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Spring substitute teaching gig then BEquinox!

March 21, 2019

This winter and now spring I’m on a bit of a sabbatical from teaching at Ventura College but I am substituting a literature class today, so I thought I’d do what I often do when I’m teaching: put up a post about it. Students read these three short stories about death and wrote essays about the techniques the authors used to get their ideas across:

Some of the literary techniques they’ve learned about via a handout that I’m looking forward to checking out. The instructor Lin Rollens describes these literary techniques as “tools in the writer’s tool kit and that you reach for them as easily at you’d get a phillips head screw driver to put the right pieces together.” I love this! She says, “We’ve talked about other things that are techniques–dialogue, repetition, long sentences etc or anything that makes your story work–and they are free to pull those into their pieces as well. I just want them to be able to see how these stories are things made and how art moves/manipulates them so effectively.”

I will also have students share on the board:

— the best thesis
–the best hook or intro
–the best quote from the paper
–works cited

I read the stories last night — and they are as heavy as you might expect. In class today, they will form groups with others who are working with the same story, and workshop their papers. I will also have them share the best thesis and quote from the papers and write it on the board and have them put the works cited up too. Next week is spring break but when they come back, they’ll be reading: Updike’s “The A&P”, the first chapter of Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried” and Yukio Mishima’s stunning and difficult “Patriotism.” In preparation for the next set of readings she suggests we discuss the nature and history of honor:
“Honor is not something that we, as a culture, tend to talk about much, and the students often have a difficult time at first delineating what they think honor is and how it manifests, so I generally give a little back ground about nature and history of honor,” she writes in an email with class instructions.
“The Japanese sense of honor is a little tougher, and these articles may be of use:

“They’re not comprehensive and the whole Bushido element is largely left out; it must be remembered that the Mishima story is set in Japan in 1938–when they were warring in Asia and the emperor was still a god,” she notes. Students will also need to have in hand Julie Ostuka’s “The Buddha in the Attic” and “When the Emperor Was Divine” after the break. Wish me luck!
I’m headed to BEquinox, the LA Burning Man regional ASAP afterward where I’ll be helping out with the Merry Mad Tea Party theme camp!
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