Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Ooh! More Inspiration!

So, this afternoon, I went into campus to get two of the films I'll be teaching for my class. I ended up having an impromptu meeting with a colleague, and as we chatted, it was revealed that I may get to teach a brand new course next summer!

I'd only been thinking of this theme for a course in a scattered sort of way while I was in Lebanon, and I'd figured I'd never teach it. See, I was thinking about it in terms of redesigning one of my upper-level undergrad courses this year, but then I decided that I didn't like the idea of revamping that particular course because I love it so as it is. And so, it was going to go the way of many new course ideas that I've had over the ages: into the ether.

But no! See, if I teach this course next summer, I'll teach it as a GRAD course. And it would give me an excuse to teach a bunch of stuff that doesn't fit into the other courses that I teach. AND - and perhaps this is the biggest AND of all - as I threw the idea out to my colleague, it occurred to me that this would be my next writing project: an article that would come out of this particular course. And it might be an article about teaching, or about the lit - not sure. But then I thought - because I'm never one to have one idea without a follow-up idea that is big and crazy - so does this mean that my plan post-tenure is a series of articles? Could be. But then I thought, what if what I wanted to write was about teaching? And if so, maybe what I really should do is write a book about teaching.

Not a textbook; a book about teaching. And this is where my ideas get the better of me, because I have no idea who would publish such a book, what the audience for it would be, or what would go in it. And, because I'm a weirdo, those are the sorts of ideas that always capture my imagination most, naturally.

Maybe it's really a good thing that school's starting again, for it seems to have energized not only my teaching brain but also my scholarly brain.

But so I won't know for a while whether I'll be teaching this course or not. It all depends on what would be most advantageous for the program, and I'm not going to steamroll my way into teaching it. But if I do teach it, what is the course?

A course on terrorism. That's right. The idea would be to teach 4 or 5 novels maximum, one novel per unit. Each unit would then also feature selections of poetry, non-fiction, and theory. And each unit would explore terrorism from a different angle - so we'd talk about Irish nationalism and the IRA in one unit, radical Islam in another.... you get the picture. Wouldn't that be so totally cool? And we could explore things like gender and terrorism and domestic terrorism and well, really, the list just goes on and on. I'm so excited!!!! Of course, the whole idea could come to nothing. But wouldn't it be so great if it didn't? Ok, need to get back to work, as the afternoon is quickly getting away from me.


postscript said...

Sounds like a cool class! I would take it if, you know, I were a grad student.

life_of_a_fool said...

you teach/want to teach the coolest classes!

Brigindo said...

Both the online course and this one sound totally cool. And I could so see you writing a book on teaching. You've practically written one here.

Earnest English said...

First off, there are a few books on teaching/pedagogy coming out of lit -- I think Elaine Showalter wrote one and Salvatori wrote another. The journal _Pedagogy_ really tries to expand out of the Comp/Rhet loop (that is so teaching and pedagogy focused already) into other fields and disciplines, so that might be a wonderful place for you to fly up some articles on teaching on your way to a book. From my position in English Studies, I think pedagogy is one of the most interesting things we study -- and it can be fun when you start getting into looking at samples of students' work and doing qualitative and quantitative research on the classroom, if you go that far.

About your class on terrorism: I did a lit class on war and witness a few years back. It's not exactly what you're thinking, but the book Women on War, I think from Feminist Press, was super-useful. I also have a list of books that I felt discussed those issues, though they were not always specifically on terrorism (but you could cull from the list). You could look at protests as well like Women in Black, though that might be too far afield what you're thinking, because that's really a response to terrorism, rather than the terrorism itself. All this to say, I have many resources that I would be happy to share on both these subjects. Witness literature is actually one of my foci, though I haven't focused on it as much in recent years, but I'd be happy to bat around ideas with you. If you like, email me at earnestenglish@gmail.com. Though maybe the fun of it is coming up with your own stuff -- which I hope you'll share.

negativecapability said...

If you want to do the French Revolution, check out Caleb Williams by William Godwin. It's a really fun book to teach -- espionage, paranoia, intrigue abound.

Dr. Bad Ass said...

If you're looking for a publisher for a book on teaching English, you might go with a press out of a professional organization (such as NCTE) or perhaps Teachers College Press, Lawrence ERlbaum, etc. Lots of publishers publish books about teaching.
Sounds fabulous.

Dr. Virago said...

You know what's funny? Once upon a time, before I started blogging, Bullock was half suspicious that you were my colleague Victoria, who happens to write on domestic terror! Now we know you're not Victoria, but the coincidence is kinda funny. To me, anyway.

E-mail me if you want bibliography, or at least her real name.

James said...

Sounds like a cool class. I know the topic mostly from a computer security perspective, though I did find Louise Richardson's What Terrorists Want insightful when I read that a couple of years ago. There's interesting stuff happening in the area cyber-terrorism in recent years, like the removal of Estonia from the Internet last year and the current Georgian/Russian cyberwar which is eclipsing the old Swedish/Turkish cyberwar that started out of the Mohammed cartoons.

PowerProf said...

What a very cool course - there are so many interesting things to do with that topic.

As for online teaching, my experience is that I have to figure out how to do it all myself. We have little support and when I actually get it (back when I first began teaching online) it didn't really fit my needs and I ended up redoing it. The first online course is the hardest - and it takes much longer than a regular course, but net time will be a bit easier. You'll probably make a lot of changes, but it's not like starting from the beginning. Each time will get a little easier. Really