• Traveling

    A Journey to Hengshan Mountain

    We took the midnight express back to Chenzhou from Hengshan late Saturday night.  This meant getting dirty.  I once spent four years as a grunt.  Digging foxholes and wading through marshes was dirty work too.  I look back at this previous incarnation with nostalgia as I board a crowded train in which tickets were sold beyond seating capacity for people to stand or sit in the aisles.  The windows were sealed shut.  There was the sound of people hawking up snotty yellow mucous.  Chewed up sunflower seeds and cigarette butts scattered upon the floor.  Old men with rotten, nicotine stained teeth smoked in the thresholds between cars.  They came back…

  • Traveling

    36 Hours in Billings, MT

    While all of China took to the road and celebrated its 60th anniversary with a week long celebration I ducked out of the country for a quick trip to Billings, Montana.  The Rocky Mountain College Physician Assistant program had invited me for interview.  Though I was already missing teaching English literature and drama to my Chinese students at Xiangnan University in southern Hunan province, I was eager to purify myself with a sojourn to Big Sky Country.  That meant exploring the city and its environs, re-supplying, and doing things I couldn’t ordinarily do Chenzhou, Hunan:  like enjoy some fine wine and American microbrew. Chenzhou was a sprawling city that sprang…

  • Teaching

    Teaching British Romanticism in China

    I’ve been procrastinating. A recent trip to Montana left me in a swoon. Now it was just a Movable Feast.  But I needed to get back on track and prepare a lecture on American Romanticism & New England Transcendentalism. As I wrote this students were reading excerpts from The Scarlet Letter, The Raven, Song of Myself, &, Moby Dick. Each excerpt consisted of just 4-10 pages because that was all to their anthology. Luckily I was here to remedy the situation with my “traveling library”: 3 Norton anthologies, and several paperback novels. So this unit on Romanticism wrapped up the first half the semester. We started with Thoreau’s “Reading” to…

  • Podcasts

    Drama – Chinese students step up English skills

    I asked a Chinese professor at the university if a foreigner has ever taught Western drama to college seniors. He said he had never heard of it. A check on Google reveals nothing. I believe I am the first, which is quite an honor. This may be the result of students clamoring for more than basic English and literature to further sharpen their skills.

  • Podcasts

    The Government-Issued Literature Textbook

    I describe the government-issued anthology textbook for Chinese Students. It is good, but has the obvious deficiency of containing only snippets of the greater works. A story by Steinbeck, for example, has only one chapter.  So this is just one reason why I began the semester with an allegorical novel about following your dreams.