Friday, December 29, 2006

So Sayeth Stan Lee

New quarter's composition class...

Against my better judgment, I have reinvented my composition class for this upcoming winter quarter. Well, to be fair, it's not a total reinvention of the wheel. I have cobbled together a bunch of things from various courses I've taught in the past. I have to write new assignments, but the rest is lifted from my comp classes at the University of Maryland and the classes I taught last year at UW.

I've changed up a few things: added more short assignments, cut one of the major papers, and scaled back the readings. I want to get back to a slew of 2-page response papers (claim precis type stuff) that help the students practice the one skill they always have trouble with: generating complex arguments. Then lead up to a slightly longer major paper (6-8 pages rather than 5-7) that requires a bit more outside research. It should be a rolling class, and I get to use many more examples from stories, advertising, television, websites, and film.

ENGL111M: Everyday Media: Reading, Writing, and Critiquing

A central requirement for this class is a well-developed curiosity about the world, about the culture we live in, and about the cultural productions we imagine, produce, and consume. Here the definition of literature is expanded to include more than just written texts. In addition to writing, photographs, advertising, television, websites, and film will be our artifacts, our texts of study and meditation and analysis. We are surrounded by, bombarded with, and often uncritical participants in “everyday media” and their concomitant technologies. This class, in broad strokes, will investigate and interrogate and make visible the ideological, material, and cultural manifestations of “everyday media,” primarily in the US, through the lenses of cultural studies, visual literacy, and writing. Lister and Wells, authors of “Seeing Beyond Belief,” argue for a curiosity, a methodology for unpacking cultural productions; they say, “Cultural Studies allows the analyst to attend to the many moments within the cycle of production, circulation and consumption of [a text] through which meanings accumulate, slip and shift.” They argue that our understandings of identities, meanings, and power, as well as the intersections of cultural and social locations like race, gender, class, and sexuality, can be excavated through the analysis of the texts we create and consume. This class will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about “everyday media” and how and what these texts argue, reveal, narrate, hide, perpetuate, and complicate the world we live in.

Friday, October 20, 2006

This is really fun: M&M'S 50 DarkMovies Hidden in a Painting! To play, you'll navigate through the masterpiece and search for clues to 50 dark movie titles. It's as much fun as a bag of New M&M'S Dark Chocolate Candies! Play it now and see if you can find them all! Go to:

Monday, September 25, 2006

My new composition course debuts...

ENGL111: Imagining Cyberspace: Representations of Cyberspace in Literature, Film, and Culture

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF WHEN YOU HEAR THE WORD CYBERSPACE? WHAT DO YOU SEE? WHAT DO YOU KNOW? Since the inception of the Internet and the World Wide Web and the discipline of ‘digital studies’, the notion and imagining of cyberspace has been deeply celebrated, contested, and colonized. Long before Keanu Reaves donned sunglasses and leather trenchcoat, William Gibson in the early 1980s coined the term ‘cyberspace’ and jacked the culture into the (many-layered) world of cyberpunk. From Burning Chrome, Gibson describes cyberspace, describes the matrix as “an abstract representation of the relationships between data system...bright geometries...Towers and fields of it ranged in the colorless nonspace...the electronic consensus-hallucination...” So what is cyberspace? Is it a place? Is it a space? Is it thought or body or machine or all of the above? Cyberspace has been touted as the ultimate frontier, the promise land where all ground is level for all people, the time and place where you can be anything you want. Cyberspace has been criticized for its lack of definition, its commercialization, its slipperiness when it comes to identity, community, and access. Cyberspace has even been demonized as the shadowy lair of thieves, perverts, sexual predators, terrorists, and subversives. Is cyberspace any of these things? All of these things and more?

This class, in broad strokes, will investigate and interrogate the idea, the material, and the manifestations of cyberspace, primarily in the US, through the lenses of literature and writing. This class will look at, explore, and tease apart what we believe to be a monolithic, all-powerful (and now completely naturalized) construction and convention and take into consideration historical context, commodification, technology, and the intersection of race, gender, class, and identity on- and off-line. We will spend the quarter reading, thinking, writing about (and surfing, mining, and clicking) cyberspace in literature, in film, in theory, and in everyday use. In other words, we will look at texts about cyberspace and cyberspace itself as text.

(The course is really ambitious. It's still a composition class with a literature component. I'm going to have my students reading a lot. It'll be a challenge for them and for me. This will be the first time I've taught a "digital studies" class. The course website is up as well: -- it lists all the readings.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


"Designer creates floating bed"
Mon Aug 7, 8:31 AM ET

A young Dutch architect has created a floating bed which hovers above the ground through magnetic force and comes with a price tag of 1.2 million euros ($1.54 million).

Janjaap Ruijssenaars took inspiration for the bed -- a sleek black platform, which took six years to develop and can double as a dining table or a plinth -- from the mysterious monolith in Stanley Kubrick's 1968 cult film "2001: A Space Odyssey."

"No matter where you live all architecture is dictated by gravity. I wondered whether you could make an object, a building or a piece of furniture where this is not the case -- where another power actually dictates the image," Ruijssenaars said.

Magnets built into the floor and into the bed itself repel each other, pushing the bed up into the air. Thin steel cables tether the bed in place.

"It is not comfortable at the moment," admits Ruijssenaars, adding it needs cushions and bedclothes before use.

Although people with piercings should have no problem sleeping on the bed, Ruijssenaars advises them against entering the magnetic field between the bed and the floor.

They could find their piercing suddenly tugged toward one of the magnets.

Friday, April 28, 2006


The 2006 conference will be held Friday and Saturday, October 20-21, 2006 at UCLA's Royce Hall.

Participants will include:
Janet Jakobsen
David Roman
Jennifer Terry
Michelle Matlock will present the first westcoast performance of the “Mammy Project.”
The Williams Institute at UCLA Law School will sponsor a panel on recent sexual orientation law and public policy scholarship.


Since one of the principal goals of the conference is to encourage the exchange of ideas across academic generations, we invite participation of graduate students and faculty scholars. Please send your proposal (not more than 850 words) for a 20-minute presentation on any topic relating to the study of sexuality and gender and a cv (not more than 2 pages) to one of the addresses below. If you would like to organize a panel of three speakers, please feel free to do so.


Submissions by US Postal Service:

UCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program 1101 Hershey Hall Box 951384 Los Angeles, CA 90095-1384

Email submissions:

For further information, please contact the UCLA LGBTS office at 310 206-0516 or or

Organized by the UCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Program
Stacy Macias
LGBTS Program Assistant
UCLA Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies
Office: 1101 Hershey Hall
Phone: (310) 206-0516

Monday, February 27, 2006

Octavia Butler, 1947-2006

Octavia Butler, one of the country's leading science fiction authors, died Friday after a fall outside her home in Lake Forest Park, Seattle, WA. The African American was the first science fiction author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant.

Read the full article at:

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Oh, to be tagged...


Three books I can read over and over:

1) The Lord of the Rings (Tolkien)
2) Harry Potter books (Rowling)
3) Shakespeare's plays

Three places I've lived:

1) Silver Spring, MD (hometown)
2) Mission District, San Francisco (my second hometown)
3) Capitol Hill, Seattle (my third and current home)

Three TV shows I love:

1) Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2) Smallville
3) Supernatural

Three highly regarded and recommended TV shows that I've never watched a single minute of:

1) Gray's Anatomy
2) Lost
3) Oz

Three places I've vacationed:

1) Taipei, Taiwan
2) Grand Junction, Colorado, US
3) Jacksonville, NC, US

Three of my favorite dishes:

1) most kinds of sushi
2) my mother's (and now my) world famous chinese dumplings
3) sauteed mussels and garlic

Three sites I visit daily:


Three places I would rather be right now:

1) San Francisco, CA
2) with my friends in Maryland
3) at home playing WoW

Three bloggers I am tagging:

1) Things As They Are (Marc Ruppel)
2) Sweet Machine (Laura P.)
3) High Yella (Sydney L.)


Given the recent critique and defense of, I thought this was an amusing site: I know I use wikipedia all of the time (and do my students) with a grain of salt (which my students don't seem to take).

I-10 Witness Project (Digital Stories)

A friend of mine, Patrick Strange, a New Orleanian, passed this project on to me months back in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. He writes, "For the last couple of moths, a few of friends and I have been recording the stories of people affected by Hurricane Katrina. We are recording audio in mp3 format and releasing it into the public domain. The project, called I-10 Witness Project, is a non-profit funded by donations and the particular generosity of the Center for Digital Story Telling in Berkeley: Basically, we feel as if the personal stories of the people who were in New Orleans before, during, and after the storm are not being told through conventional media and news sources. Like anyone who loves New Orleans, we believe that not only do these personal accounts deserve a platform, but that they are perhaps the most telling history of the storm and its effects. We are compiling audio clips, photographs, reports, and in-depth stories on the web. Once the recording process is completed, we will then deliver the audio files along with photographs to public archives so people will be able to access them for years to come."

Check it out:

Digital Bubble Wrap

Refrigerator Magnets