Thursday, December 31, 2009


Harold Jaffe will present at the Google Authors Series on Friday, Feb 19, at noon, in San Francisco. Rushdie, Chomsky, Zizek, and other heavyweights have presented at Authors@Google.

Anyone who wants to attend should contact Hal so that he can give your name to Google; his guests will then be invited to lunch (on Google's tab).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Boys and their toys. Girls too.

Teachers know how difficult it is to persuade administrators to "allow" the use of technology in the classroom. It's perhaps a mark of envy that when I read "Don't knock blogging - it's an answer to our literacy problems" I knew it couldn't be about a high school in the U.S.A.
According to all the data, Daniel Moseley and Rahil Thobhani ought to hate writing. Educational research shows that many British schoolchildren are struggling with this basic skill, and that secondary school boys from poorer city areas are among those who flounder most.

But these two 11-year-olds sit in their school library talking passionately about letting their imaginations run riot, and how you can use suspense and dialogue to craft a good story.
Fortunately, we can assign blog writing to college students - who are also "struggling" with mastering writing. At the very least it will ensure they know how to do something other than play online games and copy-and-paste a research paper: Don't assume because they are twenty they are internet-literate (and don't assume because I'm fifty I'm not).

By the way, writing - online or offline - is a lifelong struggle for us all, which is as it should be.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Death in Texas

A pair of Amsterdam researchers, Andreas R.T. Schuck and Janelle Ward, published a study in Discourse and Society (Vol 19(1): 43–62) concerning the final statements of death row inmates in Texas.

Last statements of death row inmates represent a genre of discourse characterized by an acute situation in which to express final reflections. This article describes how Texas death row inmates give meaning to their situation by examining their last statements. Between December 1982 and November 2006, 379 offenders were executed on the Texas death row. Through the inspection of 283 last statements made available on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website, we identify strategies of self presentation.
Harold Jaffe's statements of Texas death row inmates, "Death in Texas," examines the variety of such statements, suggesting the differences in facing one's death. Not many people have a chance to sum up their lives, and these men and women are given a rare, privileged gift.