Posts

My Last Issue as Reviews Editor for FAFNIR

That's a wrap, folk. Our latest issue of Fafnir, volume 9, number 2 , has just been published, and that's officially my last horrah with the journal. It's been a pretty rewarding time overall . Over the course of the last five years , I've had the opportunity to work with some fantastic editors and, of course, reviewers. In fact, it's probably been working with the reviewers themselves that I'll remember best about this experience. Although I'm closing out my tenure with relief -- the burnout was starting to get to me -- I'm still immensely proud of everything we've managed to accomplish these past five years. Anyway, here are the highlights and personal accomplishments: Developing the reviews section from scratch.  We went from having 0-1 reviews per issue to about 6-11 per issue under my tenure. Ushering almost 100 reviews to publication, oftentimes through several drafts. Many reviews were from graduate students and Early Career Researchers.  Wor

Course Evals in ENGL 373A: Beowulf to Milton

Image
So, reading through my first-time course evals for ENG 373A. In general, I'm satisfied with them. As per usual, students found my energy and style especially appealing, and they also gave high marks to accessibility and ability to make material interesting. Nobody complained about unclear expectations. Overall, the commentary was quite positive, and several students self-reported enjoying the course highly. The complaints were also pretty standard. I still talk too fast. Unlike my freshmen course on Monsters, however, there were almost no complaints about "too much work." Still, several people offered the standard complaint about "harsh grading." (This remark, which also tanks my ratemyprofessor score, continues to confound me, as 70% of my students got A's or B's. Historically, I'm pretty sure at least some of these complainers have actually gotten A's in the course overall. I struggle to come up with an explanation that don't sound like an

Problems in Pronouncing "Tolkien"

It's well-known that Tolkien pronounced his name tol- keen , not tol- kin  (like most Americans do) ... but here's a conundrum. Did he emphasize the first syllable, or the second? In other words, TOLL -keen or toll- KEEN ? Reading Bowers's Tolkien's Lost Chaucer , which is fantastic, and he says that he confirmed that the accent's on the second syllable through people who worked with him. (His first source was Reynolds Price's Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home, Coming Back , 2009), and then he confirmed Tolkien's supervisee V. A. Kolve.  However, in CS Lewis's essay "The Alliterative Meter," he clearly puts the accent on the first syllable. The line goes like this (the capitals belong to Lewis): "We were TALKing of DRAGONS | TOLkien and I". So, Tol -keen. I'm going with Lewis here for now, because part of me has really never cared about proper pronunciation. So, personally, I'll keep saying Tolk- kin, like a good 'Murican. Sti

Closing out British and American Literature: Beowulf to Milton (Fall 2022)

Submitted my final grades for my ENGL 373A: Brit Lit I (Beowulf to Milton) class on Friday. This was, hands down, the most fun I've ever had teaching. Partly it was just teaching something semi-within my research area. Partly it was teaching upper-division students in the major. Another part was just having a great bunch of students. Some vital stats for the course: 43,000 words of lesson plans created, plus D2L shell 6 PowerPoints created 150 quiz questions created 10 possible short essay questions created for mid-term and final 81% average grade in the class overall I checked for comparison, and my Monsters course only has 25,000 words of lesson plans. That's almost a direct result of studying for this course -- I'm not a medievalist or Early Modern scholar, so there was truly a prodigious amount of pre-course research involved. To help prep those lesson plans, I created an additional "historical notes" document that's another 13,000 words. Overall, ENGL 37

Pfft to you, too, buddy

So, last year, the facebook page for the Southern California CSL Society asked if any scholars would like to present at their monthly meetings. Since I had just finished some work on Lewis, I emailed the fellow and we set something. Then it got delayed from double-booking, and then delayed again. They mentioned maybe doing something in September -- i.e. two months ago -- but never contacted me. I forgot about the whole thing and only remembered the other day. So I contacted the point person, who responded with an annoyingly brief and unapologetic message. He also asked what I'd be talking on ... when that had already been established last year. Scrolling down four message would have answered that question. So I just deleted the whole thread and said the hell with them. I only made the offer in the first place they their society specifically asked for scholars, but I really don't want to waste my time with an unprofessional group.

Aslans ... shipped!

Well, fate has conspired to force me to do several blog posts of late. This one ended up being a hassle, too. As Awards Administrator for the Mythopoeic Society, I'm in charge in shipping out the Aslans -- i.e. the trophies -- to that year's recipients. This year the ordeal took me two (2) trips to the trophy store, two (2) trips to the Post Office, and four (4) trips to FedEx for a whole host of reasons. .... mainly because the trophy store screwed up the first time around, and I didn't catch the error until later. (Then also because FedEx is good at packaging items for international shipment, but the Post Office has drastically cheaper rates.) Long story short, however: the Aslans are now shipped! Three of them international, two of them domestic. The only thing left is for me to get reimbursement. Also, I learned (slightly too late) that I can use my UA English Department's FedEx account to get huge discounts on various services. Well, now I know for next year.

Fun with (mis-)-Pronunciation

So, here are the dangers of pedagogy when you're teaching a subject area outside of your field of professional study AND don't much care about proper pronunciation:  Within the last week in ENGL 373a, my Beowulf to Milton class, my students have (kindly) corrected my pronunciations on the following: (Southwark (apparently it's "south-verk," not "south-wark" -- this one was particularly embarrassing because I had just told them that the Thames is pronounced "Tems," not "Thames"!) Boccaccio ("boc-ca-cho", not "bo-ca-chi-o")! Scheherazade ("sche-her-a-zaud," not "sche-zhur-zaw-de")! And then! We were discussing the Hundred Years War for Chaucer, and somebody asked me if that was when Joan of Arc lived. I answered with an intelligent, "Um," because I honestly didn't know.  I'm so lucky my students seem to like me, cuz oh man, if they didn't .....