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Steampunk World’s Fair

Posted on : 20-01-2011 | By : Dean | In : Science Fiction

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The second annual Steampunk World’s Fair will be held in Piscataway, NJ this year. From an email I received:

This will be the second year for Steampunk World’s Fair.  There will be musical performers, readings, and panels on all aspects of steampunk (last year there were wonderful panels on race, class & gender in steampunk and on multiculturalism in steampunk, among many others).   There will no doubt be at least one fashion show.   This would be a great opportunity for people who’ve been observing steampunk from a distance to see things close at hand;  for those of you who are already involved in the steampunk community, this is quite an enjoyable convention as well.

For more information, go to:

http://steampunkworldsfair.com/

If anyone is interested in more information or attending, please let me know.

Spring 2011: Semester Changes & the New Offering

Posted on : 18-01-2011 | By : Dean | In : Literature, Science Fiction, Teaching, Tech and Teaching, UWP

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I have made a few conscious changes to the classes that I am teaching this semester. One of them I have wrestled with for a long time.

1. Walden gets a rest, sort of.

Probably the biggest change to my EN227 class is the omission of Walden. It’s a book that is rarely appreciated by students on a first reading. I have come to accept that this is not only because it is difficult in its use of language and allusions, but because many of its central arguments contain contrary notions. Those elements are often read as contradictions, errors in logic, rather than nuanced acknowledgements of differing strains of Thoreau’s experiment. It is difficult to get past these things, so we’re going to try a few shorter pieces. Never fear, though, as I have included a chapter or two from Walden.

2. Nothing Online!

Although I have had overwhelmingly positive feedback on the courses that I have taught in Second Life, some students may note that there are no offerings there this semester. Those who have taken those classes know how much work goes into them, and while I am an advocate for such venues for online instruction (a much better choice because it offers real-time discussion), the fact is that Parkside doesn’t have the software or the support in place to facilitate these offerings. I may return to the virtual classroom in upcoming semesters, but spring will offer a welcome break from the computer programming and administrative work that was involved to ensure the success of the course I taught there.

I have kept Snow Crash on the list for EN237, though, and I am teaching the class in a computer lab, so there is always that chance for a foray or two into the world of Goreans and Furries!

3. Steampunk and the bookstore!

I have wanted to teach Steampunk in a sixteen-week format since I first taught a brief summer version of it two years ago. This semester will be my chance. I taught Cyberpunk over the 2010 summer session, so spring will offer a nice compliment.

I have found that both courses offer a challenge: Books. With many of the titles being tossed from one publisher to the next or in out of print status (with new titles available through amazon), coordinating with the bookstore is difficult. I have added a few books to the list available through the bookstore, and we will have to discuss options for the readings.

*It should be a wonderful semester. I still get a bad case of nerves the night before classes start. I won’t sleep tonight, so those of you who see me in the hall or in class tomorrow may mistake me for an animated corpse. That’s nothing new, though.

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