Posts Tagged ‘school’

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On Squibhood and human scientists

June 1, 2010

Midterm for Syntax 2

I am enamored with the idea of squibs. This is not simply because of the name, I swear– though it does conjure rather interesting mental images. But I am enamored with the idea of academic writing that is witty, fun, chatty, smart, grounded in data, and not driven by some presupposed thesis. I love the idea of a scientific essay that comes with a punchline.

What I’ve posted is not exactly a squib. It’s not very good, for one thing– I skipped some data, didn’t quantify or formalize it very well, and got a little too caught up in the style to focus on the science.

It also has an extended conceit, in the manner of lyric poetry. I’ll be the first to admit that syntax homework and poetry should probably not be mixed when we’re getting graded on it.

But what about when we’re not?

What I propose is a new kind of squib: one in which the science is part of a narrative about our personal scientific processes, a story about ourselves. As any good linguist will tell you, we don’t come with an “off-switch.” We don’t ever stop thinking, angsting, flailing, arguing, observing, analyzing. Not when we’re asleep, not when we’re on a hot date, not when we’re out drinking with our buddies. The midterm I’ve posted is fictional, but not excessively so; and why can’t this be a new form, a new way to write, a new way to incorporate our science and our humanity so that it better reflects what we actually do with our time? Our best work doesn’t happen in a library cubicle with noise-canceling headphones, it happens in that hipster cafe with half a beer in front of us, it happens with screaming fights waking up the dozing actors on the next couch over, it happens on impulsive drives to Monterey and it happens in the tattoo parlor and the bedroom and the roof of the science building and the cave under the library. Why not write about that? Why not aim to please as well as edify, to teach and delight our readers?

My attempt was a failed one, this is sure in my mind. But it won’t be the last one, most especially now that I’ve had a few weeks and some feedback to help suss out where I’m trying to go with this. I’d be interested to hear what other linguists (or any kind of scientists) have to say about this, though.

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Trying to pretend like world is a verb

March 1, 2010

I really like the word “fungibility.” I’m just not positive it’s a word. Here’s Monday of Week 9!

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Globalization and McDonald-based Anecdata

February 26, 2010

Week 8, Day 3: Friday!

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Spelling is for the weak

February 24, 2010

Day Two, Week 8: more case studies! Mostly colonial linguistic situations.

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the Professor Explicates Benjamin

February 19, 2010

I turned in a paper at the start of lecture. I… turned in the wrong paper. It’s still a really good one, just on a non-existent prompt. We’ll see how that goes.  I also turned in the texts I’ll be working with for the final paper: Seneca’s Apocolocyntosis and Catullus'(s) Peleus/Thetis thing, if anyone’s curious.  Should be fun.

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topics in industrial-strength language

February 17, 2010

There was no class on Monday and I will not be answering any questions about where I was that day, so don’t ask. Instead, read Wednesday’s notes! I’m including the notes from discussion section because some interesting things were brought up. I also am considering posting .pdf files of the papers I’ve written for this class so far, but I want to consult with a couple people about the wiseness of that kind of thing first.

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Erotica gets translated into smut. :(

February 12, 2010

FIRST, LET ME NOTE: WEDNESDAYS NOTES WERE AMAZING AND PROLIFIC AND THEN MY LAPTOP ATE THEM DURING THE SPRINT FROM LECTURE TO DISCUSSION SECTION. I WAS REALLY REALLY MAD, I PRACTICALLY TRANSCRIBED A LOT OF COOL ANECDOTES. DAMN IT.

So, okay, Friday’s notes! These were… slightly full of porn. This is Professor Godzich’s fault, not mine, I swear. Read the rest of this entry ?