Virtual office hours

Last week of classes
Monday, Dec 1 – 3-5pm Done!
Wednesday, Dec 3 – 2-3pm Done!
Thursday, Dec 4 – 2-3pm Done!
Dead week
Mon, Dec 8 – 3-5pm
Weds, Dec 10 – 3-5pm
Fri, Dec 12 – 4-5pm
*These times are all open as appointment slots on my calendar so if you want my undivided attention for a G-chat or similar consultation, please book an appointment.
We can try Skype or Google Hangouts for synchronous conversations during online office hours, but G-chat (beck.wise@utexas.edu) / IM is likely to be a better solution (not entirely sure what my internet access will be like during some of these — potentially slow or patchy). We can also just do rapid-response email.

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Vulnerability and Strength

There’s an intense vulnerability that comes with stepping into a classroom, whether as a student or as an instructor. In a classroom, you’re asked to put yourself out there in very challenging ways, to confront the limits of your knowledge and experience, and to push past those perceived boundaries into the unknown.

After awhile, you come to take it for granted, to forget that you’re asked to be vulnerable just by stepping through the door. This is just how it is, right? A natural state? And of course we bluff through it; we all do. Admitting vulnerability is a whole ‘nother level to experiencing it.

But let me go ahead and admit: we’re all vulnerable in the classroom. It’s scary and uncomfortable, and the challenge we all face, together, is not necessarily to become comfortable — and certainly not complacent — but rather to find a way to be productively uncomfortable. To remain vulnerable, keeping in mind that vulnerability is a synonym for openness; to remain open to new ideas, new concepts, new approaches.

As an instructor, the vulnerability looks and feels a bit different to what I experience as a student (lifelong learner here!) and it felt particularly acute at times this semester. My aim with this self-reflection is to trace out some of that vulnerability and how it has operated productively for me during our time together.

But before I do that, I want to take a minute to again thank each and every one of you for your intense labour and deep engagement with our course material (our texts and our conversations) this semester, even and especially when it wasn’t easy — as indeed it often wasn’t. Y’all were open to so much this semester, made yourselves vulnerable, trusted each other — and as a result, as you are all noting in your individual reflections, each of you have grown in different ways. It has been a genuine pleasure to be with you on this journey and a privilege to be a part of it. Thank you.

More below the cut — this is long-ish!

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as our time together draws to an end…

Hey y’all! I just wanted to start by thanking everyone such a great semester. I was initially super nervous to take this class. I’m a science major. I actually enjoy lecture classes with a hundred other people. So basically taking a 20-person discussion based class was out of my comfort zone to say the least. I don’t think I actually looked at the course title before I signed up. My thought was, if it fits my schedule and I get the writing flag I need, what’s the difference?

However, if I went into our classroom on the first day with expectations, this class would have far surpassed them. I greatly enjoyed our discussions. They challenged my beliefs or challenged me to have a belief on things I had previous been on the fence about or unaware of. Everyone had such different opinions, each with their own merit, and it was interesting to sit back sometimes and just soak it all in. I loved that our classroom was a safe place to share our views; no one was judged or discredited for having a differing opinion. In fact, it was welcomed.

I loved the books we read, especially in the ways they were able to pose problems that plague our society. I enjoyed how each novel introduced us to a futuristic or alien world that was so unlike ours in many ways. However they were able to address problems of our society, such as hierarchies and gender issues, in a way that didn’t alienate me as a reader. In response, I have definitely grown. I am much more aware of these issues and how they effect my own experiences. The assignments definitely challenged me as a writer and I am very grateful for it.

Thanks for such a positive experience everyone! Have a great (or at least not too stressful) end of semester and a happy holiday break! (Maybe I’ll continue to broaden my horizons and finally try the eggnog).

-Emily

Self-Reflection

I had very few expectations, in regards to this class, before the semester started. I came in very open minded yet also very reserved as a person. The class discussions thoroughly engaged the whole class and helped to be a very open place for thoughts and beliefs. The discussions and positions brought up during the discussion were eye-opening and and made me think of things in new ways. I enjoyed the participation of the class and how active people were throughout the class. The discussion was a positive experience for me and helped me become more educated on topics I didn’t know too much about.

Another aspect of an English class is the writing. I would never call myself a talented writer but I would describe my writing as “competent” or “average”. It has never been one of my strong suits and this class helped me to develop as a writer. The peer edits and the analysis from the professor were very helpful and aided in improving my papers and writing assignments.

Overall I had a great time in the class while also managing to gain a large amount of knowledge about the world. I appreciate the time and effort put in by everyone and I hope y’all accomplish great things!

Final Post!

Bonjour Tout le monde! I am sad that this class is over. All in all it has been a great semester where I have been challenged and pushed to think deeper about what it means to be a woman, a female, (a man?) and a human.

I found the topics covered in this class to be challenging and it pushed me to reevaluate not only my views of the world but also my view of my past. I am grateful for the supportive environment that Beck and y’all all offered as I openly explored ideas. I love that the class discussions were a safe place to bring up taboo topics (animal love anyone?) and hammer out the details.

Before this class I valued being nonjudgemental and loving towards everyone. However I grew up in an annoyingly conservative home and I found that some of those restrictive ideas still lingered. It was nice to have some things cleared up for me and to gain a better appreciation and understanding of people and what it really means to be accepting and loving towards others.

What’s cool is that not only did my worldview expand but my writing techniques also improved. It’s cheesy, but I loved the rewriting opportunities and found that I was able to immensely improve my papers as I zeroed in on and clarified ideas. The skill of being able to communicate more efficiently is something that I will take away from this course.

Enjoy Winter Break! Love Y’all!

The Crazy One,

-Madeline Haynes

Oh how time flies

Hello, lovelies! It’s been a great semester with you guys, I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Not only getting to know all of you, but also having a central topic of something that is really important in today’s society. It was so great being able to have an open forum about topics that are difficult to talk about and share different opinions, thoughts and beliefs. I know for a fact that I’ll never face sexism as a male, but its nice being able to talk openly about things and to hear ideas that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. I think I came to have a deeper understanding of the female struggle- one that has quite literally been there since like the dawn of time- and while I’ve always held feminist views there were things brought up in the class that I have never considered before, but I’m a different person for it.  Everyone had such diverse opinions on things, and I think it’s a real testament to our class that even though we did have our differences in opinions that we never disrespected each other or anything of the sort.

The material was far more enticing than I originally thought it would be- it really drew me in and made me think about things that I’ve never thought about before. It allowed me to consider things outside of my normal view of the world, and brought new material to my life that I would probably have never encountered (namely Tank Girl). I wanna give a shout out to the real MVP- our fabulous instructor, Beck Wise. You really allowed us to thrive in this small little place that we managed to call our classroom, you’ve guided us and brought fresh ideas for us to play around with, and never once did you stifle our discussions or our thoughts, and in general you were just super rad and badass.

I’m so glad that I signed up for this class, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced something like it before, but it was a fantastic place to learn. Thanks everyone for being awesome and fantastic and lovely, as you all are. I wish you all the best on your finals and other classes and whatever else you decide to do with yourselves. Stay beautiful! And groovy, also.

-Peter

Reflection

Honestly, I knew this class would be awesome when I signed up. Does that sound uppity or something? My bad. But it’s true! I remember signing up for classes (I was at the last orientation before school started, so NOTHING was open). I saw this class and nabbed it without even knowing its focus was on feminist speculative fiction, but when I found out I was PSYCHED. A writing course where we get to read text actually written by women?! Too cool.

What I hadn’t predicted was how interactive and interesting our class discussions would be. From the first day, it was apparent that we had all the right stuff for a great discussion group (for example: people talk!). It was always such a pleasure to get involved in whatever issue we were talking about, and I was surprised with the multitude of viewpoints. To be a part of a class that was able to actually be honest with what they thought was truly remarkable, and it was so great to feel 100% safe and comfortable in the environment we created for ourselves.

As far as self reflection goes, I definitely know more about different issues now. Who would have thought that almond milk was so evil? The scheduling of these writing assignments have also been beneficial, to be given something to write about each week has challenged me (in a good way).

It was such a joy to be a part of this class, thanks to everyone who made it so ~groovy~.

– Sydney

Self-reflection

This semester feels like it’s flown by. This class was nice because it never had too much work or any difficult material and it was so interesting.I think the discussions were cool because we were talking about real world issues that really mattered to all of us instead of just talking about random things that happen in the book. I think the class as a whole did such a great job of really getting into the discussions and generating so many interesting ideas and viewpoints which then helped me to start thinking of the deeper meaning of things and how pretty much every issue we have talked about effects everyone. It was interesting to see how so many different things I was already interested in and cared about connected to each other through feminism. This class was important because it wasn’t just about picking up things in a book and writing about them, but it was addressing real world problems and explaining different perspectives and ideas.

I think I have grown over the semester because issues that I thought I could manipulate actually started to really annoy me. I always thought I could use the gender roles to my advantage but over the semester I have really become increasingly resistant to just operating within systems and instead I don’t want to have to account for that. I’ve also been able to find things that I really care about in this class, especially when writing. Usually my papers were just something I knew I could write about but I challenged myself throughout the semester to really figure out things that I personally thought were important or interesting and I ended up researching and learning a lot of really interesting things. I think I could have worked a little more on keeping up with the class. At times I would get a little behind in the reading and it was hard to catch up.

Overall this class was a great experience and it taught me a lot about different perspectives and really illustrated that there are different angles and methods to come at any problem.