Monthly Archives: January 2015

ATB Financial CEO visits the Faculty of Arts

Dave Mowatt, the President and CEO of ATB Financial, is coming to the University of Calgary campus on Monday Feb 2, 2015. From 2:30-3:30 in the Arts Students Lounge (SS103), he’ll speak to Faculty of Arts students on the topic of “Leading at the Entry Level and Beyond.”

Come learn how your Arts degree can be applied in the finance sector. Networking to follow.

Registration is through CareerLink > Career Services > Event Calendar

Why take popular culture seriously?

A Speakeasy sponsored by the Faculty of Arts


When + Where: Monday 9 February 2015, 5pm, Faculty of Arts Lounge (SS104)


Is popular culture mere entertainment, or should we take it seriously? Scholars like Simon Frith argue that popular music is an imprint of the social forces that create it. It helps us understand our society, and even Shakespeare was popular in his day. But does Suzanne Collins belong on our bookshelves next to William Blake? Should our playlists shuffle between Mozart and Macklemore? Do Hollywood movies help us understand the world, or just escape from it?

Join us for a talk with faculty, food, and intoxicating conversation.

Confirmed Speakers

Dawn Johnston: Department of Communication, Media, and Film

Peter Dawson: Department of Anthropology and Archaeology

Darin Flynn: Department of Linguistics, Languages, and Cultures

Angie Chiang: Department of Communication, Media, and Film


Teaching + Learning News 2.05

2015-01-07: The NSSE Edition

Semi-regular reports on higher-education teaching and learning from the University of Calgary’s Faculty of Arts. By Michael Ullyot, Associate Dean (Teaching + Learning): saving your inbox from overload since 2014. Follow me on Twitter, if you do that sort of thing. 

This is a special edition of the newsletter, centred around the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE) results for the Faculty of Arts. That’s followed by the regular sections of this newsletter: News and Announcements, Workshops, Speakeasies, and Consult your Colleagues.

Feedback and submissions are always welcome. Leave a comment below, or drop me a line.


Welcome to Winter 2015! If you’re like me, the start of term next week is coming too quickly. I’m in Vancouver for the MLA Convention, but still need to wrap up a few things from last semester before restarting next week. (It’s never too late.) And I’ve been ruminating and writing about the purpose of an academic blog and the intellectual virtues we teach our students; about the audiobooks I’ve heard and the books I’ve left unread; and (in preparation for next week) the ideas I’m teaching about Shakespeare and the badge system I’m using for student participation.

If 2015 is going to be a productive year, let’s start with a look back at what we can learn from 2014.

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Lend me your earbuds

A word, if you will, in praise of the audiobook.

I’m listening now, for the second time with my second child, to the 7-book 20+hour Harry Potter series, read by the incomparable Stephen Fry. Fry’s voice is like treacle pudding, warm and inviting. (He’s particularly good at bears, from Pooh to Paddington.)

But you don’t need a treacly voice to charm listeners; a good story will do it just as well. Roald Dahl’s pinched and prickly voice reading of his Fantastic Mr Fox was my childhood favourite – and though it’s hard to find today (even his official web site disavows it), it’s in regular rotation in my house.

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Intellectual Virtues and Graduate Attributes

What intellectual habits do universities promote? We train students to become experts in various subjects, to earn the intellectual autonomy we earned in our time.

Is it an over-reach to say that we train students in intellectual virtues?

Virtue’s a loaded term, loaded with blustery moral overtones. I use it in the sense that David Brooks gives it. He takes it (from a 2007 book) to mean an impassioned curiosity and openness to new knowledge, tempered by the intellectual courage of your convictions: a steadiness of principle, unswayed by the whims of fashion, tempered by a humility that recognizes the value of new information. (I’m paraphrasing.) He also describes the virtues of autonomy and generosity.

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Books I Own but have not Read: 2

Second in a series on the unread books on my teeming shelves.

The Cambridge Book of Lesser Poets (1927) is probably the least auspicious title on my small shelf of clothbound anthologies.
2015-01-04 09.47.56

And deliberately so. Its editor J. C. Squire deliberately contrasts it with Quiller-Couch’s Oxford Book of English Verse or Palgrave’s Golden Treasury. Those were the Norton Anthologies of their day: the canon of recognized poetic genius and all that, the most widely admired and recited poems.

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Shakespeare’s big ideas

Fourth post in a series on designing and delivering my intro-Shakespeare course for 160 undergraduates, starting this month. 

Does Shakespeare studies have a few cardinal ideas that everyone should know? Let’s see: there are his three main genres (comedy, tragedy, history); and his reputation as a natural, unschooled genius. There’s the tension between his plays and his non-dramatic poetry, and the historical temptation to read them for biographical details.

You get the idea. The point is, it’s hard to imagine teaching Shakespeare without touching on a set of common ideas. Ask a hundred scholars to free-associate and we’ll come up with a pretty comprehensive list of knowledge we want our students to possess by the end of a course – at least, an introductory course.

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