Archive for the ‘Teaching’ Category

In my last post, I closed the book on my spring Television & American Culture course, reflecting on the general success of using specifications grading for the course. As I launch into a new semester, I’m using the same approach on a different course, Theories of Popular Culture (the whole syllabus is available at the link), […]

I’ve had a lingering “to be continued” here for a few months, as I promised to report on my experiment with specifications grading from the spring, beyond my first mid-semester update. The delay was first due to the need to wait to process a post-semester survey that we did from my class and another colleague who […]

Last month I shared my plan to use specifications grading in my Television and American Culture course this spring semester. I just finished marking the first exam, which provides my first real opportunity to reflect on how the experiment is going. (Make sure to read that previous post for the specifics of the approach and […]

Today I started my spring course, Television and American Culture, a class I have offered around 15 times. It’s the course that inspired my textbook (of the same name), and my co-edited book How to Watch Television also was structured to fit with the course’s design. In short, it’s the course that I’ve dedicated the most […]

I have a video to share with you: [vimeo 58659769] If you haven’t seen it, take the eight minutes to watch & enjoy. But there’s a good chance you’ve seen it, as it’s been viewed over 72,000 times (and counting) in the three days it’s been online. It’s been written about on Buzzfeed, Jezebel, CBS News, CBC, Yahoo!, Mashable, and many […]

For anyone keeping track, this blog’s hiatus is a sad signal that it’s been a busy couple of months for me re-entering to real life in Vermont, what with teaching, chairing my department, taking care of lots of personal projects, and obsessing over the election. (And thankfully, Super Storm Sandy had little personal impact on […]

Summer is over (even though it remains in the 80s in Vermont this week), which means my sabbatical is completely over. It was a great one, with a wonderful fellowship in Germany, a lot of writing, travel for lectures & conferences, and lots of quality family time. But yesterday, I returned to the Middlebury classroom […]

Recently, my friend Annie Petersen took advantage of one of Twitter’s best functions for academics: crowdsourcing syllabus recommendations. Annie was looking for readings that provide a good introduction to semiotics, but are not impenetrable to novice students. I recommended this online visual essay by Tom Streeter (another friend of mine), which I’ve found quite useful for […]

For the media academics reading my blog, I want to briefly point to a position that my department is searching for this Fall: Assistant Professor of Media Production, Middlebury College The Film and Media Culture Department invites applications for a tenure track position in Media Production beginning September 2012.  Appointment at the Assistant Professor level; […]

This past spring semester, I taught a course called Sustainable Television: Producing Environmental Media – I’d taught a version of the course back in January 2010 during Middlebury’s intensive Winter Term, and this year I ran it as a full semester course. The concept was the same: spend the term producing a magazine-style television program […]

I’m writing from the grading bunker, which seems like a fine place to contemplate the purpose of assignments we give our students. Usually, my assignments are fairly conventional in both form and goal, looking to synthesize specific ideas from the course in a way that allows students to apply them to an object or topic […]

As is my tradition, I’ve waited until the last possible moment to complete the syllabi and course sites for my classes this semester, both of which start meeting tomorrow. I’m teaching Television and American Culture, my annual fall ritual, and a new version of my course on narrative theory, Storytelling in Film & Media. Both […]

Fiske Matters


I am writing from a classroom that I spent many hours in in the 1990s, in Vilas Hall at University of Wisconsin. The occasion is Fiske Matters, a conference in honor of the ten-year anniversary of John Fiske’s retirement from academia. John was one of my graduate school mentors, and a key touchstone in both […]

Just a quick post to link to a couple of nice pieces about my class (and others) exploring The Wire. First off, last month Slate had the most detailed and substantive discussion of the range of courses that have developed across disciplines and institutions. A key issue that came through in my conversation with the […]

In teaching my course on The Wire last year, I had my students do collaborative research & writing projects on various “contexts” that the show engages with, such as urban education, the drug war, and Baltimore history. This year, I’ve decided not to use that assignment – in part because the old projects are still […]