About this blog

Students can feel constrained by ways of communicating and learning that seem opaque and fixed because they are permeated with norms never made explicit, knowledge they do not share, or the language of others.

Janette Ryan and Rosemary Viete
Respectful interactions: learning with international students in the English-speaking academy.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Literary Aesthetics and the e-reader. Not an Irony.

I am someone who loves real books a great deal. I collect works of some key modern writers, and covet hard to find and expensive to buy hard backs. I've gathered all seven first editions of Anaïs Nin's Diary, published by Swallow. I also have a second edition of Nin's collection of short stories, Under a Glass Bell, which she most likely personally printed on a hand press in New York in 1944. My most cherished book is a first edition of Elizabeth Smart's By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept, published in a small print run by Poetry Editions in 1945. I found an online photograph of the original cover, printed it to size, and made a dust jacket for it. There is nothing I would accept to part with it.

Fortunately, I can keep my first editions in their very good dust jackets with their sunned spines and their slightly foxed pages, and the scent of old book which will linger upon them for as long as they stay in solid form. There is no need for me to give them up, even with the advent of digital readers. I know!! It's a surprise that people are still actually able to make their own choices about how they read, and what kinds of books they buy, despite the proliferation of worried commentaries about the death of the book.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

On connection and change in Education

When I was researching for my PhD, I would frequently come across a book or set of essays which began with "On" something, or "Towards" something. I liked these works because they were so evidently open and in the process of becoming and evolving, never seeking to establish unique authority. This is a position I respect in academic writing, because it contributes a new voice to an area of exploration but then leaves the door open for new voices to follow. The writers are invariably of the kind I aspire to be: balanced, critically aware, passionate, and most importantly, they desire to be part of a developing narrative contributed to by others. Such voices are sadly harder to hear in many areas in which I am now spending intellectual and emotional time in the education field.