From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project: http://magazine.beloit.edu/?story_id=240813&issue_id=240610

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Round and Square Syllabus: Autumn 2016

[a] Round RF
Round and Square Syllabus
All Classes
Autumn 2016
Robert André LaFleur                                                             Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 111                                                                 Monday           12:05-1:35
363-2005                                                                                   Wednesday         12:05-1:35
lafleur@beloit.edu                                                                    …or by appointment

NYRB and Round and Square readings are due on Mondays, and will be a part of both the quiz and class discussion on those days.

Week One—August 24
Syllabic Cycles—Introduction, a-d (read all four posts, not just the first one). 
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Two—August 29
Quotidian Quizzes—Introduction, a-h (skim the first four posts, but read the last four carefully (they get to the heart of our course).
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week ThreeSeptember 5
Styling Culture: Chicago-style Footnotes and Endnotes
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it! 

Week Four—September 12
Writing and Time—Introduction
Writing and Time—Reading Logs, a-b (read both posts, not just the first one)  
(Filling out "reading logs" is voluntary, but reading all posts is mandatory!)
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it! 

Week Five—September 19
Theory Corner—Bricolage, a-c (read all three posts, not just the first one).
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it! 

Week Six—September 26
Prairie Ethnography—The Thousand Ask Question, a-c (read all three posts)
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Seven—October 3
Fieldnotes From History—Introduction
Fieldnotes From History—xxx 
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Ten—October 24
Structure, History, and Culture—Introduction (read both posts)
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Eleven—October 31
Structure, History and Culture—Packing the Car
Structure, History, and Culture—Interstate Highways
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Twelve—November 7
Felicitous Felinity—Introduction
The Power of Five—Introduction
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week Thirteen—November 14
Primary Sources—Introduction, e-f (read all both posts, not just the first one)
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week FourteenNovember 21
Primary Sources—Introduction, g-h (read all both posts, not just the first one)
Check the lunar calendar every day (posted at midnight). Scroll down until you see it!

Week FifteenNovember 28
The Philosophy of History of Philosophy (a History)—Introduction
[b] Square RF

Saturday, August 27, 2016

New York Review of Books Syllabus: Autumn 2016

On this date on Round and Square's History 
27 August 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 08-27
27 August 2015—New York Review of Books Syllabus: Autumn 2015
27 August 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 08-27
27 August 2014—New York Review of Books Syllabus: Autumn 2014
27 August 2013—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 08-27
27 August 2013—Syllabic Cycles: Chinese History and Culture (2013)-b
27 August 2012—The New Yorker and the World: Course Description (f)
27 August 2011—Annals of Ostracism: The Crime of Cephu
[a[ Gates to learning RF

New York Review of Books (NYRB) Syllabus
All Classes
Autumn 2016
Robert André LaFleur                                                             Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 111                                                                 Monday           12:05-1:35
363-2005                                                                                   Wednesday    12:05-1:35
lafleur@beloit.edu                                                                    …or by appointment

NYRB readings will be "due" on Mondays in all classes unless I tell you otherwise through e-mail or in class.

This semester, we will read the complete issue of 
The New York Review of Books for July 14, 2016
Week One 
(22 August)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
Read all front matter (cover, inside-cover advertisement, table of contents, contributors)

Week Two 
(29 August)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
8-10  Hilton Als, "The Heroic Art of Agnes Martin"         

           Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art by Nancy Princenthal


Week Three 
(5 September)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading 
11-13  Jerry Brown, "A Stark Nuclear Warning"             

Léon Blum: Prime Minister, Socialist, Zionist by Pierre Birnbaum

Week Four 
(12 September)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
19-21  Patricia Storace, "The Shock of the Little"
              Small Stories: At Home in a Dollhouse (museum exhibition)

Week Five  
(19 September)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
21-23  Paul Krugman, "Money: The Brave New Uncertainty of Mervyn King"
              The End of Alchemy by Mervyn King

Week Six 
(26 September)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
24-26  Helen Vendler, "Wallace Stevens: The Real and the Made-up"
              The Whole Harmonium: The Life of Wallace Stevens by Paul Mariani

Week Seven
(3 October)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
30-3Darryl Pinckney, "Blacks and Jews Entangled"
              Oreo by Fran Ross

Week Ten 
(24 October)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
28-30  David Cole, "The Terror of Our Guns"
              Multiple texts

Week Eleven 
(31 October)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
32-34  James Romm, "The Great Rescue in Timbuktu"
               The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu by Joshua Hammer

Week Twelve 
(7 November)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
35-36  Peter Brooks, "On the Track of Evil in Dublin"
              Even the Dead by Benjamin Black

Week Thirteen
(14 November)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
37-39  Peter Brown, "The Glow of Byzantium" 
              Multiple texts
Week Fourteen
(21 November)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
40-41  Fintan O'Toole, "The Ultimate Oedipus at the Opera"            
              Oedipe by George Enescu

Week Fifteen
(28 November)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
4-6      Cathleen Schine, "Weiner!"           
              Weiner a documentary film directed by Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg

[b] Shepherding the argument RF

Friday, August 26, 2016

Attendance Policy: Autumn 2016

On this date on Round and Square's History 
26 August 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 08-26
26 August 2015—Attendance Policy: Autumn 2015
26 August 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 08-26
26 August 2014—Attendance Policy: Autumn 2014
26 August 2013—China's Lunar Calendar 2013 08-26
26 August 2013—Syllabic Cycles: Chinese History and Culture (a)
26 August 2012—The New Yorker and the World: Course Description (e)
26 August 2011—Annals of Ostracism: Alone in the Arctic
[a] Standing at attendance RF
Class Attendance, Class Participation
and Computer Use Policy
All Classes
Autumn 2016
Robert André LaFleur                                                             Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 111                                                                 Monday           12:05-1:35
363-2005                                                                                   Wednesday         12:05-1:35
lafleur@beloit.edu                                                                    …or by appointment

A specter is haunting Beloit College—the specter of missed classes, half-empty classrooms, and disjointed learning. I have tolerated these patterns of vacuity in the past, but it has reached a point in which missed classes affect both the students who are absent and more punctual class members (who have to hear explanations for material and key points more than once). It also detracts from the pedagogical goals of not only our little course of study, but liberal education in general. 

From here on, attendance is required.

That means required.
[b] Late RF

I expect regular attendance and participation in class, and anything short of that will result in significant penalties. I will take attendance during every class session, and students will be expected to be on time and respectful of the length of breaks. While this may seem draconian, it is simply meant as a way to create a positive learning environment.

Class Attendance
You are expected to attend every class session during the term. Period. This is not a policy that “allows” one or two (or three) “misses.” Short of significant illness, or a major—catastrophic—event, you must be in class. 

Class will begin promptly at the top of the hour,* and there will be a short quiz at that time.  All quizzes will be collected fifteen minutes later. Be in class on time and use your fifteen minutes for the quiz.
*At the "quarter hour" for the Confucius seminar.

Please note (the following information is new):
Class attendance and participation is expected. 
More than two missed classes will result in the loss of a letter grade for the course.
Five or more missed classes will result in an F grade for the course.
 ***  ***
Class time will cover significant issues that go beyond the foundation of materials you have been assigned. Much of this material will be on the quizzes and the exams. 

Occasionally, it will happen that you are not able to be in class, no matter what. These occasions should be rare, occurring for most students once or twice every third semester, and only a handful of times during an entire college education (I am not kidding).

Attendance matters.
[c] Portal RF

When absences do happen, send me an e-mail message letting me know. Please note the wording. Do not ask me for “permission.”  Do not plead for “leniency.” I prefer to deal with these matters the way members of any civil society would—with a sense of decorum and mutual respect. That is ultimately how I will evaluate your attendance. It is really quite simple to tell the difference between not being able to pry oneself away from Madden NFL 25® (or searching for Pokémon) and experiencing an illness or loss. Don’t be too “personal” in your e-mail messages. I don’t want to pry, and I don’t need explanations (or, worse yet, excuses). Just let me know the situation and move on.

Class Participation
By “participation,” I mean being fully engaged in the lecture or discussion. This may or may not include active voicing of opinions or interpretations. In short, I do not belong to the school of thought that equates “talking” with participation and “silence” with lack of engagement. It is easy enough, after twenty years of teaching, to see the exceptions. What I seek is solid preparation, engagement with the subject under discussion, and (eventually) evidence in your writing that these things have come together.


I expect you to listen to my (and your peers’) comments, and to add your interpretations whenever you feel compelled to do so. The best advice is for students to push their “comfort zones” a little. If you are inclined to speak often, pull back (a little) and listen. If you rarely speak, push yourself to do so.
[d] Gathering RF

You need to have the required books with you for class discussion. In cases for which reserve materials have been necessary, you need at least a series of notes to which you can refer during our discussions. Reading books on reserve (or leaving it to the last minute) is never a valid reason for being unprepared.

Calling on PeopleAfter an initial “getting acquainted” process, I will start calling on people. This will never be punitive, and will only occasionally create (unwittingly) the kind of “I-don’t-know/deer-in-the-headlights” situation that makes everyone uncomfortable…for about ten seconds. I plan to get people talking about the materials with a minimum of fuss and worry—and will explain the process once the course gets underway.

Note-Taking
 The most important part of the “participation” expectation is note-taking. I want you to explore various note-taking skills as part of your expanding liberal arts education. You will more than occasionally hear me say “write that down.” That is for emphasis. I expect all students to develop note-taking strategies so that they have useful materials for further analysis when writing papers or studying for exams.

Laptops and Classroom Computers
There will be no use of laptop or classroom computers during class time (or tablets or phones). I realize that taking notes on computers can be a useful practice, but I would like to emphasize a number of other note-taking strategies in our class. Part of a liberal education lies in pushing one’s boundaries. Experiment with various note-taking strategies. The only possible exception to this policy will be for clearly stated (mostly medical) needs.

Keep your laptop (and tablet and phone) in your bag during class.
[e] Connected RF

You may do a quick check of e-mail and social media during break if you wish, but you must complete your work before class resumes (with time to spare).

Occasionally during class something will come up that might benefit from a quick on-line search. In those cases (these seem to occur a handful of times during the term), I may give permission for people to do a quick in-class check.  Such times are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, we will be engaged in a distant intellectual world of books and paper. It will be a healthy contrast to our “connected” worlds.

I shouldn’t even have to say it, but turn off your phones…and everything else.

I fully realize that this is a great deal of legalistic material to handle at once. A single, sensible thread runs through all of it, though—a learning community that is engaged in examining old questions and pondering the new. Or, as Confucius was said to have said:

溫故而知新可以為師矣
Acquire new knowledge while pondering the old, 
and you may become a teacher of others

[f] Teaching RF