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When Students Won’t Do the Reading

Reading this story from IHE recalled my undergraduate class with Austin Quigley (then the chair of the U.Va. English department), who had us write about the newly-published Stoppard play Hapgood. This was in about 1989 or 90, so it was not possible to Google for a plot summary. Even looking up contemporary reviews would have meant a trip to the library microfilm reader. On the day we were to discuss the play — the…

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Books Wield a Dangerous Power

While we might point to violent video games or sexually explicit films as potentially dangerous and corrupting influences on tender or vulnerable minds, the novel is treated as uplifting and salutary, regardless of its content: a kale smoothie for the soul. When we do talk about books being ‘dangerous’, it is usually with a knowing nod and a wink: and the implication is that those of us in the know…

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It not only went VROOM, it carried chunky plastic letters that could *spell* VROOM.

Tonight, when I got home after all the evening’s ballet and piano lessons were over, I was plugging in my laptop at my desk and knocked down a little framed picture — it’s a photo my wife took of me on our first date. (On that same occasion, I also took a picture of her, and it’s framed on the other side of my desk.) I had completely forgotten that…

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The reluctant wisdom of a science major in my freshman writing class.

“There’s nothing left to say,” said a science major in my writing class. I had called on her during a classroom discussion of a peer-review activity. “Everyone’s already said everything.” “You can at least provide a new example from your own paper, or express an idea in your own words,” I said. The student looked skeptical. “What about the revision process?” I prompted. “What’s your next step? Give it a try.”…

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All the ‘Happy Birthday’ song copyright claims are invalid, federal judge rules

In a stunning reversal of decades of copyright claims, the judge ruled that Warner/Chappell never had the right to charge for the use of the “Happy Birthday To You” song. Warner had been enforcing a copyright since 1988, when it bought Birch Tree Group, the successor to Clayton F. Summy Co., which claimed the original disputed copyright. —LA Times

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How Technology Has Changed The Way We Write

Social media services have put writing tools into the hands of people who probably don’t think of themselves as writers, but there they are, captioning photos and picking hashtags and maybe even pausing just a few seconds to edit before they hit “post.” This radio interview offers a good, informal overview of why people who study writing and technology don’t get too worked up over what Twitter is doing to…

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Sesame Street Is Moving to HBO, and the Symbolism Is Crushing

I’ve been fascinated by the rhetoric of headlines surrounding the “Sesame Street moves to HBO” story. * HBO gentrifies ‘Sesame Street’ –VentureBeat * Sesame Street Episodes Will Shrink to Half an Hour –Time * Sesame Street Is Heading to HBO, and Getting Even Bigger –Esquire * This episode of Sesame Street brought to you by the letters HBO –Financial Times In short, Sesame Street was founded to help low-income kids keep up…