Something I thought about:
- A good chunk of time went to grading, and as always, I thought about what kind of comments are the most helpful — how to build up a writer. Critique is necessary, of course, but marking every single issue is disheartening and therefore unproductive. I aim for big issues of structure or argument first, and once those are clearly in place, I start working with students at the line level — better phrasing, sentence variation, etc.
- The photo above is where I held class on Thursday. We've had several class session outside, and students say it changes the whole vibe in a good way. I'm amused to see them all with their technology – laptops and tablets under a tree by the lake.
Something I did:
- Marked first-year essays
- Diss writing
Something I read:
- I loved Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was in high school and enjoyed Robert M. Pirsig's essay on writing it.
- I'm a big fan of Ada Limón (isn't everyone?). In this craft essay, she explains how she puts a collection together – not a single poem, but the book itself.
- There was a lot of discourse recently because of an essay by an Iowa graduate who pulled her debut novel because of plagiarism. This essay was then pulled for plagiarism. I'm not linking to either of those. Instead, here's a piece by the writer who was plagiarized in the plagiarism essay – an expert on plagiarism – and it has a really useful breakdown of why plagiarism by the novelist was essentially guaranteed based on her compositional methods. Super useful.
- This profile of a "missing" mathematician is terrific. Two brief extracts to give you a sense of it:
A more pedestrian problem was that Grothendieck was stateless. He had a right to French citizenship but did not avail himself of it, because that would mean he could be conscripted into the military. (When Grothendieck was later invited to visit Harvard, he almost didn’t get a visa, because he refused to pledge not to attempt to overthrow the United States government; he said that he would be fine going to jail in the U.S., so long as he had access to as many books as he wanted.)
The mathematician Paul Erdős used to refer to particularly elegant proofs as “straight from the Book,” meaning the book of God (though he doubted God’s existence, and would refer to him as the SF, for Supreme Fascist).