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Friday, May 1, 2015

a little dip in the deep end

I sorta-kinda finished the "Science and Science Fiction" chapter, so I also sorta-kinda worked on the themes chapter. And I've figured out part of why I'm resisting: it's that balance I can never quite find between giving too much and not giving enough. I think part of what I need to do--for the whole thing but especially for this chapter--is figure out exactly how I think it will help students. What do I want them to get out of it? I'm not entirely sure I know: I'm assuming they'll have to write papers, and I'm assuming they'll need to write about something thematic (that's a pretty standard approach to analysis, after all), and I'm assuming they don't quite know what a theme is or, once one is located, how to write about it. I'm also assuming that I have to be at least a little careful to avoid "spoilers": I can't be sure that students will have read the entire novel before they read any particular section of my apparatus. Other than that, my brains seem to be gummed up in some way: it's a form of writer's block, apparently, but it's hard to muscle past/through.

On a more positive note, I heard today from one of the colleagues at a 4-year school whom I contacted about providing some feedback. The first one I heard from generally approved of the project as a whole but didn't evidence any interest in looking at it in detail (but then he has a lot on his plate at the moment, so hardly surprising, and no indication of any rejection). The guy I heard from today is highly enthusiastic, which is great. I think I'll send him what I have finished at this point and let him know that the themes stuff is in progress; certainly just sending what I have now will give both him and me a great sense of whether I'm on the right track (and let's hope like hell that I am). I can send him more later, if he's interested and if it seems useful.

And of course I'll post the results here, once he's had a chance to get back to me.

Now, however, I'm not entirely sure what I want to do or how to go about doing it. I'm in one of those states when I'm both lazy and restless--and not quite sure how to make best use of the time between now and when I have to get on a train in to the City to try out that tango class. (If I hadn't already paid for it, I'd bail--but I don't see how to cancel the class on their website, so I guess that's my indication that I should go.) I had a great class last night: those experiences in dance class are deeply beneficial to me as a teacher. I need to remember what it is to feel very frustrated--and what it is to get help to pull out of frustration. The main instructor last night is great: I've worked with him before, and he can break things down, understand, explain, clarify, demonstrate--and have a sense of humor the whole time. Last night, he wore a clown nose all through class. (Tango is, after all, such a serious dance.) I'm not sure I'd be able to carry off the clown nose thing, but it's good to remember to keep things light and loose.

Nothing more to report at this juncture. I don't know what tomorrow will be like. I have a lot of life-maintenance stuff to do, but it's hard to tell whether tonight's City jaunt will make me want to stay home and metaphorically hide under the sofa or if it will make me want to get out. The weather certainly will be an inducement to get out, so ... well, we'll see.

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