Grading with Love: an open letter to my first-year writers

I hate grading papers. This revulsion led me to innovate, so maybe misery is the real mother of invention. My thought process went like this: Papers: they hate writing them; we hate reading them. What’s wrong with this picture? So I tried to change the picture. I turned to WordPress, a platform whose beauty and flexibility I hoped would make students more excited about writing, so that I could be more excited about grading. It’s not a perfect fix, but […]

The Originality of Ideas and Other Scholarly Myths

I’ve been sitting with Andrew Rikard (Davidson class of 2017) in a classroom all morning. We’re attending ILiAds (Institute for Liberal Arts Digital Scholarship) at Hamilton College to work on our digital Mina Loy project. We’ve spent most of the week attending presentations, exchanging ideas with other teams, and tinkering with our website.  This morning, we sequestered ourselves in order to write. We wanted to reflect on the collaborative process and on the ways in which digital tools can transform […]

Momento Mori, or Motherless Me

  “All hope abandon, ye who enter here,” because you are proceeding through the gates of shameless, narcissistic navel gazing. My mommy has died, leaving me motherless, which seems like good justification for ruminating, even if there’s little reward in it for you, my hapless reader. I spent the long weekend in Connecticut for Mom’s Memorial Service, which was lovely. I wish she could have been there to enjoy it! Friends and family gathered from as near as the choir […]

Of Mere Being

I’ve just returned from a much anticipated, much dreaded three-day sojourn in Connecticut, where I saw Mom for the first time in her new living quarters, an extended care facility called Arden Courts. My family had given me a pretty clear picture of what to expect, but they couldn’t prepare me for the emotional wallop of seeing her, dozing in the common room, wheelchair-bound, listing to the side, head tilted back, arms stiff, legs atrophied, feet puffy in her unused shoes. […]

Women and Self-Fashioning in Moscow

  Amanda had warned us that women in Russia tend to dress up and dress fashionably. When we first got to Moscow, I didn’t notice the difference, because I was distracted by the wide variety of fashion, ranging from elegant dresses to jeans and even shorts. I couldn’t detect any dress code. But the more I people-watched, the more I was struck by the care and attention the women devoted to fashion and grooming. The high standards were most clear […]

Speak to me : Take my hand : What are you now?

When I FaceTimed with my mom on January 5th—her 75th birthday—she was surprisingly “good.” I put that word in quotations marks because I’m uncomfortable with the moral judgment it seems to place on the natural course of her disease. Yet that’s the word that come to mind, and she was really, pretty good: she knew it was her birthday, she said she was 75, and she asked me (un-prompted), “What’s Matt doing?” The question meant that she not only knew […]

Are You My Mother?

This photo was taken in October 2013, the last time I saw my mother. She looks just like herself, doesn’t she? That’s because I had just washed and styled her hair for her. (Although Dad had been reminding her to take showers, I’m not sure if or with what she’d been washing her hair.) I also picked out her outfit and helped her put it on in the right order. (She’d put on the wool cardigan without a blouse under […]

Self-portraits in painting and poetry

The painting on my home page is one I did when I was a senior at Middlebury College. I was doing a series of small paintings of unoccupied park benches. I was on my second or third sitting of this bench, which faces the mountains to the west of campus. When I arrived at my perch, I was annoyed to find another student painter had inserted herself between me and my vista. I decided to paint her in to my […]

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