Thursday, April 13, 2017

My class stinks. Also, Literature & the Environment.

by J J Cohen

Literally. I've been teaching a Chaucer course in the only classroom housed within the English Department, a windowless interior room where every now and then the HVAC system belches out the scent of sewage along with a puff or two of air conditioning. Like many of my colleague I've made light of this odor (so appropriate to the Miller and Summoner's Tales!) but it has got to be a health hazard, and I hate exposing my students to it. Seventy-five minutes in that room and you can have a sore throat and headache for the day. Unfortunately the scent also permeates the entire floor on which the department is housed. We suspect it's a secret downsizing of the humanities...

Meanwhile, here is a short piece on the sophomore colloquium I will be teaching in the fall semester. I'm looking forward to this class for many reasons, but something I find especially attractive is that along with its research focus the course trains students to be public advocates for what they have discovered. Most of the classes in my department emphasize the critical writing component but this one is just as much about making effective, persuasive presentations. In these days of rampant anti-intellectualism we need better communicators.

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