The Curtains Were Blue: In Which I Fix Another Meme.

Above is my response to a meme that makes some shaky assumptions about the purpose of an English classroom. Exploring the intent of the author is a huge part of the English discipline, but it’s far from the only way to study (or teach) literature. Author intent, new historicism, reader-response, structuralism.. the list goes on. Perhaps I will make more of these memes to introduce some of these other topics…

Illustration of glowing chain links in a shovel of dirt.

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani: My Great-Grandfather, the Nigerian Slave-Trader

This fascinating essay, by the grandchild of a Nigerian slave trader, explores a complex cultural legacy. At least as provocative as “Did Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson Love Each Other?” and the stunning, bitter “Molasses to Rum (to Slaves)” from the otherwise cheery musical 1776. African intellectuals tend to blame the West for the slave trade, but I knew that white traders couldn’t have loaded their ships without help from…

Handwritten, all-caps note on printed script from which Trump read: "THERE WAS NO COLUSION"

Fascinating details in reports about Trump’s Russian retraction

We’re all still reeling from Trump’s statement yesterday that he “didn’t see any reason why it would be” true that Russia had meddled with the US election. Standing there next to Putin, he publicly rejected the positions of multiple US intelligence authorities. Today, in the face of blistering criticism from foes and friends alike, including powerful members of his own Republican party, the president backtracked, saying that he misspoke –…

A historic picture of a classroom from the 1800s, inverted, so that the pupils are head-downwards.

Flipped Classes: Omit Housekeeping Mechanics from Recorded Lectures to Lengthen Their Shelf-life

When a Facebook friend asked for tips on teaching a large class, I inventoried what I’ve learned about the flipped classroom. For the classes I teach on a regular basis, sometimes online and sometimes in-person, I’ve had many opportunities to develop stand-alone resources that I reuse. For example, I’ve recorded some stand-alone audio lectures on literary works I teach often, such as “Young Goodman Brown,” “Bernice Bobs Her Hair,” and…

Humanities and STEM Can and Should Get Along Better

In my lit and writing classes, I regularly encounter STEM students who are frustrated because I won’t deliver a lecture that tells them “what the poem means” and then give them points for spitting back the “correct answer.” Likewise, when I teach a math unit in my journalism class, I regularly encounter word-oriented students who are frustrated by the specificity of numbers. Truth be told, some of my “your petty…