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Spring 2016 Magazine Writing: the student evals

My Spring 2016 class in magazine writing at Albion College was one of my favorites in roughly 14 years of teaching. And that’s reflected in my evaluations, which I’m pleased to share here: S16 ENGL 306 – Magazine Writing – Evals.

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Renewed three-year appointment at Albion College

I’m very pleased to have accepted a renewed three-year appointment in the English Department at Albion College. I’m especially appreciative of a good handful of former students who already are applying their classroom and newsroom experiences to even more challenging roles in graduate school and professions such as education and journalism. Certainly I’m working with at least several more who’ll be launching meaningful careers in the near future.

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Two 2011 Alpha Lambda Delta initiates designate me a ‘Favorite Professor’

Alpha Lambda Delta initiates Charlotte Steele and Trevor Vader have recognized me as a “Favorite Professor.” The 2010 Kalamazoo College chapter initiation ceremony was held Oct. 27.

Seven other initiates have honored me as a “Favorite Professor” since 2007.

Eligibility for membership in Alpha Lambda Delta is determined by the first-year academic record, and is limited to those maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 and class standing in the top 20 percent.

Charlotte was a member of two courses I taught in 2010, Introduction to Creative Writing and a hybrid literature/writing class on graphic memoir and identity. She wrote and illustrated an especially memorable piece about growing up with two sisters. And she wrote the best student story I’ve ever seen having to do with asparagus.  For his part, Trevor took Intro Creative Writing, and wrote terrifically from the point of view of a young Kalamazoo restaurant worker.

Thank you, Charlotte and Trevor,  for associating me with your success.

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‘Warning: Graphic Literature’ seminar for 2011

Since 2007 I have been teaching a fall First Year Seminar at Kalamazoo College titled “Warning: Graphic Literature.” Here’s a brief course description for the 2011 iteration:

We’ll analyze exemplars of graphic literary fiction, memoir, essay and journalism. Across the myriads of genres and forms, we’ll do close readings of the texts’ verbal and visual layers to see how they work, each on their own and together. In addition, we’ll discuss themes and socio-cultural and other contexts. The cartoon form and comics format of course are widely considered “low” or “popular,” so we’ll look at criticism that seeks to distinguish “serious” from “low,” “elite” from “popular,” taking note of writers and artists from outside the field of graphic literature who’ve mixed seemingly disparate aesthetics. For instance, the cartoon form has influenced serious painters, and prose artists have long mixed high and low forms. In all, we will consider how the cartoon form and the comics format, in a dance with serious intent and interesting writing, can turn into something we don’t mind calling graphic literature. Reading list (subject to change): Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud; An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 1, ed. Ivan Brunetti; French Milk, by Lucy Knisley; The Impostor’s Daughter, by Laurie Sandell; Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel; Farm 54, by Galit Seliktar and Gilad Seliktar; Palestine, by Joe Sacco; The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman; The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi; and Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, by Belle Yang.

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Two 2010 Alpha Lambda Delta initiates recognize me as a ‘Favorite Professor’

Alpha Lambda Delta initiates Frances Hoepfner and Amanda Patton have recognized me as a “Favorite Professor.” The 2010 Kalamazoo College chapter initiation ceremony was held Oct. 28.

Five other initiates have honored me as a “Favorite Professor” since 2007.

Eligibility for membership in Alpha Lambda Delta is determined by the first-year academic record, and is limited to those maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 and class standing in the top 20 percent.

Fran was a member of two classes I taught in 2009, my first-year seminar on graphic narrative, Warning: Graphic Literature, and Introduction to Creative Writing, where she wrote seriously entertaining fiction and perhaps the best poem yet from a Harper’s Magazine “Findings” prompt. Amanda was a standout memoirist as well as explicator of published work in Reading Autobiography.

Thank you, Fran and Amanda,  for associating me with your success.

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Winter course on graphic memoir & essay

This coming quarter I’ll be teaching one of Kalamazoo College’s new Reading the World courses. English 155 is subtitled Identities; our topic will be Graphic Memoir and Essay.

The objective of the course is to provide students with the skills to analyze graphic memoirs and essays, in part by experimentally authoring their own duotextural pieces. Students will be expected to bring first-year writing competencies and approximately first-grade drawing skills to in-class and at-home exercises and, optionally, longer midterm and term projects.

Evaluation will include points for writing and for sketches—ranging from rough to comprehensive, depending on the assignment—that suggest how verbal and visual narrative elements would be joined to make an excellent whole. Weekly response papers, meanwhile, will ask students to analyze style and theme in published works. Students may undertake all-text critical papers in lieu of duotextural midterm and term projects.

Required readings (subject to change): The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman (or Maus I and Maus II); The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (or Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2); Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Allison Bechdel; Stitches, by David Small; Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey, by GB Tran; Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, by Belle Yang; A Few Perfect Hours, by Josh Neufeld; Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (trans. Anjali Singh); In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman; Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays, ed. Brendan Burford; Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden; additional short graphic memoirs and essays; and theoretical essays on form, genre, and the ethics of life writing.

Required materials: inexpensive sketch pad; pen or pencils; and a 1303i Pickett Metric General Purpose or similar drawing template (costing approximately $10).

The course will meet MWF, 1:15-2:30.

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I stole a line of dialogue from some character I haven’t written yet

We were finishing our discussion of the Joe Sacco book Safe Area Gorazde in my First Year Seminar at Kalamazoo College the other day when the conversation got around to scapegoating—maybe in part because Art Spiegelman’s The Complete Maus was next up on the schedule.

I’m pretty sure the following thought is original—it came to me, at any rate, last year, when I was teaching the same two books back to back. I’d thought of saving it for a piece of fiction where it would become a bit of dialogue, but this time I told my seminar, “Almost everything you need to know about human nature you can learn from Shakespeare and the Three Stooges.”

I’m usually not the professing type of professor. But that I believe.

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Recognized by four Alpha Lambda Delta initiates as a ‘Favorite Professor’

Alpha Lambda Delta initiates Anna Cooperrider, Anne Jefferson, Rachel Dallman, and Myles Sanford all recognized me as a “Favorite Professor” at 2008’s Kalamazoo College chapter initiation ceremony, held Oct. 30.

Eligibility for membership in Alpha Lambda Delta is determined by the first-year academic record, and is limited to those maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 and class standing in the top 20 percent.

Myles was a member of my first-year seminar on graphic narrative, Anna and Rachel were introductory creative writing workshop members, and Anne thrived as the only first-year in my class on Victorian literature.

Thank you Anna, Anne, Rachel and Myles for associating me with your success.

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Named a Kalamazoo College Alpha Lambda Delta ‘Favorite Professor’

I have been chosen by Kalamazoo College Alpha Lambda Delta chapter initiate Heather Weatherly as a “Favorite Professor.” Thank you, Heather.