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File: teaching

teaching
2017-06-30 :: dave

I. I’ve taken to saying this a lot in classes. The only rule to writing is You can’t be boring. Every other rule you might come across is breakable. Use vivid verbs. Structure your essay with scenes. Show don’t tell. Write what you know. Don’t bring out a gun at the end of your story […]

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teaching
2017-04-21 :: dave

I. There’s this thing that happens a lot in writing workshops I’ve noticed after a decade or so of teaching them. For those outside MFAland: in a writing workshop, everyone but the writer of the manuscript talks about that MS at hand, discussing their reading experience and suggesting things for revision. Now: suggestions can be […]

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teaching
2016-12-26 :: dave

Did my semiannual review of my students’ course evaluations this morning, which at my school are complex and quantitative and—if you’re the sort of person who sees your score and then sees your school’s average score and maniacally compares them free of any context, even if the thing scored doesn’t apply in any way to […]

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teaching
2016-11-10 :: dave

I had to teach a class the morning after election day, and knowing my students and myself I knew it wouldn’t work to discuss “Consider the Lobster” and talk about the uses of research in nonfiction. So I went to church in the morning to pray over what to do and I was reminded of […]

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NF + teaching
2015-12-29 :: dave

Yesterday I wrote a thing about how the debut memoir seems—in order to be a success—to require a rote approach to structure and form. That memoirs need to look like novels, with a reliance on scenes and a macrostructure that ends with its protagonist’s coming to ultimate terms with his or her conflict. This post […]

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Comedy + teaching
2014-11-21 :: dave

I. Tuesday night in Uses of Humor in Writing we talked about Larry Wilmore’s notion of dominance as a standup comic. You have to immediately show dominance in front of an audience, but you also need to be self-deprecating. How does this work? How does this translate to our jobs as writers? You show dominance […]

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teaching + Uncategorized
2014-11-11 :: dave

Dedicated Feedlyers of this blog will recall my trying to rethink the spirit behind reading and responding to student manuscripts. Well, leave it to the always-great Harper’s to find it for me. From this month’s Readings section, excerpting from Ways of Curating by Hans Ulrich Obrist: [Artist Alighiero] Boetti told me that if I wanted […]

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teaching
2014-10-29 :: dave

These days I’m trying to think more about how I might better use my imagination, or create something new in the world, or both, not just when I sit down to write, but when I go through my day-to-day life. I’m also listening almost exclusively to The Mountain Goats’ The Sunset Tree, for what it’s […]

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teaching
2014-07-09 :: dave

Continuing my research into Bjork’s “desirable difficulties”, I found some video interviews he did that summed up a lot of his lab’s research into learning. One thing they’ve studied is the effect of “interleaving,” which means alternating among a set of disparate things to learn rather than learning them in dedicated blocks, one-by-one. So for […]

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teaching
2014-06-26 :: dave

I’m writing this paper on what neuroscience and cognition can teach us as writers of nonfiction—who, it’s been said, write essays that “show a mind at work” without, from what I can tell, learning much about how the mind even works. A colleague of mine in the psych dept at USF turned me on to […]

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teaching
2014-01-16 :: dave

Short answer: I never learned how to. Long answer: I never learned how to teach anything, really. Most collegiate teaching begins as stabs in the dark by people who believe they can do but don’t yet know how to get others to do. But while I eventually picked up how to teach, say, scene or […]

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teaching
2013-09-16 :: dave

It’s easy to point to MFA rankings as meaningless, but what they mean is that young people who are interested in devoting years of their lives to writing are looking at a limited set of programs around the country. Funding is key, as are low amounts of teaching. Programs that look like long-term residencies, or […]

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teaching
2013-06-08 :: dave

Dithered over that title’s preposition and decided that opting for the positive would help everyone in the mess that’s to come. I. If good students are the ones who enter every class full of passion and curiosity, Joey’s been one of my best. The other night we had a Twitter exchange he covers clearly and […]

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teaching
2013-03-13 :: dave

I. I teach in a graduate writing program where to suggest we ought to be prescriptive (i.e. start with first principles to apply to the work at hand) in our workshop comments or revision suggestions would be like insisting we ought to admit few to no black students, or queer ones. It’s taken in faith […]

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teaching
2012-06-14 :: dave

In looking at the upcoming term’s calendar to see when classes began (Aug 22, for any UAers reading), one date listed was Constitution Day, September 17. Columbus Day? No. We don’t get Columbus Day off, for obvious reasons. But Constitution Day, yes. I had never heard of Constitution Day, so I Googled it and found […]

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teaching
2012-05-10 :: dave

This post is maybe 40 percent good intentions and 60 percent vanity, but this is a blog so what do you expect? I started revisions this morning on the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2010. I’m using FocusWriter because I like how it fills the screen with nothing but a blank field. Very useful. […]

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teaching
2011-10-13 :: dave

I’m teaching a graduate seminar on plot and structure in novels and NF books. Today was Skloot’s Henrietta Lacks. The students had concerns about the ethics of writing (and potentially profiting off of) another person’s story. I had concerns about nonfiction writing and our formal or casual assessment thereof. Here’s where I was coming from: […]

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teaching
2011-09-14 :: dave

I mean: everyone else is doing it. For those unfamiliar with the hubbub: Poets & Writers magazine released, once again, its poorly conceived rankings of MFA programs in creative writing. These have made everyone angry—everyone except P&W (which is without questions selling a shitload of issues with this) and Seth Abramson, the lawyer/poet/blogger behind these […]

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teaching
2011-07-20 :: dave

I. I’ve been flipping through Stegner’s On Teaching and Writing Fiction. Look at this bit: The apprenticeship for poets is likely to be shorter than for fiction writers, because (at least in our time) poetry is essentially lyrical, which means personal, and the person is aware of himself well before he is fully aware of […]

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