February 7, 2022
TPS Report Time
|“||The mission of the School of Arts & Letters (SOAL) is to provide broad access to arts and humanities education that promotes creativity, elevates culture, encourages the pursuit of happiness, and prepares intellectually agile citizens to serve our communities and the creative economy of Georgia.||”|
|— MGA School of Arts and Letters Mission Statement|
The apparatus for this year’s self-evaluation seems overly complicated. Perhaps I feel like the new student looking at my syllabus: a bit overwhelmed with it all. Instead of just the form I’ve been using for the past twenty years, this one has a new rubric that must be filled out, too. The premise, it seems to me, is that we need quantifiable, measurable evidence to analyze my performance. This is pretty simple for scholarship and service, but less so for teaching. Still, I have to put this behind me to get back to Lipton’s Journal.
Here are my stats for teaching this year.
|Semester||Course||Delivery||# Enrolled||# Dropped||#Failed||# Passed|
|Fall 2021||ENGL 1102.16||F2F||10||1||2||5|
|ENGL 2122.01||OL SS||22||3||1||13|
|Summer 2021||NMAC 3108.01||OL||20||2||4||11|
|Spring 2021||ENGL 2111.21||OL||29||2||1||23|
|ENGL 2111.06||OL SS||27||6||2||17|
Obviously, students still want online courses, judging by the high enrollment in those courses (I have 135 total) versus the low enrollments in face-to-face (31 total). Who could blame them? I did, too, and fortunately received more online sections than face-to-face. However, with the high enrollment caps, I taught an extra 21 students this year—enough to populate another survey.
I figure a reasonable cap for surveys is 20, and 15 for writing-intensive courses.
Total pass rate: 86%. I took the total number of students, subtracting the withdrawals and those who stopped working, and divided it into the total of those who passed. I realize that this final tally is somewhat arbitrary, since it discounts withdrawals and give-ups. Yes, I could be the cause of either of these, but this seems reasonable. These last few semesters have been trying for all of us.
This fall, I resurrected my old MediaWiki server LitWiki thinking I could introduce digital writing literacy to first- and second-year students without the added stress of writing or Wikipedia. I generally take project-oriented approaches to many assignments, including real-world activities, like writing for Wikipedia, that teach professionalism, research skills, and valuable digital literacies. This approach supports the mission goals of the School of Arts and Letters, specifically by expanding the classroom to offer a “broad access to arts and humanities education.” These approaches, while challenge students and “promote creativity, elevate culture, encourages the pursuit of happiness, and prepares intellectually agile citizens to serve our communities and the creative economy of Georgia.” By engaging in real-world projects, students begin to appreciate the necessity for being informed, critical, and responsible citizens.
Designed and taught a new course for me, ENGL 2122 British Literature II Online. I also hadn’t taught ENGL 1102 in at least a decade, so this was practically a new course as well. Along with ENGL 3700 and ENGL 3900, these are four brand new courses that I designed and taught since the spring of 2020.
- “‘It Might Not Be Unpleasant to Live’: The Transitional Short Fiction of Norman Mailer.” The Mailer Review 15 (2021): Forthcoming.
- “Political Resonance.” Norman Mailer in Context. Ed. Maggie McKinley. Cambridge: Cambridge UP: 373–383.
- Lipton’s Journal. Project Mailer. A Digital Humanities project, co-edited with J. Michael Lennon and Susan Mailer. Built by me.
- Chair, Graduate Studies Council
- Writing Center volunteer, fall 2021. Two hours a week.
- MGA Foundation drive representative, fall 2021.
- Editor, Project Mailer, the Digital Humanities initiative of the NMS.
- Associate (Digital) Editor, The Mailer Review, since 2007.
- Vice President, Norman Mailer Society
- Member, Executive Board, NMS, since 2006.
- Member, Editorial Board, The Mailer Review, since 2021.
I support both the goals of SOAL and the university (particularly, learning, adaptability, and engagement) with my teaching, writing, and editorial work on Wikipedia. By fostering a new generation of Wikipedians, I support the intellectual development and engagement of local and global communities who use and contribute to the most successful digital humanities project yet conceived.
Additionally, my use of technologies that extend the classroom encourage students to be creative and “intellectually agile citizens” who become lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and amateur experts who are not determined by standardized media and platforms and who can contribute positively to knowledge construction for their communities.
I have been an educator in central Georgia for twenty years. I have seen many changes in the institutional emphases and goals, national and local government, the culture of higher education, and the university leadership and structure. I have been here through three name changes, consolidation, several presidents, provosts, deans, departments, and organizations. I have added to the growth and revision of departments and programs, offering my leadership and expertise when needed or solicited. I have positively impacted this community in many ways, and I have grown as a scholar, colleague, and educator—for personal and professional growth is necessary to ensure a continued curiosity and enthusiasm. Mailer once wrote, “grow or else pay more for remaining the same.” I have adopted that as a sort of professional credo.
As a full professor, I have chosen to emphasize my scholarship at this point in my career. I have earned it. I have found an engaging community around the scholars and enthusiasts in the Mailer Society, and I am pleased to offer my voice and expertise in supporting Norman Mailer’s legacy. My service and my many publications and projects in this regard support my current professional emphasis which I intend to continue.
I was hired at Macon State College twenty years ago not just for my literary expertise, but for my innovations in new media and elearning. While institutional shifts have removed me from the formal programs and curricula that I helped build first in CIT then in NMAC, I continue to innovate by using available digital technologies to support my teaching, scholarship, and service. Over twenty years ago when I first started using digital technology to teach, it was often met with a certain professional reluctance from the institution, derision from the profession, and resistance from the student body—and some things have not changed. Often, new approaches that require students to critically engage media—approaches that make media visible and problematic—will trigger a cognitive dissonance that requires a bit of struggle and readjustment in students in order to succeed. Ironically, the digital media promotes a hastiness, a lack of nuance, a perfunctory approach to engagement can be used to help turn these attitudes and practices around. However, this often causes resistance, or a dissonance, on many levels. However, this dissonance is integral in supporting the goals of SOAL and MGA as written, and something I take seriously as an educator. I always have. And, in this current political climate of anti-intellectualism and the increasing corporatization of higher education, this approach is even more necessary, if not prudent.