Tips for students: How to read a syllabus strategically

One important goal for a student in a class is to learn a lot of valuable information. Another, separate goal is to get a good grade. This is advice on how to do the second thing. My key idea is: think of the syllabus as a game your professor has designed, and learn to play that specific game. That means two things: 1, figure out what you get points for; and, 2, figure out what doesn’t give you points but is still important. At the end, I’ll put those two ideas together for the especially important task of strategizing in the face of late penalties.

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My 2019 Reading Review


I track a lot of information about the books I read, partly for the fun of making overly-complicated graphs about it later. 2019 was my fourth year of extra-thorough reading reviews, and the second year in a row where my reading was no longer dominated by texts assigned for graduate school. In 2018 I followed a themed ‘reading challenge’ to push myself to still read widely, but 2019 I went truly solo: so what did I read? (And what do I actually recommend you read?)

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Publication Announcement: “One Loveheart at a Time: The Language of Emoji and the Building of Affective Community in the Digital Medieval Studies Environment”

I’m very excited to announce an article on Slack and emoji in Digital Humanities Quarterly, written with the Old Books New Science Lab! You can read the article here! We present a unique case study on emoji, which complicates existing work that has focused on two-person conversations and on standardized Unicode emoji. We also theorize the impacts of productivity software on academic work, especially in emerging “humanities labs,” arguing that ‘neoliberal’ tools can also support horizontal community-building if used self-reflectively.

Crosspost: Troubleshooting an assignment that almost worked

I’ve recently wrapped up teaching my first-ever class as a sole instructor, a summer session of The Digital Text. I’ll be reflecting on some parts of that process over at HASTAC, beginning with troubleshooting an essay prompt that almost worked.

(Archived version of that link here, captured Dec 29, 2018, to prevent linkrot.)

Crosspost: Professor Hélène Palma on Lady Hester Stanhope

I had the honour of interviewing Professor Hélène Palma for “Cosmopolitanism in the Archive,” a blog connecting papers for the CSECS & NEASECS 2017 conference with holdings in the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Professor Palma provides a fascinating introduction to Lady Hester Stanhope, an eccentric female traveler who settled in the Middle East. Veronica Litt, who organized the blog, adds a description and photographs of Robert Wood’s The Ruins of Palmyra, otherwise known as Tedmore in the Desart (1753; call number: FO-1 00302), one of my favourite holdings at the Fisher. Please take a look!

Vintage “small data”: playing with an Index to Tears

I love indexes. They’re like spreadsheets in disguise, (and as previously established, I love spreadsheets). So when I was reading Henry Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling (1771) for my special fields exam, and I noticed that the Victorian edition digitized for Project Gutenberg included an “index to tears” for the novel… well, I got a little carried away.

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