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course notes day 1

jccohen's picture

set up Taylor F & G, w/ chairs in rows, podium up front

  first college class?
"read" the room: make some notes of what you see (hear? touch? smell?): walk around, describe environment:  if short story, what about setting?  what traces of history? architecture?
other details-and-organisms in the room...?  pay attention to what's tactile and emotional, not just visual...

shift the chairs from a grid to a circle...gather back into the circle; turn to the student next to you:
tell her your name, and one thing you noticed about this space

now: let's go around, say our names, and something that has struck us about our environment:
what does this space invite us to do?  how does it invite us to be...?  meaning in spatial arrangements?
what history embedded? what layers laid down in 1884 (first bldg on campus), layers still apparent?

how revisable are those meanings, those layers?
while you were looking over this space, I re-arranged the chairs:
how does this change what's happening here?
what does it suggest about what< might happen here?

what sort of learning "arrangements" do you prefer? keep this one? and (if so), change it back for the next group…? (having violated the norm--or created a new one?)

why'd we do this exercise? an experiential introduction to this ESem on "Changing Our Story," about identity and environment, identities in environments: asking how our environments shape our identities, and how we can re-shape our environments
we've started to think about how it affects our behavior, & how can we change it up....

II. one of the important ways we'll be getting @ these questions is through texts...
so let's turn now to a close reading of the epigram for our course; it's a passage from an essay called
"Agency at the Time of the Anthropocene,"  Bruno Latour, sociologist:

"There is no distant place anymore …. gone [is] … the very notion of objectivity ... totally subverted by the presence of humans in the phenomena to be described …. The many important nuances between facts, news, stories, alarms, warmings, norms, and duties are all mixed up …. those new emotions with which the Earth is now agitated….through the highly complex workings of many enmeshed living organisms .… Gaia, a very ticklish sort of goddess … now become an agent of history…of our common geostory. The problem for all of us ... how do we tell such a story?"

read this again, silently: what attracts or interests you? is there a particular phrase here that has some "heat, or energy" for you? that draws you, that you want to talk more about? what puzzles you? what words do you not understand? what questions do you have?

III. 12:15:  join section in Taylor F to discuss logistics....
Our overfull "syllaship"is on-line @

bookmark & check in preparation for every class; refresh; will change (responsive!)

Now review a lot of material; also all available from this homepage.

Reading-or-viewing for each class:  receiving Writing With Sources; in a few weeks Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
To purchase @ the Bookshop: Ruth Ozeki's novel, All Over Creation, and
Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway's sci-fi "view from the future," The Collapse of Western Civilization
(all books are also on reserve; and/or you can share....).

ESem program also recommends The Pocket Style Manual, but expensive, don't expect you to buy now;
as we start talking about your writing, and figure out where you need to focus your attention, might suggest that you get hold of a copy (some on reserve).

All other readings will be available via active on-line links from the syllabus.

Besides meeting here in Taylor twice a week w/ the whole class (and sometimes both sections),
writing conference every other week with Jody or Anne (sign Thursday, once your schedules set;
come knowing schedule...).
There is a writing center (open soon in Canaday Library), staffed by upperclass students
who have been trained to help you w/ your writing; we will encourage you all to visit them.

We will also be meeting virtually twice each week in an inbetween space: our on-line/class forum @
We will do this on a website called Serendip:  a "digital eco-system," an open site.
It is not Moodle, where most of your courses are housed; ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB:  not a closed space, so readable-by-the-world, and discussable in class (starting point for most class meetings....).
This is all about learning to be a public intellectual, thinking out loud in public...

From the link to the Posting Instructions:
you have already been given an on-line account, and received an e-mail from the site administrator, with an assigned username and password.  Use those to log in to the course website. (If you can't find that e-mail, go to the login screen, and click to "request new password." If you logged in once already, and didn't change your password, you will also need to request a new one. If you can't login, send an email to
/exchange/contact-serendip, and we'll take care of it quickly.)

Consider username and avatar (w/ each posting):
After logging in, you can click on "my account" and change your username to something of your choice.
Want your words associated w/ your (full/partial/symbolic/pseudo-) name,  and in 1, 2, 5 years....?

To upload your avatar--a picture of yourself/symbol of your way of thinking/habit of being
go to "My account" --> "Edit" --> "Upload picture," and follow the instructions there.
Jody and Anne have both selected photographs we took, in the city, where we live:

TONIGHT, log on to Serendip and customize your account: pick a password you can remember, select an avatar or image to represent yourself, decide on username: how intellectual self represented on-line? 

By tomorrow @5, and then by 5 p.m. on every Monday, post a short (paragraph) comment, reflecting on our last or upcoming discussion (more deliberate than speaking in class, less formal than written work: 
excellent place for showcasing revisionary thinking). Sometimes prompt, or not…

Although you can check the course homepage, and all the postings, any time, w/out logging in...
always log in before you post, so that what you have written will appear automatically and immediately
(otherwise, due to the need for spam control, it will need to be individually vetted, and so delayed)--

This informal writing is background/prep/warm-up/source for more “formal” writing:  3-pp. essays, due by 5 p.m. every Friday.  Real deadlines, so that we can read what you write by class or conferences; deadlines do matter, not because drop your grade, but because draw on what you've done-- contributing to our ongoing conversation--most important thing you are doing here...helping us all think together...

also prob distinct is the form of evaluation:  we will respond to all of your work, but we will not grade any of your individual papers.
End of the semester, you will review the on-line portfolio of your work that Serendip has assembled,
and evaluate yourself, in terms of process and product.  We have put a checklist of our expectations up on-line:  come to class and conference, prepared to contribute to our discussion; post on-line twice/week (3-pp. paper by Fri @ 5, paragraph by the same time Mon evening), be responsive to our conversation/instruction...  If you do all those things, "something will happen,"
and "how much happens" will determine the grade you get @ the end. But don't worry about that now!

Immediate assignments:
By 5 p.m. tonight, customize your Serendip account: username, password, avatar.
By 5 p.m. tom night, log on to our on-line course conversation, scroll down to "create content"-->"post"
introduce yourself to the group by explaining the image you've chosen:
what does it say/tell us about who/how/where you are in the world? about who/how/where you want to be?
BE SURE THAT YOUR "GROUPS AUDIENCE" IS SET as "Changing Our Story 2015." 
Also: if you use Word to compose your post, please copy and paste it using the "W" icon for formatting.

We'll start Thursday's class by using our postings to introduce ourselves to one another (again);
and to do that we'll all meet together in Anne's classroom.
Also read/view a 10-page story by June Jordan, available on-line: Report from the Bahamas, 1982, about the surprising dis/connections among us, and we'll use it jump start your first
essay, due on-line on Friday, reflecting on your own identity, and its relationships to others'.

This is an argument, in the form of a story. So: read the story first: enjoy it, revel in it, pay attention to the details, mark any that grab you, or puzzle you…any moments you want us to attend to.
What don’t you understand, that you want us to clarify?  Think about how this essay speaks to your experience, whether your own experience affirms-or-questions what she says....

Good to print off the story, so you can underline the parts that speak to you, or that you want to question--(can also do w/ on-line marking tools, & bring your computer to class: always come w/ an accessible text).

THEN! WRITE down, in the form of a single sentence, what you think the argument is…
this could be one of Jordan's sentences, or one of your own (based on what she says).

Questions about any of these details of "course-keeping"?
Reminder that links to all these pages--on-line course forum, 
syllabus, instructions for posting, a growing file of our "notes towards
class discussion" (you are free to check these before class, if you
don't like being surprised; and of course to consult them afterwards,
if you want to verify something that's been said...)--
all these are available as links from our course home page.

If there's time left, pair off w/ someone in the other section,
and talk to each other about the past 1 1/2 hours: what's been happening?
Return to the large group: what do we have to say, about what's happened so far,
and what it looks like is going to take place...?