jueves, enero 17, 2008


No, that's not my biological time clock. It's the timer counting down to the start of spring classes.

I know all the rest of you teacher types are already hard at it: L* is in her second week of classes, after all. But my semester doesn't start till next week. I'm re-tooling the science fiction class, "Race, Gender, Science Fiction." Background information: I've been developing this class for years, at three different institutions. Every time I've been able to teach it, the enrollment has been really small. My record high was twelve students. This semester, I'm trying it out as SFSU's first ethnic studies class that is wholly online. The student response thus far has been, overwhelming. There are currently forty-nine students enrolled and ten students on the wait list. And it's one of three classes on science fiction being offered this semester (the other two are in the English department).

The syllabus is very close to finished, although I'm disappointed not to be able to squeeze in more films. That's okay, though, because Cinema Studies offers a Science Fiction class (just last semester, in fact) which includes the Alien films, the Matrix films, and Children of Men. So I'm settling for the original Planet of the Apes and a lot of TV episodes. (Dark Angel, ST: TNG, The X-Files.) The books I'm using are fantastic. Octavia Butler's Dawn, Samuel R. Delany's Stars in My Pocket like Grains of Sand and Sesshu Foster's Atomik Aztex (you should hear me making conversation about the latter at a cocktail party!). The last time I taught this, the students read all three books of the Xenogenesis series, which they finished way ahead of schedule.

I'm still finalizing the course requirements. I'm dropping some of my previous strategies (student journals, creative projects, blogs) in favor of more structured discussion on the class forums. L* has helped me a lot on this class, because she's the master of the online class. I've been reading over her syllabi and just been wowed by how well she constructs her classes.

I'm also teaching two sections of Critical Thinking this semester. I do believe this is the first time I've taught two sections of the same class since I became a professor! I'm using an anthology Re-Reading America which I've used before. I always say I'm not going to use it, I'm going to put together my own reader. And then I start marking the pieces that I want to go in the reader: Malcolm X, Melvin Dixon, Inés Hernandez-Avila, Langston Hughes, and the next thing I know, I've marked fifteen or so pieces from the same book. It annoys me, though, to see what they've taken out in subsequent editions: Leslie Marmon Silko, Jimmy Santiago Baca. And instead we have the same Richard Rodriguez excerpt that appears in almost every freshman composition reader.

I'm starting to sound like my old grad-student self again, when I complained that the first edition of the Norton Anthology of Women's Literature included not one Chicana writer, although they felt the need to include all of "Jane Fucking Eyre."

And the discussion questions really assume a white middle-class readership. That means, though, that we'll get to critique the discussion questions, take them apart, see arguments they're implying or stereotypes that they're buying into. And of course I'll bring in some supplements: the poetry of Mohja Kahf, Pat Mora, and the late Diane Burns, to name a few.

We really do need to publish our own reader though. I'll have to write that in on the ten-year plan. In the meantime, though, there's another timer running down for a book review that's due now, so I'd better get back to work.

3 comentarios:

Artichoke Heart dijo...

That sounds like Such. An. Awesome. Class! I don't know if I want to teach it, or take it, or eat it for lunch, because yum!

Ktrion dijo...

Awwww, you're too sweet! You should teach it, 'cause we need more. The guy who taught the s/f film class had them read Zizek to discuss Children of Men :)

cindylu dijo...

wow. some people make teaching look like it's easy, but you make it look like a lotta work!

hope the class is working out well.