lunadelcorvo: (Dante Alighieri)
...and failing. A lot. Another friend said something that sounded right to me: my life is going pretty well, so I haven't been feeling the need to vent/rant/whinge as much these days. But, I do miss the simple act of chronicling my life, so I'm back, again, for another try.

It doesn't hurt that I'm in a digital media course. That kind of got me all nostalgic for the ol' LJ (which is of course, more DW these days, since LJ continues its drain-circling idiocy and malfunction....

So, what's what? Said digital media course, by the same instructor as my general media course last semester. This is good; she's pretty cool. I really enjoyed the last class more than I expected, so I'm pretty jazzed abut this one.... (It isn't every semester you get to do your semester term paper on a video game you love! w00t!)

And on the teaching front: Dante! At last! I am SOOOOOOO excited about this. At the absolute worst, it gives me a sterling excuse to re-read the entire Commedia start to finish, in detail. I haven't done that in a while. Plus the students seem pretty open and talkative, which is awesome!

I'm also doing another junior-level, a repeat of one I've done a few times, this time at another hospital as part of the RN->BSN program. This is a tough accelerated course, but the students are great, and it's half a semester. In, out, done! Never a bad thing. And I'm still taking Latin, which is good.

My scary little brain is still turning and churning PhD options, but there remain precious few within reasonable distance. There is a perfectly adequate (if not stellar) history PhD about an hour away. There is a truly stellar medieval history PhD an hour and a half away. And, there is a kick-a$$ Dante studies program 5 hours away. No really good options there.... The hour-and-a-half, stellar medieval program is really tempting, but oy. Not sure how I'd structure my life around that kind of commute, especially for the level of work I'd be doing. Phooey. Ah, well, I'll just bide my time, see what DH comes up with when the ink dried on his own PhD, and see what opens up.

Another reason I have stopped posting as much is that I have sort of stopped trying to do commentary on the political sphere. Not because I stopped caring, but because - well, it's almost too much. Where does one even begin to discuss how insane things are? Eh, I might try to get back into writing more (in my copious spare time, of course!)
lunadelcorvo: (Tea Spell High art)
Not much going on, but trying to stick to my (oft-repeated) determination to actually be here!

Classes are going really well; I've just begun to shake up my students, which is always very rewarding. In Utopia/Dystopia, they are having to come to grips with the idea that America is NOT the be-all of a perfect society! It's great when I can lead them to realize this in in their own - that's how minds open! And in Dev. of Christianity, we have just dealt with how little evidence we have outside of the bible for Jesus ever existing, and how very dodgy the biblical 'evidence' really is. Then we went right into an overview of 1st-3rd century heresies. It's funny how easily they can spot the logical inconsistencies there, compared to if I started them on contemporary stuff. But by the time we get to 20th century, they will be used to thinking critically - that, again, is where minds open. So good stuff all round!

Getting the countertops installed tomorrow! Yay; no more temporary counters of old cabinet doors! Of course this means I have to unhook the sink (again) and will need to re-plumb the new one...*sigh* Hopefully no more than one (maybe two) days of no kitchen sink.... First world problems again, I know. LOL

OK, geek moment: Picking up Diablo 3 for Xbox today (been playing on Mac for ages). Whee! Also SO totally psyched for updates on all my favorite games: D3 Reaper of Souls expansion, and Fable Legends both look *awesome!!!!* And still hopeful for Dragon Age: Inquisition - I adored Origins SO, SO, much, and DA:II just really didn't do a thing for me. (Maybe if I'd played it first, but it was a piss-poor followup to the awesome that was Origins...) SO yes - much squeeing for this little geek girl!

Oh, and tea. I'm in a huge tea phase right now - just got a big batch of Jasmine Dragon, and mixed up a new batch of my black tea/berry blend. Gonna float away at this rate, but what the heck - tea is good, right?
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
Well, almost. I have one stack of exams yet to grade, but I'm done with classes themselves, on both sides of the desk!

I had some amazing work from my students this term; I'm really proud and very impressed by a number of them! Who said you can't teach theory to freshmen? Then again, I had more people just blow stuff off than ever before! Whole research papers without a single citation, students not bothering to turn in research papers (20% of final grade! WTF?) or just taking half the semester 'off' and showing up for the exam. Weird. Still, on balance, a very satisfying semester teaching-wise.

I managed to pull off As in both my own courses, somewhat to my surprise in one case. You may recall the 'difficult' prof I mentioned earlier? The arrogant one, who also threatened to take a letter grade off because of my 'absences' a.k.a. going to and presenting at professional conferences. Um, hello? Isn't that kind of central to the business of academia, and THIS is why you want to dock my grade? Like I turned in any bit of work that wasn't an A.... Oi.

The other course was Comm Theory. On the one hand, it was pretty easy; I've studied half this stuff before in the context of the original theories, like Foucault, Sartre, Baudrillard, etc. On the other, it was kind of hard for me to take some of it seriously, more or less for the same reason. "Oooh, you figured out that people choose what to reveal and what not to reveal for reasons of power? That's nice; Foucault did that 20 years before you did, and did it better." On one of my essays RE this theory ("Privacy Management Theory") I attached a few pages of Foucault's chapter on confession and the perpetual spirals of power and pleasure. Arrogant, perhaps. The program seems to keep falling over itself at having an 'academic' in the program (the vast majority are business folks taking this as a first graduate experience for the sake of advancement in their jobs), so the professors I've worked with tend to appreciate that I take a different, and decidedly more 'academic' perspective even where I call bullshit on some of what they are teaching. *shrug* Works for me, I suppose.

I'm getting PhD hankerings again. Oi, again. LOL. First thing is going to have to be Latin - I really need to get my shoddy Latin up to snuff to even be considered most anywhere I want to go (options for which are severely limited by my location). Anything I do will involve a commute of some kind - the question is how far, and how often. So we shall see. No hurry, I can keep chipping away at this COMM MA for now, while I explore the possibilities.

Meanwhile - summer break! w00t! What the heck am I going to do with myself all summer! (OK, try to brush up Latin, but OTHER than that.....LOL)
lunadelcorvo: (Casavir (NWN2))
School is school. I have two classes to teach, and two I'm taking. I'm really enjoying the ones I'm teaching: History of Christianity and Theories of Religion. One is a 9 am, which is tough for getting the students to speak, but we're getting there.

The ones I'm taking are...odd. One is theory. And I am sure most you you know how I feel about theory; it has it's place and can be a powerful tool for understanding things. It is also wildly overused, irresponsibly used, and leads to more or less every stereotype of academic pretension going. So naturally, I have some ambivalence to begin with.

Then there is the whole nature of theory within the communication discipline. It's largely been pinched wholesale from here, there and everywhere, with nary a nod for its source. So here we are, nattering on about what is clearly Sartre's intersubjectivity, or Foucault's perpetual spirals of power and pleasure, only we are pretending Sartre and Foucault never existed. (Or worse, I'm the only one in the room who even recognizes the attribution.) But yet, we still stand on academic integrity. Huh.

Thirdly, this course is taught be a professer of whom I am quite fond, but who happens to be very much to the 'social science' end of the comm spectrum.Naturally, I am as far to the other end as it is possible to be, so it's sometimes hard to keep the right glasses on, if you take my meaning. She's awesome, and very well-respected at what she does, don't think this is in any way a dig. It's just a bit like trying to do philosophy in a chemistry class. I keep having to set aside everything about how I usually do things.

And finally, there is the fact that I"ve had theory courses aplenty, I've been slicing and dicing with theory for years now (I'm even teaching a theory course this semester!) and frankly the "Let's talk about what a 'theory' is" is putting me to sleep. I should be grateful - easy course, yeah? One of these days I'll figure that one out; meanwhile, I'm hungering for a challenge!

Then there is the movie class. Just odd. But I plan on writing my first paper this weekend, getting it in early, and then starting on the big final project. Neither of these are intimidating. Sorry, but a five-page analysis of a theme in a film just doesn't intimidate me.

I do have my conference, which I am pleased as punch about. (If you didn't see it on FB, I've been invited to present at the International Conference on Medieval and Renaissance Thought in April. I'm presenting a paper on the theology of eating in Dante's Divine Comedy.) It's been a while, and I'm really glad to be doing some serious academic work. I've also been asked to participate on a panel as an adjunct faculty representative at my uni, which is a very good sign, particularly since the academic dean, who is also my boss, is the one who recommended me to the organizers! Oh yeah, credibility, here I come!

In other news, I am having so much fun with all the new (to me) games I got for Xmas! I'm loving Diablo 3 to bits. As with many games I tend to enjoy, the touches of humor and wit really give the game some dimension, and after D2 (which I still play) the graphics are breathtaking. So is the sound! Wow! I've never made a habit of using headphones to play, but D3 really does its audio well! I have also gotten a full version of Baldur's Gate (which I played the hell out of back in the day) on the iPad (imagine!).

And of course there's Dragon Age, and yes, I am head over heels for Alastair, I admit it. He's heroic, a little damaged, deeply determined (as all those paladin/templar/warden types I fall for are) but sensitive (ditto). However, he's also sarcastic and snarky sometimes rather adorably dorky. (Look at that WTF? eyebrow. Gotta love it!)

I always really got a kick out of Steve Valentine, Alastair's voice actor, as Nigel on Crossing Jordan, and he does a really masterful job of making Alastair into a dimensional character. (So often these stoic-heroic types are utterly one-dimensional; it's a running joke about the 'captain cardboard' paladin.) I heard the studio wanted Nathan Fillon (whom I also love) to voice Alastair, but I can't see it. The writing is quite good in this game overall, but a lot of Alastair's dialog, especially the funnier bits, would have totally fallen flat without the voice acting. Valentine managed to hit the right blend of goofy, snarky, and sensitive that just works. Very much fun!

Oh, and finally, after years of various jerry-rigged contraptions to keep from sleeping on a mattress on the floor (something I've always hated) we finally have a bed! It gets delivered tomorrow! Here it is: The Royal Bed Whee! So excited!
lunadelcorvo: (Medieval Scholar)
Just got my official notice of classes for fall, and I picked up an extra for this coming semester, which is always a boon to the pocketbook!

So, for Spring I'm teaching (freshman) Theories of Religion and Development of Christianity (wherein I more or less throw the whole kit and kaboodle right under the bus!)

In Fall, it will be (freshman) Utopia/Dystopia and Development of Christianity, and (junior) Self, Place & Culture.

And for my own courses, I'm taking another foundation course, Comm Theory, along with an advanced topics course called "The Movie is the Message," dealing with social and cultural messages in film. I suspect I can do all sorts of interesting things with that! The theory should be...interesting. I have my misgivings about rampant theory-using generally (as I discussed a while back here), but I still tend to be far more conversant in theoretical areas than the "social sciences" aspects of communication as a discipline. However, the prof is as purely social science oriented as you can get, which should add some spice to the conversation.

Combine that with the tendency of Comm to kidnap theory from other disciplines without ever owning up to it, and my own tendency to recognize from whence the ideas have come ("Hey, wait a sec! That's Sartre's intersubjectivity!" or "That's Foucault's perpetual spirals pf power and pleasure!" statements have so far been met with rather blank stares...), ought to make for a really interesting semester....

Tally ho! Off to write my syllabi!
lunadelcorvo: (Badass is in!)
And some of them are awesome! I got another class for fall, and the chair told me it was up to me if I wanted to just do another section of the same course, or, in his words "try something different." (That kind of trust and freedom is why I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching at this university!) So I gave it some thought, and decided to try something completely new and different. Here's the 'official' course description:
Literature is full of imagined worlds, some appealing, others terrifying. In this course we will survey Utopias and Dystopias from a variety of sources ranging from Greek myth to Thomas More’s Utopia, the plays of Henrik Ibsen to George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four. We will also look at selected examples of utopia/dystopia from popular film and television. The emphasis will be on critical reading of literature, and a thoughtful, unbiased cultural interpretation of utopian/dystopian fiction as revealing social commentary.

In terms of contemporary relevance and critical thinking, we will consider both what an ideal world might look like (and whether such a thing is possible) and what the dystopian visions we encounter tell us about our own fears and the dangers of the societies we hold dear.

In addition to extensive in-class discussion, and several short response or reflection essays, students will apply research skills, thesis selection and argument formation to the completion of a research paper. The research project will include the preparation of a proposal and presentation of their work to their classmates in addition to the final paper.
I haven't quite decided what sort of film/TV I will bring in yet, but I am thinking Blade Runner and The Matrix for film and Dollhouse and Firefly for TV are all top contenders. For Ibsen, I think I will do either A Doll House or Hedda Gabler together with The Master Builder.

The chair said it sounded wonderful, and I am really quite psyched - these are some of my favorite works, so I am totally jazzed to be teaching them! So yeah, sometimes, life is grand!



Things I need to remember:
• Asking for help is not, as it turns out, fatal.
• Laughing is easier than pulling your hair out, and doesn't have the unfortunate side effect of making you look like a plague victim.
• Even the biggest tasks can be defeated if taken a bit at a time.
• I can write a paper the night before it's due, but the results are not all they could be.
• Be thorough, but focused.
• Trust yourself.
• Honesty, always.

Historians are the Cassandras of the Humanities



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