1  |  2  |  3  |  4  |  5  |  6  |  7  |  8  |  9  |  10  |  11  |  12  |  13  |  14  |  15  |  16  |  17  |  18  |  19  |  20  |  21  |  22  |  23  |  24  |  25  |  26  |  27  |  28  |  29  |  30  |  31  |  32  |  33  |  34  |  35  |  36  |  37  |  38  |  39  |  40  |  41  |  42  |  43  |  44  |  45  |  46  |  47  |  48  |  49  |  50  |  51  |  52  |  53  |  54  |  55  |  56  |  57  |  58  |  59  |  60  |  61  |  62  |  63  |  64  |  65  |  66  |  67  |  68  |  69  |  70  |  71  |  72  |  73  |  74  |  75  |  76  |  77  |  78  |  79  |  80  |  81  |  82  |  83  |  84  |  85  |  86  |  87  |  88  |  89  |  90  |  91  |  92  |  93  |  94  |  95  |  96  |  97  |  98  |  99  |  100  |  101  |  102  |  103  |  104  |  105  |  106  |  107  |  108  |  109  |  110  |  111  |  112  |  113  |  114  |  115  |  116  |  117  |  118  |  119  |  120  |  121  |  122  |  123  |  124  |  125  |  126  |  127  |  128  |  129  |  130  |  131  |  132  |  133  |  134  |  135  |  136  |  137  |  138  |  139  |  140  |  141  |  142  |  143  |  144  |  145  |  146  |  147  |  148  |  149  |  150  |  151  |  152  |  153  |  154  |  155  |  156  |  157  |  158  |  159  |  160  |  161  |  162  |  163  |  164  |  165  |  166  |  167  |  168  |  169  |  170  |  171  |  172  |  173  |  174  |  175  |  176  |  177  |  178  |  179  |  180  |  181  |  182  |  183  |  184  |  185  |  186  |  187  |  188  |  189  |  190  |  191  |  192  |  193  |  194  |  195  |  196  |  197  |  198  |  199  |  200  |  201  |  202  |  203  |  204  |  205  |  206  |  207  |  208  |  209  |  210  |  211  |  212  |  213  |  214  |  215  |  216  |  217  |  218  |  219  |  220  |  221  |  222  |  223  |  224  |  225  |  226  |  227  |  228  |  229  |  230  |  231  |  232  |  233  |  234  |  235  |  236  |  237  |  238  |  239  |  240  |  241  |  242  |  243  |  244  |  245  |  246  |  247  |  248  |  249  |  250  |  251  |  252  |  253  |  254  |  255  |  256  |  257  |  258  |  259  |  260  |  261  |  262  |  263  |  264  |  265  |  266  |  267  |  268  |  269  |  270  |  271  |  272  |  273  |  274  |  275  |  276  |  277  |  278  |  279  |  280  |  281  |  282  |  283  |  284  |  285  |  286  |  287  |  288  |  289  |  290  |  291  |  292  |  293  |  294  |  295 

April 20, 2009

Creative Writing classes as a Ponzi scheme

Books - The Ponzi Workshop - NYTimes.com

One of the biggest growth areas in higher education these days is creative writing. In 1975, there were 52 degree-granting writing programs in American colleges and universities, and in 2004 there were more than 300. In his new book, “The Program Era: Postwar Fiction and the Rise of Creative Writing,” Mark McGurl, an associate professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that for this to happen in an era when American education has generally become more practical and vocational is not quite as odd as it seems.

Creative writing programs are themselves vocational training of a sort, he points out, and most of the people teaching in them are themselves holders of advanced degrees in creative writing. Probably a majority of American writers make a considerable part of their living not by writing, in fact, but by teaching others how to write and how to teach writing.

That there might be a Ponzi element in all this is something Mr. McGurl never considers. He thinks that writing programs are the best thing that ever happened to American fiction, and he pursues his case not on economic grounds — the great number of writers whose careers have been subsidized, in effect, by the university — but aesthetic ones. The programs, he says, have enabled a great flourishing of postwar American fiction, and from the merits of the work he deduces the merits of the system that fostered it.

April 19, 2009

Journalism schools full of doubt, confusion

J-Schools Play Catchup - NYTimes.com

The American Journalism Review estimates that 15 percent of the nation’s newspaper newsroom jobs were lost in 2008 as news consumers continued to gravitate to online sources and as traditional revenue streams dried up; so far this year, major newspapers in Denver and Seattle have folded altogether. At the same time, the shift from a print-based, scheduled world of media to a digital, on-demand world of options is changing how journalists do their jobs. “New media” doesn’t mean transplanting old media to a new medium; it requires a new vocabulary, a new relationship with the audience — a massive social network that now talks back — and, sometimes, a new set of expectations about objectivity and timeliness.

At stake is a generation of reporters, and the continued role of journalists as the eyes, ears and questioners for the public.

The changes are forcing colleges and universities to rethink what a journalism education should look like. The perennial debate about journalism programs — theoretical teaching versus professional skill building — has been displaced by more urgent questions: How can you help students find sustainable business models, while introducing the formerly verboten subject of the business side? What are the implications for the craft of journalism in the shift to digital? And how do you position students for an uncertain future in the media?

If you want your book to be a best seller, give it to Obama

Chavez's gift to Obama swiftly becomes best-seller

A book by an Uruguayan journalist that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave to President Barack Obama is now the No. 5 seller on Amazon.com.

It's an astounding jump for "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent," by Uruguayan journalist Eduardo Galeano.

The paperback edition was ranked 54,295 on the online retailer before Chavez gave Obama a Spanish-language edition of the 1971 book on Saturday. It had jumped to No. 5 by Sunday.

JG Ballard has died

BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Cult author JG Ballard dies at 78

The author JG Ballard, famed for novels such as Crash and Empire of the Sun, has died aged 78 after a long illness.

His agent Margaret Hanbury said the author had been ill "for several years" and had died on Sunday morning.

Despite being referred to as a science fiction writer, Ballard said his books were instead "picturing the psychology of the future".

I've always enjoyed his weird and twisted stories.

April 18, 2009

A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education

A Textbook Example of What’s Wrong with Education | Edutopia

This is a really nice article that explains--fully--why textbooks suck. Make sure you read to the part about how Texas creationists ruined it for everyone.

Some years ago, I signed on as an editor at a major publisher of elementary school and high school textbooks, filled with the idealistic belief that I'd be working with equally idealistic authors to create books that would excite teachers and fill young minds with Big Ideas.

Not so.

I got a hint of things to come when I overheard my boss lamenting, "The books are done and we still don't have an author! I must sign someone today!"

Every time a friend with kids in school tells me textbooks are too generic, I think back to that moment. "Who writes these things?" people ask me. I have to tell them, without a hint of irony, "No one." It's symptomatic of the whole muddled mess that is the $4.3 billion textbook business.