I Never Would Have Guessed I Would Be Able to Complete a Close Reading

I started my American Literature class by assigning students to listen to 40-minute audio lectures that provided context and walked them through the literary texts we were to discuss in class. As the semester drew on, I had students write podcasts to introduce texts to each other, and by the end of term I was asking students to read scholarly articles in which literary scholars aren’t introducing the texts to…


Commentary: The unbearable smugness of the press

More on how their desire to control the narrative led journalists to ignore alternative voices: That’s the fantasy, the idea that if we mock them enough, call them racist enough, they’ll eventually shut up and get in line. It’s similar to how media Twitter works, a system where people who dissent from the proper framing of a story are attacked by mobs of smugly incredulous pundits. Journalists exist primarily in…


This Is How My Composition & Culture Class Preps an Oral Presentation

Instead of delivering a formal speech for my approval, my students are off in groups, listening to each other. I should note that I don’t let all my students go off like all semester long. They’ve worked hard to get to the point where they know what they need to do, and they are ready to be critical and supportive peer audiences. A healthy democracy is full of people who…


A ‘Dewey Defeats Truman’ Lesson for the Digital Age

If we were surprised Tuesday night, it was because journalism failed us. As reported in the NY Times, every major source forecasted the Clinton win for which the establishment desperately hoped. No one predicted a night like this — that Donald J. Trump would pull off a stunning upset over Hillary Clinton and win the presidency. The misfire on Tuesday night was about a lot more than a failure in polling.…


Things I will tell my kids if they become entrepreneurs

Lots of good live advice in these slides. My favorite applies to taking risks of all sorts. When my students ask me “what should I pick for my topic” or “what do you want me to write about?” they are not thinking of how much they will learn by coming up with their own topic on their own — even if that means making several midcourse corrections. The whole slide…


Practicing Intellectual, Evidence-based Disagreement

This is what a busy literature seminar on evidence-based disagreement looks like. I’ve asked the students to pair up to create a 2-3-minute podcast that demonstrates they can participate in a respectful, evidence-based disagreement over Poe’s “The Raven.” I asked each student to introduce the other student’s position, and to do so respectfully, without caricaturing or demeaning the ignorant or evil jerks whose opinions or values or life experiences dare…


How “Hail Mary” Became Inextricably Linked to American Football

I am revamping an existing “News Writing” course so that it becomes “News, Arts and Sports Reporting,” and am thus trying to educate myself about sports writing. Good writing is engaging no matter what the subject is. This is a great example. The headline is written for an international audience. Without assuming that the reader already knows what a “Hail Mary pass” is, and without assuming that the reader knows…