From Day One

A new semester. One old class, and two new ones. (One overload.) Three new manila folders. One new courseware package. And I’m good to go.

The courses, if you’re interested:

The third class is a graduate cultural studies course. I may add a website for it later. I may not.

Got my pens. Got my legal pads. Got my syllabi. Got my usual first-day jitters.

Happy New Semester, everyone.


  1. Wow. Jealous. Two great looking classes.

    Side note: on my monitor at work, the “info” part of your course blogs is cut off at the top, so that I can only see a small portion of the top line (above: “Office”).

  2. Jason — describe this to me a little further? For instance, on the Intro to Media Studies page, do you not get the top “Introduction to Media Studies” banner? That sounds like a browser problem, not a monitor problem. What OS/browser are you using?

  3. Ah, sorry. Should’ve been more specific.

    The banner works fine.

    Below that, we have two columns. In the left column, the words “Professor Kathleen Fitzpatrick” are sliding underneath the banner (I think these are the words, anyway, since I can only see the bottom 1/3 of them).

    WinXP Pro. IE 6.0.

    I can check from home w/ similar OS/Browser. My work computer can be weird sometimes.

  4. Huh. I’m on a WinXP/IE machine now, and I see what you’re talking about. I’ll have to email Liz — it’s happening on her course site, too. Another Microsoft miracle, I guess…

  5. Wow. No trouble picking out the “which one doesn’t belong” on your big novel syllabus.

    To take one example off the top of my head, Gene Wolfe’s Book of the New Sun (considered, rightly, as one novel, it’s about the same length as the rest and certainly encyclopedic) is, I’d conservatively estimate, infinitely more intellectually rewarding and better-written than the anomaly.

    If the “current U.S. culture” angle doesn’t work for you w/r/t the Wolfe book (which I think it does), there’s always JR. Stephenson is of a more obvious sociological interest, but you could get the same effect from reading Slashdot for a few weeks.

    Imagine taking a course on espionage fiction in which you read A Coffin for Dimitrios; Our Man in Havana; Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy; and then Patriot Games. But that’s unfair to Clancy. And the students will certainly appreciate something mindless after the first three.

    I’m envious of the course, of course.

  6. Oh, now, Chun: mindless? Cryptonomicon is admittedly no Gravity’s Rainbow, at least in terms of style, or of a certain kind of complexity, but I think it’s of more than sociological interest. Just as Pynchon suggests a deep historical relation between the late- and immediate-post-war period and the Nixon era, so the familial relationships in Stephenson suggest a similar historical relation between the World War II era and the late 1990s. And it’s not a pretty one — it’s about neo-colonialism and apocalyptic conflict and the ways that technological innovation always seems to degenerate into a new gold rush.

    It may not be a work of “genius” by high-lit standards (standards I’d like to disrupt, anyhow), but I think it’s way more interesting than you give it credit for.

    And, as you suggest, after making our way through the first three books, it’s a slightly more relaxed end-of-semester read. JR would just be cruel and unusual.

  7. I had the problem with the top “instructor” line too. Solved it by just throwing a line break into the top line of the instructor entry. Crude but it works.

  8. I think I’ve gotten it taken care of now — there’s a style tag at the top of the sidebar template that puts in a top-margin of -10px, and I think changing that to 0px fixes the problem. I hope so, at least.

  9. Your CSS change fixed it for me Kathleen.

    And I agree w/ you on Crypt. I certainly think that Stevenson has some stylistic issues (like needing an editor, for one), but I *cough* might say the same of at least one other on the list.

    But to compare it to teaching Patriot Games? A touch harsh, I’d say.

    And its flaws, I think, make for an interesting conversation about the notion of a “Big Novel” and the burdens that accompany such a title.

    Of course, there’s always The Firm. (joking… always joking)

  10. Ecuse me Mr. Rhody, but I’ve taught The Firm! Used it in an Intro to Lit class as the final reading to discuss timeless aesthetic virtues . . . no, just kidding–we used it as the launching pad to a unit on the canon, popular fiction/culture and What is Literature? It worked out great.

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