course information


Edward Mendelson has defined the "encyclopedic narrative" as possessing several traits: a significantly longer than average length, an extraordinarily complex narrative that can sometimes involve several hundred characters, and a wealth of references to popular culture, both current and past. We're going to read four such texts this semester. Why bother? Each of these four big honking books seeks to define contemporary U.S. culture with a scope that no average-length novel can muster; consequently, each of these novels is seen as its author's masterwork.* Reading any one of them is an accomplishment; reading all four in one semester is something to brag about. We'll accompany each with a smattering of criticism, but mostly, we'll attempt to fight our way through these books together. Perhaps because of the collective portrait of our culture that these books attempt to create, reading them in a group is infinitely more satisfying than reading them alone.

update on blog grades

Given the general second-half-of-spring-semester insanity, and given the complexity of the accounting system that I was using to track blog grades (which took into account both original posts and comments on a week-by-week basis), I've totally fallen down on the blog-grade-tracking job. It's going to take me HOURS to go back and reconstruct the necessary information for the weeks I've missed, I fear. But for those of you who have some concern about your blogging grade, worry not: the numbers you were getting at the beginning of the semester were a sort of guidepost, and one that doesn't necessarily translate in any direct way into raw grade. I'm going to assess your blog performance holistically in determining that portion of your grade, looking at, over the course of the semester, how regularly and actively you participated in discussions here and at how substantive those discussions were. If you have any questions about this, by all means feel free to contact me.

nytimes sports articles

so ive been meaning to post links to these two new york times articles for a while,

"Your Brain on Baseball" by David Brooks

this is by the times's conservative pundit and it's about the exact same type of automated brain functions that wallace attirbutes to tennis players (bottom of page 260 is one example) only with baseball players at spring training, pretty interesting stuff

class notes

I've totally fallen down on the note-posting job of late, but, at long last, here they are. I'm posting as attachments to this entry the notes that I've taken in class up through today. Please let me know if you have questions or issues...

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