Cloister Commentary, Day 6: “New Day Rising” (March 26, 2020)

Things change so quickly.

I’d just set up regular Tuesday Zoom meetings with my freshman comp students at Stephens, and emailed them an update (their last undertaking is a research paper). I signed off by acknowledging that none of us really knows what is going to happen past April 14, when we were slated (but I doubted we’d be able) to return to campus for in-person work. I came back upstairs after hitting “send” to learn that Stephens’ campus operations had just closed down for the semester, and graduation had been moved to August. What a surreal situation for students, and it’s certainly the first time I will not be able to say “So long!” to a class in person. I’ve seen quite a bit, having taught in each of the last four decades, but this truly is novel.

It’s really too late to try it now, but, though I was initially resistant to videoconferencing every day, I am fascinated by how a Socratic seminar might work in that mode. Some of the temptations that can untrack a discussion would seem to be eliminated. If I am assigned a class next semester (I always teach a music-focused comp class in the fall), I’ll have to assign my students an album to listen to and annotate (or let them pick one), and give a virtual Socratic a spin.

Also, I received a review copy of Sasha Geffen’s GLITTER UP THE DARK: HOW POP MUSIC BROKE THE BINARY from the University of Texas, and the introduction and chapter headings alone convince me it could be a great required text for my fall class. Geffen is smart and brave, and her style would be challenging but enjoyable for first-year students. Funny thing is, I was alerted to it by Hannah Ewens, whose great book FANGIRLS (along with her virtual guest appearance in both my ’19 fall classes) had convinced me I needed to use IT–I certainly can’t (or at least shouldn’t) assign both. Or maybe I could…

But who the hell knows what next semester is going to look like.

Is anyone else out there watching either LITTLE FIRES EVERYBODY or HIGH FIDELITY on Hulu? Nicole and I are, and I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Stimulus package: ’bout time, BUT keep your eye on the ball. Myself, I am afraid to look at it closely. Kleptocrats were involved.

Streaming for Shut-Ins: This full album speaks for itself.

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