I'm about to finish my second year teaching at Cornell. I'm just waiting on final projects from both my creative and expository students. I'd like to point anyone who arrives here to the blog that my students have been maintaining all semester: Barbaric Poetries. In it, you will find posts about video games, classical art, professional wrestling, Osama bin Laden, Blood Meridian, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, among other topics. The goal of my expository writing class was to explore our relationship to aestheticized violence, and my students did a marvelous job extending that conversation outside the classroom. In the fall, I'm teaching a course on Superheroines and Gendered Violence. In the spring, I'm teaching that course and a course on Contemporary Poetry and Hip Hop. Both of these writing seminars will use Barbaric Poetries to explore different topics that come up.
It's good to see students this way, and I hope other teachers begin to see the value of blogs in pedagogy. Instead of forcing students to comment of subjects they're half-interested in, they have the opportunity to write about what they want to, keeping them interested in a class they chose to sign up for. They're more at ease, more engaged. The best part is that I get to see them in their own element, seeing what interests they have, what preoccupations trouble them. My first summer teaching, while explaining existentialism, a student had said something along the lines of "I don't know what's the deal with all this existentialism, teach. I'm pretty happy with the way things are." That statement and dismissal gave me the false impression that my Cornell students were nothing like me. This blog teaches me that my assumption was wrong, that not only are my students like me, but they are concerned, critical thinkers.
Also, that experience has inspired me to take up the mantle and cowl once more and write in the darkness of a Newark night. Or whatever. But I hope to spew forth my words in this venue for a little while longer.