Thoughts on culture, education, and having been a Canadian in the US
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Posts from — September 2006

Eden Robinson coming to UVM October 3-5


I’m thrilled to announce here that we’ll be welcoming Eden Robinson to the University of Vermont from October 3-5. She’ll be visiting my Canadian literature classes, Jamie Williamson’s Native American lit classes and giving a public reading on the afternoon of October 4th.

Please join us on October 4th if you can to hear one of Canada’s most exciting young writers.

Public reading by novelist Eden Robinson

Date and time: Wednesday October 4, 4:30 pm

University of Vermont, 315 Commons, Living/Learning Center

Open to all members of the public

Robinson’s first collection of stories, Traplines, won the Winifred Holtby Prize for the best first work of fiction by a Commonwealth writer and was a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Notable Book of the Year. Her first novel, Monkey Beach, won the B.C. Book Prize for Fiction, was a finalist for the 2000 Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award and was longlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Her latest work of fiction, the Canadian best-seller Blood Sports (2006), has been described as “A gripping page-turner of a tale that should have Quentin Tarantino knocking down her door.”

Writes The National Post, “Eden Robinson writes with the violent beauty of a seasoned knifefighter…She writes with a cool economy, a parsed precision; no wasted words, no wasted motion. In her hands, language is a weapon that can leave you bleeding, unsure of just how you were cut.”

Eden Robinson’s visit to the University of Vermont is co-sponsored by the University of Vermont’s Department of English, Canadian Studies Program, Global Village Residential Learning Community, and The James and Mary Brigham Buckham Fund.

September 29, 2006   No Comments

For your amusement on a Friday afternoon….

September 29, 2006   No Comments

Just one of the reasons I enjoy being at UVM

Thanks to Nancy Welch for pointing out this terrific (and lengthy!) review of our colleague John Gennari’s great new book, Blowin’ Hot and Cool: Jazz and Its Critics. Critical acclaim does not get much better than this:

And so Gennari’s book does for jazz critics what most of them were unable to do for themselves, but with a postmodern twist: The scholar demystifies and historicizes the journalists. The first sustained scholarly book exclusively about jazz criticism–and, not least, about the passions that have driven and surrounded it–Blowin’ Hot and Cool is thorough, absorbing and original, an obsessive study of professional obsessives that will circumvent the need for any other.

I have to add this one to my list of books to read…. Seriously, I could spend an entire year just focusing on all the great books written by people in my department.

September 27, 2006   No Comments

Harper lashes out at Martin for criticizing Afghan mission

There I am, in the news again…. As I don’t have anything better to do.

Harper lashes out at Martin for criticizing Afghan mission:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper slammed Paul Martin on Tuesday for saying there’s too much of a military emphasis on the current mission in Afghanistan.

September 27, 2006   No Comments

Want to play some wheelchair basketball?

Below you’ll find a note from Eric Wright from English 180B inviting you to be part of a great event. I’m going to up the ante a bit here and offer to cover the $50 registration fee for the first team from English 180 and/or English 005 who signs up for this tournament. Paul.

Student Athletes For Equity (SAFE), an officially recognized club here at at UVM, is hosting an event on Thursday, October 5. They are bringing sit-down volleyball Paralympic champion Matt Glowacki to campus, who will be giving a talk entitled “Walking is Overrated” at the Patrick Gym from 6-7 PM.

Following the talk, SAFE is hosting a wheelchair basketball tournament as a fundraiser for the Northeast Disabled Athletic Association (NDAA). The NDAA is a non-profit organization that provides resources and opportunities for players of all ages and abilities to engage in various adaptive sports, including wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, handcycling, and adaptive sailing.

The registration fee for the tournament is $50 for a team of five, + $5 per person after that. I’d love to see a team of Canadian Lit students win this tournament. You don’t have to be a super athlete in order to play. All you have to be is willing to spare some time and energy.

You can get a group together and register as team, or individual students can respond to the blog posting to form a Canadian Lit All-Star team.

For more information on SAFE and the tournament, you can contact For more information about the NDAA, check out its Web site at

September 22, 2006   1 Comment

Fort McMurray getting more attention south of the border

This story on NPR yesterday highlights the massive oil boom Alberta’s north is experiencing. 60 Minutes also ran an interesting story on the oilsands earlier this year.

September 20, 2006   No Comments

On a way more serious note….

I’m glad to see the Maher Arar case getting the international attention it deserves. This should have never happened and the Canadian government needs to be held accountable.

September 19, 2006   No Comments

If I can’t be a serious academic or renowned critic, at least I can be….

an international expert on the cultural impact of Tim Hortons! You think I’m joking, don’t you?

Oh well, at least my sister‘s proud of me!

I’m feeling more like Homer Simpson every day….

But seriously, doesn’t my freshman seminar sound like fun?

I don’t have Tim’s on the official itinerary for our Ottawa trip, but I think it just might wind up on there.

After all, if a little “double double diplomacy” is good enough for Condi, it’s good enough for my students, eh?!


September 19, 2006   Comments Off on If I can’t be a serious academic or renowned critic, at least I can be….

UVM English Majors’ Barbecue


English Major’s Barbecue

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

6:00~8:00 p.m.

Old Mill Annex Courtyard, South Side

Music provided by “Alex Toth Quartet”

September 13, 2006   No Comments

A worthy reminder of what we’re really up to… or what we should really be doing…

Just took a few minutes to watch “Did You Know?,” an interesting powerpoint presentation by Karl Fisch. The powerpoint really puts a few things into perspective, namely how much the world is in the process of shifting more rapidly than we realize. For teachers and professors, as Karl points out, we’re actually in the process of giving the students the tools they will use (I hope) to solve problems that don’t yet exist, with technology that people have not even dreamed of yet.

Darren Kuropatwa did a great “Winnipeg Remix” of the powerpoint and put it up on his blog as a movie file, which is much easier way to see it than downloading the powerpoint. I see that his daughter, like my own, started Grade One (or First Grade as they call it here in the States) this week. Thinking about that in the context of the facts Fisch reminds us of really blows me away.

This also brings up the question of how my kids will be learning in the future. My father Jerome Martin‘s ebook Cappucino U (a free download from Spotted Cow Press) talks about learning in third spaces and the huge shift already underway in the ways that we learn and work. This post from Christopher D. Sessums’ blog really opened my eyes as well about the ways in which “information and communications technologies (ICT)” have the potential to completely move us away from the model we’re desperately clinging to today where Universities are the holders and bestowers of academic capital (i.e. a degree) to one where people might be just as well off to get their credentials from a variety of sources. As Sessums writes:

And the locus of control should be ours to negotiate as long as accreditors provide the opportunity to do so. Accreditation can be more than what’s issued by universities. It could be issued by Microsoft, the BBC, Apple, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Toyota, etc. A person’s c.v. could be more organic, assembled from courses taken in a variety of settings, from a variety of providers. The university’s monopoly on accreditation will soon be a thing of the past as other players enter the tertiary education market and offer the skills and training that meets the needs of employers globally.

This takes me back to something I read over the summer in Peter Elbow’s book Writing Without Teachers. Elbow writes of how his perspective shifted when he came to “notice a fundamental asymmetry: students can learn without teachers even though teachers cannot teach without students. The deepest dependency is not of students upon teachers, but of teachers upon students.”

September 11, 2006   1 Comment