Thursday, January 07, 2016

In the company of squiggles and blurs

After half a day on campus I'm ready to tear out my eyeballs with a claw hammer. For the past three weeks I haven't spent much time in front of computer screens or small print, instead surveying broad vistas of sand or swamp. This morning I've been fiddling with syllabi and putting the finishing touches on my Moodle pages and now the entire world looks blurry--except for those little squiggles floating in front of my face, which are clear as day. I'm going to have to get in the habit of giving my eyes a break.

The good news is that it's all over but the photocopying. Classes start Monday and I'm pretty excited about my schedule. Last semester I taught three freshman classes and the senior capstone, but this semester I'm down to only one freshman class (hurrah!), two sophomore-level literature surveys (postcolonial lit and post-Civil War American lit), and a surprisingly full upper-level film class (Romancing the Beast, thoroughly revamped the second time around).

My biggest class is only 18 students, which is about perfect, but all four are writing-intensive classes, so I'll have plenty of opportunities to ruin my eyes on student writing. From the class rosters, it looks as if my freshman class is predominantly male while the other three are mostly female, which makes no sense on a campus where men vastly outnumber women. I see some names I recognize but many more that I don't, so I'll have a mess of new names to match with faces. 

What's new this semester? I haven't made many big changes except to freshen up the reading lists, but I'm excited about adding a new type of assignment to the postcolonial survey. To help students grasp the relationship between literature and place, they'll create interpretive maps illuminating three of the works on the syllabus. The stakes are fairly low gradewise and artistic merit will not count for much, so I hope students will have fun illuminating the contexts of their reading.

All that reading! I get goosebumps just thinking of the cool stuff I'll be sharing with students this semester. The future is looking pretty bright! (Except for the parts that are still blurry.)

No comments: