Sunday, August 31, 2014

Beginning of fall semester

Next Wednesday (9/3) will be the first day of classes, and marks the beginning of my fourth year teaching at Northeastern University. Time flies! This semester I'll be teaching two courses that are somewhat new to me: an advanced writing course for students in the business school and a new advanced writing course focusing on interdisciplinarity.

The first course isn't completely unfamiliar to me because most of the previous advanced writing courses I've taught have been largely (though not exclusively) populated by business majors. I'll be a bit more focused on some business-related genres, though, than on the kinds of academic genres I used to teach.

In the second course, we'll be focusing more on academic writing. This course will ideally be populated by students from a lot of different majors (though it looks like in one section of the two sections I'm teaching, most of the students are from the business school--more on the reasons for that later). Students will start out by investigating their disciplinarity discourse communities and sharing with their classmates the discourse conventions of those disciplines. Then we'll move from there into working with classmates from a different major on an interdisciplinary research project. We'll be trying to figure out how to go beyond the conventions/discourses/blinders of our individual disciplines in order to investigate topics or problems that themselves aren't limited to one discipline. This course is new--in the past, there was a general course in writing in the disciplines, but the focus wasn't so much on interdisciplinarity.

For both of these courses, I'm teaching the multilingual sections (traditionally called the SOL [Speakers of Other Languages] sections, for people whose native languages aren't English). In the past, there wasn't a multilingual section of the business writing course, but we found that most of the students in the multilingual sections of the general course were business majors, so we decided to open a special course for multilingual business majors. There's only one section for that course, though, which is why, I think, the interdisciplinary course is populated primarily by business majors (who might be surprised by the focus of the course--we'll see...).

We'll see how these courses go. Perhaps I'll post more about them later...

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

I'll get back to this after I get my grant proposal done...

王乾任: "尊修辭而輕思辨的美文寫作教育,害死台灣"

I do agree with this comment from him: "寫作是專門技能,國文老師一定會教寫作的假設,其實很奇怪,卻少有人會質疑--something I'm glad to see written in Taiwan... something that some people haven't realized in the US, either...

[Update, 8/31: No time to write about the article... sorry...]

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Bad writing habits

I'm still working on the grant proposal. And questioning myself every step along the way. And skimming library search results and Google Scholar search results for sources that I won't have time to read before the proposal is due on the 8th. (And writing blog entries!) All the bad habits that come up when I (and I imagine a lot of other people) have to write something. I have to remember this moment when I'm teaching in the fall.

Friday, August 01, 2014

August first

I've got a grant application due soon that I've been half-(w)racking my brain over and half-avoiding, and I came across this post that I linked to back in August of 2007:
I love this description of the writing process by Tom Shroder, Editor of the Washington Post Magazine:
I'm sure there are writers who don't find writing to be a bone-crushing, nausea-inducing festival of self-loathing. I just don't happen to be one of them. Faced with a blank screen and a deadline for even the shortest, simplest piece, I am seized with the overwhelming desire to clean out my garage. Or do anything other than writing (up to and including root canal).

The problem seems to be standards. I have some. And I'm terrified I can't live up to them. I've found that to make myself write anything at all, I have to begin by lowering my sights, and simply try to write something bad. Don't even write, I tell myself, just type.
That's about how I'm feeling right now...