Category Archives: school

Curriculum Theory

One of the 3 classes I have this semester is Curriculum Theory. Basically all semester we’ve been ready about the different ideas and philosophies that people have used to create the content that we teach students. We’re focusing on U.S. curriculum theories, so that makes the learning curve different. It also helps explain some of the rationale behind my teachers’ decisions while I was in K-12, which is always fun.

I’m going to be posting a series of journals that connect to the readings we did for class. I’ll be connecting my initial thoughts to events that have happened outside of the classroom, as well as to the discussions we had in class. Yay reading and learning!

This, too, shall pass

blossoms framing Alice in Wonderland sculptureThe title is a reminder to myself. It’s family mantra, much like the Stark’s “Winter is Coming” (and at times equally as tragic). It’s an affirmation that nothing is permanent, as well as an encouragement to endure the rough patches and embrace the moments of joy, because both are fleeting and will be gone in another breath.

Tonight was night 2 of First Day of School for my new Ph.D. program (sidenote – I’m beginning a Ph.D. program in Education with an emphasis in Curricular and Cultural Studies. This will probably come up again over the next 4-ish years, just a guess). And the class for this night is basically “Welcome to this Ph.D. program in Education! Here’s everything you’ll be expected to know!” This is a great class to have; tonight I am overwhelmed, though, because I feel terribly behind in my base knowledge for my new discipline.

A large reason for this feeling grows from switching fields. I have a M.A. in English, which means I know how to read very well, and I can write well in the MLA format. Education is an entirely different beast. My reading skills transfer over, but the discipline uses APA, which is in many ways opposite to MLA, so I will have to re-learn how to write somewhat. And my experience with The Canon will only be mildly helpful.

I was sitting in class tonight, listening to the professors go over the expectations and the assignments for this class and realized how large the gaps in my knowledge are for this field. And I started to panic a bit.

So I’m doing what I always do when I know that I am spiraling into a dark pit even Hamlet would avoid, I’m writing. And I’m writing here, because if I’m getting a Ph.D., I have to get more comfortable with the idea of people reading me.

I have similar concerns and doubts with every degree. The rational part of me knows that I will succeed, and that Future Chandra will look back on Current Chandra and laugh at how stressed out I am in this moment. But I’m still Current Chandra, which means I have a tremendous amount of reading to catch up on so that I can stand in a place where I can be Future Chandra laughing at this moment some day. Because this, too, shall pass.

The Year of Adventures Continues!

Collecting books for readers in the reserve stacks, 1964I’ve cataloged some of my adventures here already, with the promise of updates to come. But I have a new one starting this fall.

I’ll be embarking on a PhD program!

The thing about this is that I’m moving from English to Education. English is still my first love; it’s just Education is proving to be more open to my crazy ideas. And I think that policy discussions surrounding Education provide more opportunities to make significant changes. Plus, it’s a PhD program, so I’ll still get to read a lot (They warned us it could be up to 200 pages per class per week assigned. I almost laughed out loud).

So soon I will be back in school and I can’t wait to wander around with stacks of books again! And getting buried in research! And writing papers! I’m super excited.

Here’s to the next adventure!


GRE – the last standarized test

freeway sunsetSo this morning before work, I stopped into my local GRE testing center to take what I will now always refer to as “The Last Standardized Test”. It isn’t for everyone (suckers who want to get into medical school or go on to become lawyers), but it is for me!

I’m very excited about this. Realistically, there is a small chance I will have to retake the exam, because ETS (the company that makes it) just revised the exam. As in they switched over last month. But my scores using the old system fell into the necessary range for the grad schools I’m applying to, so as long as my scores transfer well, I’m done!

Which is great because I hate standardized tests. I always have. In first grade, my mom had to come in and talk me down from the fit I threw so that I could take the test. Part of my difficulty stems from viewing the exams as essentially a waste of time I could be reading. But I have also always had a problem knowing what to answer because the questions are frequently worded vaguely.

I know making us reason through the question is the point, but this becomes quite problematic with the regional differences of the exam creators and Southern California. Autumn is not the time that leaves change color and fall from trees; it’s the time of year the open spaces (and more often houses) burn. And no one ever includes how very itchy, static electricity accompanies the fall winds. And of course you can wade across a river and creeks are dry more often than not.

I’ve been quite resistant, but I sat through the dumb exam. I had everything against me too. I didn’t get enough sleep; I hadn’t studied enough; I was stressed because I couldn’t print out an admission ticket; I got stuck in traffic; I didn’t eat breakfast; I didn’t have any caffeine. But apparently, that’s what I needed in order to just complete the task.

But now all of that is behind me. Now I just have to finish my applications. Minor hurdles…

UCI features Ervin Meneses

Domestic science laboratory in Hartford Public High School, Hartford, CT. No date given, but ...

You probably don’t know who Ervin Meneses is. He’s a high school student that comes to my work constantly. He’s dedicated and working hard to make it to college.

He has spent this summer working at University of California, Irvine, for Dr. Reginald Penner, one of the chemistry professors. And UCI interviewed him and wrote a good, though occasionally slightly sensationalist, piece on him. It’s a featured article on their website! From the article:

Each weekday, after donning purple gloves, a white lab coat and goggles, Ervin starts to work. His mission: to grow gold-coated filaments 1,000th the width of a human hair. Creating nanowires is a tough, tedious task that stumps even veteran researchers, says his mentor, Jung Yun Kim, a third-year graduate student. But Ervin never gives up.

“He’s really something else,” says Kim. “I feel more motivated to work every day he’s here. He is so full of life.”

This kid is brilliant, and I’m so happy that he took the opportunity to work at UCI. And it was really fun to read about him here. I hope you get to have moments like this. It makes the day brighter.

*the photo is from Cornell University’s Flickr stream.

M.A. Project “Continuing the Conversation”

After all this time researching, complaining, writing, avoiding, editing, and drinking more coffee than can possibly be good for a human I have finally finished my M.A. Project*.

My project basically argues that the communication technology available today is blending the lines between author and reader. This isn’t a bad thing. So I hope you enjoy it!

Continuing the Conversation (heads up – it’s a Microsoft Word .doc)
Creative Commons License
Continuing the Conversation: How Communication Technology Impacts Traditional Roles by Chandra Jenkins is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License

I have to thank Cory Doctorow and Scott Sigler because my project couldn’t have worked without them. And if you’re a neglected family member or friend, I owe you way more than a thanks on my blog!

*Yes, it is basically a thesis. Yes, there is a really boring, technical reason why the English Deptarment at CSUF can’t call it a thesis. No, I don’t really know what that reason is.


The amount of things that I could say about grading would overrun Orange County’s coastline. It always stresses me out. Recently it has made me want to cry because I have had so much to do.

And then I read one of the essays and I nearly did cry.

Sometimes when I read what the students have to say, I get really excited because they are very smart and see the world in a way that makes me hopeful for the world. There have been a few times that the students have been so on target and so insightful that I’ve almost blogged about it (and next time that happens I will post about it). But this time, it wasn’t the insightfulness that made me emotional.

To be completely fair, I had a stack of grading to get through, and I was feeling more than a little overwhelmed. With two sets of essays, four sets of responses (mini-essays), and all the family obligations that come with Thanksgiving, along with my own work, I had more than enough to keep me busy for the break. So by the time I got to this essay, I was a little on edge. But I’m fairly certain that I would have reacted badly no matter the situation.

See, this essay was about how people who are homosexual shouldn’t be allowed to marry because it goes against what the Bible says.

Sure, I had to deal with an essay that goes against what I believe, but that wasn’t my issue. I can handle lots of dissenting opinions, and I whole-heartedly embrace differing view-points. I had already gone through lots of essays that presented ideas that disagree with my own. So it wasn’t the view-point. They were actually very clear about their view-point which I respected. What made me ill reading it, and what made me want to cry when I’d finished it, was the presentation of a bigoted perspective in a tone of absolute righteous wrath. The phrases they used, the words they chose to describe their perspective absolutely astounded me. Sentences that made it seem as though God hated anyone who was different (from normal I can only assume since they didn’t explain, though I’m not sure what normal is); phrases that said homosexuals were monsters and implied they deserved their mis-treatment; and overall the idea that people who truly believed in God would never question what was written in the Bible. It makes my heart hurt to think about the fact that I would read these words anywhere, but it makes me ill that I read these ideas in a student paper.

And it was through processing this that I realized that what I really face every time I grade – I face setting aside my personal understanding of the world so that I can focus on what the students are saying and the way they are communicating it. And while that is difficult, what makes it overwhelming is that I can see where their biases show through like beacons on a dark night. And to top it all off, I can see that they don’t even notice their biases or how those impact their writing. But they are freshmen and most of them are true freshmen, right out of high school, so my comfort is that with more experience with life, they will perhaps see their biases.

But that may just be my own bias.

I created another blog

Hi everybody! Don’t worry, I’m not giving up this blog, I’ve just created another one. I’m teaching an English 101 class, and for their fifith essay I have them creating blogs. Since I post more personal writings on this blog, and the intent of the assignment is for them to create a blog in conversation with what they see going on in blogs, I decided it would just be easier to create another one. And I’m posting about this addition here because it will be a blog that I’ll upkeep to facilitate an aspect of the internet that I love – the videos! The focus of the new blog is to share the random videos that I find online. I figure that will let me stick to more English-y things here, and I will now have a place to post the random videos I love. So feel free to check it out at  It’s not a particularly inventive blog, but again I just wanted a forum that I could use as an example for the students, but that I could still be entertained by.

“We Are Wizards”

The Christian Science Monitor has a blog post from Marjorie Kehe about a new documentary on the world of Harry Potter fans called “We Are Wizards.” She says in the introduction:

When it comes to Harry Potter enthusiasts, it’s a wacky world out there. Parents, of course, want their kids to learn to love to read. But could it really be a good thing for anyone to obsess over any books the way some young readers do over Harry Potter? This is a question you may find yourself asking as you watch “We Are Wizards,” Josh Koury’s documentary film released in theaters last week about some of Harry Potter’s more, well, let’s say “dedicated” fans.

I’ll be honest – I’m excited for this. I enjoy documentaries, and I have found that the ones that follow people who are completely devoted to fantasy worlds are fantastic. I hope it’s as good as “Trekkies” because that will only make the Harry Potter fan-world even better, especially for Harry Potter scholars.

What I’m doing with my life (for the moment)

So someone earlier asked what this blog was about and I told them it was pretty much whatever I wanted to share, but that really this blog was all kinda connected by language that I find interesting. And then I thought that I could use this blog to get feedback on my master’s thesis idea. So I’m going to post my proposal here. I hope you enjoy it and share your ideas. (and the title will be revised because I really don’t like it as it stands)

Community Authors: How Authors Use Others to Develop Texts


            Editors often take the brunt of scholarly critique of corrupted texts; however, they are not the only ones who meddle with a text either during its composition, the process of a text’s production, or in the interpretation of the text. Friends, family, printers, typesetters, other authors, scholars, and readers all interact with the text and introduce their own variants through marking on the text or reading it. In the first half of the twentieth century, Modernists authors shared their manuscripts with one another. Marianne Moore exemplified this in her sharing of manuscripts with contemporary authors such as H.D., Ezra Pound, and T. S. Eliot. With communication broadening through the internet and the digitization of the twenty-first century, this group sharing and editing has expanded to online blog communities as authors, such as Cory Doctorow, publish drafts of their work on their personal websites, blogs, and podcasts. Through this technological change the debate about the role of the author(s), editor(s), and readers becomes more fluid. For textual scholars, such as Jack Stillinger, D.C. Greetham, and George Bornstein, who build the case that there has never been a single author, the shift of writing communities to an online forum illustrates their argument and forces literary critics to deal more directly with the readers’ ability to change the meaning of the text.

            Editing theory has developed to focus on deciding who acts as the responsible party for determining the meaning of a text. In response to the discussion of the authorial role in defining textual meaning, current editorial theory places an emphasis on the way the historical and personal context of the author affect the meaning and interpretation of a text. This examination has only recently shifted to value all versions of the text from the author’s life rather than elevating one version, typically the first or last, of a text as the most authorized (Bornstein, Editing Matters). While Greetham explains the theoretical path in “Editorial and Critical Theory: Form Modernism to Postmodernism” that led to this revisionist view, Bornstein discusses the ways that the exploration of the stages of textual development affect the potential interpretation in Material Modernism. By looking holistically at what surrounded the text in production throughout the author’s life, as well as production that occurred, and continues to occur, after the author’s death, Bornstein and those who follow him seek to understand how, and in what ways, the meaning shifts over the course of a text’s existence. While this type of investigation has more firmly set guidelines for studying physical manuscripts, the rules for dealing with the nearly complete digital production of texts have yet to develop similar conventions. Kathryn Sutherland’s Electronic Text: Investigations in Method and Theory, as well as Graham Barwell’s “Original, Authentic, Copy: Conceptual Issues in Digital Texts,” emphasize the ways moving to digital format affects texts and the reader’s interaction. Published research tends to focus on the ways readers of digital texts are affected by the format rather than the ways readers affect digital texts.  

       Scholarly focus to date has primarily looked at the application of making older, canonical and non-canonical, texts widely available. The shift to electronic texts has concerned most scholars, such as Peter L. Shillingsburg, primarily in the ways that electronic versions would allow readers to easily see the broader scope of textual transmission.  While some scholars have voiced concern about the degradation of the older texts that are transferred to electronic formats, there have been few scholars discussing the ways that electronic texts of new literature and their dissemination over the internet affect the development of the text. With newer authors utilizing their readers to shape works in progress in venues such as blogs, the future of literary studies from several critical frameworks will be even more difficult to apply than its current state.  The online and electronic formats of the text make the determination of meaning directly connected to the discussion between the author and the reader, both figuratively and literally. With the ease that readers are able to access the manuscripts of older works, as well as the authors of current works, the position of literary theorist is expanding to include those who have no formal training in the field of English. Regardless of how this broadening affect of the electronic text is viewed, the ability of any reader to look through the manuscripts of any text poses questions for scholars concerning how this affects the theoretical views of the role of the reader in assigning meaning to texts.

            In an effort to better understand the ways that texts have been influenced by fellow author-editors, my first chapter will look at the text of Moore’s Poems and the course it followed throughout in its production stages. Moore wrote a prolific number of letters concerning her work to her family and editors. She also kept a great number of her own papers that she arranged to have stored at the Rosenbach Museum and Library. Using the letters and other texts that surround the development of Poems, this chapter will focus on the ways Moore functioned with other authors to complete and publish her text.  Moore’s first book of poetry would not have existed without the unasked assistance of H.D. and Winifred Ellerman (Bryher). Through their editing and arrangement, H.D. and Bryher impacted the way readers interacted with the poems. Moore’s response to the unrequested interference with her work not only demonstrates the way Moore worked with H.D. and Bryher, but also highlights the connections she had with other authors. Moore’s letters demonstrate that she communicated with T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound about her work and the further development of Poems. Through the letters she wrote, Moore leaves a record of how she worked with this small writing community. This chapter will examine the ways that these written discussions impacted Moore’s revisions. This community relied on the postal service of the day to create the collaborative works that we continue to study; the writing communities today have moved to the internet and other technologies to communicate and collaborate.

            For authors searching for an easy to contact collaborative group, technology provides the most user friendly format. My second chapter will look at ways the technological changes affect the current production of fiction texts. Focusing on current author Cory Doctorow, who lives his publishing life online through his website, group blog, and podcasts, I will look at the ways readers have changed his texts from beginning drafts, to publication, and after he has called them finished. By publishing his work online during the process, as well as after he has finished it, Doctorow invites comments from readers concerning the direction his work is taking which places them in a role parallel to an editor. These files then can be searched and compared by scholars to see the development of the work through Doctorow’s publishing even before the publisher’s release. Looking specifically at his newest work Little Brother, I will follow the development of the text through production in May, 2008. Doctorow’s work is also interesting in that he publishes all of his novels and most other work under a less restrictive Creative Commons copyright license which allows readers of his work to make derivative works of their own. These derivative works also get posted to the sites which host his original work unsettling his digital texts even more. Looking at his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, along with several of his more popular short stories, “Ownz0red,” “Other People’s Money,” and “Scroogled,” I will explore how this invitation to the reader to translate, incorporate, and create from his stories extends the community of influencers to unknown and anonymous readers and how this affects the authority of Doctorow as the author.

            My third chapter will focus on what the movement of texts to electronic formats and easily accessible forums means for the scholarly discussion about the source of meaning in texts. Allowing readers to have a more direct influence on the development of the text affects the meaning of the text in ways that make it difficult to place in context. Because the anonymous readers of online community pages have nearly impossible contexts to trace, what they say is as close as we get to authorless comments. Understanding the context of the comment thread and the historical context are the best that scholars get for authorial context. Yet this authorless comment potentially shifts the meaning of a text in production more than the traceable comments of the editor. As scholars begin to focus on the texts of authors who work in this unknowable fog of internet forums and comments, the question becomes which comment(s) affected the development of the text. The decision about the importance of the context of the comment author rests with these scholars, and the final chapter will offer some thoughts on how editors might handle the online communities in discussing the context of the text.

            As technology becomes more integral to the way we function, it becomes even more important for scholars to look ahead and see how it affects the development of texts. While research about technology primarily focuses on the ways moving texts from paper manuscripts to digital, the affect of readers on texts is an important aspect that has only recently begun to surface. The shift of small, fairly well known communities to the larger, anonymous online communities affect texts in ways that need more study. Tracing the authorial need for community in the development and production of texts from the first part of the twentieth century through the beginnings of the twenty-first century will demonstrate the areas that should be watched.