Sooo, over the long weekend, I rambled at everyone/anyone who would listen to me think some more about liminality (which, gosh, I guess I haven’t blogged about since 2016, [really?] wow).
So, yeah, giant thank yous all around, especially to:
JI Daniels, who helped me simplify my hypothetical/potential talking points about how we might view a creative writing classroom as a liminal space.
Adam Tipps Weinstein, who made me remember the work of some theorists I’d forgotten about and, on a different note, also reminded me about conversations we once had about “deficit language.”
Dale Enggass, who helped me further simplify my talking points and who also, unrelated, reminded me I’ve been meaning to reread/revisit Violette Leduc.
This guy, whom I do not know, Mark Starmach, who posted this handy guide online about liminality wrt our morning commute, and who also provides this cool illustrated representation of one way of visualizing liminality.
Matt Pinney, who’s got some other ideas for visually representing the concept of liminality to students, which would lead to a productive in-class activity—both in his visual arts classes and my cw classes (we’re working on it, we’re getting there).
Rachel Levy, who asked the excellent question: What’s the point?
And Kirsten Bakis, for telling me to make it personal.
Crap, my alarm just went off and so now I’m cutting into my time for J19 edits and scholarship reviews, so I’ll wrap it up fast with some links to essays on liminality that I’m excited to dive into this week:
George P. Hansen’s “Liminality, Marginality, Anti-structure, and Parapsychology” (whose Amazon bio is 100% what?: “George P. Hansen was employed in parapsychology laboratories for eight years-three at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, and five at Psychophysical Research Laboratories in Princeton, New Jersey. His research included remote viewing, psychokinesis on electronic random number generators, séance phenomena, and ghosts. His papers in professional journals also cover mathematical statistics, deception, skepticism, conjurors in parapsychology, and methodological criticisms. He is a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.”).
Ayo Mansaray’s “Liminality and in/exclusion: Exploring the work of teaching assistants” (from Kings College London)
Sandro Carnicelli Filho’s “White-water rafting guides, leisure behaviour and liminality” (from University of the West of Scotland)
Sisirkumar Chatterjee’s “Exploring the Liminality of 'Reality': Reading The Enchantress of Florence” (from Calcutta University)
Nic Theo’s “Considerations on conceptual frameworks for writing liminality into popular film” (from Cape Peninsula University of Technology)
Jonas Soderlund’s “Moving in, moving on: liminality practices in project-based work” (from BI Norwegian Business School)
Angela Cruz’s “Discourses of Technology Consumption: Ambivalence, Fear, and Liminality” (from Monash University)
Arpad Szakolczai’s “Permanent Liminality and Modernity: Analysing the Sacrificial Carnival through Novels” (from University College Cork)
Pat Mahon Daly’s “Liminality and breastfeeding: women negotiating space and two bodies” (from Bucks New University)
Elise Paradis’s “Skirting the Issue: Women boxers, liminality and change” (from University of Toronto)
This week, I started my new gig and got to observe two classes.
First, a 3000-level philosophy course called “Theory of Knowledge.”
Then a 1000-level nutrition course called “Scientific Foundations in Nutrition and Health.”
In the philosophy class, students were reviewing William James’s “The Will to Believe” and discussing Susanna Rinard’s work on Robust Pragmatism.
In the nutrition class, students were studying vitamins and minerals.
At one point, their instructor asked them how many colors had been on their dinner plate the night before.
I thought about mine — an avocado bagel, leftover brussels sprouts, and green grapes — and made a mental note to eat more colors every day.
Anyway, what a cool perk of this job!
When I applied, I knew it involved course observations, but I had overlooked the obvious fact that I’d get to sit in on classes taught by people from departments all over the university.
And now I think know a little bit about what some people believe about what other people believe we think we believe about what we believe.
And I was also reminded about some basic but necessary information about vitamins and minerals and how they’re necessary, for instance, for helping us to fight the germs that have been gathering on the desks and chairs we were sitting at/on for who knows how many years since they were last cleaned, which inspired a collective ewwwwww from everyone in the auditorium at 8am lol. good morning!
I also got to observe an after-observation consultation, for a class that had maybe been about community organizing?
Not sure, exactly, but it sounded cool.
Mostly, we were troubleshooting the group work that happened in that class, and I learned about this catchy little phrase, “think-pair-share,” which is a faster way to get to talking about how we ask students to think about something, pair them up to discuss it, then have them share with the whole class.
I also learned about “teacher-to-student, student-to-student, and student-to-self” interactions (ideally, all three should happen in the classes we observe).
Teacher-to-student might be lecture; student-to-student might be group work; student-to-self involves students finding personal, individual, meaningful takeaways.
Something I realized as a result of my observations and consultations, though, is that I can do better with my beginning-of-class agenda.
So, in the past, my agenda might have sounded something like this: “Today, we’ll start with a quiz on X, then we’ll discuss Homework Y, and before you leave we’ll get a look ahead at Z for next time.”
But now I realize a better agenda might sound like: “By the end of class today, you should be able to [verb] X, and also to [verb] Y, in order to appreciate Z [or, this very important thing about how today’s agenda is related to this entire class overall].
I was supposed to be interviewed this morning on campus by a filmmaker for a thing, but gray skies and snow flurries got in the way of that, which honestly was fine with me because and so anyway, later in the day I had another interview, during which I was asked a question that made me flash back to elementary ESL classes, to my mother who still tells stories about how when I first got here I had a whole repertoire of Korean nursery rhymes that I sang endlessly on repeat, and then I thought of my former AntiGravity master teacher-trainer, who made me take a vocal/chanting/meditation workshop before she would let me solo teach AG (and lol I was allowed to bring a friend for free and I brought Rachel) and for like all ten hours neither Rachel nor I uttered a syllable but during a coloring break from the singing/chanting/meditating when we had to draw the om symbol on giant posterboard mine (predictably) was big and purple and decorated with lots of tiny pink and yellow flowers and Rachel dug all the black crayons out of the crayon bin and rage-scrawled about a million oms of all sizes on hers, which looked like this, and all the ladies in Lululemon in that intermittently lavender-and-peppermint-DoTerra spritzed room were horrified and I knew then that Rachel and I were meant to be besties and so what if the next time I saw my master teacher-trainer she said, I don’t know when in your lives but someone took your voices away. It’s been years since that day but I got to thinking and (1) I really wish I still had Rachel’s billion-black-oms poster because I’d frame it in glass and hang it on my wall and (2) maybe it doesn’t matter if someone took our voices away because people like us put our words on the page. Have you read Durga Chew-Bose’s Too Much and Not the Mood? When I got to this line, I felt so seen: ”I was too shy to sing louder than a hum. Even today, no matter how simple the tune, I’ll ruin it. The tricky jump of ‘Happy Birthday’ continues to give me trouble.” Me. Freaking. Too. I mean, seriously, who was that little girl all those years ago who sang Korean nursery rhymes while sitting like this and can you imagine, what if she had grown up to be me? And that’s when I answered the question, cool. as. ice.
One day I’ll come back here and update this post with a reveal of the actual question and I promise—all of that will make a kind of beautiful and perfect sense.
Saturday, February 9th
OK, so, yesterday I was offered the job and I accepted—Graduate Fellow in the Center for Teaching & Learning Excellence at the University of Utah. The interview question was this: In addition to faculty observations, you will also conduct focus groups during which the professor will leave and you’ll talk with students. Tell us how you will you break the news to the professor afterward that his students report not learning because his accent is so heavy they can’t understand him? My answer was: Ouch, OK . . .. so, I think I’d say it’s going to be hard to not take this personally, but this doesn’t actually reflect on your teaching. Then I said something about clicker technology, which I’ve never used personally, but might be among other technological interventions that I’m sure CTLE would inform me about.