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xcdude24
Dec 23, 2008


I'm doubling in history and poli sci, but I figure you'll have some perspective on my question.

Being a professor is something i've toyed around with, but i've been told by a lot of people that it can be a living hell trying to get there. I'm definitely interested in a few specific subjects in both fields, so the research part of the PhD program wouldn't really bother me. What really concerns me is the admissions. I look at the faculty list for my university (which isn't a top university, but it's definitely up there), and 80% of the professors come from the Yales, the Stanfords, and the Johns Hopkins of the world. You mentioned that you got tenure out of a lower-ranked PhD program, but how common is that? How common is it for the graduates at those top universities to fail to get tenure within the first few years out of grad school? Finally, how difficult is it to get into a top program?

By the way, I consider myself a decent writer, but i'm by no means great. Do you recommend any books that contain useful advice? I've heard Elements of Style is a good one, but i'm not sure if reading it will be useful(in other words, i'm just afraid it's a bunch of talking points out of an intro-level writing course)

xcdude24 fucked around with this message at 22:02 on May 6, 2009

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A Loaf of Bread
Mar 18, 2008


Glowskull posted:

haha sup, go Lords (1-9 in football).

Haha, I didn't realize there were so many Kenyon people here.

SpaceDrake
Dec 22, 2006

So I give this all about equal odds of either going super well or, uh, gettin' us all killed. Messily.

So a couple of prayers from you guys wouldn't hurt, yeah?


Came to see if the thread would be dull, stayed for the poison-spitting lizards and discussion of when Hamlet goes crazy. Excellent thread.

Now, question: beyond Paradise Lost and the Aeropagitica, do you believe there's anything else that Milton wrote that is absolutely crucial for an educated person to read? Aeropagitica caught my eye when I took Milton, but I'm not sure if there's anything else in his canon that I should absolutely look into.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

the chaperone posted:

I'm getting my PhD in psych and just finished teaching my first class. I loved it and am absolutely floored by the whole experience, however I can see some of my shortfalls as a teacher and would love to get some advice from you:

1) How do you deal with quantifying some of the more subjective properties of a paper when making a rubric? My kids are writing research articles and things such as APA format, statistics, citing where they should are easy to grade. I have a hard time putting a number up for 'good writing' and backing it up.

An essay is not a test. I mean two things by this:

The first is that if assessing students' command of factual or process knowledge is your goal, a test is the tool you want. If your goal is for students to synthesize their own knowledge (make connections between ideas, develop a theory to explain data, develop a question that adequately frames a complex problem), an essay is the tool you want.

The converse of this is also true. Tests are lousy educational tools and essays are lousy evaluative tools. Students don't learn much in the process of test taking, and essays evaluate inconsistently and approximately at best.

The second thing is that, in terms of evaluation standards, tests and essays are categorically different. On a test, doing nothing wrong is the same as doing everything right, and warrants an A. On an essay, doing nothing wrong and doing everything right are two totally different categories. An error-free piece of writing is a C, for the same basic reasons that error-free landscape watercolors end up on Hallmark cards instead of in museums.

It sounds like the problems you're having come from mixing up what these tools are for. Frankly, this isn't uncommon.

The best way out of this, at least if you don't want to change your assignments, is to give each paper two grades. The first grade can be rubriced and comprise things you feel comfortable quantifying (that is, things that are either errors or not), and use test-style grading standards (no errors = A). The second can be a holistic grade, which can use a more abstract set of standards (an A paper is of potentially publishable quality, meaning at least that it is well-researched, clearly written, field innovative, and interesting).

For this second grade, I usually pile up papers according to overall quality as I read them (start with a bad pile, a good pile, and an average pile), and gradually create intermediate stacks as paper quality dictates. The largest pile is a C.

quote:

2) How do you deal with kids who don't speak English as their first language? I have 2 kids who work hard but obviously don't have a firm grasp of grammar/syntax. It is hard for me to look past it.

ESL students are a challenge. Depending on how your college is set up, they may not be your challenge. That is, the first step is to refer them to whoever handles ESL issues -- usually a staff department where ESL students go to learn proofing techniques that address their specific problems.

The best technique for you, I think, is Haswell's "minimal marking" method, which also works well for basic writers. Basically, you start by bracketing some small portion of the essay -- about half a page. Within that bracketed area, you correct any clear errors. Throughout the rest of the paper, make a distinct mark in the margin of any line where there is a clearly identifiable grammar or syntax error, but don't otherwise indicate what the error might be, e.g.:

blah blah blah blah
blah blah fuckup blah___X
blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah fuckup___X

Penalize the errors as you normally would, but offer your students a chance to correct the marginally-marked errors and recover some points. The idea is that the heavily corrected, bracketed area of you paper should let students see what kinds of errors they're making, so they have a short list of things to look for in the lines you mark. Over time, this helps them hack together a reliable and individualized proofing process.

quote:

3) Do you find it difficult dealing with grade inflation? I gave a girl an 87 on a paper and she came into my office hours for 2 days making me justify justify justify.

That sounds less like a grade inflation issue and more like an unclear standards issue. Or you've got a student who's feeling external pressure to pump up her grades (rush does this, as do scholarships and sports).

There are two ways to deal with this kind of grade-seeking behavior. The first is to put the onus on the student rather than letting her put the onus on you. So when she comes in, have her sit down and explain to you why her paper should have a different grade.

Once she finishes, you can respond either by showing examples of what a paper with that grade should do (according to the rubric), or what a paper with that grade did (by going to your bank of photocopied student papers that exemplify certain levels of writing and have the names blacked out. You should definitely keep one of those if you're not already).

If you think the student has made a convincing case -- and they sometimes do -- offer to re-read the paper and revisit your thinking on the grade, and usher her from your office as you work out a time for her to come back in and get her regraded paper. Then, honestly re-read the paper. Students sometimes have legitimate grievances about grades, and as long as they're convinced you gave them a fair hearing they're usually good about wherever the grade ends up.

The second is quid pro quo.

quote:

4) Maybe it is because it was my first class, but I sort of have an emotional attachment to my students. I try and grade all of their papers without looking at names and all that jazz, but my grade distribution shows surprisingly (to me) little variance. How do you/do you stay detached enough to be fair?

Easy. I don't stay detached, and my grading is not at all equitable.

My first job is to get students to improve a skill set as much as they can during a semester. Evaluation is secondary, especially on essays (which, you'll remember, are lousy evaluative tools). So if I've got a student who can do better, but still wrote the best essay in the class, it's a B (maybe lower). My job is to make her a better thinker and writer, not to tell her it's OK not to improve. The same principle holds for less able students.

basement jihadist
Oct 3, 2002



A Loaf of Bread posted:

Haha, I didn't realize there were so many Kenyon people here.

"A writer's college," and all that.

Don't drown in the mud today.

Anyway, what do you think of Shakespeare's histories? I always get weird looks when I say I've done far more work with the histories than the comedies or tragedies.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Mister Biff posted:

I'd love to know what your literary pet peeves are, whether they be grammar, spelling, punctuation or plot cliches.

Bad exposition is the worst sin you can commit with words.

Better watch it, Ray. Sarge tells me your new partner cracks a lot of cases but just doesn't respect authority.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

post-feminist rimjob posted:

Have you given serious consideration to putting 'schoolmaster of souls' as your job description[?]

I have now.

Seriously, though. Read Book III of Paradise Lost and tell me you loved it. That the conversation between God and Jesus about the fate of humanity was just as sexy as Satan's vaunting inner turmoil.

basement jihadist
Oct 3, 2002



xcdude24 posted:

By the way, I consider myself a decent writer, but i'm by no means great. Do you recommend any books that contain useful advice? I've heard Elements of Style is a good one, but i'm not sure if reading it will be useful(in other words, i'm just afraid it's a bunch of talking points out of an intro-level writing course)

Well, I find myself turning to it often to answer/remind of more confusing grammatical questions. I wouldn't learn to write by it, but sometimes turning to Google for a grammatical question is as dubious as turning to a "spark-note" website for plot points. Published style manuals have to go through an extensive editing and publishing process, or "peer review," and so I am more comfortable turning to them. This is similar to turning to a website of peer-reviewed journals such as JSTOR rather than claiming "some guy on the internet said."

Style manuals represent a consensus on what is considered "correct." As Brainworm said before, a lot of grammatical and writing rules taught by high schools and lower-level courses are arbitrary; but I see the manuals as more of a tool than a teacher.

post-feminist rimjob
Jan 15, 2005

There's no money in poetry, but then there's no poetry in money, either


Brainworm posted:

I have now.

Seriously, though. Read Book III of Paradise Lost and tell me you loved it. That the conversation between God and Jesus about the fate of humanity was just as sexy as Satan's vaunting inner turmoil.

I don't know, I guess I can't help but feel like that segment is undercut by the fact that Milton was hardly even a nominal Christian by the time that he was dictating it

(edit: I think this is what William Empson refers to when he says that Milton "barely manages to keep his temper with the poem's God" in Milton's God)

post-feminist rimjob fucked around with this message at 02:27 on May 7, 2009

Fast Moving Turtle
Mar 16, 2009


This is a great thread.

How would you describe your teaching style, Brainworm? Being that you teach at a small liberal arts college, I assume you favor a conversational approach over a more lecture-based one, but more than that...?

Upright Sloth
Apr 11, 2007
grunt



I really, REALLY want to derail this into a Shakespeare discussion, but I'll restrain myself. Two more questions:

1) If someone came in and broke your "teaching bone" so you HAD to do something else for a living, what would it be?

2) FUNNY ANECDOTES. You know you've got em, we wanna hear em. (Guess that wasn't a question per se but I'm not rewriting it.)

e) I second the above question about your class size / teaching style.

ucmallory
Jun 23, 2005


I'm in grad school right now working on my Lit degree. I love teaching, but all they let us teach are comp courses. Thinking ahead for when I do get to teach Lit, what are some tips? I worried because all the teaching instruction I've had is how to teach writing, and I know from experience Lit classes are different (of course). I feel like I'm a poor discussion leader, and while there are writing elements of Lit classes, all of mine have been mostly discussion-based. How do I establish a thought provoking discussion for students where they can come up with solid, plausible ideas without me flat out telling them the most common ideas on the text and why? I seem to find myself asking them questions like, "Lets look at this scene. What do you think is going on? Why? Oh okay. Next point..*repeat endlessly through text*"

I sense that this is something that comes with practice on my part, but any ideas/tips would be helful. I love teaching, and I want to be solid on this when I actually do get to work with my passion.

Defenestration
Aug 10, 2006

"It wasn't my fault that my first unconscious thought turned out to be-"
"Jesus, kid, what?"
"That something smelled delicious!"




Grimey Drawer

Brainworm posted:

Hold up. I know the JD's not the lock on a high-paying career it used to be, but the job outlook for JDs is comparatively Edenic.

The NALP puts the job placement rate for law students north of 90%. Those are one year placement rates, incidentally. The three year placement rate for English PhDs into Assistant professorships is south of 50%. Further, the median starting salary for an Assistant Professor of English (the highest paying position you can get straight out of grad school) is $48K. The median starting salary for a JD who goes into private practice (55% of them, incidentally) is $108K.
Putting aside all the skeezy things schools do to make their NALP reports look good (counting McJobs as employment, etc), those are still 2007 numbers. Back then salary wars were the big industry news, and everything was looking pretty sweet. Now, over 11,000 lawyers have been fired since jan 08 (http://lawshucks.com/layoff-tracker/) and that's just DISCLOSED biglaw firings. 2L summer jobs, the traditional apprenticeship for those sweet positions, are slim to nonexistent. DA offices, being state government, are having hiring freezes. As for the median salary check the distribution graph in the OP of the law megathread. Median means nothing when there's a huge spike at $160k and a spike twice as large down in $45k. (I could argue this more in-depth, or annotated-ly, but you're not the person who needs convincing: you have a professor job!)

I will never argue that English PhDs have it easy, or that they have it easier than lawyers. But a lot of people are telling grads to throw down $100k in debt for law school based on patently false notions of the law profession as guaranteed $$$$ or at least guaranteed employment, and it's irresponsible advice to be spreading around.

Now let's go back to the fun stuff

Brainworm posted:

That there's a huge, huge developmental range. Especially emotionally. Some of them are about what you describe -- that everyone is naturally good and valuable and it's social constraints that must make them something else. The other side of that is a sort of deep relativism, where it's somehow wrong, or at least not useful, to make value judgments. That's a bit ahead of teaching at Lehigh, where the overwhelming majority of students were mired in a sort of superficial certainty about everything.
I was expecting superficial certainty, but instead I got hipsters. Relativism to some extent but mostly a severe and pervasive "ironic" detachment. It's not cool to care about stuff anymore. Do you think that cultural changes (vast opening of information channels, internet culture, lots of political jadedness etc) are making for fundamentally different kinds of college students than we've had in the past?

The best class I had all year was when I made them read Debate? Dissent? Discussion? Oh, Don't Go There!. They spent a whole hour heatedly discussing why it isn't true, or why Kakutani might think it was even if it isn't, and then had a brilliant aha moment at the end realizing that they'd just spent an hour "debating" and that was what "they" wanted all along.

Brainworm posted:

Bad exposition is the worst sin you can commit with words.
Agreed. Next is extended second-person narrative addressing the audience (as opposed to another in-story character)

ucmallory posted:

How do I establish a thought provoking discussion for students where they can come up with solid, plausible ideas without me flat out telling them the most common ideas on the text and why?
I too would love to hear more about this.

Downward Spiral
Nov 25, 2007

by Y Kant Ozma Post


Brainworm posted:


Lear might be my least favorite (at least of the major plays -- Shakespeare wrote a lot of dogs, like Henry VIII). Richard III is close, though -- it starts off so well and falls apart so completely once Shakespeare tries to give Richard a conscience.

What grinds your gears about Lear? It seems like an odd choice for least favorite.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Bachaao posted:

What do you think about Caliban?

Maybe because of Cesaire's A Tempest (great, incidentally), Caliban's often misread as the sympathetic victim of a colonial or pseudocolonial process. After all, Prospero shows up on the island, kills Caliban's mother, and enslaves Caliban.

That's not a great context for thinking about the play. First off, Caliban's apparently half fish (if you check out the scene where Stephano and Trinculo first discover him, he's apparently a half man half fish who looks like he might have been struck by lightning), so I'm not totally sure his physical differences can be convincingly discussed using a vocabulary of racial difference.

Second, Caliban's not really a sympathetic character. Prospero enslaved Caliban because he tried to rape Miranda, and Caliban is pretty unrepentant about that. Also, once Caliban confederates with Stephano and Trinculo he gets comically unlikable pretty quickly -- he offers to be their slave for life if they keep giving him wine, and doesn't seem to have any qualms about trying, however ineptly, to kill everyone on the island.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Doran Blackdawn posted:

I recently saw a live performance of King Lear and I wasn't too impressed. Hamlet and Othello, for instance, are just so much better that I was actually somewhat surprised.

Anyway, my question is why is King Lear your least favourite play? I can imagine a few reasons, but I'd really like to hear your thoughts on it.

Downward Spiral posted:

What grinds your gears about Lear? It seems like an odd choice for least favorite.

The thing that gets me about Lear is that it doesn't seem finished. Read at the plot level, I think it's an excellent play about human dignity, and the end of Lear, where he slips back into insanity and imagines Cordelia might still be breathing, is by itself deeply touching. But the Edmund/Edgar subplot isn't great.

Edmund the bastard is a throwback -- he's a Marlovian villain (sort of like Richard III) who announces his intents onstage and devises simple plans that gull everyone. These kinds of villains can work. They work for Marlowe (especially in Jew of Malta), but they never really work for Shakespeare -- the closest he gets is Richard III, and he can't sustain that character's energy for five acts.

This kind of heavy-handed and irredeemable villain is like Godzilla. Seeing him stampede over Tokyo can be pretty sweet, but you can't have a Godzilla and sympathize for everyone he stomps on. This is one of the basic problems with Richard III (if the actor does his job well, you're rooting for Richard), and it's worse in Lear, where Gloucester's blinding is supposed to be emotionally moving but (because he's a victim of Edmund/Godzilla) ends up being just another thing that happens.

And what's worse, Edmund has a moral awakening at the end of the play (like Richard III does) and it's just as hamfisted. Here's a guy who hasn't felt the least bit bad about orchestrating the deaths of his half brother and father (not to mention Lear and Cordelia), but once Regan and Goneril kill each other over him he has a change of heart?

Edgar has the same problem Gloucester does. We're supposed to sympathize with him, but it's tough. Mostly because he doesn't do anything all that great. His dad's about to commit suicide because he thinks he's responsible for Edgar's death, so Edgar does the same thing anyone would do: trick his dad out of suicide using an elaborate plot that involves disguising himself as an insane beggar and a fisherman. No "hey dad, turns out I'm not dead" or "I understand how Edmund tricked you. He tricked me too, so stop beating yourself up over it."

The same goes for his killing of Edmund. We can all agree that, by Act V, Edmund needs to die. So Edgar does the same thing any of us would do: wait for Edmund to issue an open challenge to anyone who wants to fight him to the death, and show up to the duel in disguise. If Edgar's the wronged party here, shouldn't he be issuing the challenge and broadcasting Edmund's wrongdoing? Maybe plot to take his bastard brother out Brutus-style instead of counting on blind chance and his marginally superior swordsmanship? Or even Titus it and extract some kind of justifiable but incomprehensibly brutal revenge?

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

NeekBerm posted:

But now that we're talking about hypertext, I was wondering what your thoughts are about it. From a literature point of view, it seems like a gimmicky idea that professors talk about so they seem more culturally relevant. But from a general humanities point of view, where do you see the "New Media" field ending up?

Edit: To take things a bit farther, what do you think about things like this happening?

I should clear some ground first:

1) I have not yet read that Cory Doctrow book, and now I fear I must. For the same reasons I just finished Marian Engel's Bear.* You should, too.

2) The word "hypertext," like the entire academic vocabulary describing online phenomena, is impossibly ridiculous. I call my computer screen "laser paper."

3) The thing that most bothers me about "hypertext" as a term is that hackish hacks talk about it like it's a genre (like the novel) rather than a media. And I'm using the plural "media" intentionally, since the defining characteristic of hypertext is its aggregation of existing mediums, like recorded music, text, images, and video.

There are other things to add to this, too. The most conspicuous is that hypertext producers (or content owners) can sort their audiences with greater granularity that most media have to this point practically allowed.

So the real questions classes should be investigating are how hypertext's signature qualities shape the way we think and act. A knee-jerk example would be the ways we think about privacy.

I'm a Gen Xer, barely, and one way I differ from my students is that I think of privacy in terms of visibility; if someone can see me do something, either in person or in some media, that thing is no longer private and, consequently, can be used by the viewers or observers for whatever purposes.

My students, on the other hand, think about privacy in terms of media ownership rights. Really. Hypothetically, if some Facebook user posted a picture of one of my students doing something illegal, my student's first response would be "he doesn't have the right to do that" instead of, say, "that's a lovely thing to do because it will likely have hard consequences for me."

But in terms of looking for or creating new artistic genres, it's too early. Art forms haven't historically taken off until at least a generation after the widespread adoption of an artistic technology, and it shows. Most hypertext art is really just a re-presentation of another medium (like film or text) using a different technology, or a reworking of an existing hypertext form (like a discussion board) to tell a story. That suggests that we still haven't gotten our heads around hypertext's potential for creating really innovative art.

* I of course have the original 1976 printing, which has a cover picture and cover copy twice as awesome as anything you will ever see again. Allow me to quote at length:

"Whoever wrote the cover blurb for [i posted:

Bear[/i]"]
He belonged to the place -- lived behind the house, chained to his shed. She took him swimming, let him lie before the fire -- grew to like him. They became lovers.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

xcdude24 posted:

Being a professor is something i've toyed around with, but i've been told by a lot of people that it can be a living hell trying to get there. I'm definitely interested in a few specific subjects in both fields, so the research part of the PhD program wouldn't really bother me. What really concerns me is the admissions. I look at the faculty list for my university (which isn't a top university, but it's definitely up there), and 80% of the professors come from the Yales, the Stanfords, and the Johns Hopkins of the world. You mentioned that you got tenure out of a lower-ranked PhD program, but how common is that? How common is it for the graduates at those top universities to fail to get tenure within the first few years out of grad school? Finally, how difficult is it to get into a top program?

I should clarify: I have a tenure-track position, meaning that I'm not yet tenured but will be eligible for tenure after X years of review. This is where everyone starts -- tenure isn't something you can offer applicants without attaching an identical multi-year review process.

The thing to keep in mind is that the big name programs are also the largest (at least in English). In my field, the Harvards and Stanfords and Columbias of the world each turn out five or ten Renaissance scholars a year; my former program graduates one every three or four years. So one thing you're seeing are simple numbers at work. The programs with the best reputations generally graduate the most people.

The second thing is attrition. Prestigious, well-funded programs come standard with nice funding and research packages -- you get a couple years of paid research time where you don't have to teach, your college is affiliated with bunches of research organizations, you get nice conference funding, and so on. So the attrition rates are lower. Generally, yeah, the people who come in are academically stronger and more dedicated. But they're also more insulated from the things that push people out of programs (e.g. grinding poverty).

That said, there are lots of people from these large, top-ranked programs who don't get jobs. In my mind, the only stat that matters on a program is job placement, and the only acceptable number is 100% (remember, PhD programs track three-year rates, so anything lower means people with this degree can't get jobs after three years on the market).

The thing is, top ranked programs don't often make this cut -- Harvard and Johns Hopkins are good examples. This is probably because they've scaled their programs to the point where PhD candidates don't get enough individual attention and mentoring, which in my mind is the single most important element of a graduate education.*

So when you look at programs, look at the program. gently caress the ranking, since the ranking's not generally based on items relevant to graduate students (e.g. how much grant money the faculty bring in, what faculty research budgets are), and other criteria are counterindicative of a quality graduate education (e.g. how much faculty publish; remember, every semester a faculty member gets in publishing leave is a semester he's not teaching courses you need to take, mentoring you, helping you publish, showing you off at conferences, or signing the paperwork you need to keep your funding and graduate on time).

That is, it's not about choosing a "top" program. It's about choosing a program that fits your needs, and where the graduates get the kinds of jobs you want to get. PhDs.org is a good resource for sorting these kinds of things out.

quote:

By the way, I consider myself a decent writer, but i'm by no means great. Do you recommend any books that contain useful advice? I've heard Elements of Style is a good one, but i'm not sure if reading it will be useful(in other words, i'm just afraid it's a bunch of talking points out of an intro-level writing course)

Strunk and White is the best I know, mostly because it's short enough to memorize. You can keep a proper handbook around for the rare occasions you need to look up something, but S&W offers well thought out and lucid advice on organization and phrasing, which is what most people really need.**

* So how much mentoring should you look for? In my field, in my program, I had a student/faculty ratio of .25 to 1, meaning I had four faculty for whom I was the only graduate mentee. Worst case, I think you need to have at least one faculty member who makes you his or her top priority.

** Fair warning: S&W is not a grammar handbook, and glosses over many finer grammatical points when it gives stylistic advice. This is the first point that comes up in every annual "Strunk and White suck" piece.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

SpaceDrake posted:

Came to see if the thread would be dull, stayed for the poison-spitting lizards and discussion of when Hamlet goes crazy. Excellent thread.

Now, question: beyond Paradise Lost and the Aeropagitica, do you believe there's anything else that Milton wrote that is absolutely crucial for an educated person to read? Aeropagitica caught my eye when I took Milton, but I'm not sure if there's anything else in his canon that I should absolutely look into.

Absolutely.

Milton's the greatest poet in the English language, hands down. Lots of his reputation rests on Paradise Lost, which never made sense to me. PL has incredible moments, don't get me wrong. But it's wildly uneven. If it weren't for the influence of his Satan character (which is impossibly extensive), PL would be playing second fiddle to Spenser's Faerie Queene when students learn about English epics.*

So there are two other Milton poems you need to read and understand. I can't stress that understand part enough.

The first one is "On Shakespeare." The thing is, Milton decided really early on that he was going to be the greatest poet in the English language, and this poem really shows him wrestling with how he's going to get around Shakespeare's reputation -- in Milton's time, Shakespeare was just starting to eclipse Ben Jonson as the greatest of Renaissance writers. If you can trace how this relationship between Milton and his predecessors works through "On Shakespeare," you're doing pretty well.

The second is "Lycidas," which is for my money the greatest poem of moderate length in the English language. You can forget the language of the poem for a moment as you first read through, because although the language is excellent, "Lycidas" is remarkable for its emotional depth and complexity; to snap it together and do the poem a real disservice, Milton's narrator is trying to figure out how to deal with the loss of a close friend, so he goes through the process of blaming everyone else for it (blame that, of course nobody else takes).

If you want to really discover this poem for yourself, stop reading.

Then things get interesting, because he tries out a bunch of different ways to lie to himself about what his friend's death means, finally resolving that those lies, even if they're not convincing, work better than the truth -- that death, even the death of Lycidas, humanity's last hope of redemption, is ultimately unjust and terrifyingly senseless. It's the lies we tell ourselves about death that let us live from day to day, even as they blind us to the mysteries we have a moral duty to unravel. That resolution has an emotional resonance I've never seen matched.

* Because Faerie Queene is loving awesome. Robot knights, evil snow women, goat sex, Amazons, maneating horse chariot races, magical chastity belts, Communist giants, illegal toll bridges run by sorceresses with gold feet, disputes over maritime law and deposited sediment property rights. People who say "this book has it all," they don't even know.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Glowskull posted:

"A writer's college," and all that.

Don't drown in the mud today.

Anyway, what do you think of Shakespeare's histories? I always get weird looks when I say I've done far more work with the histories than the comedies or tragedies.

There are a lot of Kenyon people here. Bizarre.

I think the second tetralogy* gets, and deserves, a lot of respect. Richard II, in particular, seems to be where Shakespeare discovers the sort of tragic, introspective character he eventually develops into Hamlet. Granted, it's a long development, but it's fascinating to watch. And Henry, Hotspur, Glyndowr, and Falstaff are all great characters in their own rights -- at least as memorable as any who come from the major comedies and tragedies.

The first tetralogy** is genuinely underrated, mostly because 1 & 2 Henry VI stage much better than they read -- the first play in particular relies on enormous and elaborate stage battles to build tension, so the structure of the play seems unclear of the page.

Also, the scope of the first tetralogy is, in a lot of ways, more compelling than the scope of the second. The arc is of England's decline from an intercontinental empire (which squanders its French possessions and sacrifices its noblest and most needed heroes because of petty governmental infighting) through a civil war that becomes increasingly brutal as military victories and defeats become ever more complicated and meaningless.

The kingdom finally dissolves into ragged factions motivated only by a sociopathic thirst for revenge. It's in this environment that the most desperate of these factions attach themselves to Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III) without fully understanding his capacity for violence or the depth of his brutality. This is an excellent setup for Richard III, which is a pretty great play for about two and a half acts.

Ricahrd's rise is effectively counterpointed by Henry VI, who begins the tetralogy as a child king capable of understanding the disaster around him but powerless to change its course. He becomes an equally ineffectual but increasingly sympathetic adult, thrown into emotional crisis as he makes increasingly heartwrenching personal sacrifices to forestall civil war.***

The other histories, King John and Henry VIII, are pretty forgettable, excepting that there's no mention of the Magna Carta in John and Henry VIII burned down the Globe.

* I just realized I should note this. The second tetralogy (the Henriad) is Richard II, 1&2 Henry IV and Henry V. Prince Hal (eventually Henry V) is the central character in all but the first play, but that first play establishes the basic conflict that tears Hal's father apart and makes Hal's redemption of the kingdom necessary.

** 1, 2, & 3 Henry VI and Richard III.

*** If parts of this sound familiar it's because everybody cribs from the first tetralogy.

RussianBear
Sep 14, 2003

I am become death, the destroyer of worlds

What are your thoughts on the future of liberal arts education? Many students graduate with massive amounts of student loan debt and no job prospects. For graduate programs you said the only stat that matters is job placement. Should this standard also apply to undergraduate programs as well? If not, what standard should we use?

What is your school's financial situation? How do most students finance their education? Finally, what do you think about the liberal arts school Waldorf College being sold to a for-profit online university? Do you think we will see more of this in the future?

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Fast Moving Turtle posted:

How would you describe your teaching style, Brainworm? Being that you teach at a small liberal arts college, I assume you favor a conversational approach over a more lecture-based one, but more than that...?

ucmallory posted:

I feel like I'm a poor discussion leader, and while there are writing elements of Lit classes, all of mine have been mostly discussion-based. How do I establish a thought provoking discussion for students where they can come up with solid, plausible ideas without me flat out telling them the most common ideas on the text and why?

I try to make all my classes discussion based, or at least discussion oriented. And I try to keep the class quick moving and relaxed -- nothing kills conversation like stress. Also, I bring in a healthy dose of offbeat stuff. Mostly pamphlets, but I'm always ready to throw in e.g. Titus Andronicus. And if there's something awkward in the text, I try to mention it in an offhand way early on, so any nervous folks know it's OK to go there later on.

So I've got a lot of class-to-class level tools. In general, the more those tools draw on student interest and autonomy (rather than imposing a structure from outside) the better they work.

Agendas are great, though I probably overuse them -- they're my oldest and most reliable teaching invention. In an agenda system, you basically have some mechanism for

(a) students generating questions
(b) sequestering questions that aren't useful
(c) moving the class through the questions in an orderly way

A good way to do this is to get students into pairs or groups of three, and having each group come up with a discussion question and write it on the board. This will take longer than it seems like it should, which is fine. It warms the class up, gets them used to talking, and manufactures debates that'll get extended to the class as a whole.

Once the questions are up, ask if any of them can be usefully grouped (maybe they talk about the same topic, character, or section of the text), so play secretary and tag any questions people think are related. Then ask which question (or question cluster) they want to start with, and let the group that came up with the question moderate the discussion (decide who speaks, when the question's been answered, when it needs to be reframed, or when it's settled into a few competing and unresolvable possibilities). Then move to the next question.

This will only work if you start with it and keep your mouth shut. Let students ask you expertise-based questions if it seems useful, but give the best answer you can in about fifteen seconds, tops.

You can also do this for small, advanced, or widely-able classes by having students email you discussion questions the day before and compiling them into a handout.

Doubting and Believing is great for shaping discussion, too. Whenever you've got a thesis or an idea presented by either a text or a student, dedicate some amount of time to everyone thinking of everything they can to support it. Then dedicate the same amount of time to everyone coming up with everything they can to shoot it down. Then, use that discussion to accept, reject, or refine the idea as it was first proposed. This is a great way to jump start discussion, and a good D/B investment early in a class period will carry the whole thing.

So, ucmallory, you could use this to move from microlecture to discussion. That is, use a microlecture to toss out ideas about how a text is normally read, then use D/B to jump start discussion on those points.

Role Assignment works well if you've got a good rapport with your class. Basically, choose a few students at random and assign them discussion roles, like Doubter (argues against anything), Believer (argues for anything), and Synthesizer (argues for a compromise position between competing ideas). I generally attach having a role to an extra credit opportunity if the role is well-played, and make sure every student gets an fair crack at it.

This, incidentally, can be coupled with any other discussion-friendly class activity.

Can somebody tell me... is great if you've got a text with a crux. Just start discussion by acting confused. Can somebody tell me why Edgar disguises himself to duel with Edmund? I've read this play probably fifty times and I just don't get it.

Assuming you do this well, it's magic. Students mostly assume that you're holding back on the answer (or a set of answers) to any problem they're discussing, so discussion gets a lot better if you can convince them you're not. Also, it models a good behavior -- that it's OK to admit confusion on a point and look to class discussion to guide you out of it.

In general, students follow your lead. If you only talk when you've got answers, that's how students will engage the discussion. If you start the class with conversation, they'll discuss. If you start with lecture, they'll listen. If you throw out half-baked ideas, they'll be comfortable throwing out half baked ideas, too. If you tell someone you're not convinced by what they've said, they won't be timid about telling other students (or you) the same thing.

In other words, you've got to model the behavior you expect from your students, and be aware that the first five minutes of class (like the classes in the early part of the semester) set precedents you're going to be married to.

Bruegels Fuckbooks
Sep 14, 2004

Now, listen - I know the two of you are very different from each other in a lot of ways, but you have to understand that as far as Grandpa's concerned, you're both pieces of shit! Yeah. I can prove it mathematically.

Not really a question but I want you to keep posting whatever crosses your mind because this is currently my favorite thread on SA.

Bolkovr
Apr 20, 2002

A chump and a hoagie going buck wild

Have you ever had a student's parents call/email you and take you to task for giving their kid a bad grade?

coffeetable
Feb 5, 2006

TELL ME AGAIN HOW GREAT BRITAIN WOULD BE IF IT WAS RULED BY THE MERCILESS JACKBOOT OF PRINCE CHARLES

YES I DO TALK TO PLANTS ACTUALLY


What's the one text you've read in your life that's altered/developed your world view more than any other?

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Upright Sloth posted:

I really, REALLY want to derail this into a Shakespeare discussion, but I'll restrain myself. Two more questions:

A Shakespeare discussion would hardly be a derail. Ditto Milton, Marlowe, Aphra Behn, Ben Jonson, Amelia Lanier, John Wilmot, Dryden, Pope, Swift, Pix, Rawson, Defoe. It's all part of my job, so it seems fair game.

quote:

If someone came in and broke your "teaching bone" so you HAD to do something else for a living, what would it be?

I'd try to coast on the writing and consulting, I think. One idea I got from my parents (and kept) was the that living on a single income stream, however large or secure, is a bad idea -- that is, you should diversify your incomes for the same basic reasons you diversify your investments.

So when I was a grad student, I made more investing in real estate and local businesses than I did from my stipend. If I followed that path, I'd probably end up as one of those self-employed people who doesn't actually have a business. I don't see any clear reason, or have any clear incentive, to work for somebody else in a conventional sense.

quote:

FUNNY ANECDOTES. You know you've got em, we wanna hear em. (Guess that wasn't a question per se but I'm not rewriting it.)

I'm sure everybody at a college has basically the same library of stories about the same library of students, so I'm not going to ride that train. Also, it's possible I've got students reading this thread. I don't want to show all my cards. The really interesting stuff involves administrators, staff, and parents. Me saying something idiotic, that's a common ingredient. So here's a list.

Condoms
Because my college has a religious mission, the administrators, staff and trustees are deeply divided between a sort of schizophrenic social conservatism and textbook academic progressiveness. So my first year here, I got put on an ad hoc committee to review our condom distribution policy. The immediate issue was that we'd received basically a truckload of donated condoms and needed to decide what, if anything, to do with them.

The committee was four people (a trustee, a faculty member, an administrator, and a staff member), and basically split 3-1 between the common sense "let's make these as easily available as possible to prevent unwanted student pregnancies and venereal infection" (3) and the oddly Libertarian/social conservative "it's not our role to distribute these so we should stay out, and if we allowed them to be available on campus we'd be encouraging sensual naughtiness" (1, the trustee).

This is a problem because the trustee, who I'll call Alice, is the holdout. While we're a more egalitarian college than most, trustees can still make things on this small a scale either happen or not. So really, our job's now to convince Alice to allow something.

So it's about ten at night, and we're leaving our first meeting, when Alice asks us to hold up -- she has an orthopedic shoe and walks slowly and with the aid of a cane. She sits on one of many heavily-upholstered antique benches that line the hall, and for lack of anything smarter to do I say, "I wonder how many students have hosed on that." Immediately drawing attention to its collage of college-issue mystery stains.

Next day, the bookstore had an unnervingly diverse selection of free condoms.

Pirates
Thanks to working a diversity of jobs in grad school, I have a CDL. So when our town's annual clean-up style volunteer effort got underway, I got assigned to drive a truck to collect trash that other volunteers were gathering and bagging around town. I was in the truck with a couple local volunteers. I do this kind of thing pretty often because town/gown relations are delicate, and getting out in the community helps keep things stable.

This was weeks ago, during the whole Somali Pirate Hostage incident, so naturally that's what we were talking about. And we're picking up bizarre trash (a sofa, a few car bumpers) and generally getting along. One of the locals made a crack -- I honestly forget what -- about what a hellhole Somalia is.

So I said "yeah. No gun control, no taxes, small government. If it weren't for all the black people it'd be a Republican paradise."

Nobody said anything else for the next four hours. The next Monday I got called in to see the college president, who asked what happened during the cleanup since he been hearing some rumors. He spitsprayed coffee when I told him.

Parents
If you're now college age, your parents are loving bizarre. And they might hate you a little bit.

A few times a semester we have a lunches for prospective and admitted students. They and their parents sit down with some senior students, some faculty, and some administrators and we field any questions they've got and generally make them more comfortable with the idea of college, and with the idea of our college in particular.

So I'm the first at my table and watching everybody else move through the buffet-style lunch line, when a College Mom and daughter sit down. College Mom looks at me, looks at my nametag, and says:

"Hi Brainworm. You know, my daughter and husband and I were just talking, and we've decided that you're exactly the kind of handsome young man we'd like Ali to bring home next Thanksgiving."

Ali is embarrassed. I am mortified. So I say something about usually having to grade papers over the break, but I'm sure Ali will bring back someone at least as handsome as I am.

Now Ali is mortified. Dad sits down and College Mom keeps going.

"Dr. Brainworm, this is Ali's father. This nice young man is a professor here, honey."

And without missing a beat, Dad turns to Ali and says, "Did you hear that, hon? You could be dating a professor!"

NUMBER 1 DBZ FAN!!!
Nov 26, 2008

by Fistgrrl


Have you taught any graduate-level courses?

JKicker
May 25, 2007


I really appreciate this thread, as well as the last one. The comments you made about teaching lit courses were quite helpful...and I'll probably use that debate article for my next 101 course if you don't mind.

I'm currently in an MFA program (fiction) and am working on an MA in English simultaneously. This means I'm teaching comp and occasionally spazzing out about the job market and researching PhD / IT options until my heart rate returns to normal. I have no false expectations about the number of unemployed MFA holders and realize that if I want to move beyond the community college/comp level, I'll probably need to do a PhD...so I'll have some questions for you the next time I visit higheredjobs.

Upright Sloth
Apr 11, 2007
grunt



Brainworm posted:

calls my derail bluff.

It's been a while since I've done this but here goes.

1) Tell us about the various editions of Shakespeare's plays. I know that a large body of collected documents exist and that his editors had a good deal of influence in shaping how we group the plays today, but I don't really know *what* documents exist, how they have been preserved, etc. I guess my question has to do with the physical transmission of the plays from then to now, and who decided which version is 'scripture'.

2) How would you stage /Enter Ariel, invisible/? What about /Exit, pursued by a bear/? What are your thoughts on WHY he would include these moments?

3) When I was taught "Much Ado About Nothing," we discussed the idea that the Benedick/Beatrice and Claudio/Hero couples represent Shakespeare's perception of two opposing styles of love. That is, B/B represent the English notion of a 'Merry War' between spouses that arises from a deep and real friendship (his preference), whereas C/H are the Petrachan, idealized notion of love. The latter, in this interpretation, is held up to mockery through the clod-like gullibility of Claudio (Margaret, "another Hero!") and the passive, utilitarian Hero. Agree/disagree?

4) Would you go to a bearbaiting with me?

5) How significant do you think are the occasional breaks from pure character drama? I'm thinking about Time in "The Winter's Tale," Chorus in "R&J," and whatever other ones I can't think of at the moment.

I'll probably think of more questions but I'll leave it here for now.

dancehall
Sep 28, 2001

You say you want a revolution


Brainworm posted:

Doubting and Believing is great for shaping discussion, too. Whenever you've got a thesis or an idea presented by either a text or a student, dedicate some amount of time to everyone thinking of everything they can to support it. Then dedicate the same amount of time to everyone coming up with everything they can to shoot it down. Then, use that discussion to accept, reject, or refine the idea as it was first proposed. This is a great way to jump start discussion, and a good D/B investment early in a class period will carry the whole thing.

So, ucmallory, you could use this to move from microlecture to discussion. That is, use a microlecture to toss out ideas about how a text is normally read, then use D/B to jump start discussion on those points.

Role Assignment works well if you've got a good rapport with your class. Basically, choose a few students at random and assign them discussion roles, like Doubter (argues against anything), Believer (argues for anything), and Synthesizer (argues for a compromise position between competing ideas). I generally attach having a role to an extra credit opportunity if the role is well-played, and make sure every student gets an fair crack at it.

Oh this is good. Totally using it if I end up teaching college-level courses again. How do you feel about Bloom's Taxonomy? I've always thought it was pretty useful for telling students what kind of questions to come up with.

As a former high school teacher I always considered it a big part of my job to prepare students for college. To that end, my number one goal was to teach them how to gracefully integrate quotations into their sentences. Also I'm developing an alternative approach to vocabulary that focuses less on your verbs and adjectives and more on words (usually adverbs) that help connect ideas in different ways (theretofore, whereby, etc). Is there anything else you wish high school teachers would push?

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

RussianBear posted:

What are your thoughts on the future of liberal arts education? Many students graduate with massive amounts of student loan debt and no job prospects. For graduate programs you said the only stat that matters is job placement. Should this standard also apply to undergraduate programs as well? If not, what standard should we use?

I'm not sure I can say anything really perceptive about Liberal Arts education as a whole, since LA comprises a spectrum of schools with radically different missions and educational priorities. What I can say for sure is that colleges and universities have done a lovely job balancing their educational and research missions. With rare exceptions, schools have compromised undergraduate instruction in order to devote more faculty time and institutional money to research, since rankings criteria inexplicably focus on research metrics to the near exclusion of direct or indirect measures of student success.

I think data on graduate placement would be great. Of course jobs are part of that, but so are graduate programs and service positions. The other useful outcome measures I can think of revolve around the broader application of standardized testing.

But non-outcome measures are also good indicators of educational quality. Attrition is important, as is average time to degree completion. And we could probably add average class size, with auxiliary stats that show how frequently course enrollments go above or below a certain number. And the average number of advisees per faculty member, so students know in advance how available their mentors are going to be.* If you look at any of those measures, Liberal Arts colleges are the place to be.

quote:

What is your school's financial situation? How do most students finance their education?

One reason I came to this college was because of how we handle our financial aid. We are one of the few** colleges and universities in the US with a real need-blind admissions process. Simply put, we admit students regardless of their ability to pay, and promise to to meet the financial need of every student we admit.

In practice, this means that our sticker price is about $45K a year. A third of our students pay nothing. Of the remaining two thirds, our average discount rate is close to 50%. The kicker is that our cost is about $65K per student per year. Even if you pay full tuition, you get $20K more in goods and services than you pay for, every year.

We can do this because we've got a substantial endowment and haven't joined the facilities arms race. Costs there are obscene. For instance, since a lot of people here go to Kenyon, I'm sure you all know that your new athletics facility's sticker price was about $60 million. After the bonds used to finance it are paid off, that cost will be at least $130 million.*** Used as a scholarship endowment, that same money's worth about 100 full rides. As a staff endowment, that gets you about 70 additional faculty (or 40% smaller classes).

quote:

Finally, what do you think about the liberal arts school Waldorf College being sold to a for-profit online university? Do you think we will see more of this in the future?

I haven't yet seen a for-profit university that wasn't either an outright scam or a short step from it, and they don't live long -- the usual practice is for the investors to rake in a couple years' worth of tuition, run the place on state loans, and shut down before accreditation problems catch up with them (like BCTI and CRI did). Or they run simpler scams, like Crown College and Florida Met.

And online programs are doubly sketchy; one thing any college administrator will tell you is that online courses are way more expensive to offer than their conventional counterparts, partly because faculty need to invest incredible amounts of time reading (or listening to) the student responses that substitute for class discussion. This is why colleges flirted with this model but haven't embraced it -- common sense suggests it should be more efficient and therefore cheaper, but it isn't.****

The way to get around this problem is (of course) to let cost drive course design. Get some adjunct to prerecord a stack of lectures, and assess using computer administered and graded multiple choice exams -- in other words, use the single worst possible combination of educational and assessment techniques. I'd bet at least one useful finger this is exactly what you get with an online class from a for-profit.

We're going to see a lot more of this, I'm sure. I'd bet another finger that this is where Antioch goes.


* I excluded student/faculty ratios since "faculty" includes researchers who rarely have contact with students and (in the case of less scrupulous schools) part timers and adjuncts who teach but don't advise or mentor.

** Fewer than ten. Lots of schools claim to have need blind admissions, but they mean they don't consider finances when they admit students. They don't guarantee, or even try, to make their college affordable for every student they admit.

*** Your internal projection is actually $160 million, but keep that quiet.

**** Turns out a computer is a lousy substitute for a room.

Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

Bolkovr posted:

Have you ever had a student's parents call/email you and take you to task for giving their kid a bad grade?

Strangely, no. Our parents are oddly civilized in that respect.

Head Movement
Sep 29, 2008



This question pertains graduate admissions. I don't know necessarily what hand you have in it where you are, but I figure you probably still have a good bit of perspective on it. I graduated with a 2.9. Didn't get in to the one place I applied (as kind of a litmus test), and certainly wasn't surprised. I took a couple graduate level courses in the fall through their continuing education program to try and work on proving myself outside of the holes I'd put in my undergrad transcript. I was doing fine in these courses until the end of the semester when I choked putting together the papers at the end of the semester. This has been my perennial problem knuckling down and getting the big important things done. Anyway, at that point I didn't bother reapplying for this coming fall, but I'm still trying to sort out my next path.

Getting a handle on the bad habits which dog at me aside, I'm trying to figure out what I should probably do next. I've continued to shoot myself in the foot. Would it be productive to go pursue some things which later on would look good when reapplying? (teaching English abroad, foreign service exam are things I've considered) Or continue taking courses while not in the program? Or maybe do that at some other school? Ignoring the fact that I have a gulf between my interests and my actions, do I have any hope of digging myself out of the hole I've made?

Kommienzuspadt
Apr 28, 2004

U like it


did you ever have a love/hate relationship with English/your field in particular, or have you always loved it so much that it never seemed like that much of a chore? I'm currently an undergrand poli sci major looking down the barrel of a senior thesis, and while I really love what I study, I also know that there are moments in the depths of februrary when suicide seems much more appealing than having to slug through JSTOR for the sixth day in a row.

Barto
Dec 27, 2004


I am quite interested in verse, especially meter. I read poetry, and I can feel the rhythm of it, but as how to identify the stresses in words, and their various patterns and usages, this completely eludes me. I've tried reading a lot of sonnets and writing down random lines as a sort of practice, but I can't tell if I'm fooling myself or if I'm really putting it into iambic pentameter. Can you recommend some books on the topic? Or perhaps advice of some sort?

dancehall
Sep 28, 2001

You say you want a revolution


^^^ I'm gonna butt in and recommend Pinsky's The Sounds of Poetry

billion dollar bitch
Jul 20, 2005

To drink and fight.
To fuck all night.


Is the word "expat" pronounced with an A like in "crate" or "cat"? I've gotten different things from different sources.

Also, is it "There are a lot of people there" or "There is a lot of people"?

(For the record, I go with the former in both cases, but the people i'm talking with choose the latter.)

MsJoelBoxer
Aug 31, 2004

Your judicial opinions hypnotize me.

Are there any performances you think you absolutely must see in your lifetime?

One of the best Shakespeare performances I've ever seen was pretty small and performed in the gardens at Clare College in Cambridge. They were doing a summer outdoor series and I saw a production of Twelfth Night that made me laugh harder than I'd ever laughed beforehand*. Whoever did the costuming found the most glorious neon-yellow and black leggings for Malvolio...

I was in Stratford-upon-Avon when Patrick Stewart was playing Prospero in The Tempest and still haven't quite forgiven myself for not trying harder to get tickets.

I know that the Folger is putting on Much Ado About Nothing and Hamlet next season. I'm kind of hoping they go with a longer Hamlet performance. I'd really like to see some of the scenes that usually get left out.

I just saw that McKellan's RSC 2007 King Lear is out on DVD now too...


So, what would make you say, "Yes, I absolutely must go watch that"?


*Could also be attributed to the copious amounts of mulled wine they handed out before/during the performance.

lewi
Sep 3, 2006
King


billion dollar bitch posted:

Is the word "expat" pronounced with an A like in "crate" or "cat"? I've gotten different things from different sources.

Also, is it "There are a lot of people there" or "There is a lot of people"?

(For the record, I go with the former in both cases, but the people i'm talking with choose the latter.)

expat rhymes with cat.
There are a lot of people.

I'm English if it makes any difference.

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Brainworm
Mar 23, 2007

...one of these--
As he hath spices of them all, not all,
For I dare so far free him--made him fear'd...


Nap Ghost

coffeetable posted:

What's the one text you've read in your life that's altered/developed your world view more than any other?

Honestly? Would you believe Dune?

I read it as a kid when the David Lynch film came out -- I would have been like seven or eight. And it was the first book I'd read where the characters actually thought like real people. I'm not talking about the half-baked Ayn Rand flavored mysticism. I'm talking about the political intrigue. I could see the characters outthinking each other, anticipating what others would do, and I was hooked.*

Up until that point, I'd only seen clever characters in movies, books, and TV shows solve problems in the lamest possible ways. The "smart" character would just say "wait a second! We can solve this problem with reverse tachyon techno magic!" or (worse yet) "wait! I know this is true and/or false because of my psychotic attention to detail and library of trivial knowledge." Or (Ender's Game syndrome) "wait! I can solve this problem because the rules of the world I live in are arbitrarily flexible."

None of these ever squared with my experience of being clever, which was (is?) mostly anticipating how people or groups will react to what you do.

Also, I'm going also vouch for Dune because it's actually just Hamlet with a different ending. Turns out everything good in that book came from Shakespeare.

* And then disappointed. Once Paul and Jessica hit the desert, every character becomes mind-bogglingly stupid.

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