Thursday, August 23, 2012

End of Summer Bummers: Which Way the August Wind Blows

In addition to teaching, I've been working as a department chair for the past two years. Just this semester, I've gotten used to the hectic pace of the first couple weeks of the semester. My main concerns this week (classes begin Monday) are to staff courses in which adjunct instructors found they couldn't cover those sections only recently and cancelling low enrolled classes. It's the latter that's become difficult this semester.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Thinking About Course Readings, Fall 2012

Since it’s back to school time, I’m reviewing my syllabi in preparation for getting the semester started. Further, yesterday I read through Jason Antrosio’s review of the reader, Applying Anthropology. Subsequently, I’ve decided the spend this post thinking about the mix of readings I plan to use this semester.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Robin's Lament: the Semiotic Limits of a Little Brother

Yesterday, my youngest son reached his second birthday. In his honor, I’m following up Holy Semiosis, Batman! with this brief addition.  Really though, the real reason i'm writing this post  is that once I started thinking in terms of interpretation and semiosis, I couldn’t stop.

Monday, August 13, 2012


Driving to work this morning, the radio was filled with examinations of Paul Ryan's budget proposals.  His focus on individualism and his disdain for any kind of meaningful social support systems struck me as fundamentally inhumane, in the broadest sense.  I'm not offering any lengthy discussion here, but Ryan's fairy tale vision of a nation brimming with little  Horatio Algers being held back by taxes and regulation makes me sick.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Holy Semiosis, Batman!

Iconic Interpretation
Obvious, isn't it?
This morning, my four year old son was deep into a shadow puppet performance of some kind of robot-on-Joker conflict, when he noticed an unexpected shadow of a small, toy dalmatian dog. He exclaimed, “hey, it’s Batman.” I took a look and for a few seconds couldn’t tell what he was talking about, but then my eyes found the shape and I saw a vague resemblance between the shadow and some version of the Batmobile (I know, it’s a bit like a Rorschach test). Then, a few seconds later, I was struck, “hey, that’s a Peircian icon and index!” I was then struck by what a complex cognitive process this kind of semiosis, or meaning making, is and how amazing that my superhero-obsessed son could do it so easily, and in doing so, demonstrate an essential part of being human.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Discarded Bagels and Bags

Every once in awhile, different threads of teaching randomly come together and generate new understandings and ways to communicate to students. In this post, I’ll describe how I found myself weaving together cultural relativism, archaeological method and criticisms of capitalism in ways that fostered my own insight and I hope can be used as teaching tools.