Impossible Profession comix

[1] Teacher: "So, to recap: Your paper needs to have an argument that's defensible, disputable, and interesting." [2] Student: "You mean, like, give our opinion?" [3] The teacher looks worried and then [4] becomes increasingly alone in the universe.

[1] Teacher: "So, to recap: Your paper needs to have an argument that's defensible, disputable, and interesting." [2] Student: "You mean, like, give our opinion?" [3] The teacher looks worried and then [4] becomes increasingly alone in the universe.

Every writing teacher feels this way sometimes, right? I came across Bill Zimmerman’s Make Beliefs Comix, officially designed for kids of differing abilities, while reading up on comics and education scholar Nick Sousanis. The bunny-eared student could be a hybrid of Louise Belcher from Bob’s Burgers and Sheba from Life in Hell.

According to Freud, the three impossible professions are education, healing, and governing (preface to August Aichorn, Wayward Youth, 1925 [PDF]). Of course, for Freud, impossibility didn’t detract from necessity. But this isn’t a post about all that.

Writing in Tight Spaces

Pulp-style poster for Writing in Tight Spaces

In the spring of 2015, I taught 3 sections of Writing about Literature–“Writing in Tight Spaces”–for first-year students at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

In this first-year writing class, we will learn to use the inherent limitations of written forms to our advantage, and we will ask why literary genres can be tools for surviving real confinement and oppression—be it a prison cell, a detention hall, or a family home turned sinister. We will build outwards from the “nuts and bolts” of rhetorical grammar to the fundamentals of web design and digital storytelling, all with the aim of doing more (revealing, advocating, proving) with less (time, space, gimmicks). Authors will include Harriet Jacobs, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Kurt Vonnegut, and others. We will also examine and create 140-character tweets, 60-second documentaries, and low-budget films.

The students are building their own websites as part of the Domain of One’s Own Program.

I made the science fiction-style image for the class using Pulp-O-Mizer, by Bradley Schenk.