It’s been a while…feels like I’ve been all about teaching the past few months, but the teaching and planning for teaching have meant that I haven’t had all that much time to keep a log about it, I guess.
I did write a thing about the teaching that I shared elsewhere, but forgot to post here:
Everything since then is a bit of a blur. Much from the time before it came out too, really. And now I’m in week 3 of a new term. Still rolling remote -or remote again. Still blurry.
And I’m back on my bullshit with the “radio” business. In my fall course, HIST 400: Methodology, I’m using weekly recordings to reflect on material we’ve covered, to share thoughts on things coming up, to connect with my small and wonderful group of SFU History Honours students in between our weekly synchronous meetings online. Each one of these episodes begins and ends with a bit of music. They are typically fairly short (under 15 minutes). I did, however, just finish editing a longer recording of an interview with Bob Ryan about a short essay he published last year called “The Breaks of History”. In our hour-long conversation, Bob and I talked about music, history, and writing. It was super fun! I’ve also made a playlist of songs that came up as we were chatting. It is super weird!
The use of sound recordings works for me. I hope it’s working for this new group of students. I like the idea of popping into their ears for a little bit here and there, not having to look at my own face, or fuss over a video that will only add to all of our eye strain. And listening is different. It works a different part of my brain and inspires other regions of my imagination. It’s also the same, in the sense that I think of writing and reading as listening, literally (as when I read something aloud, especially something I’m writing), but also in a range of other senses of the word. Historians talk about “voices of the past.” We talk about tone and rhythm in the work that we do, about silence too.
Sense and feeling are strange and challenging right now. There’s too much looking, definitely, especially when it comes to screens. Touch is out, with very few exceptions. The others are there, helping or hindering, sometimes muted, sometimes overwhelming – the smoke from forest fires for days and days, the burning of my eyes, the comforts of wine or ice cream, or wine and ice cream, the reassurances of bleach and hand sanitizer. And right outside my window this morning, there are the steady sounds of traffic and rain….