My New Book!

My New Book!
My New Book!

Saturday, December 23, 2023

December 23, 2023: Spring Semester Previews

[For my annual Fall semester reflections series, I wanted to share some of the new texts and ideas I encountered this semester. Leading up to this preview post featuring a few of the things I’m excited for in Spring 2024!]

On three Spring 2024 courses for which I’m particularly excited (even if I’m really not ready yet for it to be 2024).

1)      Intro to Sci Fi and Fantasy: Usually I get to teach this course every few years, but as that Spring 2023 reflections poet indicates, this will be the second straight Spring semester in which I’ve taught Sci Fi/Fantasy. As a result I wanted to make sure to keep it fresh by including at least one book I haven’t taught before (alongside the one I added in Spring 2023 and wrote about in that post, Nnedi Okorafor’s Akata Witch), and so chose a new work for the contemporary sci fi novel: Becky Chambers’ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet (2014). Chambers’ novel should make for a really interesting pairing with our foundational sci fi text, Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, but is also just a quirky and funny and thoughtful example of where sci fi storytelling has gone in recent years. Can’t wait to share it with students!

2)      The Short Story Online: As that post illustrates, I first taught an accelerated online course in the Spring 2019 semester, and this Spring will do so for the fifth time with another section of the same class, The Short Story. It would be very easy to simply teach the same syllabus and readings I’ve done in those prior sections, and I’m not going to pretend I’m entirely reinventing the wheel (and it does still roll quite smoothly, I’d say). But this time around I did want to find ways to bring in even more stories that feel relevant to our current moment, and so I’ll be slotting in one of my couple favorite American short stories, Sui Sin Far’s “In the Land of the Free” (1912). I don’t know of any literary work that better captures the human stakes of things like elections and laws than does Far’s, and as ever I know it will draw out thoughtful and impressive student responses.

3)      Grad Historical Fiction: As you can see from that Fall 2023 preview post, I originally thought I’d be teaching my Graduate American Historical Fiction course this semester; it got pushed back to Spring 2024, and so everything I said in that post still applies to this preview! But to reiterate what I said in number 2, I’m now particularly excited to be reading and discussing these works in an election year, where the stakes of these histories and issues and American ideas have never been clearer. That’s especially true for my favorite American novel, Charles Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition (1901); but every book we read in this class has a great deal to tell us about not only historical fiction and history, but about collective memory and contemporary debates and more. Can’t wait to see how our awesome grad students respond to them!

Holiday series starts Monday,


PS. What are you looking forward to in 2024?

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