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"there is order in the turmoil"

I am back from my sister's college graduation, just in time to meet two due dates for a couple of my editors. When those pieces are written, my summer begins in earnest. I look forward to catching up with everyone!

In the meantime, I've lined up my teaching schedule for the rest of 2005, so for my benefit, and just in case anyone is interested, here goes:

For Belmont University:

Native American Identity in the U.S. Context (LIS 3600.01)

This course investigates major issues and expressions of Native American identity in the U.S. past and present. Through examinations of Native American history, political thought, film, and literature, students will gain a deeper understanding of the key questions and turning points that have shaped and continue to influence Native American self-expression and activism. Students will explore Native American events and concerns such as representation, removal, and repatriation in the U.S. context. Texts include Custer Died for Your Sins: An Indian Manifesto by Vine Deloria, Jr., Prison Writings: My Life is My Sun Dance by Leonard Peltier, Genocide of the Mind: New Native American Writing by Marijo Moore (ed.), Tracks by by Louise Erdrich, and Night Sky, Morning Star by Evelina Zuni Lucero, as well as various documentaries, films, music, and a book of each student's choice.

For the Institute for Humane Studies:

*At Princeton University:
The "Foundations of Liberty" Seminar
(my subjects: "The Problem of Native America," "SF and the State," Viewing and Discussion of Dark City, "Why I Am A Cultural Optimist")

*At Chapman University:
The "Liberty, Art, and Culture" Seminar
(my subjects: "The Problem of Native America," "Artistry Before Agenda," "Why I Am A Cultural Optimist")

For Belmont University:

First-Year Seminar: “Ways of Knowing”: Knowing Today by Imagining Tomorrow (GND 1015), two sections

“We live on a minute island of known things. Our undiminished wonder at the mystery which surrounds us is what makes us human. In science fiction we can approach that mystery, not in small, everyday symbols, but in bigger ones of space and time.”
- Damon Knight

“That's really what SF is all about, you know: the big reality that pervades the real world we live in: the reality of change. Science fiction is the very literature of change. In fact, it is the only such literature we have.”
- Frederik Pohl

*What does it mean to be human?
*How do we know what, if anything, is consistent about the human experience, and what, if anything, is always in flux?
*Is change the only constant we can know?

One way in which each generation seeks an answer to these questions is by imagining its future. The way individuals conceive of tomorrow – technologically, scientifically, ethically, politically, socially, and philosophically – reveals a great deal about their time, culture, and intellectual tools. Such thought experiments tell us much about the people and their various ways of knowing in any given era; such “what if” propositions also provide new perspectives, suggest new avenues of inquiry, and experiment with new ways of knowing, as well.

This section of GND 1015 uses science fiction literature, film, television, art, and audio sources to illustrate and explore different ways of knowing. The class will investigate how Western views of tomorrow have evolved across time due to changes in technology, politics, culture, and the disciplines that shape and analyze each. Students will discover how the genre of science fiction has anticipated the future while reflecting the values, anxieties, issues, and intellectual climate of the present. Ultimately, the course texts, discussions, and assignments will challenge students to consider the question of what it means to be human from a variety of different approaches and viewpoints. Required texts include The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, 1984 by George Orwell, The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, and The Life of Pi by Yann Martel (FYS common book), as well as various short stories (by authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, E.M. Forster, James Tiptree, Jr., Robert Heinlein, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Connie Willis, and Lois McMaster Bujold, among others), films (such as Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Blade Runner, and Dark City, among others), radio broadcasts (War of the Worlds), and a novel of each student's choice.

J.R.R. Tolkien in History, Political Thought, and Literature (LIS 3600.01)

This course will explore the works, inspiration, and influence of J.R.R. Tolkien. Students will consider the historical era that directly inspired the world of Middle-earth, the political movements that adopted and reinterpreted Tolkien's symbols in the mid-to-late twentieth century, and the questions of religion, environmentalism, and war that now make Tolkien resonate in the the twenty-first century consciousness. In so doing, students will analyze "On Fairy-Stories," The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and other Tolkien works, as well as the films, art, and music inspired by them, as important examples of fantasy, art, and modern myth-making.

I will also be participating in the following conventions, and I hope to see some of you there:

And last, a quote for the day from the brilliant James Goldman, from the imagined perspective of the 12th-century cleric Giraldus Cambrensis. Special thanks to theladyrose for the recommendation.

Historians are much like storytellers, are they not? They take events and put them into order. Facts must be connected, they must shed some light or have some bearing on each other. In a word, there must be form.

And one thing more. The final cause, the function or the use of history. Why does it exist? What is it for? Dogs get along without it. So do many men, both barbarous and civilized. Sometimes whole centuries go by without a book. Aside from the Bede, there is no trace of Alfred's reign, or Aethelred's. They managed very well without their chroniclers because they felt no need to find some meaning in events.

There is a purpose to all things. There is an order in the turmoil, there is sense beneath the chaos, there is something to be learned and this is why Man struggles to remember--...

The proper use of history is the elevation of mankind.

from Myself as Witness by James Goldman


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 17th, 2005 03:52 pm (UTC)
1) I thought you got to rest now... ;-)

2) Mind-bogglingly fantastic icon!!!

3) Am I reading this quote completely out of context? Or am I just really not getting it?...

Facts must be connected, they must shed some light or have some bearing on each other. In a word, there must be form.

Must they? Granted, by the time the historians are done with them, they often appear to... But I can't agree with the statement.

Sometimes whole centuries go by without a book. Aside from the Bede, there is no trace of Alfred's reign, or Aethelred's. They managed very well without their chroniclers because they felt no need to find some meaning in events.

What of oral tradition-history-storytelling-folklore? Do you actually believe generations went by where humans stopped being human and "managed very well without their chroniclers because they felt no need to find some meaning in events"???

...there is something to be learned and this is why Man struggles to remember--

Yes, now I can agree.

Why do I feel so hostile about this??? I'm sure I don't really get what it's saying and yet, somehow I instinctively feel angry about it all... I think it's primarily the oral history part of it that makes me bristle. (Permission to lash me with a wet noodle if my statements are totally clueless and uneducated.)
May. 17th, 2005 04:23 pm (UTC)
1) What's the saying? No rest for the wicked? LOL. No, about 12,000 words from now, I get to rest.

2) Thanks! It's from the brilliant selluinlaer. Isn't it great?

3) I think this entire quote is problematic, actually, and I think the rest of the book goes about showing how problematic it is (through the eyes of King John's chronicler), which is one of the reasons I think it's so fascinating.

Must they?

One might say this is the difference between the practice of antiquarians and the art of historians. In every choice made to serve form, however, some of the picture is lost. The form is often an imposition, and that's what should make it suspect.

I agree with you 100% about oral traditions (this coming from the former Director of Vanderbilt's Oral History Program). But here is a quote dividing people into "barbarous and civilized," a quote representing one historical and extremely narrow worldview. I am sympathetic to the speaker's plight, while I recognize how utterly he misses a much larger narrative and understanding of the human condition.

I think the speaker's point of view represents some of the questions historians ask themselves, the search for meaning, even as it is ironic once the story begins and we see the chasm between idea and practice. In other words, I find it a fascinating and beautifully crafted quote, even while much of it is in conflict with my own perspective. It's made me think, so I think it's done it's job. That's why I like it. :)
May. 17th, 2005 04:51 pm (UTC)
PS. I edited my intro above to emphasize that the quote is from the imagined perspective of the 12th-century cleric Giraldus Cambrensis.
May. 17th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
Viewing and Discussion of Dark City - oooooh. O_O i wish i could be there. and J.R.R. Tolkien in History, Political Thought, and Literature (LIS 3600.01) - ack! lucky fraggin' students of yours. ;)
May. 18th, 2005 01:14 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! *blush* Isn't Dark City an amazing film? Speaking of which, can you wait for Ep. III? Not long now! :)
May. 18th, 2005 12:39 pm (UTC)
i was doing alright, mostly calm, until i got among the other star wars crazies at my workplace. :) now i'm all "YEEEEAAAAHHH ONLY ___ HOURS OMG!" ;p wearing my boba fett shirt to increase my insane wanting. ;) *squee* i can't wait to hear all the squeeing from LJ! what if they crash from the overload of squee?
May. 18th, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC)
Crash from an overload of squee, Lj must not. Squee or squee not we must, there is no try. ;)
May. 18th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
it's no wonder your whole year disappears in no time! you are SO busy. looking forward to when you come back to slum w us. :)

and, once again, fab courses and why weren't you teaching at UQ when I was going through there...? you would've turned me to the Dark Side much sooner. it's much more fun on the Dark Side. hee.
May. 18th, 2005 12:37 pm (UTC)
LOL! Thanks! :) The Dark Side is more fun, isn't it? I think it's the great company. *wink*
May. 18th, 2005 03:18 am (UTC)
Glad to see that you are enjoying Myself as Witness!

I'm intrigued by your course on Native American Identity in U.S. Context; I took an Ethnic Voices in American Literature class last semester and read Sherman Alexie's Ten Little Indians and saw his film the Business of Fancydancing. Have you read much of his work?
May. 18th, 2005 11:17 am (UTC)
I am loving Myself as Witness! I'm to the part where Hugh turns on John and leaves him with three thousand men to face Louis. It's so incredibly gripping, and I'm fascinated with the "revised" understanding of John (which makes a good deal of sense). I can't thank you enough for telling me about it.

I also love Sherman Alexie. We will watch Smoke Signals, the film based on his The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven, and he's also one of the authors from whose work the students can choose their novels for their final projects. The last time I taught this, a student did a great presentation on his Indian Killer.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )