The Semester Story was a three-day, multimodal activity (in preparation for the Final Exam) that I first created/deployed in a non-survey, non-major American Literature course (17 students) in Spring 2018. Its curation started with two writing process research studies (re)calibrated via posthumanism and has become just one concrete strategy/assignment in my toolbox that not only helps me more ethically and responsibly observe and assess the classroom as a whole but also offers students the chance to research and assess their own learning and growth–the story of their semester–using data they’ve been creating and curating for months. The Semester Story played a huge role in my dissertation and is, to my mind, a practical distillation of what teaching elsewhere can be. The below recording was my first time presenting on this assignment (March 2020) outside of my defense and offers a (very) brief introduction to the concept of it, particularly the two composition studies articles it started from.
“Enduring Silence: The Impossible Sound of Stolen and Sacred Names in Fantasy Fiction”
I've been digging back through old work and
came across this recording that I forgot I had.
I LOVE the two books it's analyzing
(Tigana is one of my top favorites of all time)
and I miss working with straight up fantasy.
Maybe I need to get back to that a bit
now that the dissertation is done.
This was back when I was but a young Ph.D. candidate
and had just passed my comps the semester before.
I'm pretty sure I murder half of the names and place names
and words from the authors' invented languages.
It sounds like I know exactly what I'm pronouncing
but that just wasn't the case and I feel terrible for whatever
injustice I did to these authors' imagine worlds.
From the introduction:
In Guy Gavriel Kay’s Tigana, a conquering sorcerer strips the country of Tigana of its name in retribution for its Prince killing his son. In Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Avatar, Phèdre searches for and then holds within her the vast complexity of God’s name, needed to save her oldest friend. One name stolen, the other sacred, both are lost throughout the majority of these texts to a silence that defines characters and drives plot. Even at their climaxes, when these silences break and these names are once again heard, both texts strain under the impossibility of representing an unrepresentable sound: all the stories, the tragedies, the meanings these singular names have come to hold.
Dissed are excerpts from the dissertation that have been cut, killed, excised, burned on the altar of common sense and distance before being left here to not die…
At the 2017 MLA conference I was set to talk about this very project in a roundtable called ‘Teaching as Theoretical Practice.”* There were four papers on the panel—the first and second papers were co-authored and, therefore, got a few extra minutes. I went last and had been, along with the other single author, allotted a shorter-than-usual twelve minutes. I admitted defeat before I even got up to the mic. You saw the length of the last chapter. You’re looking at the length of this one. It wasn’t going to happen. But a funny thing happened while I was listening to my fellow panelists go before me and scribbling notes on their talks in my ever-present journal. Another talk emerged. And tapped me on the shoulder. And said, “Hey, do you mind sharing me with the group?”