It looks like the final project will take the form of a final essay, though there are two changes: 

1. Everyone will be required to workshop their paper at the LAC except those who were told in my comments that their papers were well-written. Please take this requirement seriously. Even if you feel that your writing is exemplary use the opportunity to hone your paper. Your goal is a grammatically pristine, conceptually rich and stylistically awe-inspiring final paper.

2. All papers will be submitted to because some people with no moral compass or sense of irony plagiarized essays for a class on VALUES. Fair Warning: I am so tired of busting people for plagiarism– or, worse, knowing they plagiarized via teacherly intuition (paranoia?) yet not having sufficient evidence– that I vow to prosecute any offenders to the limit. Potentially this means not only an F on the essay, but one for the semester and notification of the proper authorities, an action that can and has– believe it– ended in students’ expulsions. 


Yes there is extra credit. Here’s how it works:

Go to a museum or other cultural institution and write a 500 word “field report” on one or more of its features (a painting, a sculpture, the theme of an exhibit, etc.) and how they relate to the subject of this course. This assignment should be undertaken in a reflective manner. Points for creativity, profundity, and unexpected brilliance. I reserve the right to NOT grant extra credit if the response is, like, super lame.

Finally, all of you have been on my mind in recent days. On Friday I attended a meeting with professors in SJSU’s American Studies department. One of the topics of our conversation was the issue of “grade inflation” and a “culture of entitlement” which is said to characterize the current cohort of college students, the so-called Generation Y or Millenials. You might be interested to know that according to a fairly recent study (pdf) sociologists consider your generation to be dangerously narcissistic. You can read an account from the LA Times here. I like the last bit in particular:

Flacks summed up the attitudes he often encounters in students, who expect a tangible payoff from their education:

“The old model was a collegial one in which students and professors alike sought knowledge for knowledge’s sake. The new model is ‘I paid my money, give me my grade and degree.’ It makes me want to ask [students], “Want fries with that order?”

10 thoughts on “Information

  1. heteroglossia

    Hey doc,
    I found this simple enough interview of David Harvey by n+1 magazine and thought I’d share. He explains his position towards the current economic crisis through historical examples of capital’s similar crises across the globe, detailing in laymen terms the operation of speculation and private ownership-in-flipping, and oil. No, I haven’t had the chance to read your previous post’s article on rollingstone (though this does not mean that I did not take the time to e-mail it to a few of my friends, who, unfortunately, I doubt have also not given it a read–apologies). I also hope your current students take the time to indulge in this opportunity, as I couldn’t find a transcript of the interview on the net I had to resort to typing it all out from my issue.

    To read: be at my page (by clicking my name, I assume?).

    I should have paid a visit already, but alas, shame has short-circuited me in the act. I recall you reading Zizek’s Violence towards the end of last semester and so I thought I could read that so for discussion purposes. Unfortunately, I have 8 classes a Saturday job. Enough, I leave you with the best hopes as to your current being.

    Btw, I plan on applying for grad studies at Berkeley for Comparative Literature Ph.D., Davis Creative Writing M.A. and Comparative Literature Ph.D., Santa Cruz’s History of Consciousness Ph.D., and SFSU’s M.F.A. program for Creative Writing (or just M.A.)…but I might take a break from the Lyceum for a year. I’ll keep you updated.


  2. Linda Lam

    I think most students are in college not by choice but because it is in some ways required. In the past you could get a job no problem without a degree, so students who did attend college back then are more likely to be enthusiastic about their learning. College education wasnt “pushed” onto them.

    I dont want to be a doctor or a lawyer, so sometimes I wonder, why the hell do I need to go to college? Then I realize in this present age even boring sales associate jobs require a college degree, at least an associates degree.

    The bachelor degree we have now is probably equivalent to a GED high school diploma 20-30 years ago.

  3. Linda Lam

    I’m an insomniac by the way, and teachers often mistake it as me being lazy or un-thrilled about their class.

    I’ve had this problem since I hit puberty and havent had 8 hours of sleep since then. I am happy to get 5 hours but even that is hard for me to catch.

    Just wanted to add that personal note because I know that my lack of in class participation and my sleepy state may have caused some confusion.

    I am interested in American culture, I just dont have the mental energy sometimes to go in depth about my thoughts. I know it sounds like a lame excuse and I will admit that even on my good days (which is rare) I dont tend to participate…….running onto a completely random thought but nonetheless under the discussion of my last post:

    There are also some teachers who say, “Well if the subject matter is boring, MAKE the subject interesting to you.”

    Everyone has their own unique personality and their own interest. By pretending to be interested in a topic, is like covering up a flaw that’s already there. A student can try their hardest to be engaged in class and probably can say a few here and there but if it doesnt click with what is already important to them; then squeezing out information from the student will be like squeezing water out of a rock.

  4. Linda Lam

    Oh boy my crazy tangent of thoughts… Just wanted to say that the American Values class should be important to all of us since I am assuming we are all US citizens. Sounds like I am contradicting myself with my last post huh? Well let me add this, i’ve been observing how people react to their own culture since as long as I can remember. I’ve learned that surprisingly there are a few people who dont give a **** about their own heritage/culture and worse yet there are those who despise it. I dont think anyone in our class is like that though so having an interest in your American Values class shouldnt be a problem. The lack of voice in the class is probably due to shyness which I can recall you stating before.But nonetheless I felt it was important to state my thoughts on why certain professors may have trouble getting their students to talk. It’s either because the class doesnt pertain to them, interest them or perhaps we are all too shy to speak out.

  5. Marisol Pantovich

    To me, one of the most interesting aspects of Lakota woman is reading about the efforts to separate Indian children from their culture and their heritage. Last semester I took a history course and we read an essay by Ngugi Wa Thion’O titled decolonizing the mind. Basically he spoke about going to school in Kenya and being encouraged to be ashamed of his culture and the role language plays in developing ones identity. One of the examples given was about a boy in school who during the final exams scored perfectly in every subject except English and because of that he ended up in a job that didn’t pay well whereas other children could score poorly in every subject but get high marks in English and be successful. Children were punished for speaking their native language and encouraged to turn their fellow students in for speaking their language. Because of this, they grew to be ashamed of their culture. Although language is not the only determining factor of identity, eliminating language creates a forgetfulness of history. It is true that a nation or a group of people’s land can be conquered, but if their minds are not colonized, then control over any group of people cannot be gained. I find it very interesting that no amount of physical force over a group of people is as powerful as the effect of colonizing the mind.

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