Adventures in Teaching: The Aliens That We Are, or Roleplaying the World

Let's talk aliens, ethics, and mock United Nations debates, shall we? Since 2011, I have run an experimental debate session with my students at least once per year. In this debate, they are asked to roleplay as one of two alien species (or as members of an Intergalactic United Nations security council) who have been in a multi-century conflict reminiscent of the current Israel-Palestine conflict -- albeit, in a reductive and allegorical sense. One group wishes to be recognized as a planet (i.e., member state) in the IUN, while the other does not. A panel of students ultimately decides whether planethood (i.e., becoming a member state) will be granted; this decision is based on the strength of the presented arguments. If you're curious about the scenario, I've provided the full slideshow below: Read More

Teaching Against the Mainstream

I just turned in my book list for the courses I will be teaching in the Spring. Both are composition courses, so their default texts aren't particularly interesting outside of an academic interest, but one of those courses (ENC 1102) is a research writing course, which means I get to teach some literature! Every time I teach these courses, I try to make the readings accessible and relevant to the present day. Previous renditions looked at war (past, present, and imagined), social media and technology, and, most recently, etc.. Most of my ENC 1102 courses this year have been explicitly political. It's hard not to be. A lot of writers have talked about trying to be creative in the present political climate. As a teacher, I find that the best way I can deal with what is going on beyond screaming obscenities at my friend on Skype is to turn my courses into productive explorations of our present world. Over the summer, I explored fascism/totalitarianism in literature and the connection such ideas have to our present situation (it's complicated). Read More

Adventures in Teaching: The Space Opera Syllabus Reading List

As most of you are aware by now, I'm teaching an upper division literature course in fall.  The theme:  American space opera.  A few weeks ago, the department approved my syllabus, so come the end of next month, I will be teaching a whole lot of really interesting works.  Here's what my students will be reading: Read More