The thick of the semester is upon us, making it more difficult to keep up with everything. This is true of both students and faculty, of course, but at the moment the faculty side is the most pressing one -- since, of course, it's where I'm standing. Class discussions are going well and the online discussions associated with both the s/s/f course and the C of I course are proceeding nicely, so there's not much to report there -- it takes a few weeks before classes start to gel so that the conversations can get past the initial "feeling out everyone's position" stage. Last week's class sessions both provided stellar examples of that, as the C of I course started really grappling with the "is what we do in IR a science?" question and the s/s/f course, discussing Dune, got into the issue of whether we can even discuss messianic figures and movements without in some sense participating in the hagiography that accompanies such exercises (illustrated in Herbert's novel by Princess Irulan's commentaries, and also oddly exemplified by the "plain text" narrative itself if we take the Appendix III "Report on Bene Gesserit Motives and Purposes" seriously, which I think that we have to). So we're getting into it now, so to speak.

Of course, the thick of the semester also means: letters of recommendation to craft; committee business to transact; book manuscripts to finalize; conference to attend (and conference papers to, um, toss together as quickly as possible); and grading to keep up with. Something's got to give, and unfortunately what gives for me is often this blog. ::gets mildly embarrassed look on face, since I am supposed to be setting an example here both for students and for colleagues about how academic blogging works::

I'll try to post more regularly in this spot when I can -- especially since there's a good deal of sci-fi stuff happening now, what with Battlestar Galactica actually remaining good and Episode III (which I still think isn't sci-fi, but it's close enough for these purposes) about to make its debut. And even a straight "report on what happened in class" might be interesting enough to post, so I'll try to do that, at minimum. These are supposed to be "course diaries," after all.

In other news, been re-reading The Hobbit as a preparation for re-reading The Trilogy later on this semester sometime. I'd forgotten how masterfully Tolkien makes The Hobbit a children's fairy-tale. His narrator really seems to incorporate aspects of Bilbo's charming naivety, such as when the narrator makes comments about how Gandalf would have died had he attacked the goblins directly when the party was imprisoned in the trees before the eagles came and rescued them. Given that the book is supposed to have been written by Bilbo as "There and Back Again," this makes sense, but it's harder to pull off than to envision. Once again I am awestruck by Tolkien's master craftsmanship.

[Posted with ecto]

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