Posted in Literature, Poetry, Teaching

58 Poems: Visualizing Intellectual Labor

During the first six weeks of the semester, each of my Introduction to Criticism students composed three “close readings” of three poems of their choice. Most poems (per my suggestion) were chosen from Poetry Foundation‘s online archive.

Below is a complete list of the poets and poems students chose to analyze, along with links to texts of these poems. Next to the titles, I’ve included “Paper #1,” “#2,” or “#3” to indicate which round of close readings the poems correspond to. By chance, some students chose to analyze the same poem, which is why a few of the entries have more than one “Paper” designation.

Why compile this list?

It’s instructive and enlightening to visualize the intellectual labor of students and to remind oneself of their efforts, no matter the particular skill of individual students.

This list expresses just a fraction of their work this semester.

Our work.
Continue reading “58 Poems: Visualizing Intellectual Labor”

Posted in Deleuze, Philosophy, Slow Reading

Slow Reading (1.32): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 29-33)

How do I speed up a slow reading which has come to a full stop?

How do I find a place to begin again?

How do I find the slow lane of the track I’ve lost?

Over the past two years, I’ve only posted four entries on Difference and Repetition, a book that has obsessed me for the better part of eight years. I had originally envisioned “slow reading” as a project I might take to other books (even composing a few entries on Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas), but now I begin to wonder: Have I, without knowing it, given my life to this book?

I imagine Deleuze would be horrified that I’ve spent so much time with it.

Or perhaps, upon learning I’m a nonphilosopher, he’d be delighted…

… whether or not he’d feel joy or sadness, I need to remind myself what I’ve “slow read” thus far (at least in Chapter 1). Continue reading “Slow Reading (1.32): Deleuze’s DR (pp. 29-33)”

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Teaching

Preparing to Teach Learn Deconstruction Anything

After several weeks of reading Cleanth Brooks’s essays, my Intro to Criticism students turned to The Barbara Johnson Reader (2014) and the theory / practice of deconstruction.

This word—”deconstruction”—has a funny effect on people. Whenever I say, “My students are reading Derrida,” or, “We’re beginning a unit on deconstruction,” I tend to get pessimistic responses.

“Ouch.”
“Yikes.”
*eyes widen*
*sadistic grin* (at the thought, presumably, of the trap students are walking into)
*sigh*
“Glad I’m not in that class.”
“Have fun with that.”
*chuckle* “Good luck.”

I’m used to this. People occasionally smile or clap at the prospect of teaching or studying deconstructive criticism or Derridean philosophy, but I think they’re really just happy for me.

Or just happy that they don’t have to teach it.

Or they’re kind, encouraging me because they know how much it might matter to me. Continue reading “Preparing to Teach Learn Deconstruction Anything”

Posted in Literature, Poetry, Teaching

“If We Are Sufficiently Alive”: On Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947)

My students and I nearly read the entirety of Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947) over the last four weeks. We skipped the chapters on Milton, Pope, and Tennyson, but that still left us quite a few: eight chapters out of eleven.

No one envied us. Continue reading ““If We Are Sufficiently Alive”: On Cleanth Brooks’s The Well Wrought Urn (1947)”

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Teaching

ENGL 734: Literary Modernism, History of Pedagogy, Philosophy of Education

This fall, I’m leading a graduate seminar related in part to my first book project (still a work in progress), Learn | Read | Love: The Sensuous Pedagogies of Virginia Woolf and D.H. Lawrence. Though the book addresses modes of learning largely outside of teaching institutions (which is not to say these institutions are irrelevant to my work), the class will focus on a variety of institutional and non-institutional contexts as well as core texts in literary modernism, the history of pedagogy, and philosophy of education. Continue reading “ENGL 734: Literary Modernism, History of Pedagogy, Philosophy of Education”

Posted in Literature

Random Reading (#6): A.S. Byatt’s Possession (1990)

IMG_3515Is it possible to love a novel for all the wrong reasons?

Yesterday, I finished A.S. Byatt’s Possession (1990) for the first time—”a romance” (the front cover tells me), “an intellectual mystery and triumphant love story” (the back cover continues) about “a pair of young scholars researching the lives of two Victorian poets.” Jay Parini’s New York Times review of the award-winning novel describes its mass of fictional research material—a completely fabricated trace of poems, letters, diaries, and scholarly biographical excerpts—as its “most dazzlingly aspect.” While this artificial archive is certainly impressive and no doubt brilliantly composed and arranged as a counterpoint to the main plot, I confess that I fall into the camp of bad readers who skimmed the letters and diaries and often skipped the poetry altogether. I found it difficult to invest my time and mental energy in this material, especially since most of that energy is currently going toward research projects of my own or class prep for the upcoming fall semester. Although I enjoyed Byatt’s style and the novel’s plot, characters/caricatures, and settings (and I am certainly interested in reading her Lawrentian quartet), I just didn’t—couldn’t—care about the affair between Chistabel LaMotte and Randolph Henry Ash. Continue reading “Random Reading (#6): A.S. Byatt’s Possession (1990)”

Posted in Literature, Philosophy, Teaching

A Letter to Students: Love Theory (Round 1)

[The following is a slightly modified letter I sent to one of my classes this semester at USD. The names of students have been removed and replaced with pseudonyms. I have added and edited a few sentences. In many ways, this letter was as much “for me” as it was “for them”: a way to synthesize a good deal of theoretical and philosophical writing around a series of problems that may or may not be directly posed in the texts themselves. My work is less interested in what love is than I am in interesting problems that emerge in the ways people talk, write, feel, or think about love . . .]

Reading Assignment (February 4th, 2016):

  1. selections from Roland Barthes’s A Lover’s Discourse (1977, trans. 1978)
  2. Michael Hardt’s Cultural Anthropology essay, “For Love or Money” (2011)
  3. Luce Irigaray’s “Introducing: Love Between Us” from I Love to You: Sketch for a Felicity Within History (1990, 1996)
  4. Martha C. Nussbaum’s “Love’s Knowledge” and “Love and the Individual” from Love’s Knowledge: Essays on Philosophy and Literature (1990)
  5. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s introduction to Touching Feeling: Affect, Pedagogy, Performativity (2003); fourth chapter from A Dialogue on Love (1999)
  6. Robert C. Solomon’s “What Is Love: The Loveworld” and “Beyond Sex and Gender” from Love: Emotion, Myth, and Metaphor (1990)

Continue reading “A Letter to Students: Love Theory (Round 1)”