Thanks to the amazing vision and dedicated work of Alden Sajor Wood, a PhD candidate in English and Asian American Studies at the University of California, Irvine where he is completing a dissertation on Filipino and Filipino diasporic literatures, I’m honored and thrilled to be included in Magkwento: The Philippine Anglophone Literature List.
This invaluable resource is a comprehensive and inspiring directory to a growing list of literary luminaries. Please treat yourself and share the love with students, colleagues, and your favorite readers & writers.
This winter’s schedule might not include teaching classes but that doesn’t mean there’s plenty of homework and reading to do. At the start of 2014, along with the ongoing and maybe some new creative writing projects, the research question rattling this mind is can post-colonial discourse(s) inspire, challenge, and inform the craft of fiction writing? Pictured below are just some of the authors who may or may not light the path with a little Djuna Barnes thrown in for fun.
Just got my signed copy of Becoming Mexipino: Multiethnic Identities and Communities in San Diegowritten by Dr. Rudy P Guevarra Jr. (Arizona State University) and published by Rutgers University Press. I remember when Dr. Guevarra and I first met at a FANHS (Filipino American National Historical Society) conference in San Diego years ago. We compared notes about being Mexipino or Chicapina, as my family calls us, and, later at UCLA, I would share my stories with him officially for the honor and privilege of being included in his book.
Here’s an excerpt:
Rashaan and other Mexipinos in San Diego are the bridges between both cultures because they live a multicultural existence. Multiethnic and multiracial people have already experienced an alternative worldview, which has positive implications. She described it in terms of the future of racial and ethnic mixing: ‘I think it is inevitable…Time magazine put up all the races of together to see what it [hypothetical person of the future] would look like, and it looked Filipino. You know, it’s like we’re already there, we’ve been there. We’re just bringing it to the forefront (158)
Becoming Mexipino is a social-historical interpretation of two ethnic groups, one Mexican, the other Filipino whose paths led both to San Diego, California. Using archival sources, oral histories, newspapers and personal collections and photographs, Rudy P. Guevarra Jr. traces the earliest interactions of both groups with Spanish colonialism to illustrate how these historical ties and cultural bonds laid the foundation for what would become close interethnic relationships and communities in twentieth century San Diego as well as in other locales throughout California and the Pacific West Coast.
Educators, please consider using this text in your classroom. California history lovers, ethnic study researchers, and San Diego locals, why not pick up a copy for yourself? Please help spread the word to interested parties and consider having a go yourself!
Fall 2012 has landed with a whole new set of classes to teach and fresh students to guide this semester. In addition to leading a freshman cohort, I’m looking forward to reading the anthology Re-reading America, Jonathan Kozol’s Shame of the Nation, and David Shipler’s The Working Poor for L&CS 121: Culture and Civic Responsibility along with helping to steer seniors toward strong portfolios and presentations for L&CS 124: Senior Assessment & Portfolio. Should anyone have suggestions on exercises and documentaries to cover this year’s presidential election, by all means, please send them my way. November 4, 2012 will be a spotlighted in L&CS 121. Here’s hoping for a good head-smacking academic year with lots of a-ha moments for the students and myself.
Here’s the course descriptions to pique your interest:
Welcome! This class is designed to help you, as a newly minted college professional, become effective agents by prompting how to ask good questions, how to practice life-long learning, and, finally, to increase the capacity to take charge of your own academic career. Consider this a strength-training course to strengthen your critical skills and support you in your transition to college life, combining class discussions with co-curricular activities, and a variety of workshops so you may achieve your highest potential. You will be provided with access to a faculty and academic advisor, who will serve as a resource and mentor to guide you through the many learning and living experiences at Saint Mary’s. Consider your faculty advisor as a physical therapist, here to ensure you are fit and toned for your college profession. I look forward to learning and training with each of you.
Liberal & Civic Studies 121: Culture & Civic Responsibility
Welcome to L&CS 121, the first of five Liberal and Civic Studies courses that together comprise the core experience for students pursuing this program of studies. Within the broad framework of culture and civic responsibility, this course introduces you to the seven central emphases and themes of the Liberal and Civic Studies Program: 1) Service-Learning, 2) the Arts, 3) Diversity, 4) Ideas from the Great Conversation, 5) Critical Thinking, 6) Integrative Thinking and 7) Self-Assessment. (NOTE: These themes and emphases are explained in the introductory pages of your Guide to the Liberal and Civic Studies Program.) In addition, the course gives special emphasis to the theme of American society and culture—its roots, development, nature and impact. Throughout the course, we will explore possible answers to the question: Can we create here in America the kind of “Beloved Community” envisioned by Dr. Martin Luther King?
Liberal and Civic Studies 124/100 Fall 2012 – Senior Assessment & Portfolio
Welcome to L&CS 124, and congratulations on entering your senior year! This course is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on what you have learned & experienced, and how you have grown over the course of your L&CS education. As an interdisciplinary program that seeks to educate the whole person, and strives to develop self-awareness, ethical values, and habits of social responsibility, it is important for our students that they have time to assess their development.
Reading the likes of Azedah Moaveni’s Lipstick Jihad, Fareed Zakaria’s Post-American World, Jared Diamond’s Collapse, and revisiting Michael Pollan’s Omnivore’s Dilemma for two new classes I’m teaching within Saint Mary’s College’s Liberal & Civic Studies Program. Students are coming to me in class proud about how conversant they’re getting concerning world politics, global matters, and environmental issues. I must confess, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut during class discussions. Its hard to keep silent when the readings and subjects are so stimulating.
122 Environmental Responsibility in a Global Community
Taken the semester immediately following L&CS 121 whenever possible, this courses focuses on the natural world in which we lie, and the complex interrelationship between human activities, the values which determine these activities and their consequences for the environment. Different societies’ belief systems along with their responsibilities and attitudes toward the environment are examined. Students are required to devote time each week to a service-learning project, write essays, intellectual integrations and a self-assessment. Class sessions are supplemented by a biweekly activity lab. Prerequisites: L&CS 121, English 5, Collegiate Seminar 20/110.
123 Modern Global Issues
The purpose of this course is to gain broad-based exposure to some of the cultural, political and economic issues related to and arising from the processes of globalization. Students will study recent critical dialogues and philosophies of globalization, including issues of ethnicity/race, gender, identity, urban culture, post-nationalism, multiculturalism and post-colonial studies. Students are require to participate in class, lead discussion, write essays and news articles responses, give an oral presentation and complete a midterm exam. Prerequisite:L&CS 121 or permission of instructor.
We’ve watched some of the following videos to supplement subjects and texts recently covered:
Excited and honored to be presenting at the 18th Annual Conference of ACTC: Association for Core Texts and Courses. This year’s theme is “Liberal Arts Education and the World: Inquiring into, Preparing for and Living in the Real World Through Core Texts,” taking place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Yours truly will be presenting the paper: “We’re All Others Now: Revisiting Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in the Age of Post-post-colonialism.”
In 1977, Chinua Achebe, through his essay, “An Image of Africa” tried and sentenced Joseph Conrad for being a “bloody racist,” charging that his novel, Heart of Darkness, captured Western imagination at its worst. In light of post-colonial theory, every culture and nation affected by Empire, both colonized and colonizer, was then shackled to a shared and brutal past. Post-colonial theorists like Achebe sought retribution and used discourse as a means of justice. Now that we’ve woken from colonial dreams and post-colonial nightmares of imagined communities, how do we read and critique a text like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness? And, if “multiculturalism has failed,” or if we believe it is possible to “transcend race,” what comes after post-colonial theory?
For more info on post-post-colonialism, check out the following source:
On Saturday, October 22, at SMC’s Parent & Family Weekend, “Classes Without Quizzes,” I got to meet 25 parents and family members who were eager “to see Saint Mary’s through their kids’ eyes.” In my session, titled “Classroom as Kitchen Table: Education Through Conversation and Feeding Hungry Minds,” we read aloud Sandra Cisneros’ deceptively simple short short “Eleven.” As always this bittersweet narrative got the packed classroom buzzing and was the perfect inspiration for us to dive into our own childhood memories for a little creative writing exercise of our own. Here’s a quick review from one of the parents I met at the session, author Mitali Perkins:
I’m back from parents’ weekend at Saint Mary’s College of California where we attended classes without quizzes. I, of course, signed up for a writing class taught by Rashaan Meneses, who led us through a brilliant workshop on enhancing voice with detail.
July 2011 hails as a month to remember with the trip of a lifetime, a literary pilgrimage honoring favorite writers from England, Wales, and Ireland.
London served as the first leg, where we pilgrims discovered that parachute pants have made a fashion comeback and the streets of the English capital are laced with joggers who prefer to sprint with small backpacks hitched to them. What was that about? A friend from Southampton explained that many Londoners jog to work. Could this be the reason?
Soon as we arrived, we dropped off our bags, and, without even taking time for a quick shower after flying in from California, we dashed over to the British Library (open: Tues-Sat 9.30am-5pm, closed Sun). I broke into tears gaping over Charlotte Bronte’s handwritten manuscript of Jane Eyre, listened to an original recording of Yeats’ “Wild Swans at Coole” and bowed down before original manuscripts by Woolf, Beethoven, Conrad, Wilde, and so many more greats. Too bad no pics are allowed in the archives.
Day 2 in Londonium took us north on a Thames River Cruise to Kew Garden (earliest departure from Westminster:10.30, last boat from Kew: 16.00) accompanied by the Miss Marple crew. Apparently, our interests coincide with silver Centrum-aged travelers.
Sodden with rain, Day 3 was a perfect chance to soak up the sites at Highgate Cemetery (open 10 am weekdays, 11am weekends closes 5pm, last admission 4.30pm, $L3 )where I found myself empty-handed for any offerings to leave at George Eliot’s gravestone. We also chanced upon a headstone that had been blackened with tar. I’d love to know the story behind that defacement. Winding our way through the tombstones and markers, at every turn, I felt like I saw dark presences lingering in the corner of my eye.
The best scotch egg, and the only scotch egg I’ve tasted yet, was enjoyed at the swank pub The Bull and Last tucked on Highgate Road in the posh neighborhood of Hampstead Heath, Keats’ old haunt. Wonder if he’s ever had a scotch egg, which is a soft-boiled egg wrapped in sausage which is then breaded. Its the Brits hand-held version of moco loco, and this one was perfection rolled into a beautiful oval. The sauteed greens were incredible as well. London knows how to treat their vegetables now. No longer boiled and tasteless, they give just enough heat to let produce stand on its own naked savoriness.
Before meeting up with our traveling companions, K&C on Day 4, we strolled through Portobello Market (Sat ONLY 5:30a-5p, shops open M-Sa. Tube: Ladbroke Grove or Notting Hill Gate, Pembridge Rd), which we missed on our first trip to London. After divulging in some retail therapy, we connected with K&C at Leighton’s House in Holland Park (10-5.30 closed Tu, $L5, 12 Holland Park Road, W14 8LZ, Tube High Street Kensington) , which preserves the breathtaking abode of Victorian artist Lord Frederic Leighton. Highly decadent and sumptuous in its design and decor, the architect George Atchinson makes use of all the four life-giving elements. A Byzantine pool of water greets visitors in the foyer, decked with mosaic tiles collected from Leighton’s travels to the East. His library/study, paneled with wood, elicits contemplation, and his dining room is feted in fiery rich reds and a plush wallpaper made of fabric. Light floods the stairwell that boasts paintings from artists who gifted Leighton with their own work. The second floor opens to a carved out Turkish bed that overlooks the water fountain foyer. To the right of the bed is his studio, which includes a special door wide and long enough to move huge canvas paintings in and out of the room. Leighton had two studios, including a winter studio, overlooking a lush green landscape. The winter studio avoids the obscurity of fog and smog which hindered the seasonal skies.
After Leighton’s house, we found ourselves in London’s Chinatown, which is a small section of neighborhood that doesn’t quite meet the boisterousness of San Francisco’s Chinatown or the serene history of Vancouver’s.
Day 4 started with all 841 steps up to the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral (doors open for sightseeing 8:30, 11:30 last entry. Cafe 9-5, Afternoon Tea 2:30-4pm M-Sa; Cafe 10-4 S, Evensong daily 5pm). The fourth largest church in the world turned out to be one giant tomb for Britain’s military personnel, where the Suffragettes planted a bomb in 1913. The views from the top rival the London Eye.
During our stay, we also stopped at the Emirates Stadium for a peek of the Gunner’s home. Our traveling companions, K&C stayed at the The Rookery (Peter’s Lane, Cowcross Street, EC1M 6DS – Tel +44(0)20 7336 0931, Tube: Farringdon), and they visited the following sites:
All told, we sipped and dined in at least 21 pubs throughout the three weeks traveling, which included some of these London spots, but not all: The Harp, Covent Garden, The Seven Stars, The Old Cheshire, The Jerusalem Tavern, and The Bull and Last. Our pub research came from the following sources, The Guardian’s Ten of the Best Pubs in London and View London’s Pub & Bars
We hoped to make the following but there’s only so much time in the day, so these little hot spots may just have to wait for the next trip:
Brick Lane – Sunday market til 2. Tube Shoreditch or Aldgate
Tate Britain, Millbank, Westminster, London SW1P with the show, Romantics Dates: 9th August 2010 to 31st July 2011, including paintings by Henry Fuseli, JMW Turner, John Constable, Samuel Palmer and William Blake, exploring the origins, influence and legacies of Romantic art in Britain
Much Ado About Nothing (16th May 2011 to 3rd September 2011) at Wyndhams Theatre with David Tennant and Catherine Tate.
For more writerly musings on this trip, check out the post “Writer as Traveler” at the salon and for more pics of the places above click on the following:
Still reeling from the intense four-day conference of Associated Core Texts and Courses 17th Annual gathering at New Haven, Connecticut, held on April 14-17, one of the panels that stands out in my mind, and which I immediately want to integrate into my own curriculum was “Writing, Drawing, Producing: Students Response to Core Texts.”
Arundhati Sanyal and Nancy Enright from Seton Hall University presented their best teaching practices in their “Re-Telling Personal Narrative: The Digital Short in a University Core Class.” In their classes, they encourage students to consider their own transformative experiences and personal journeys influenced by the core texts they read. Their assignments allow students to explore and explain how a core text “speaks” to them. Students will gather a collage of family photos and images and set these images in synch with a song that illustrates their inspired experience with a particular text. They work on their project for a half hour in each class session. A lot of the students’ projects focus on decision-making and crossroads. Sanyal and Enright report that there’s a new dynamism in class when students get to work on their laptops. They also storyboard the narrative before creating the whole piece, which forces students to understand pace and determine where do they tighten the flow or when can they expand.
From St. Bonaventure University, Professor Anne Foerst covers the Eight Step Bonaventure Intellectual Education, and focuses on step 3, which covers “Who am I as an individual?” Professor Foerst has freshman students write a self portrait that both self-praises and self-critiques. The students reflect over their intellectual journey over the course of their first semester in college and they model their reflections off of Montaigne’s essays. She uses this assignment as a mid-term project; five pages about myself, which is about becoming your own friend. Students become less self-indulgent and more analytical. Foerst uses a quote to direct and inspire students, “I am my own public. My book has made me as much as I have made my own book.”
At the beginning of the semester, she has freshman write down three adjectives to describe themselves. Foerst doesn’t read the adjectives but puts them away until six weeks later when she has them perform the same exercise, but, this time, she breaks out the past adjectives and has them compare their self-perception. Students get to see how they have fundamentally changed over the short course of six weeks. This assignment helps give them a foundation to write their self reflection. In their reflective essay, students use quotes from texts they’ve read in Foerst’s class, and the essay focuses on personal transformation, exploring such inquiries as the following.
(I’ve added some questions and prompts of my own to try and tailor this assignment to some of my courses)
(My addition) Consider the core values or ideas of two authors you’ve read in this seminar. Summarize and evaluate these values or ideas by exploring how they might have influenced or inspired you by answering the following questions in reflection of these new values and ideas you’ve learned:
Where are you now after reading your chosen authors?
How has your sense of self changed?
How has your outlook on the world changed?
How have your opinions about a specific topic or idea changed?
Who am I in society?
How have I transformed intellectually?
How do I see others differently? Specify what you mean by “others” whether its classmates, roommates, professors, teammates, etc.
Analyze how your relationships to others (i.e. classmates, professors, siblings, parents, lovers, co-workers and cousins) have changed since you’ve read these texts.
How have your core values changed, if at all, after reading your chosen texts?
Foerst explains how students come to evaluate their own construction of “otherness” and how artificial their constructions can be. She asks her class often if they think race is real, and they have a hard time wrestling with this but slowly come to learn that they’re not isolated individuals. “If they embrace their own ambiguity, they can learn to embrace the ambiguity in others,” she urges, and then warns us, “There can be a dark side to the adjectives used” since students come to see their own faults. With this exercise they learn ambiguity and empathy. They can see themselves as a character. These assignments help make the core texts less scary and less daunting. As professors, we’re constantly trying to find ways to help students engage with the texts in the most immediate and urgent ways, and these best practices are wonderful opportunities for both students and faculty to connect with the authors and with one another.
From April 14 through April 17, 2011, I had the honor and pleasure of presenting at the 17th Annual Conference for the Association for Core Texts and Courses, sponsored by Yale University, and co-sponsored by Augustana College, Boston College, and College of the Holy Cross, hosted at The Omni Hotel in New Haven, Connecticut. This year’s theme was “The Quest for Excellence: Liberal Arts and Core Texts.”
One of the plenary speakers argued for the spirituality of 19th century French poetry focusing on a particular piece by Mallarme, and two scientists, a quantum physicist and a chemist, responded with genuine enthusiasm about the connections they’d made to the poem presented and how the poem demonstrated the fragmentation in quantum physics and solvation of chemistry. The engagement from the scientists was wonderfully inspiring, and I truly hope to see more reaching out across the disciplines.
Thankfully the last speaker for the plenary sessions called for more cross-disciplinary collaboration and criticized the institutions for making such collaborations impossible. ACTC focuses more on critical and scholarly work though some of the panels centered on best practices and pedagogy. The panel “Core Images, Part II: Learning, Examples, Practice” brought together art historians and art professors who urged the use of art as a vital source for discussion and inquiry. Tatiana Klacsman from Augusta State University and her presentation “The Iliad in Teaching Art History within a Humanities Framework” covered how culture and values can be analyzed and evaluated through Greek artifacts. Mona Holmlund from University of Saskatchewan discussed approaches to indigenous art, especially in contrast to the Western canon with her presentation “The Challenges of Integrating Indigenous Knowledge with the Western Canon.”
Another literature scholar posed the worry of art replacing the written word, and an attendee followed up by asking how much time should faculty dedicate to art versus text. I had to counter that time is a measure of value, and everything discussed on that panel came down to values whether we’re comparing Indigenous art to Western or text versus image. As Socrates lamented the rise of the written word claiming that text would corrupt the rich oral culture of his time, everything comes down to values, which is determined by culture. We need to keep this in mind anytime we weigh one thing against another. As scholars we should constantly be checking our values and be wary of how our values factor into our curriculum, especially considering how those values may be servicing our goals for diverse student populations.
My own paper certainly evolved out of this consideration of values, which I presented for the panel “Contemplating Critique: How Far Back in Time is It Used?” Here’s an excerpt:
Engaging First-generation Students with Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Discourse on Inequality
Through his Discourse on Inequality, Rousseau draws in First-generation students through affective means, modeling an essential method of critique and analysis that demonstrates an individual’s agency of power based on reason, observation, and imagination. Rousseau provides a critical point of connection for students who may not be traditionally accustomed to the culture and privilege of higher education, and, through his narrative and argument, students can discover a means for engagement within their communities.
Nicole, we’ll call her, was a student who had yet to find her footing, academically. By simplest definition, she is a first-generation student. Neither of her parents had earned their undergraduate degree, and the college experience was all together uncharted waters for her and her family. She floated through Greek Thought and listlessly wandered through the likes of Dante, Augustine, and Chaucer in Roman/Christian, consistently feeling estranged by authors who looked and sounded nothing like her, describing cultures and concepts that seemed completely foreign, and irrelevant to her immediate experience.
By the time she came to my class as a sophomore, she had found her niche on campus and was part of a strong social network, but, academically, she was still unanchored and her displacement seriously affected her GPA. Still, Nicole was hungry for intellectual nourishment, knowing she lacked purpose in her studies, which inhibited her from realizing her full potential. By mid-semester, she was barely treading the choppy waters of Cervantes, Hobbes, and Locke, until, suddenly, to both her surprise and my own, Nicole reached terra firma with Jean Jacques Rousseau.
More coverage and reflection post-conference is forth coming.