Author Archives: Professor Sample

About Professor Sample

Mark Sample is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at George Mason University, where he researches and teaches contemporary and experimental literature, electronic literature, graphic novels, and videogames.

Teaching Presentation Tips

Now that we’re moving into the second round of teaching presentations, I hope you’ll take the time to read through the first group’s thoughts about their presentations.

I’ll readily admit that it’s an awkward task I’m asking you to perform: part teaching, part breaking the fourth wall of teaching in order to provide context. Another way to think about your 30 minutes in front of the classroom is as an experiment. You’re the researcher and we are your guinea pigs. Seriously. Think of the students in the class as a capable and willing audience, at your disposal to try out ideas inspired by our readings and discussions this semester. If you’re an aspiring or new teacher, think of the presentation as a chance to try out a teaching persona. And above all else, think of this as a chance to learn from each other in a constructive and inviting environment.

Unreliable Narrators

I wanted to pass on the classic description of an “unreliable narrator,” which Sarah had dug up. This comes from a foundational work in literary studies, Wayne Booth’s The Rhetoric of Fiction (1961):

Our terminology for this kind of distance in narrators is almost hopelessly inadequate. For lack of better terms, I have called a narrator reliable when he speaks for or acts in accordance with the norms of the work (which is to say, the implied author’s norms), unreliable when he does not. . . [when]the narrator is mistaken, or believes himself to have qualities which the author denies him. …

Unreliable narrators thus differ markedly depending on how far and in what direction they depart from their author’s norms…

…At one extreme we find narrators whose every judgment is suspect. At the other are narrators scarcely distinguishable from the omniscient author. In between lies a confused variety of more-or-less reliable narrators, many of them puzzling mixtures of sound and unsound.

Welcome to ENGL 610

Welcome to the class blog for ENGL 610:001 (Spring 2010), at George Mason University. This site will be an essential component of the course…as you will soon discover.

If you are a student in ENGL 610:001, you can go ahead and register for the blog. You may also browse the class guidelines and calendar.

I’d like to hit the ground running on the first day of class, so please note that everyone should read the following article prior to Wednesday: Lee Schulman on “Taking Learning Seriously,” published by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

See you Wednesday at 4:30 in 131 Innovation Hall!