It’s been a minute since I’ve posted. 1 My semester starts at LaGuardia this week, and with it comes my personal pedagogical ritual: taking a decent, pre-existing syllabus I conjured forth (that has been already tweaked and refined); putting it aside; and completely overhauling the content, usually within a mere week before classes begin. 2 To be clear: I am constantly reflecting/tweaking prior assignments and in-class exercises — and many of these are fairly portable and can be recycled with ease into another section of composition. But I want to teach content that I find fresh and exciting, and that I hope will engage students.… Read more
I got into an MFA program, and CUNY foots the bill if full-time employees want to take graduate classes within the system (or undergrad classes, for that matter). Yes, I’m lucky AF. It’s also a bit time-consuming, turns out. ↩
The Black Mirror composition course (detailed in my last post, many moons ago) went quite well, and only needed some minor adjustments. I made them soon after the semester ended, and will probably re-visit that at some point again. I just felt an urge to trot out this idea first. ↩
Which worked out fine. I had a great time teaching those composition sections around Beyoncé’s visual album, intersectional feminism, and pop culture more generally.
But because I get bored/distracted easily when teaching the same material repeatedly, I felt it was time to revisit my Black Mirror ideas, tweak as necessary, and roll out this sucker. Fortunately, the experience running those Lemonade sections – especially using student writing as course reading/response materials – helped me hone this iteration a bit more.… Read more
I’m guest-editing a special issue of the peer-reviewed journal Supernatural Studies; the fall/winter issue will be devoted to the series Black Mirror.
The CFP is below, and more information about the journal is here (a new site for the journal is in the works, and the Black Mirror issue will be open access). Thanks so much to Leah Richards, John Ziegler, and the editorial board for their feedback and this opportunity.
Call For Papers: Fall/Winter 2017 Special Issue of Supernatural Studies
Black Mirror: Supernatural as Near-Future Technology
Guest editor Bethany Holmstrom, Assistant Professor of English, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY
The anthology series Black Mirror offers up various worlds, visions, and fantasies for the future of technology.… Read more
There might not be a more (terrifyingly) apt moment to talk about Dixon’s 1905 play, which provided the basis for D.W. Griffith’s 1915 film, The Birth of a Nation.1There’s a legend surrounding a presidential endorsement of the film: after the viewing of the movie, President Wilson supposedly declared that it was “like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” 2 And, of course, the Ku Klux Klan endorsed the person being sworn into the office of the presidency today. There has been a lot of talk about how we cannot – must not – normalize white supremacy: but the KKK has been normalized – even romanticized – in popular culture since its founding in the Reconstruction period – and Dixon’s play is certainly an instance of this.… Read more
I remember a time when I said I was going to try and do a Bad Play Friday once a week. That was hysterical.↩
Melvyn Stokes, D.W. Griffith’s “The Birth of a Nation”: A History of “The Most Controversial Motion Picture of All Time” (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 111. The film was screened for Wilson on February 18, 1915. ↩
Today, I held individual conferences with students. I suggested these conferences, instead of our regularly scheduled class, a little while ago. I tweaked the schedule because it’s usually a good idea to check in, one-on-one, around this time in the semester. But I also did it as a precaution. Maybe it is my Southern roots. Maybe I subconsciously knew how white folk could be : the sexism, the racism – whatever it takes to maintain white male supremacy. 1 But I knew that – if what happened were to happen – I wouldn’t be able to function in front of a whole class today.… Read more
This should not have been news to me. Hell, the first thing of mine that I ever saw in print was in high school, and was an editorial against the Confederate flag, written in response to some good ol’ boy in the Lynchburg News & Advance. And I look at racist AF Civil War memories. I should have known better, but was in denial, like so many others. ↩
I went a-conferencing this past weekend, to the American Society for Theatre Research in Minneapolis (#astr16). I was invited to speak at a career session called Beyond the Journal: Social Media, Blogs, and Podcasts, with scholars Brian Herrera , as moderator and general theatre/social media/digital writing expert, and Pannill Camp, who spoke about the important and exciting On TAP podcast. It was pretty awesome to somehow get invited to this party (if a 7:30 am Sunday session can be considered a party. Indulge me.). Many thanks to the Career Sessions organizers for the invitation, should they ever stumble across this post.… Read more
Hello again, intrepid fans of bad plays! This week, I’m looking at a professional melodrama set during the war: William Haworth’s The Ensign (1892).
To my knowledge, the copy I got from the Sherman Collection at Southern Illinois Universitymight be the only extant copy of the play. But it seems that a lot of unpublished typescripts are squirreled away in odd places/papers, or haven’t been catalogued, or the finding aids aren’t digital/online, so I could be wrong on this front (please contact me if you know of any other copies out there!).
Anyways, actor/playwright/director William Haworth chose a rather unexpected location for the start of his play (at least, unexpected compared to many other popular Civil War melodramas).… Read more
I‘m very excited to be co-facilitating – with colleague Priscilla Stadler, the Center for Teaching & Learning Instructional Design Manager – a semester-long faculty seminar this fall. This is an outgrowth of the NEH Technology, Self, and Society seminar that I was part of for the past two years. Our seminar, Future Humans, will be more pedagogy-focused, but will draw on the themes of transhumanism, posthumanism, and AI that came up in the Technology, Self, & Society sessions. … Read more
Each week, I will share some quick thoughts on a late-nineteenth/early-twentieth century US play. 1 This series is really a way of keeping me honest as I work through my monograph on Civil War memories; because it is monograph-related, the play will somehow touch upon the war, slavery, or Reconstruction. I’ll be revisiting some plays I’ve already read/written about, but many will be texts I just recently acquired, thanks to a generous PSC-CUNY grant. The grant sent me to the Sherman Theatre archive, part of the Morris Library Special Collections at Southern Illinois University this past February.… Read more
My commentary will most likely be rife with sarcasm because it’s my second language, although my doctoral program would not accept it as one of the language requirements. ↩