My column writing gig with Inside Higher Ed continues. In my most recent batch of columns, archived below, two in particular stand out. The first is the “On Guns in My Classroom” column, which was picked up by three pr0-gun blogs, and drew the ire of an extreme pro-gun demographic. Read the comments, on both my post and the subsequent posts about me. They’re striking. The reaction posts were at The Truth About Guns, Guns Save Life, and No Lawyers, Just Guns and Money. The posts speak for themselves in their ridiculousness, but I’ll point out that the last of these was by an adjunct at my own institution, named John Richardson, who has subsequently stopped returning emails about my proposition that he and I debate the issue for a public audience. I’m glad I wrote that column, and I stick by every word of it.
The second column of significance this go around was the one titled “My Ride to the Airport,” in which I tried to dole out some thanks to a fellow named Jim Marshall, who was a great help to me at a key moment at the beginning of my undergrad career. My only regret about the column is that I didn’t individually thank all of the other folks at Iowa who helped me out so much.
The gig goes on.
My Ride to the Airport (3/19/13)
Just Go to Bed (3/1/13)
On Guns in My Classroom (2/6/13)
A Chance to Advance (1/21/13)
Personal and Professional Boundaries (1/4/13)
How to Handle ‘In Process’ Work (12/3/12)
Veterans in the Classroom (11/12/12)
Prepare for Administration (10/26/12)
The Rhetoric Society of America just released the CFP for their 2014 conference. For those who don’t already know, RSA holds conferences in alternate years, and holds a summer institute during off years. Right now the cycle is for the conference to take place in even years and the summer institute to take place in odd years.
I have mixed feelings about how large RSA, and its conference in particular, has become, and I’ll probably post on those at a later time. Regardless of my feelings though, it is an important conference, and I would argue the vanguard conference in the field. It is the highest quality, and largest, conference where folks from the English side of rhetorical studies and the Communications side of rhetorical studies converge on the same spot. It’s probably worth attending for that quality alone.
I’ll also say this for the CFP: it’s short, sweet, and not nearly as contrived/cutesy as many conference themes are. Thank you for that, RSA.
What appears below is the official RSA 2014 CFP:
Rhetoric Society of America Conference
May 22-26, 2014
Marriot River Center – San Antonio, Texas
San Antonio is an ideal city for thinking about borders. Not only has the city been positioned along different national borders, but it also exists at the interesting intersection of diverse cultures and histories. “Border Rhetorics” not only invites consideration of these kinds of geographic, political and cultural borders but also invites consideration of a wider range of borders: the borders between identities, between roles, between disciplines, between concepts, etc. The 2014 conference theme seeks to spur a broad conversation about the borders that unite and divide us, the ways in which these borders are constructed and deconstructed, confirmed and contested.
The theme of “Border Rhetorics” opens a space for numerous inquiries and conversations about the things that constitute our borders – politically, culturally, academically, etc. – as well as the ways in which those borders are constructed, crossed, challenged, circumvented, diminished and redrawn. The theme also encourages us not only to think about our borders but also to think across them in the hopes of opening spaces for dialogue and disagreement that may in turn alter our sense of these borders.
Interested parties are invited to submit abstracts for individual papers, proposals for panels, and ideas for special format events (roundtables, debates, etc.). Panels representing only one institution are strongly discouraged and a slight preference will be shown for panels representing not only different institutions but also different disciplinary fields (e.g., Composition and Communication Studies). Submissions that take advantage of off-site venues are also encouraged.
Proposals Due July 1, 2013; Notifications September 1, 2013
For more details and to submit your proposal, visit: http://rhetoricsociety.org/aws/RSA/pt/sp/conferences
Join the official RSA 14 conference Facebook group for networking, news and updates: http://www.facebook.com/groups/551900858153994/553997331277680/?notif_t=group_activity
Better late than never, I’ve posted my syllabi and assignments for the semester. While two of the courses I’m teaching this spring have the same title, Writing and Critical Inquiry, I essentially have three course preps because I’m teaching one of them, an Honors section, very differently than the other.
The Honors class is an open-ended nightmare, because I’m making the students design the course materials, down to the policies, syllabus, readings, and writing assignments. Watch it unfold here. Content will fill in as the class collectively completes it, but I hope to have a complete picture of the semester within a week or two. The sooner we work it all out, the better for students. My other 202 course is more straightforward, though I have tweaked the course considerably since last semester.
In a change from prior semesters I am rolling out major writing assignments only as they arise, and not all at the beginning of the semester. This is to keep students focused on the immediate tasks at hand and to reduce their anxiety. We’ll see if it works in either case.
This is also my very first semester at WCU not teaching a grad class. Instead I’m teaching an upper level English Lit/Liberal Studies class called Stories Retold, in which we’ll read Nicholson Baker, Colson Whitehead, Nicole Krauss, Jose Saramago, Italo Calvino, Michael Ondaatje, Magnus Mills, and related criticism.
As always, fellow instructors are free to crib whatever they like, but I always appreciate getting credit.
During a recent trip to Italy I took a particular interest in swearing. I’m pretty good at swearing in English, I like to think, and wanted to branch out. Most Italian swears, it turns out, rely on the whore, the pig, or the asshole to make their meaning. Many combine two of the three categories, but sadly I know of none that combine all three. I’ll refrain from any analysis of Italian culture than might extrapolate from those three bases, but such work might be appropriate, and I can assure you that Italian feminists and philologists have already pointed out these problems. I’ve also omitted here a whole host of even more explicitly homophobic terms, which my native informants were unwilling to share for the record.
While the guide below explains meanings, it isn’t a very helpful guide to usage, so user beware. More than is the case with typical speech, swearing is all about context, tone, and idiom. To mess up any condition is to sound like a child, an idiot, or to provoke a sudden fight. As in English, swearing can be done casually or playfully, but only in the right company. Again, reader beware.
Padulo – (noun) padulo itself does not actually mean anything, and instead simply rhymes with a longer phrase which it invokes. The word is uttered, signaling the meaning of the whole phrase, which typically remains unspoken. The phrase that padulo rhymes with and stands-in for in common speech is “un uccello che vola all’altezza del culo.” Literally, this phrase translates as “a birds that flies at asshole height,” or, a “a bird that flies at the height of an asshole.” Imagine, for a moment, the, uh, inconvenience of having a bird fly up your asshole and you quickly understand the sentiment of the phrase and the all that the single, rhyming word “padulo” invokes. An inconvenience or “pain in the ass” would be referred to as a padulo in some circles, like my cousin’s law office.
Il Stronzo – (noun) asshole. Plural is gli stronzi. Femmine is la stronza (s) or le stronze (p). This is stronger in sentiment than when one calls another an asshole in English.
Che Cazzo – What the Fuck! Strong, but used fairly casually.
Cazzo – (noun, m) dick, but never used to call a person a dick. (Minchia is a Calabrian equivalent.)
Testa di Cazzo – dickhead. Here’s how you call a person a dick, essentially.
Il Coglione – (noun, m) ball. Plural, i coglioni, for balls.
Rincoglionito – (adjective) stupid without reason or motive, out of one’s head without a cause, literally “head like balls.” One might say “Sto rincoglionito,” to mean essentially, I’m out of my fucking mind and I don’t know why. The word though is pretty rude in Italian.
Vaffanculo! – Fuck you!Literally, “go put something in your asshole,” but translates most directly to the English “fuck you.”
La Puttana – (noun, f) whore. The gender of Italian swears is quite important, and this, as well as the subsequent two terms for whore, would only be used against a woman, and would be quite rude. To use it, or either of the next two terms, against a man would be silly or nonsensical.
La Migniotta – (noun, f) whore. This version of “whore” has an interesting etymology. When the Catholic Church registered orphans who had been abandoned in their records (ecclesiastic or provincial) they would register the child as “figlio/a di madre ignota,” or, “son/daughter of unknown mother.” In time “madre ignota” collapsed into “migniotta” (in an intermediary step it actually was abbreviated as m. ignota) which now means “whore” or “easy woman.”
La Troia – (noun, f) whore.
La Porcaputtana, La Porcamigniotta, La Porcatroia – (nouns, f) Pig whore. Slightly stronger than calling a woman simply a whore is to, apparently, call her a pig whore.
Il Puttanane – (noun, m). Literally, big whore, but made even ruder because it uses a masculine rather than a feminine ending.
La Fica – (noun, f) pussy. (La fissa is a southern/Calabrian variant).
A fiss’i mammita – Calabrian, literally “your mother’s cunt.” Very rude.
Bastardo – (noun, m) bastard.
Il Cornuto – (noun, m) cuckold. This is a stronger much stronger condemnation in Italian than it is in English. It’s used against men exclusively.
Figlio di puttana – son of a whore.
Rotto in Culo – broken off in the asshole. Very, very rude.
Rodimento di Culo – very angry, burned in the ass. Very rude.
Ma che ti rode il culo? – Does your asshole burn? What’s burning your asshole? Very rude.
Come un ditto nel culo – Like a finger in the ass, like a finger in the asshole. Very rude. For example, if your friend asked you if you want to go to hear his band play you might say, “Si, come voglio un ditto nel culo,” sarcastically saying, “Yeah, like I want a finger up my asshole.” (Notice, this phrase does not acknowledge that there are actually people in the world who enjoy having fingers up their assholes, so don’t think too literally here.) Pretty rude.
Come un ditto nel culo con la sabbia – like a finger in the ass with sand, or like a sandy finger in the asshole. An even ruder variation by a friend of a friend.
Cacacazzo – a person who pisses you off, literally “one who shits on my dick.” Very rude.
Rompere le palle – to break balls
Merda – (noun, f) shit
Porco il claro – the invention of a friend of mine, literally “damn the clergy”
Pezzo di merda – piece of shit
Chiavare – (verb) to fuck (conjugate compound tenses with avere). Of the “to fuck” verbs in Italian, this is the rudest.
Trombare – (verb) to fuck (conjugate compound tenses with avere). Of the “to fuck” verbs in Italian, this is secondary in rudeness to chiavere and equivalent to scopare and fottere in rudeness.
Scopare – (verb) to fuck (conjugate compound tenses with avere). Of the “to fuck” verbs in Italian, this is secondary in rudeness to chiavere and equivalent to scopare and trombare in rudeness.
Fottere – (verb) to fuck (conjugate compound tenses with avere). Of the “to fuck” verbs in Italian, this is secondary in rudeness to chiavere and equivalent to scopare and trombare in rudeness.
Battere – (verb) to hook, to sell one’s body, doing the work of selling one’s body (conjugate compound tenses with avere).
La Sega – (noun, f) literally, a handjob. One might say “Non mi importa una sega,” and the phrase would translate most closely to “I don’t give a fuck.”
Italians say things that are the equivalent of “goddamn” so frequently that it doesn’t even qualify as profanity, so I haven’t even included those phrases. This is a reasonable introductory guide to swearing in Italian. Use it carefully. I’ve listed some additional resources below.
When an Italian Says a Parolaccia (a reflection on Italian swearing by an American Comp Lit PhD candidate written in 2008)
Ma Che Cazzo
While I was in grad school I built a cabin. Or, to be more accurate, I built a shack in the architectural style of the Unabomber. The Long-Earred Hummingraven Rod and Social Club, as I’ve dubbed it, is in the mountains of Northern New Mexico, and without electricity, plumbing, or heat. The cabin is at 8,500 feet of elevation (cold!), and gets about 200 inches of snow annually (though never that much accumulated on the ground at one time, so far as I know). The weight of accumulated snow really taxes roofs, and I worry that my own cabin’s roof is under-engineered (even with an approximately 4:12 slope, which is steep). So, I constantly worry about returning to my cabin in the summer to find that it collapses under a snow load during the winter.
I use NOAA’s Interactive Snow Information site to monitor the snow depth and water depth equivalent of snow at the cabin. NOAA uses observed data to interpolate computer predictions of ground conditions around the country (public funds well spent). It’s a great site. But all it allows me to do is worry. I can’t take any action short of driving out to New Mexico if I see worrisome accumulations.
After dismissing many electric (unavailable) and mechanical (too Wylie Coyote) solutions to my snow accumulation problem, and after reading a great paper (pdf) on Ice Engineering by the US Army Corps of Engineers (more government dollars well spent, seriously), I’ve decided that the best insurance is to apply an icephobic, ultra-modern coating that should help my metal roof to slough off frozen accumulations more easily than otherwise, primarily by reducing the ice’s ability to body to the roof and effectively reducing the snow’s angle of repose on the roof. The long and short–these coatings make the snow slide off of the roof easier and thus reduce the weight the roof has to bear.
I have decided that Wearlon Super F-1 is the best coating to go with to prevent hazardous snow accumulations. It’s expensive stuff (approximately $190/gallon), but appears to work. I’ll put it on this summer, unless my roof caves in before then, and report back about effectiveness (both actual and psychological).