Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Winter Break in Links

First, a very meta link. If you're a regular reader and have never commented before, please de-lurk here. I'm especially curious about who's visiting the site consistently from far-flung places where I don't know anybody:

Happy De-Lurking Day!

One of the difficulties my co-instructor and I had this past semester with our new intro course was in managing student expectations in a lot of areas, including their ideas about what a lecture course should look like, sound like, and cover in terms of breadth and scope. Part of that was on us for not having provided enough of the metanarrative to them — heck, I didn't even realize that that would be a valuable thing to do with undergraduates — and part of it was down to the fact that they expected an introductory lecture course to be rather more like us standing up and reading from some imagined Encyclopaedia of Everything than it was (read: not at all). I'm not sure I'll actually have my students read the following blog post (from the new web site at Stanford's Center for Medieval and Early Modern Studies, which itself is well worth a visit for all you fellow med-ren types), but I definitely do want to draw some of the details of this particular presentation of the idea of universal history into our introduction to the course next semester; I suspect it will cure many ills:

European History, Civilization, Metahistory and Pedagogy: Some First Thoughts

I also liked this take on teaching and research partnerships:

Straight, Queer or Academic?


I am seriously thinking about handing out these two things on the first day of class, though:

I'm not sure if the second one is weird to hand out pre-emptively, or if it's a good thing to use to nip grade complaints (of which I've very oddly, unexpectedly had zero) and general student malaise (of which we had quite a lot over the course of the semester) in the bud. Thoughts?


I miss having a cathedral for a library, which I confess my true religion.

watching libraries burn is unbearable,

Destruction Alert

Saving Egypt's Firebombed Books

and as such (among other reasons), if this is as big as it could be, hopefully it can be brought out of Afghanistan:

Scholarly World Abuzz Over Jewish Scrolls Find


I need to improve my German. It was never really great to begin with, and it has since fallen into utter, complete, rusty disrepair. It's never been a problem before because only an infinitesimal percentage of the scholarship on Andalusi material was written in German, but it has become one now because I want to incorporate a historiographic element into my book project dealing with a group of scholars known as the Wissenschaft des Judentums. Suffice it to say, their output was all in German. I'm planning to re-take baby German here at NYU either next year or the year after (depending on the outcome of a few things I have in the pipeline) but in the meantime, I think I'm going to try this:

Learning German Online for Free: The Amazing Courses at Deutsche Welle

They had me at "Teutonic Scooby-Doo."


A new online journal (first spotted over at SpanishProf's, where much of my commentary here appears in the comment thread) is devoted to publishing peer-reviewed syllabi, teaching documents and essays about teaching. I'm not sure about the value of such a journal: On the one hand, depending on how it is curated (a word I hate using about a journal but it really is what I mean here) it could be a really useful repository for ideas and tips for syllabi and assignments. On the other hand, that caveat about curation really is a pretty big one; and on that same hand, there are lots of discipline-specific web databases for the same kinds of documents, not to mention the accursed, where people can post same. In other words, given that so many of us already post syllabi online in some fashion, this feels a little like generating prestige for the sake of prestige. (The journal's mission statement talks about taking the preparation of these documents as seriously as research, but the thing is that I, for one, already take making my syllabi very seriously.) If I were to have a syllabus accepted for publication on their site, I don't think I'd even list it in the publication section of my CV; rather, it would be a note in the teaching section appended to the information about the course. In any event, I think that this merits, at a minimum, a hearty wait-and-see:

Syllabus: A Peer-Reviewed Publication of Course Syllabi and Other Teaching Materials


The New York Times published two feature articles on the art and history of the book:

Types with Plenty of Character

A Literary History of Word Processing

And not to be left out, the Guardian has one, too:

World's Largest Qur'an Unveiled in Afghanistan

This was a pretty cool and timely (for me) thing to read, since I made a minor point within an article I just submitted about other medievals appropriating and recasting the image of King David for their own cultural ends:

Henry VIII as King David

More on the new galleries at the Met, this time from a proper historian of art:

What's in a Name?

Looted Iraqi antiquities. Not even getting into it. Just linking:

17 Great Blogs on the Antiquities Trade and Looting That You Should Read

I'm really looking forward to reading this book (and happen to love the writing of the review's author, to boot!):

The Evangelical Brain Trust


I found my way to this blog post when someone from the Islamic Republic of Iran alit upon my profile by way of the post author's profile. I'm not sure how. is very strange. In any event, it was an interesting post, and relevant to my still-inchoate ideas about how best to use the web for scholarly purposes:

Knowledge Translation, Mobilization, and the #MyResearch Hashtag

And a little more on writing for digital media and its place in the classroom:

Blogs vs. Term Papers


I have loads of trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep at night during the semester. When I can finally sleep through the night again is when I know I have recovered from the semester. Here, academics talk about their tips and tricks:

How do you sleep at night?

In a more metaphorical iteration of the above question, how do you define moral turpitude, the standard for firing a tenured professor?:

Tenured UC Riverside Faces Rare Firing Discussions

As someone who writes an attendance policy into her syllabi but would very strongly prefer not to, I find that one of the many problems with this plan is that students don't yet know enough to make these kinds of decisions. Another one is the false definition of consumerism that it employs:

Pay-as-you-go lectures would give us real choice

I thought this was worth linking to because these guys hand out fliers and recruit on the NYU campus, too. I've even seen their posters on bulletin boards in my department:

Traveling to Volunteer, but it Wasn't What They Expected

And for a final, frivolous valedictory, apparently James Franco is not a hack:

What it's like to be James Franco's Professor

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