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Showing posts from May, 2020

Review: The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor

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The Art of Freedom: Teaching the Humanities to the Poor by Earl Shorris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

There are things I really like about this book. The author makes a compelling argument of taking the time and resources to actively engage with poor (and often those also marginalized by their identity) with the humanities, specifically through the Clemente course program. More importantly, he has spent his life setting up such programs in so many different parts of the world; from Alaska to Mexico to Chicago to South Korean to Darfur. To hear the ways in which the humanities impact the daily lives of people and help them further explore and articulate their place in the world is so powerful. I am entirely appreciative of Shorris' work and willingness to do this work and share his experiences. It validates so much of what many educators of the liberal arts have said for generations. So that's the part that I really liked. However, there are two aspects that make this book hard to full…

Review: Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law

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Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law by James Q. Whitman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Whitman offers a powerful and well-argued discussion of how American legal and cultural racism inspired and provided models for Hitler and the Nazi regime to form the laws and practices that would ultimately lead to upholding the Holocaust. For some, this may be an eye-opening book, realizing that how the US treated African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and other groups through law and through cultural practices (e.g. lynching, work restrictions, unable to enter certain spaces, unable to marry across race, testify against whites in court, etc). Whitman works to make his argument clear by emphasizing where Nazi Germany was inspired by the US (e.g. in segregation laws) and where they looked to the US as a model (e.g. miscegenation laws) and he also skillfully lays out the evidence for how it can be shown that this is, in fact, true through extensive ar…

#CFP for Workshops on Libraries and Digital Scholarship in the 21st Century

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes 

Do you work in or work with libraries or in scholarly communities, particularly at the intersection of technology (or changing technologies)? Do you have an area of technology that you would like to share your skills, practices, or struggles with OR that you really want to learn practice advice and guidance from folks working with that area? Then, this CFP is probably for you!

I am reaching out to folks for any thoughts or ideas for day-long workshops or 1-hour webinars for NERCOMP, the regional entity of EDUCAUSE, serving from Pennsylvania to Maine. We are starting to think about and plan for such professional development opportunities for the next academic year (Sept, 2020-June, 2021).

I’m currently the Program-Track Chair of Libraries and Scholarship in the 21st Century, which means I help to find folks who want to run these events and support them through the process.

You can find the full description of the track here:

Libraries and Digital Scholar…

Stranger Days #51: What Comes Next...

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Estimated Reading Time: 3.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I started this series back in March when it was unclear when things would return to normal and well, what will that normal even look like.  Can we return to normal?  That thought harkens the famous like “Normal" is just a setting on your dryer.” byPatsy Clairmont. 

There really wasn't any "normal" per see before.  Because, after all, people were suffering much before this all happened and all it took was a virus that doesn't even kill most people to through most of us into turmoil without any foreseeable end.  I mean, if capitalism is as successful as they claim for everyone, then I'm not quite sure how is it that we have over 36 million unemployed in the US, significant cracks in the food supply chain, and massive amounts of food and anim…

Running With White Supremacy

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Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes

I was going to label this post with the hashtag "#RunWithMaud" in solidarity with others speaking out against the murder of Ahmaud Arbery, a black man out for a run who was shot and killed by two white men, deciding that he was a person worthy of murder rather than a person getting some exercise.  


I've been sitting with this since it first came to my awareness and also when a friend shared with me the RunWithMaud site encouraging folks to run and post with the hashtag but also to sign petitions and make calls. I did the latter but I've been struggling with the former.  It challenges me because I think about the brutal murder of Trayvon Martin, another story wherein being black and being in a neighborhood doing something totally normal resulted not just in murder but in a criminal justice system refusing to investigate until spurred into action.  In that case, many (white) people wore hoodies to show solidarity and to point out that we…

Review: The Miseducation of the Student Athlete: How to Fix College Sports

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The Miseducation of the Student Athlete: How to Fix College Sports by Kenneth L. Shropshire
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Shropshire and Williams make a compelling argument about repositioning college sports and finding a way to improve a system that they show is failing too many people in the higher echelons of competitive college sports. Their goal isn't to take down the institution but to advocate for a smarter method that does not careless waste student-athletes' futures nor over-exploit them in the way that college-level sports organizations currently do. They highlight just how profitable the college sports are and how very little such profit benefits students in general and in particular, the student-athletes, in ways that guarantee an education and financially covering them beyond just tuition. Their proposal is moderate and largely maintains a pathway that maintains college sports in ways that viewers will still appreciate. While it makes sense, given the billion-dollar indus…

#CFP: Teaching and Pop Culture #NEPCA2020

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Estimated Reading Time: 4.5 minutes

It's that time of year where the Northeast Popular Culture Association (NEPCA for short) is putting out its annual call for proposals for the regional conference at Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, NH from Friday, October 23-Saturday, October 24.  

Do you teach pop culture in some capacity in your classroom? Do you teach a course on pop culture?  What ways do you work pop culture into your teaching?  

The Teaching Popular Culture area is a bit different than the other areas which are research-focused.  This area more provides some professional development, feedback, and reflection around how we employ popular culture in the classroom.  This is often an under-considered aspect of popular culture studies: how we meaningfully engage with our students on pop culture.  

This area focuses on how to teach popular culture, which may include sharing unique approaches to:
Teaching courses focused specifically on “popular culture”Teaching courses …

10 Years of Blogging

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Estimated Reading Time: 3 minutes

Just over 10 years ago on March 10, 2010, I started this blog.  I had aimed to do this post in March but we had a pandemic among other things were going on and I missed it.  But in that time, I've published nearly 1800 posts.  That averages to about 3 posts a week or about 14.5 posts per month.  I wish I could say that I have been that steady, but the numbers are slightly swayed by two 365-day projects that I did:  one on short stories (still my most popular posts) and one on photo reflections.  Still, I'm proud that not only did I outlast the traditional life span of a blog (6 months) but that this blog has grown and developed in different ways over the years, often reflecting my own growth and development.

I first started this blog because I was playing around a lot more with web 2.0 and starting to think about how it might be effective for teaching.  In the early posts, I wrote pieces that connected to the courses that I was teaching and used…

Stranger Days #50: Next Phase

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Estimated Reading Time: 1.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Well, it's snowing in May in New England, so yes, things continue to get stranger.  This is the 50th entry in this series which means I've been doing it for 50 days.  I'm glad that I have been able to keep this up and just capture different elements about life during the pandemic--at least for me.  From emails and comments I have received from readers, others too have shared their experiences or responses to my prompts at the end of many of these posts; I appreciate that I'm not the only one with some of these thoughts.  

There's so much to capture and explore about life right now, that I don't think I can run out of topics but I do seem to be running a bit out of steam in trying to get out a post every day. I still enjoy it but find spending…

Stranger Days #49: Reflecting on Reflections

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Estimated Reading Time: 2.5 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

Well, here we are with post #49 of Stranger Days. I'm glad that I have been able to keep this up and just capture different elements about life during the pandemic--at least for me. I decided today to be a bit meta and reflect on these reflections.  I wanted to look across and see what were the things that seemed most salient.  So I looked back at the last 48 entries to see what kinds of patterns emerge; that is, what were the things I was writing about. None of them are particularly surprising given what I know of myself and how I've used this blog in general.  

My categorizing was not particularly methodical and there are some posts that fit into more than one category as you can see when you add up the numbers.  

Observations - 16 posts
I mean much of this …

Stranger Days #48: Questions for Friends During the Pandemic

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Estimated Reading Time: 6 minutes

Welcome to stranger days--my blog series exploring daily life, challenges in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, and just sharing insights or thoughts about how to make it through these days.  

I've continued on my quest to create interesting questions to ask friends each day over the last few weeks.  I mentioned this in a previous post where I listed the 15 or so questions I had and here, I am extending that list with the newer questions in case you want to play along with your friends.  

How to Play the Questions Game
The practice is pretty simple.  Each day, send a question to as many friends and family that you think would appreciate and engage in the questions.  

Make it clear that you are asking but know they may not be able to answer.  The question is there as a way of starting a conversation, holding space for each other, or just letting friends and family know that you're thinking of them.  

Don't expect all of them to answer the question e…