Bedside Manner: Back to School Edition

Melanie Haupt relaxes by planning her fall syllabi

Bedside Manner: Back to School Edition

These days, my bedside reaing is informed almost entirely by my fall syllabi. Won’t you join me on a tour of what’s cooking in my pedagogical brain?

On the top of the stack is The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz. I assigned this for my Literature of Diversity class, which I will be teaching at Concordia University. I love Diaz’s loose and angry voice, and we will spend some time in class discussing the ways that Diaz juxtaposes historical and pop cultural contexts with the Dominican experience.

World War Z is the common text for incoming freshmen at St. Edward’s, where I will be teaching rhetoric and composition. While I won’t be teaching this text per se, it will be a nice conversation starter/ice breaker at the beginning of the semester. I’m not too far into this book, but I’m really hoping I don’t have Brad Pitt’s stupid face in my mind while I’m reading.

I am hoping to find something in French Kids Eat Everything that will speak to a lesson on making and supporting a claim, evaluating evidence, and the use of certain rhetorical appeals. I have had this book for a few months now, but have just now started reading it because, frankly, I am sick to death of books that somehow situate the French as inherently better at everything. It’s an interesting thing, this notion of the French as the arbiters of how to do things well, particularly eating. Definitional argument?

The Norton Sampler: Short Essays for Composition is the required text for all Academic Writing and Research classes at Concordia. My job with this book is to pull out essays, which are authored by everyone from E.B. White to Barack Obama, that enhance and support the things I’m supposed to be teaching in this class. I have yet to find a rhetoric textbook that I lurrrrve and that helps students learn the fundamentals, so I’m interested to see how this one goes.

Now we get to the pleasure reading, which I haven’t gotten to do much of since completing Gillian Flynn’s devastating Gone Girl about a week ago. (Highly recommended, but I warn that this is a book you will fall into. Be prepared to neglect cooking, cleaning, laundry, children, spouses, etc. until you reach the final, haunting page.) I’ve loved Jennifer Weiner’s writing for a long time, and I checked out a bunch of her books at the beginning of the summer. Then Came You is another one I’ve only had the chance to read the first few pages of, but I am confident this one will read in a flash once I finish a rather large project in a few days.

My sister-in-law gave me a gift card to Changing Hands bookstore for Christmas, and P.D. James' Death Comes to Pemberley is what I got with it (thereby complicating my already tricky packing situation for the trip home, given that Changing Hands is in the same shopping center as Trader Joe’s, where I load up on goodies to tide me over until the next time I’m in a city with a TJ’s). My friend Layne had posted about enjoying it on Facebook, so I took that recommendation to heart. I’m sorry to say that its position on the bottom of this stack should make clear how much of it I’ve read, but how can a murder mystery starring Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy be anything but mind-bogglingly delightful?

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Bedside Manner, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, World War Z, French Kids Eat Everything, Gone Girl, Death Comes to Wemberley, Then Came You

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