Public Personas and the Teacher of Athletes

Walt Whitman in 1869 during his years in Washington. (Photo from "A Life of Walt Whitman" by Henry Bryan Binns via Wikimedia)

I am the teacher of athletes, He that by me spreads a wider breast than my own proves the width of my own, He most honors my style who learns under it to destroy the teacher. –Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself” (1855) Walt Whitman has made an interesting resurgence within my research and teaching practice […]

Quotation Mark, Period, @$#&!

Quotation Mark, Period, @$#&!

In this blog post I’m going to touch on an issue of personal significance to me, so forgive me if it becomes somewhat vehement in tone. It’s subject is the punctuation sequence [“.]! To clarify, the sequence I am referring to is the close-quotation mark (“), followed by the period (.), or, alternatively, by a […]

Victorians Then and Now: Why Victorian Literature Matters to 21st Century Students

Original Strand artwork depicting Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson traveling by train.

When I introduce any Victorian literature to students, I initially ask them to brainstorm words they associate with Victorian, and I write their responses on the blackboard. Overwhelmingly, they see the period and its figures as resoundingly restrained. Though many American college students define the Victorians by their apparently repressed sexuality, troubling gender relations, and […]

Teaching Writing to Students with Learning Disabilities

Teaching Writing to Students with Learning Disabilities

Teaching Writing to Students with Learning Disabilities What is a Learning Disability? A learning disability is when a person has extreme difficulty learning in a typical manner. This can be caused by one factor, or many. People who are learning disabled are clinically diagnosed by a professional, be it a pediatrician or a psychologist, and […]

How to Promote Effective Peer Response

Peer editing can go very wrong.

Peer responding can be constructive Writers can become highly motivated to revise when peer readers with some training and practice respond to larger issues in a draft such as content, organization, tone, emphasis, use of evidence or details, etc.  But to get productive peer response sessions, that is, responses balanced with both earned praise and […]

Ethical Readers and New Media

Ethical Readers and New Media

A New Republic of Letters in the Digital Age In Herman Melville’s Bartleby, the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (1853), Melville self-reflexively critiques the life and death of reading.  Melville’s titular character Bartleby’s dead letter-reading and life-writing (or not-writing, because, after all, Bartleby “prefers not to”) criticize national ethics of expression and representation.  The novella can also […]

Teaching Advertising

Teaching Advertising

I’ve taught several classes on WWI literature and culture, and one challenge has often arisen. Most of the literature we now study that takes up the war, whether it be canonical (Wilfred Owen, Ernest Hemingway) or not (Helen Zenna Smith) was written or published in the decades after the war ended. How can students get […]

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