University Diaries

University Diaries

A professor of English describes American university life.

June 21, 2008 - 9:39am
I've taken my headline from a piece in today's Wall Street Journal about Democratic Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, about whom people are talking as a strong candidate for Obama's Vice-Presidential running mate.
June 16, 2008 - 1:33pm
First, an update: I haven't yet contacted anyone about going shooting, but I will.While I'm arranging that, I plan to go to a gun show in in Virginia, near Dulles Airport, on July 27. I'll write about it here at IHE. ----------------------------------------------------------------------Over the weekend, I checked out what I figured would be the fervent gun-control writings of some of my colleagues at George Washington University. After all, professors and guns don't mix...
June 11, 2008 - 12:27pm
What next? UD has now visited the NRA, written and reflected on it, and read many comments and emails about her having done that. Aside from looking at the articles about guns and their controversies that readers have recommended, the most pressing question about her desire to continue to educate herself about guns -- again, judging from her extensive mail -- is whether she should pick up a gun and have a go at shooting it. Five people, four of them local, have offered to take her shooting at a range.
June 7, 2008 - 8:43am
In the museum tower of the NRA headquarters, there's first a little store, and then a little theater with a film about the history and significance of guns in America. Vintage rifles line the walls of the theater, and American flags and eagles abound.
June 6, 2008 - 6:13pm
"The next station is... Be - THES - da." Ah, 'thesda, UD's stomping grounds. Her childhood home, her blue state roost.
June 6, 2008 - 10:37am
Today, UD visits the National Rifle Association. She'll talk to a woman who works there, visit the museum, take a look at the shooting range they have in the basement. Their headquarters is just across the Potomac River from UD's George Washington University office in Foggy Bottom, a quick cab trip from the Vienna/Fairfax-George Mason University metro station in Virginia.
May 29, 2008 - 5:32pm
How do we get American students out of the basement of the ivory tower? You remember the recent Atlantic magazine article, In the Basement of the Ivory Tower, whose author, an English professor at a university of last resort, argues that we've got to stop admitting to college people who simply cannot make it in that setting, who will not graduate, who will flunk and flunk again required courses like English composition.
May 27, 2008 - 5:10pm
Hank Payne, Denice Denton, Jorge Liderman, Jerry Wolff -- these are some of the more high-profile professors who've killed themselves in the last few years. During the time UD's been writing this blog.
May 21, 2008 - 1:25pm
Let me combine two university-related subjects I've been promising to write about -- online courses, which I've called the poor white trash of pedagogy, and student/professor affairs. These subjects, seemingly unrelated, might be considered together under the heading Live Souls, the working title of a book UD hopes to write this year during her sabbatical: Live Souls: Re-Animating the American University. ***
May 10, 2008 - 5:32pm
"No one is thinking about the larger implications, let alone the morality, of admitting so many students to [university] classes they cannot possiblypass," writes an anonymous adjunct English professor in the June 2008 Atlantic magazine (far as I know, it's not available online). He teaches in two "colleges of last resort," where local, often older, students, go to rack up credits so they can move along a career track.

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