Thursday, June 30, 2011


First, thanks to Leslie, I am now able to do a straight line. That's vitally important to the realism of my work.

And here's my first effort that I managed to save. (I can't figure out how to get it to save with my fine photoshopped artwork added, but somehow I did. I think you'll agree that "Bardiac in a Redwood Tree" is... well... unique. :)

I don't think most people realize how tall I am!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I bought myself a copy of photoshop today. Yep, just the basic one, to play with pictures.

And I couldn't get it to download. So I got all frustrated and went around the web trying to figure it out. And then I ended up on the Adobe site chat, with a helpful person named Prashan (err, I think I'm mispelling it), and as he was taking my information, the CD drive finished the copying that it was doing because it said to on a web thingy, and I tried putting in the second disc. And suddenly, I could get it to load onto my computer.

Turns out the first disc is for Macs. Oops.

Now, does anyone know how to get photoshop to do the straight line for you thing? Because I'm planning some awesome new pictures! I tried adding a self-portrait into a picture of trees, but somehow, it didn't save, and I'm too tired to try again right now.

Writer's Block

I'm sitting here, staring at a card I got for the person who had the stroke, trying to think of what to write.

Dear X,

I hear you're improving, and I'm sure glad of that news. I was so sorry to hear about your stroke, especially coming on the ____ trail, since I know how much you love to _____. I'm thinking good thoughts for you and hoping you'll soon be able to be out _____ing again.

Best wishes,

Bardiac (except I'll use my regular name)


Monday, June 27, 2011


I was driving with a friend the other day, who was mourning the loss of a relative who, at the young age of 55, toppled over and died at work.

Someone I know in the community was out exercising, which s/he did regularly, when s/he apparently had a major stroke. S/he was found out on the trail, and is now in a hospital far away.

It's the tritest thing in the world to think once again that yes, people I know as colleagues, friends, contemporaries are beginning to suffer bad health stuff not in the way of a bad car accident, or even cancer, but in the way of older folks.

So I've been thinking about stuff.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Blog that Ate the Upper Midwest - Fish Farm!

I went out with some friends to a fish farm today. They raise trout in a bunch of tanks and ponds, and market them in a few local stores, to restaurants, and to people who come out to fish (or just to eat the fish) on the farm.

It's a pretty cool operation. They're able to use water from the aquifer, and put it through the tanks and ponds, and return it to the aquifer, and they say there's been no damage to the aquifer in the 20+ years they've been operating. The water keeps moving so it doesn't freeze in winter, too.

I had a buffalo burger. I know it's not fish, but I felt like something different, and it was good! They also served rice and apples sprinkled with some spices, and all was good.

They were nice enough to give us a tour of the fish growing tanks, and it was interesting. They move the fish based on size, every couple of months, so that in the final tank, they've got restaurant ready fish. They harvest year around, so a restaurant getting fish from here gets really fresh fish even in winter. It seems like they've put a lot of thought into how to use minimal energy (pumping water, feeding, transporting) to run a pretty sustainable farm.

(With a nod to The Blog that Ate Manhattan, of course!)

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mad Dash

I have one month from today before I will be on an airplane, jetting off to a distant island.


Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Thing Is

I've been spending the week with my Mom at her retirement housing thingy. Most of the folks here are active and healthy and busy.

And even so, being here makes me want to kill myself before I end up like these folks.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Regional Differences

Where I live, the weather radar is often fascinating. I try to get a sense of what the weather's going to be like as I plan the day or week, though I'm not nearly as obsessive as some people I know. Still, if there's going to be a major storm, I try to mow ahead and stuff.

Here, weather radar is boring. The weather right now ranges from slightly cooler than ideal to slightly warmer than ideal. And even when it's warmer, it's pretty close to my idea of ideal.

When I first moved to the midwest, I was confused by the extra locations added in case of rain for pretty much every outdoor event, because in my growing up, it didn't rain during summer. And where I lived in the Peace Corps, you always assumed it would rain, and planned accordingly. But in the midwest, there's no telling.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


There are a couple of freeways I just, well, love. I drove one today for a bit, and it was just great. The freeway's relatively new, as such things go, and was built with big wide lanes, swoopy curves, and has beautiful scenery.

Who else has affection for a freeway?


I spent much of yesterday with extended family. I had two conversations that were surprising to me.

First, my uncle talked to me about a poet he really likes and why. If you'd have asked me, I would have never guessed my uncle would have read any poetry, much less have a favorite poet. But he does. And it's a really amazingly great poet he loves, too. I'm cherishing that conversation right now, especially since it was so unexpected.

Second, one of my cousins told me that he and some of the other cousins thought I was just the coolest for going off to join the Peace Corps. Like most teenagers, I always thought I just didn't quite fit and was as far from cool as could be. And I always thought this cousin was incredibly cool. So it shocked me to learn that he'd always felt like he didn't quite fit, and thought I was cool. I guess one of the things I've learned to realize is that most teens and young adults feel awkward and unfitting, and look at others and imagine they're all so much cooler and better and everything. But now we're of an age where we can tell each other that we think they're cool. It's amusing, isn't it, because while you're young, that sort of honesty would feel so utterly uncool and embarrassing.

It was fun, and great to talk to people I don't see nearly often enough.

One of the best things is that even though I'm not around lots, and even though various combinations of the cousins were (and are) close or not, we've grown up into adults whose conversation I enjoy and who do good things in their lives.

That makes living far away worse somehow.

I spent the evening with college friends. There's nothing quite like sitting around, chatting, and having history, getting each others' lines, and caring about each other. Yet another reason living far away is hard.

Yeah, I can't even imagine how my ancestors picked up and left where they'd been and never went back. What an amazing courageous and weird thing, eh?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Flight Delay

What do you to when your flight's delayed? And you haven't got games on your computer OR ipod? And for some reason, the public access WiFi at the airport won't play nicely with your computer?

At first, I sat there and thought grumpy thoughts. And then I thought, hey, I can listen to music and draw pictures!

And three hours later we were off, and I eventually got to my destination!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


That pretty much sums up my life right now.

I'm reading and getting notes put in pdf files. I'm very grateful that I'm pretty good about putting together notes that make sense even 10 years later. And I'm disappointed that I'm not better.

I'm taking care of the things one must take care of: my teeth are sharpened now (not really, but clean).

I've bought some stuff that needed to be bought.

I've weeded a section of the yard that really needed to be weeded (but more needs to happen; this was the worst area, though).

I'm figuring out the calendar function stuff.

I've put a map app on my new ipod, and found the address for where I'll be staying in London, and I'm both excited and nervous.

I'm putting stuff on my ipod, and sort of figuring out how it works and such. (When I was weeding, the ear thingies kept falling out, but I gather most people get different ones that don't fall out so much?)

This is one of those times when the "reality TV" show of my life would look way more boring than it feels to live.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tiny Art

I saw some very cool art recently and I've been meaning to post about it. This guy, Steve Tomashek, carves tiny animal figures, paints them, and then sometimes takes pictures of them in ways that show this incredibly wonderful and subtle sense of humor. Here's a good example of his humor. They aren't laugh out loud funny, but quieter. And really, really good.

ps. I'm not usually into advertising, but these are so darned cute! I got a dragon picture for my own house!

Summer Stress

Summer is the time when things are supposed to be less stressful, but right now, it's not feeling that way.

I have a ton of things I need to take care of before I go away, and most of them I have less control over than I'd like.

I have to arrange to get three people together about a floor. One of them, it's his job, so 9-5. Another, it's not his job, so after 5. Gah.

I have to reread for my classes, because I haven't taught a lot of this stuff in 10 years. In a way, though, this shows how messed up some things in my dept are, clearly, and what I've got to do to try to change that.

And I'm going to visit my Mom for a big family thing, and for nearly a week. I shouldn't be stressed about this, but I am. The week comes in the middle of when I need to be taking care of other stuff, including serious reading and writing.

Of course, when I complain about it, my problems look absurdly easy. Just do 1. Then do 2, and so on. But it's not feeling that way at all.

I have taken care of some things, really. Just not nearly enough.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Plot Person

I'm rereading More's Utopia and going over notes and such. I'm reminded that I'm very much a plot person. Please, More, make something happen!

I ran a half an hour today. I walked on one little bit for a minute, and then stopped to turn on the oven for the break I was rising (and then went back out again for the last 5 minutes).

Do you ever use "map my ride"? It's a web thing that let's you map where you've gone and then gives you measurements. So I could tell that I ran just about 2 miles. (Yes, I'm the slowest runner around.)

And the part I walked? It's a Cat 5 climb on a bike. (That's the lowest category they bother to label. It was a short (but over 500 meters) 6% grade. And I couldn't make myself run up it. But I've biked up it.

And at 6%, it's REALLY hard. So when you see the pro biker folks riding FAST up 15% grades, it pretty much reminds me what a whuss I am!

But there will be hot oatmeal/wheat bread out of the oven soon!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

The Comment Run Around

On some blogger blogs, I can comment just fine. The ones I have a problem with are the ones with a little drop-down menu that asks you to "select a profile."

Here's what happens. I write my comment and select a profile. Then it sends me, if I'm lucky, to a Google account screen, where I type in my username (email) and a password. (If I'm not lucky, then it doesn't show me even that for like three more clicks.) Then it sends me back to another screen where I get to see my comment and write a capcha. So I type in the capcha, and double check it. Click. And then it sends me back to sign in to the Google thing again.

Do other people have trouble with these? Is there a way to change them?

If you're having trouble commenting on mine, please drop me an email at:


Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Campus Tech Folks

Ours rock. Seriously. They're so nice and helpful.

One just set up my ipod (well, helped me over the phone) to check campus email and stuff!

The question of the day: how long will I manage to go before I put a game on either my new computer or the new ipod?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Try Not to Laugh

The newest baby asparagus! It's maybe an inch and a half tall.

/happy dance!

Fat Fingers

I got an ipod thingy today, so that I can download books on tape from CDs and listen to them while I'm away.

I can't figure out how to get my email or how to listen to the book CDs I downloaded onto my computer.

And I have FAT fingers.

Monday, June 06, 2011

A Quick Question

Is it really that hard to avoid taking a picture of your genitals and posting them on a social media site? Really?

And if you're stupid enough to do it, do we really need you as an elected official?

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Planning a Class - Masterpieces of English Lit

Here's the rough version of the Masterpieces class. I decided to put the short lyric verse at the end.

Masterpieces of English Literature I (3) Studies major works of English literature from Beowulf (750) to Blake (1780). Includes such authors as Chaucer, Marlowe, Donne, Milton and Swift.

Week 1
8/29 - Mon- Classes begin – Introduction to Masterpieces of English Lit
8/30 - Tues – “The Dream of the Rood” (Handout)
9/1 - Thurs - Beowulf

Week 2
9/5 - Mon - Beowulf
9/6 - Tues - Beowulf
9/8 - Thurs – Marie de France, “Lanval”
9/9 - Fri - Class Day - Wed Schedule

Week 3
9/12 - Mon – Gawain and the Green Knight
9/13 - Tues – Gawain and the Green Knight
9/15 - Thurs – Gawain and the Green Knight

Week 4
9/19 - Mon – Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale”
9/20 - Tues – Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale”
9/22 - Thurs – Chaucer, “The Knight’s Tale”
9/23 - Fri - Class Day - for 9/29 courses; Chaucer, “The Miller’s Tale

Week 5
9/26 - Mon – Chaucer, “The Franklin’s Tale”
9/27 - Tues – Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk 1
Long Weekend

Week 6
10/3 - Mon – Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk 1
10/4 - Tues - Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk 1
10/6 - Thurs – Marlowe, Faustus

Week 7
10/10 - Mon – Marlowe, Faustus
10/11 - Tues – Marlowe, Faustus
10/13 - Thurs – Midterm Exam

Week 8
10/17 - Mon – Shakesepeare, King Lear
10/19 - Wed - Tuesday Schedule – Shakespeare, King Lear
10/20 - Thurs – Shakespeare, King Lear

Week 9
10/24 - Mon – Jonson, Volpone
10/25 - Tues – Jonson, Volpone
10/27 - Thurs – Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1

Week 10
10/31 - Mon – Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1
11/1 - Tues - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1
11/3 - Thurs – Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1

Week 11
11/7 - Mon – Behn, Oroonoko
11/8 - Tues - Behn, Oroonoko
Long Weekend

Week 12
11/14 - Mon – Swift, “A Modest Proposal” (handout)
11/15 - Tues – Pope, “The Rape of the Lock” (handout)
11/17 - Thurs – Pope, “The Rape of the Lock” (handout)
11/18 - Class day, Thurs schedule (for 11/10) – Defoe, Robinson Crusoe

Week 13
11/21 - Mon - Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
11/22 - Tues - Defoe, Robinson Crusoe
11/24 - Thurs – Verse Selections: Shakespeare, Milton, Blake

Week 14
11/28 - Mon - Verse Selections: Shakespeare, Milton, Blake
11/29 - Tues - Verse Selections: Shakespeare, Milton, Blake
12/1 - Thurs - Last Day of Classes – finishing up!

Week 15 - Finals Week

Suggestions? I'm pretty packed!

Saturday, June 04, 2011

The Pathetic Patch

As promised, here are a couple of pictures of my "soil." As one of my friends said (shortly after crying out that she'd never seen such bad dirt in her life), it's got good drainage.

And here's a shot in front of the deck stairs, where some extra strawberries went.


There are a couple of tree swallows nesting in a nest box I put up about 6 years ago. We painted nest boxes as a project one summer, my Mom, my niece and nephew, and I. I think theirs went the way of kid projects, and my Mom left hers here, but it broke. So this is what survives. (I know now that you're not supposed to paint them. Oops.)

The first couple of years, a wren filled it with stuff, but didn't nest there. And then it seemed to be ignored. But now, there are a couple of tree swallows hanging out there. There's no real place to perch right there, except on top, so fairly often, there's one perched on top.

I've been meaning to take pictures, and today was the day (and I also took some of the strawberries, which I'll post soon). I took out my camera with the telephoto and the tripod, and started a good 20 feet away, hoping not to bother the bird. And the bird seemed to notice me, but not pay a huge amount of attention. So I moved closer. And then closer. And then, even closer. Finally, I went around to the other side. And moved closer.

And this was one cooperative bird. At the end, he looked a little nervous, hunkered like he was about to take off, so I didn't move closer. Maybe if I go out there fairly often, they'll get used to me?

Here he is, hunkering a bit.

The Blog that Ate the Upper Midwest - National Dairy Month!

Another homage to The Blog that Ate Manhattan, and this one guaranteed to make her jealous! Maybe?

You may not realize, but June is National Dairy Month. It's important to celebrate, and how we celebrate around here is with a "Dairy Breakfast." Mmmm, breakfast. Different counties around here do different Dairy Breakfasts, but today was this one! And since it's not too far, and I have friends who live out that way, it's perfect.

You may think a dairy breakfast out in the country, no big deal, right? Wrong. I left my house a bit after 6am, and got to my friend's at 6:30, and then we drove together out to another friends, and then got to the dairy about 7:30 or so. And here's what we saw. Row after row of cars parked in a nicely mown field, a short walk from the barns. (If you needed a ride, there were small mini-truck things giving people rides, too.)

There are two lines already formed, one to eat, and one to see the robotic milker. (We made the mistake of not seeing the robotic milker early, and then the line got bigger and bigger. But, it sounds cool. Basically, the idea is that the cows go to the robot and get milked. They go when they want. The handout I got said that most of the cows on this farm now get milked three times a day, and that their milk production is up. Amazing. Dairy farmers work HARD, so something that makes things easier, yay!)

We didn't make the mistake of missing the food line. Nope. And you can tell it's going to be good, because people are coming back for seconds.

This is a waffle-production line, which is about as close to heaven as I can imagine. You stand at the line. The waffle-maker goes down the line pouring batter into each waffle-thing, closing and flipping it, and then a few moments later goes back to the beginning and starts pulling out hot, lovely, perfect waffles.

When you get your waffle, at the end of that line are: butter (melted and not), fresh whipped cream, a selection of syrups, and strawberry mess! There's also choices of fresh milk, chocolate milk, strawberry milk, and of course, coffee.

Then it's time to sit down with all the other happy people, enjoy the scenery, and have some waffles. Don't eat too many, though, because there's ice cream outside. And if there are three perfect words in the English language, they have to be "free ice cream."

While you're outside enjoying your ice cream, you can see some crafts, and some local fun. Here's a team of Shetland (?) ponies called the Little Buds pulling a cart, doing a TIGHT u-turn. (Downsizing?)

And if you're looking for a ride, you can't go wrong with this! (It has a beer cooler on the back! And arm rests on the seat!

And that's the Dairy Breakfast for today. It was very, very good. And lots of fun.

ps. Thanks to my friend C for taking pictures on her phone and sharing them with me.

Friday, June 03, 2011


I was all jealous of Inktopia's bloglist, and then she (I think) told me how to do it. But to do it, I needed to update my template.

So, what do you think? Is this readable?

If you want to be added to the exciting new bloglist, let me know, please. I reserve the right not to add anyone who is primarily advertising, especially for stuff I find unpalatable (like for-profit education).

Planning a Class - The Seventeenth Century Calendar

Obviously, I should start on March 25th!

As with the Renaissance class, this one's feeling a bit crowded. I changed up a few things after the brainstorming. For one thing, I added Jonson. How I forgot Jonson the first time around, I do not know. But I'm glad you folks are on the ball.

This one has a sort of weird one hour three times a week calendar:

17th Century (3) Covers prose, poetry and drama of the post-Renaissance period through the Restoration with special focus on works of John Milton.

Week 1
8/29 - Mon- Introduction to the 17th century
8/30 - Tues - The Early 17th Century (1235-1251); James I, selections (handout)
9/1 - Thurs - Shakespeare, King Lear (1139-1223)

Week 2
9/5 - Mon - Shakespeare, King Lear
9/6 - Tues - Shakespeare, King Lear
9/8 - Thurs - Bacon, "Of Truth," "Of Marriage and Single Life"

Week 3
9/12 - Mon - Bacon, "Of Superstition," "Of Plantation"
9/13 - Tues - Donne, "The Flea," "The Sun Rising," "The Relic"
9/15 - Thurs - Donne, Holy Sonnets #7, 10, 14

Week 4
9/19 - Mon - Donne, "Meditation 17"
9/20 - Tues - Jonson, "On my First Daughter," "On my First Son"
9/22 - Thurs - Jonson, "Inviting a Friend to Supper"
9/23 - Fri - Class Day - for 9/29 courses - Hobbes, Leviathan (1594-1605)

Week 5
9/26 - Mon - Hobbes, Leviathan (1594-1605)
9/27 - Tues - Herrick, "The Vine," "Delight in Disorder," "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time"

Week 6
10/3 - Mon - Herbert, "Redemption," "Easter Wings"
10/4 - Tues - Herbert, "Jordan (I)," "Jordan (II)"
10/6 - Thurs - Webster, The Duchess of Malfi

Week 7
10/10 - Mon - Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
10/11 - Tues - Webster, The Duchess of Malfi
10/13 - Thurs - Midterm Exam

Week 8
10/17 - Mon - The Early 17th Century (1251-1257); Charles I trial and execution (1737-1743)
10/19 - Wed - Tuesday Schedule - Views on the Civil War: Hutchinson (1758-1760), Hyde (1761-1764), Halkett (1764-1767)
10/20 - Thurs - Behn, The Rover

Week 9
10/24 - Mon - Behn, The Rover
10/25 - Tues - Behn, The Rover
10/27 - Thurs - Behn, Oroonoko

Week 10
10/31 - Mon - Behn, Oroonoko
11/1 - Tues - Behn, Oroonoko
11/3 - Thurs - Marvell, "To His Coy Mistress"

Week 11
11/7 - Mon - Marvell, "The Mower Against Gardens," "Damon, the Mower"
11/8 - Tues - Milton, from Areopagitica (1816-1825)

Week 12
11/14 - Mon - Milton, "How Soon Hath Time," "To the Lord General Cromwell, May 1652"
11/15 - Tues - Milton, "When I Consider How my Light is Spent," "On the Late Massacre in Piedmont"
11/17 - Thurs - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1 (1830-1850) - Read through line 191 for today
11/18 - Class day, Thurs schedule (for 11/10); Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1 (finish Bk 1)

Week 13
11/21 - Mon - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1
11/22 - Tues - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 1
11/24 - Thurs - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 2 (1850-1871) (read all of Bk 2)

Week 14
11/28 - Mon - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 2
11/29 - Tues - Milton, Paradise Lost, Bk 2
12/1 - Thurs - Last Day of Classes - Finishing Up

Week 15 - Finals

What do you think? Will it work? Can it work?

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Planning a Class - The Renaissance Assignments

The assignments for a class are right up there in importance. They should help students learn. And they should also give the instructor a sense of the learning. Some assignments do more of one than the other, of course.

I try these days to write all of my assignments (except for composition classes) ahead, so that the students can see right off what they're in for. It helps me have a sense of building assignments and since I'm aware, I can work in small bits at helping students write a given assignment ahead of time. I try really hard not to surprise students in any unpleasant ways (adding stuff at the last minute, changing rules).

Assignments: All assignments are due in print at the beginning of class on the day assigned unless you have a serious problem (if you’re in the hospital or have cleared something with the College office, that counts. Being tired from a trip doesn’t count.)

Word Paragraphs 25%
Short Analysis Paper 10%
Midterm Exam 10%
Longer Analysis Paper 20%
Reflection Paper 15%
Final Exam 20%

Information about Assignments: Use MLA format for citations. You can find information about using MLA format at the Online Writing Lab at Purdue (OWL at Purdue), which you can find on the web. If you look at any text, our primary text, a secondary text, Wikipedia, whatever, you MUST cite it. Always!

In order to write the papers, you will need to read the text(s) well ahead of time. I’m happy to consult with you and help with your brainstorming and such, of course.

Word Paragraphs: You will need to turn in 10 (ten) Word Paragraph assignments out of the 13 on the calendar. Look at the passage cited. Choose the most important word in the passage, and write a focused paragraph in which you tell me what word you’ve chosen and why it’s the most important word in the paragraph. The point is NOT to guess which word I would choose, but to explain as clearly as possible why you chose the word you chose. These are graded on a scale of 1-10.

Sisyphus shared this assignment with me, and it's great. (For a cat, she's very smart and generous!) I've had students doing this in my Chaucer class, for example, and they really liked it. They said that they didn't find it too hard to write a paragraph, but that focusing on figuring out a word really helped them read more carefully. Score! This is one of those assignments that's way more balanced towards the writing to learn side than to the showing me what you've learned side. I give students specific passages to write about in the calendar.

Short Analysis Paper: Carefully read the Ascham and Hoby assignments for the day. Choose one, and then go back and reread one of the Renaissance texts we’ve already read in class. Write a 2-4 page argument connecting the values, ethics, or ideas on the two texts you’ve chosen. (Due 9/21)

This sort of assignment gets students to think about and make connections between two texts. It's (I hope) painful for students to plagiarize, but gives them some room for choice and thinking. The Ascham is a short bit on learning Latin and then on fashion; the Hoby is several pages translated from Castiglione's Book of the Courtier.

Midterm Exam: The exam consists of two sections, one of which involves defining terms and concepts and connecting them with texts, the other of which involves writing a short essay about three passages from the texts. A couple of weeks before the midterm, I’ll post a similar midterm from a different class, so you’ll have a very good idea of what the format looks like.

Longer Analysis Paper: Choose an option. Write an essay in which you focus on making an argument using the text as your primary source. You may use other sources; if you do, be sure to cite them appropriately. (Due 11/9)

1) Write a 4-5 page essay in which you make an argument about why Antonio is a vitally important character in the play.

2) Write a 4-5 page essay in which you make an argument for why Act 1, scene 1 is vitally important to the play.

3) Write a 4-5 page essay in which you make an argument for why the trick on Malvolio is vitally important to the play.

This assignment asks for a deeper analysis and thinking about some aspect of the play that's difficult. It's not really easy to plagiarize (though I suppose one option would be easier than the others), but should give students who are getting the close reading skills a chance to shine more.

Reflection Paper: Choose and option and write a reflective essay. This should probably be 3-6 pages in length. (Due 11/28)

1) Choose 1 text we’ve read in this class, and make a connection between it and something you’ve learned in your [another specific] class. Be sure to give well-developed examples to show how what you’ve learned in the two classes build on each other.

2) Choose 1 text we’ve read in this class and make a connection between it and somewhere you’ve visited while in the UK this semester. Be sure to give well-developed examples to show how what you’ve learned while traveling has contributed to what you’ve learned in class, and vice versa.

Sometimes reflection papers aren't useful. But sometimes they really do help students put together what they've learned, especially when they've been learning in two different areas but haven't necessarily been putting them together.

Final Exam: The final will be in three sections; the first two will be in the same format as the midterm, but will cover the second part of the course; the final section will be an essay in which you’ll write on texts before and after the midterm.

And that's pretty much the Renaissance class, minus some obligatory class policies stuff that's specific to any given teaching context. One done!

Planning a Class - The Renaissance Calendar

The next step to me is to fit my brainstorming into the actual semester calendar. Here's what I'm coming up with for the Renaissance. Yes, I haven't fit everything in. I find it harder to schedule 2 day a week classes than three day a week classes. But I like the slightly longer class time, usually.

The Renaissance (3) Studies Renaissance English literature emphasizing works by Sidney, Spenser, Marlowe, Bacon, Jonson, Bunyan, Marvel, Herrick and Donne.

Week 1
8/29 - Mon- Introductions – Welcome to the Renaissance
8/31 - Wed – Intro to 16th century, 485-498; More, Utopia (read the intro, and Bk 1, 518-545)

Week 2
9/5 - Mon – Intro to 16th century, 498-506; More, Utopia, Bk 2 (545-590)
9/7 - Wed – Intro to Sonnets; Wyatt, “The Long Love,” “Whoso List to Hunt,” “They Flee from Me”
9/9 - Fri - Class Day - Wed Schedule – Wyatt, “Mine own John Poins”

Week 3
9/12 - Mon – Locke, Sonnet Sequence (Handout); Howard, “The Soote Season”
9/14 - Wed - No Lit 310 Class

Week 4
9/19 - Mon – Faith in Conflict (616-617); Askew (628-630); Foxe (631-632)
9/21 - Wed – Ascham, 641-645; Hoby (trans. Castiglione), 645-661

Week 5
9/26 - Mon – Women in Power, 662; Mary, Queen of Scots, Letter to E1, 679-681; Narrative of Execution, 681-686
9/28 - Wed - Elizabeth 1, 687-688; Passage, 688-690; Tilbury, 699-700

Week 6
10/3 - Mon – Spenser, The Faerie Queen, Bk I (This will take you a fair bit of time, plan ahead!), 714-856
10/5 - Wed – Spenser, FQ, Bk 1

Week 7
10/10 - Mon – Spenser, Amoretti, #34, #64, #75 (903-905)
10/12 - Wed - Midterm Exam

Week 8
10/17 - Mon – Sidney, “Defense of Poesy,” 953-973

Week 9
10/24 - Mon – Sidney, Astrophil and Stella, #1, #2, #20 (975-979)
10/26 - Wed – Marlowe, “Hero and Leander” (1004-1022)

Week 10
10/31 - Mon – Intro to 16th century (506-511); Marlowe, Faustus (1023-1056)
11/2 - Wed – Marlowe, Faustus;

Week 11
11/7 - Mon – Shakespeare, Sonnets #20, #55, #73, #116
11/9 - Wed - Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, 1077-1139

Week 12
11/14 - Mon - Shakespeare, Twelfth Night;
11/16 - Wed – Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Week 13
11/21 - Mon – Lanyer, “Cookham,” 1319-1324; Jonson, “Penshurst,” 1434-1436
11/23 - Wed – Donne, “The Flea,” “The Sun Rising”

Week 14
11/28 - Mon – Donne, Holy Sonnets #7, #10; Reflection Paper Due
11/30 - Wed – Finishing Up and Review
12/1 - Thurs - Last Day of Classes

Week 15 - Finals

The next step will be to set out the assignments. I'll post that soon, since I think about assignments as I'm brainstorming and such.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Planning a Class - Brainstorming the 17th Century

A quick note: I really appreciate the feedback people have been giving me on the brainstorming stuff so far. Thank you.

Just so you recall, here's the course description: Covers prose, poetry and drama of the post-Renaissance period through the Restoration with special focus on works of John Milton.

James I - selection from Basilicon Doron - 1 hr

Shakespeare, Lear, 3 hrs

Donne - 3 hrs

Herbert - 2 hrs

Herrick -2 hr

Marvell - 3 hrs

Bacon -2 hrs

Hobbes - 2 hrs

News - Charles I trial, execution - 2 hrs

Hutchinson, from Memoirs - 1 hr

Halkett - from Memoirs - 1 hr

Cavendish - 1 hr

Behn - Oroonoko - 3 hrs

Behn - The Rover - 3 hrs

Milton - from Areopagitica - 2 hrs

Milton - "Lycidas" - 2 hrs

Milton - sonnets - 1 hr

34 hrs so far

Milton, PL - Bk 1 - 3 hrs

Milton, PL - Bk 2 - 3 hrs

Total - 40 hours

This is brainstorming, as you can see. I haven't been as detailed with the verse and such as I was with the previous class, because I'm waiting to hear from some friends for lunch.

Once again, what do you think? Are there things I should totally add? Something I'm so missing that it's unforgiveable?

Is there something I should drop because it sucks?

I'm at about 40 hours, so for anything I add, I need to drop or cut something.

Planning a Class - The Problem with Pamela

I'm still thinking about the novel for the end of the Masterpieces class, and I think it's not going to be Pamela. I love that's it's an epistolary novel, because I love epistolary novels. I just do. They're great. I love the sense that the thing I'm reading is an artifact of correspondence (or a journal, I love those, too). It's just so witty and creative.

But, Pamela. I don't mean to offend, but Pamela and Jane Eyre I detest for the fantasy they promulgate that a good woman can reform an a-hole. It's a popular fantasy, I know. It's all over modern "romances" (since they aren't medieval, they get quotation marks): bad boy reformed by good woman who is in turn introduced to the pleasures of rough sex.

The thing is, it's a horrid fantasy. It's vile.

I don't have a lot of relationship rules, but here's one: if someone is a jerk, don't have sex or be in a relationship with them. If they treat you or other people badly, they're a jerk so avoid them.

You're not going to suddenly make them into a kind and caring person by having sex with them. You're not going to suddenly make them not abusive by taking care of them and being obedient to them.

Now, maybe this makes me seem like a pessimist about people. Yes, it's true. I think that by the time someone's an adult, their basic character is in place, and while they can change if they really want to, most of us don't really want to change our basic character, so we don't.

And I don't want to teach a book that's focus is that fantasy. Yes, of course you can teach against the fantasy. You can discuss the fantasy. I just don't want to spend my energy that way.

I know that's sort of weird, because it's not like I teach "The Franklin's Tale" without discussing the trade in women at the base of that tale and critiquing it. It's not like I teach "The Wife of Bath's Tale" without discussing the rape and the elision of female voices. Heck, it's not like I teach Chaucer without asking students to think hard about how many of his tales center on rape and how that might inspire us to read his biographical information pretty darned carefully and think about how complex rape is in his world.

So, I'm thinking Robinson Crusoe it is. Yes, I'm happy to take on asking students to think critically about colonialism and such. That's a fantasy I have the energy to get students to think hard about.

Yet, I do feel a little like a whuss here, because I think the fantasy at the base of Pamela and Jane Eyre is a dangerous one, and certainly something our students should be pushed to think very critically about.

Planning a Class - Brainstorming the Renaissance

Back to planning. Now that I've chosen my anthology, I'm going to loosely brainstorm the stuff I think is important to teach along with approximations of the hours on each.


More, Utopia - 3 hours

Wyatt, 2 hours - intro to sonnets - "The Long Love," "Whoso List to Hunt," "They Flee from Me," "Mine own John Poins"

Locke/Lok - 1 hr - sonnet sequence

Howard/Surrey -1 hr - "The Soote Season,"

Askew + background - 1 hr - From "The First Examination"

Ascham, 1hr
+ Bk of the Courtier

Mary, Q of Scots - 1hr - letters, background

Eliz I - 1hr, progress, Tilsbury

Spenser - Shepheardes Calendar 1hr
+ intro to FQ

Spenser - FQ - 3 hrs - Bk I

--15 so far

Spenser - Amoretti - 1 hr - #34, #64, #75

Marlowe - "Hero and Leander" - 2 hrs

Marlowe +Raleigh - 1 hr, "Passionate Shepherd," "Nymph's reply"' "The Lie"

Sidney, 1 hr - "Defense"

Sidney - 1 hr - Astrophil and Stella - #1, #2, #20

Marlowe - 3 hrs - Faustus

Shax - 2 hrs - sonnets - #1, #18, #20, #55, 73, #116

Shax - 3 hrs - 12th Night

Donne - 3 hrs -

Lanyer - "Cookham" /Jonson "Penshurst" - 1 hr (maybe should be 2?)

Jonson - Volpone - 3 hrs

Jonson - Poetry - 1 hrs

Herbert - 2 hrs

Herrick - 1 hr

Bacon - 2 hrs - essays

Okay, I've hit some of the high points, and I'm at 42 hours, which is two hours more than I should be. What would you cut, or combine?

What have I left out that I really shouldn't?

I've put down specific poems for some poets, not for others (because I felt a little lazy). I tend to assign up to about 3 sonnets an hour, because I don't think I can really get students reading sonnets well without a fair bit of time on each (and sometimes, I'd only really discuss one). I try not to have students read a ton of short poems and then not discuss the majority of them, if that makes sense. I think it's great for students to read poetry, but frustrating for them if they're asked to read a ton and it's never really discussed.

(Can I just say, this is going to be SUCH fun!)