Upcoming Courses: Comics, Computers, and Teaching

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on 2017.06.19 by pacrutcher

This summer, beginning in about a week, I’m offering online sections of World Literature and Visual Literatures, two courses I love. No one honestly loves online courses, but with care and interesting content, they work as proxies. I’ve learned a great deal running around the world, and most of that’s due to smart and dynamic people, my experiences, and reflective phenomenology, let’s say. It’s a different age, sure, and yet I expect hard knocks still trumps UniversityX and Google.

And I’m the same one who wrote and discussed car curating and car experience video games besting real world counterparts in museums, car ownership, and racing.

This fall, gods willing, I’ll be offering World Literature, our Methods course for Teaching Literature and Teaching Writing, and a new course (thanks to the hard work of Dr Paul Yoder and Dr Jeremy Ecke) for the Arts, Letters & Sciences core, Ode to Food. What possibilities. The description:

The course title, “Ode to Food,” takes its name from Pablo Neruda’s quirky poems, love letters to food. The course will consider this most deeply human passion—food—across a variety of issues, from politics to the environment to sex. Students can expect to engage literature, movies, and other forms of pop culture that will be used to build skills in academic literacy, critical interpretation, intercultural, communication, and ethics. The course will be co-taught by Dr Paul Crutcher, Department of English, and Dr Edma Delgado-Solorzano, Department of World Languages.



Celebrate Literature with UALR’s English Department

Posted in Uncategorized on 2015.08.15 by pacrutcher

As I wrote earlier this year and before, I’m happy and excited to be a part of the UALR English Department (and UALR more broadly), particularly in an era of great change and potential for the department to become a much more vibrant and caring place under the leadership of Dr Yoder and Dr Hunter. We’re also launching a new website — Check it out.

This fall, I’m offering the following courses at UALR:

CRN 61191 & 69491
ENGL2337.02 & ENGL2337.03
TR 12:15pm-1:30pm and 1:40-2:55pm, RH317
World Literature

I designed this course to collaboratively explore critical issues of identity and social issues through the study of selected texts reflecting various Western and non-Western literary heritages and traditions. Readings represent work across cultures and major periods of the last 250 years, from across literary genres and mediums. Major texts will include American Born Chinese, Frankenstein, Americanah, The Namesake, A Little Lumpen Novelita, and many more.

CRN 61211/61214
M 6:00-8:40pm, SUA102-D
Secondary English Language Arts Methods

Dr Jensen and I designed this course to explore educational theory and practice, particularly within our current context of standardization and assessment. We’ll focus on ILA, NCTE, and Common Core policies and ideologies, and we’ll look at putting into practice the best practices research about literacy. In addition to Jim Burke and McSweeney’s, we’ll be reading The Giver, When You Reach Me, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

UALR Commencement and Dangerous Ignorance

Posted in Uncategorized on 2015.05.19 by pacrutcher

UALR’s Spring 2015 Commencement took place last Saturday at the Jack Stephens’ Center. During the afternoon ceremony (for the colleges of Arts, Letters, and Sciences; Business; and Social Sciences and Communication), a few notable instances of wider cultural phenomena took place. One followed a graduate with a visible physical disability, an adult likely with some form of dwarfism walking across the stage with the assistance of crutches. The assembled friends, family, and others who packed the Center into standing-room-only status, built from a solid applause to an immense and uniform roar as this student crossed. Watch the exchange here (at around 2:25). Even the camera jerked away from its fixed position and the woman reading the names paused to follow the student with a smile.

Some time later, something similar happened for a student being pushed in a wheelchair.

The representation was ostensibly about “support” for anticipated hardships in accomplishing the task, warranting an outpouring of diverse and collective support. Among the questions and problems in that display, we might cite the students with visual impairments who walked with support from others and wonder why one form of physical disability was so privileged and celebrated over another. More fundamentally, it’s reasonable to ask about the many students who walked that day with disabilities, who walked with a range of visible and invisible barriers to their success.

I don’t know anyone seriously discussing the performative nature of today’s commencement ceremonies or the effects public celebration and public apathy might have on us, but we should certainly discuss how ceremonies are conducted in light of tasteless scrawl on graduation gowns, vastly disparate celebration of individual students and accomplishments, and more. I’m not suggesting metrics and ratings be displayed, privilege and hardship shown ala sporting events, but human horror and joy can be better managed in a day meant to purposefully highlight the substantive accomplishment of a group of students.

Spring and Summer 2015 courses

Posted in Uncategorized on 2015.02.17 by pacrutcher

As I wrote last spring and fall, I’m happy and excited to be offering the following courses this spring at UALR:

CRN 11769 & 11770
ENGL2337.02 & ENGL2337.03
TR 10:50am-12:05pm and 12:15-1:30pm, RH317
World Literature

This course will explore critical issues of identity and social issues through the study of selected texts reflecting various Western and non-Western literary heritages and traditions. Readings represent work across cultures and major periods of the last 250 years, from across literary genres and mediums. Major texts will include American Born Chinese, Frankenstein, Americanah, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, A Little Lumpen Novelita, and more.

CRN 11793/11794
M 6:00-8:40pm, SH402
Adolescent & Young Adult Literature

This course will explore notable and award-winning Young Adult Literature (YAL), poignant examples from across genres and mediums. Students will be invited to engage these texts through literary, semiotic, historical, industry, educational, and comparative analyses. The course will encourage students to pursue self-directed inquiries and projects, and allows for a great deal of student autonomy and expression. Texts will include Far From You, Winger, Maggot Moon, Brown Girl Dreaming, Dante and Aristotle Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Fat Angie, and more.

90s X-Men, by rdauterman at deviantart.com

90s X-Men, by rdauterman at deviantart.com

ALSO, do look for sections of “Pop Culture” to be available (hopefully in-person and online) during Summer II and during the full Fall term. The course will build upon the work students and I did in Visual Literatures and in independent studies.

As always, if you’re interested in discussing or joining any of my courses, please let me know – pacrutcher@ualr.edu.

World Literature Resources

Posted in Uncategorized on 2015.02.17 by pacrutcher

I am happy to be a part of the Concurrent Professional Development Network (CPDN) pilot for the English Department at UALR and Central Arkansas secondary teachers who lead concurrent sections of World Literature and World Literature Themes. I conceptualized a “digital hub” for sharing content resources and instructional resources, and I imagine it would be helpful to teachers engaged in similar curricula around the US. It’s public, and available at worldlitresources.wordpress.com. Let me know if you have any suggestions or additions or would like to join!

Desperately sad reaction to…well… legacies of activism and social change.

Posted in Uncategorized on 2014.11.25 by pacrutcher

The events taking place right now in St Louis and in different hubs around the US are wholly sad and terrible. The finding by the grand jury that there was no evidence to charge Darren Wilson and the clear explanation by the St Louis County prosecutor explaining how the evidence was incontrovertible should have silenced any reasonable protest about the incident, death, or case. The protests and violence are thus incoherent, a discordant message.

Should the systemic inequity and racism be challenged? Yes. Should the police be held to a high standard of professionalism? Yes. Should people organize when they feel their government does not respect or represent them? Certainly. It’s right there in our Declaration of Independence.

Should you burn down businesses and threaten public safety in order to make a point? Perhaps, but there is no conceivable way that aligning violence with this grand jury finding is going to change the social, political, or economic conditions for the disenfranchised or oppressed in the US, nor will it prompt any sort of positive change to racial politics in the US.

The public calm and the possible public debates that might have followed any of these incidents, including the latest with Tamir Rice, could catalyze change. Burning down the local Little Caesar’s, especially when the country already associates criminality with black people, seems at a minimum counterproductive.

Grossly missing the point

Posted in Uncategorized on 2014.09.27 by pacrutcher

California legislators legislate out the Confederate Flag this week, and the action shows just how little state and US representatives understand about the problem. As the story goes, California’s Isadore Hall introduced the idea after “his mother saw replica Confederate money sold at the Capitol gift shop in Sacramento.”

Hall represents Compton, and there’s no doubt that his constituency is deeply impressed and will benefit radically from the bill.

Ignore the Confederate Flag for a moment, because this blog is not the sort of place in which I could best articulate an argument for why it should be ignored by intelligent persons informed by a dose of semiotics and history. Think instead about what the residents of Compton likely want from Hall during his tenure in Sacramento, why they ostensibly elected him.

Back to this bill, whose sole detractor in Sacramento was Tim Donnelly, representative from Twin Peaks, from the mountains outside of LA and undoubtedly distinct from Compton. Donnelly is reported as voting as “a strict Constitutionalist.” And in this case, regardless of whatever other reasons he might have, Donnelly, “painful and lonely” while defending the Constitution, suggests something about American politics.

Andrew Burstein contributed today an interesting and provocative essay to Slate–“We need a new constitution: Here’s how we save American democracy from charlatans, loudmouths, and the 1 percent.” In his essay, Burnstein relies on the Constitution, Franklin Roosevelt, and more to suggest just how perverse our government has become, how apathetic it is to the goals of the document and thus the greater good. He argues that we should yell louder and smarter, to better advocate, and to change the Constitution or to demand our leaders and representatives better follow it.

It’s not that Isadore Hall doesn’t adequately represent his constituents in Compton — it’s that we can’t better move people into office who would spend their time focusing on the causes of racism and racial inequities in Southern California and the US rather than picking at meaningless low-hanging fruit and calling it a serious triumph. It’s that, as Burstein writes, we have a comprehensively corrupt US government, one that leaves Americans and Constitutionalists painful and lonely.