki, open access publishing

The American Historical Association has launched an archives wiki. Obviously, the focus are historical archives, but this could be of use to literary scholars as well. (And of course suggests that a literary manuscripts wiki would be useful.

Today's New York Times has an article about the possibility of open access publishing at Harvard. (Thanks to Prof. Rusche for pointing that out.)

Monday, February 04, 2008

Online Citation Manager/Social Networking

I just read an article from last week's Chronicle about CiteULike. CiteULike more or less works like del.icio.us, but it is for academics to tag what they are reading recently. It doesn't appear to have as much functionality as Zotero, which I wrote about last September. But--unlike the current version of Zotero--it is a shared resource. Others can browse your articles and you can browse theirs. What's more, the site draws from Emory's sfx service, and therefore can link you more or less directly to the full text of an article if we have access through our library's databases.

Based on what each tool can currently do, CiteULike is a much more useful tool for research. It allows you to watch what others are reading and to take your references with you (because they're all online). Zotero has a better interface, in my opinion, and is more full featured. But until the next big release, it is tied to your local browser. And that's more or less what EndNote is.

I don't know that I'm going to start using CiteULike regularly. But that's got more to do with my not having internet access of my laptop than anything else.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

THAT podcast

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Blogging vs. Peer-Review

An interesting article in today's Chronicle asks details Noah Wardrip-Fruin's attempts to couple the peer review process with comments from a blog where he will be posting excerpts of the book. His editor at MIT is (probably wisely) not allowing the book to go without a typical peer review process, but that this experiment is taking place at all suggests how far we've come in digital scholarship.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Making an edited collection

Dustin Wax, an anthropologist, has written a detailed series of posts about all the steps involved in publishing an edited collection. Though the topic of the book isn't likely to be of interest to many literary types (and you won't realize the significance of some of the names he mentions), it's a very good blow-by-blow account of his experience. He calls it a "non-experts guide." It's in three parts: 1) getting the contract; 1a) writing the prospectus; and 2) the road to publication.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

More reading about reading

Welcome to 2008.

To pick up where this blog left off, I recommend Caleb Crain's New Yorker article on the "Twilight of the Books." One of the many things that recommends Crain's articles is that he will post background information and further research on his blog. In this case, he has a whole series of posts that discuss recent research on the decline of literacy, the effect of television, the effect of Internet use, and reading online. Crain is even-handed, and there's not a lot of chest-beating here. As a result, you cannot not only get a measured index to a lot of research, but you can also get a kind of sketch of the kind of work that goes into a New Yorker essay like Crain's. (There are other things that recommend Caleb Crain as well, including the fact that he's a nineteenth-century Americanist.)

When you are done reading about reading, you can read (as I am) Crain's novella "Sweet Grafton" in the latest issue of n+1.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Reading about Reading

The Chronicle has this article about the state of reading and the NEA' s newest report, To Read or Not to Read: A Question of National Consequence. There's a lot that I find interesting and on point in this article. In the interest of brevity, I'll say that what I found most intriguing (aside from Thomas Jefferson's apparently famous lazy susan for books, of course) was Kirschenbaum's point that accounts of reading must be historically specific, taking into account new forms of literacy that surface with new kinds of "texts."

Prepping for the interviews

It's the time of year for advice on the job interviews. (I'm guessing advice on the campus visits starts exploding around January. It's a sure way to drive blog traffic.) In any case, Tenured Radical has a good piece up on interviews.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

More, more, more

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Chronicle article on social science PhD's

If I can find some time later, I'll pull out more of the interesting things I found in this Chronicle article about a study of recent PhD's in the social sciences. For now, I'll say that I don't see much here that doesn't apply to humanities PhD programs as well. The article quotes this line from the report: "Career preparation should begin at the beginning of a doctoral program."