03 September 2008

New Blog

Here is the link to my new class blog for 2008-2009!


05 June 2008


Apologies all-- some end of term difficulties kept me from having the time to post properly or to finish up the film as of yet (I usually have it ready for the beginning of the next term in any case and will email it around when it is ready). I hope everyone is happyand well! I really enjoyed this semester, though I do need to change some things about the course and may have to return to handing in papers rather than using just Bb6 as that proved problematic in some cases.

Have a good summer!

Dr. J

19 May 2008

Just for Fun

I write all kinds of things, so I thought I would follow Usman's lead and share a poem. This one is a "prose poem" (no real line breaks) about writing. The illustration is from my friend Sara (saradani.com).


The old man they called The Hand wrote on everything: every single thing that could take a mark of red ink, black ink, paints and dyes of all hues, blueberry juice, manure, semen, urine, shit, a spittle soaked finger, the scratching of rocks, worn arrowheads, large sticks, uncut fingernails, hoes and rakes, or discarded sewing needles, to name a very few. Mosaic letters of colored rocks traced across the grass. Thatch roofs were rewoven during the night: a “d”, an “a”, a “w”, and “n” all facing the East. The roofs leaked letters on the rooms below.

The Hand wrote philosophy and poetry—classical, modern, and impromptu. He scrabbled aphorisms, curses, dire predictions, proper names of people and places historical, mythological, and fantastical. He wrote shopping lists on front doors and committee agendas on windows: “Meeting at 8:30am, light breakfast will be served. 10:00am: team building time.” He wrote “Suddenly there’s bears!” down the mid-wife’s stairs. Small children learned to read from the windows and walls. Our village lost its name below the surface of it all.

The old man wrote on cobbled chimneys, outhouses inside and out, rocks, stones, pebbles, pots, pans, small unattended children, and animals too slow or dull witted to avoid his grasping hands. He loved to write curse words on captured migrating birds.

It goes without saying he tattooed his own skin: every inch he could reach with the complete text of Dr. Zhivago. Or so he says. I have never read it. The blank spot on his back he labeled “winter.”

He sometimes wrote on paper and occasionally with pens. He folded these neatly into swans and dragons and flowers and then ate them, usually.

In time, he tattooed our bodies as well: head to toe with our names, important events, undying loves, former undying loves, and downright dead ones. He gave us spells to ward away gout, eczemas, boils, and the common cold.

Hide and seek is not a game our children play—it is our daily life as graffiti bodies wander through painted rooms out into our painted streets.

He wrote himself into our lives for uncounted years until he died. We found his cold lettered body by smell, leaning patiently against the lettered well.

His lettered bones lie there still.

15 May 2008


This week's events revolved around war and veterans and the depiction, or media portrayal, of war and veterans in a feature length film (Platoon), video (Digital Stories), academic articles and discussions. For this week's blog, I would like you to think about the production (to see war as "making something"), commodification (to see war as a product "for sale"), and historitization (to see war as "pivotal history" or "epiphany") of war. You may use any other films, TV shows, books, or other texts you are familiar with to how "war" is depicted and created in media and for what reasons.

Responding actively to ths blog entry and responding to your classmates' blog will help you with the Final In-class Essay next week!

06 May 2008


Hi folks! This week we have a multi-task blog. As I will be unable to meet with you at the NYPL-Performing Arts Branch, I am going to have you form your own “research teams” to go to the library and check it out. You may go to the library on your own schedule, though I am giving you Wednesday as we will not meet as a class on that day. I will be holding extra office hours, however, for those needing one-on-one help. Here is what you should do:

1) Form a group.
2) Find the address and hours of the library and plan your route/travel time.
3) Set up a time and place to meet with your group (There is a big fountain on Lincoln Center which might be a good place). I would suggest planning a solid hour and a 1/2. You DO NOT have to work as a group, nor report out as a group. I would, however, that no one work alone unless absolutely necessary (and approved by me). Having a group allows you to learn things about the place you might not have noticed otherwise.
4) Find the webpage for the Performing Arts library and cruise their collections (see what they have).
5) Make a list of “things to see” while there that interest you or “may” apply to your topic. Be prepared to ask questions! (Suggestions: They have a fantastic collection of DVDs on the first floor and an equally impressive collection of “movie books” on the 2nd floor). Leave some time for just wandering about and checking out what they have.
6) Keep notes of “things of interest” for the class (not just your personal project) to share in your blog.
7) Report out your experience to your blog.