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Vandal scratches Poe phrase into car at dealership

Language nerds will appreciate this news story about a Latin vandal. The scratching on one of the cars spelled out “Nemo me inpune lacessit.” The phrase means “No one attacks me with impunity.” The quotation, in fact, comes from Edgar Allan Poes classic horror story “The Cask of Amontillado.” It is the family crest of Fortunato, the unfortunate victim of revenge by his neighbor, Montressor. The narrator lures the drunken…

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Associate Dean of What?

The idea of students as customers relies on models of customer service that are not what experts in the field actually teach (as explicated in this letter to The Chronicle by Clara Burke). We develop crude quantitative evaluative tools while businesses use more and more complex qualitative focus groups and sophisticated assessments. And we apply buzzwords. For example, we now “benchmark” our top administrative jobs in ways that feed salary…

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I’m Asking My Students to Be Deliberate about the Word “Novel”

In the past few years, I have noticed more students are applying the word “novel” to any text they might be asked to study in class, whether that text is a book-length fictional narrative, a play, a poem, a political manifesto, or a collection of academic essays. I wrote up this lecture to introduce the concept of literary genre, in the hopes of communicating why it’s important that we recognize…

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Ancient Sea Rise Tale Told Accurately for 10,000 Years

“It’s quite gobsmacking to think that a story could be told for 10,000 years,” Nicholas Reid, a linguist at Australia’s University of New England specializing in Aboriginal Australian languages, said. “It’s almost unimaginable that people would transmit stories about things like islands that are currently underwater accurately across 400 generations.” –Scientific American.

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Writing School Papers: Does Your First Version Say It All?

My colleague Mike Arnzen talked about the writing process with the Voice of America. Michael Arnzen teaches English and heads humanities studies at Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. Mr. Arnzen is also an award-winning author. He says he understands the desire to write something and be done with it. “We’ve all been there. We feel we’ve done (something) good enough, and can’t we move on with our lives?” But he…