Wednesday, July 30, 2008

And another - I really like this artist - new to me

And I should know of this Jac Martin-Ferrieres as I was an art history major. Look at this wonderful painting.

Also from the same Vincent Mann Galleries

Picture du Jour

Working on a PowerPoint for the Writing with Style class - to integrate the reading-writng connection with visual reading, Berger's "Ways of Seeing" and found this lovely picture from this website. Perfect! by Jac Martin-Ferrieres, "Paris - Pont Marie" 1932. Apparently for sale?

Paris Boat Scene

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Summer is flying by - - -

--- and I am slowly getting caught up with teaching and writing, but somehow not getting to my blog enough. Here's an essay by Jill Lepore about children's libraries from The New Yorker that I wanted to blog recently and it's taken me awhile to do it, though my good friend Paula got her thoughts out promptly!

What struck me was the EB White connection. Somehow I was never much of a fan of EB White's children's books. Charlotte's Web made me angry. Why was the girl Fern so unconcerned? Much better - more poignant and poetic, I thought, was White's essay "Death of a Pig." It turns out to be easy to find references to this essay online. Here's an excerpt:
I spent several days and nights in mid-September with an ailing pig and I feel driven to account for this stretch of time, more particularly since the pig died at last, and I lived, and things might easily have gone the other way round and none left to do the accounting. Even now, so close to the event, I cannot recall the hours sharply and am not ready to say whether death came on the third night or the fourth night. This uncertainty afflicts me with a sense of personal deterioration; if I were in decent health I would know how many nights I had sat up with a pig.
This excerpt was helpfully posted for English 5730, a class taught by Dr. Richard Nordquist at Armstrong Atlantic State University in Savannah, Georgia. Nordquist also provides short passages with attention to diction and metaphors.

In addition, there's some nice biographical material "Not Bad" on Nordquist's Grammar Blog.
And here, interestingly, is Nick Bergus's blog called "Death of a Pig" named for the essay - and a post on the 60th anniversary of the essay. Bergus provides a full-text link to White's essay that happens to go to The Atlantic magazine and its recent issue on ideas, which our class in "Writing with Style" just happens to be discussing today. So - small world and 6 degrees of separation.

And that reminds me of one of my favorite White pieces, his poem "I paint what I see" from The New Yorker, which I think I must have blogged on in the past at some point. Which again brings me full circle.

So, apologies for a skimpy post, but now, on my way home!

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Red Leather Diary

One of the best things to happen here in Denver - among meeting many wonderful new colleagues and learning a lot at this conference - has been visiting with my dear friend Linda (who lives in Oregon, but we haven't seen each other for about 2 years and are now visiting in Denver - go figure). Linda and I had an excellent visit at the Denver Art Museum, seeing Native American aart and Impresioinist paintings, primarily. Plus a very ritzy lunch. But also, Linda gave me wonderful book - Lily Koppel's biography/feature The Red Leather Diary, (link requires flash) a true story of finding an old diary on the street in front of an apartment in New York City and reconnecting with the author, Florence Wolfson Howitt, now 90, and retracing her life story. Koppel first wrote about the diary for The New York Times before making this book. (See also photos of the original book and author). I think my mother had a similar 5-year diary, with each page for a single day and entries for each year. I should go find it in my storage box. Great bedtime reading.


Friday, July 11, 2008

Getting back to a great thought on Wikipedia

Here's an interesting observation about Wikipedia, sent by Paula: According to Games Radar
Wikipedia devotes more pages to video gmaes than it does to history. For example, " Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare beats "modern warfare"... 5,858 [pages] to 2,873." This is due, they say, to the fact that while
everybody has power [because] Information is interactive, knowledge is collaborative and history is open source. [Therefore] The nerdy kid next door has just as much influence as a high school teacher; the dorky dude at the comic book shop has just as much voice as a college professor.

Problem is, the nerds and dorks tend to have a lot more free time - and passion - than the teachers and professors. The end result? A hilariously skewed, terrifyingly twisted view of the world in which all the wrong things are deemed "important" and worthy of serious academic discussion.

The conclusion from this might be that this is one more reason why college teachers are right to ban the use of Wikipedia. However I would argue first that quantity of pages does not mean quality of information. Also, this might be one more tool we can use when teaching students what Wikipedia is. Consider that the TV news devotes lots of time to Paris Hilton and Brittney Spears - more time than they do to more substantive issues - but no one seriously suggests that therefore we should not use TV news - well, this is why PBS is more reliable. I have yet to see Paris Hilton featured on PBS.

Somewhere recently I read about an alleged attempt by one or more groups in the Middle East to make a concerted effort to become 'administrators" on Wikipedia in order to lobby for information and entries slanted to their perspective. If I can find this again, I will add it.

Meanwhile, the WPA conference in Denver is going very well, with lots of useful and interesting information. Outside right now thunder over the Rockies, though I haven't yet noticed any lightning (maybe the ambient street lights outside the hotel are obscuring the flashes) and I haven't seen any rain (which Colorado desperately needs).


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rocky Mountain High - thinking and talking writing programs in Denver

It's been a great time so far at the workshop for Writing Program Administrators here in Denver, with 3 more days of conference, where I will also have the great fun of presenting on the "Tech Savvy" WPA - which I am, sometimes, with a lot of help from friends. I have yet to stress over my paper (too long of course as any of my friends or colleagues would expect) and my powerpoint which I had such fun making - really, a slide show of 35 (if I remember right) screen shots of the Information Literacy work we are doing at OSU. Meanwhile, Michael is subbing my WR 323 class, teaching them Baudrillard and visual rhetoric this week while they revise and expand their essays on contact zone issues for audiences such as Harper's, Atlantic, New Yorker, or New Republic. First we had to spend some time getting familiar with these magazines in class and even had fun looking at the concept of American anti-intellectualism - which probably connects to Baudrillard as well. The class is great fun even if the 6 students have summer fever and attend sporadically. Meanwhile, Claire and Isabelle are subbing for WR 121, where the many international students along with some NES - Native English Speakers (my newest acronym) - are doing some very nice work with Amy Tan, Bharati Mukherjee, Judith Cofer, Mike Rose and Stephen Jay Gould. I'm so lucky to have such great colleagues who make it possible for me to spend this week here with other great colleagues.