31 August is Ken Campbell Day: diddling and doodling, seekers, and radical education as seeking learning outcomes

It is time for the annual pilgrimage.

Like last year’s pilgrimage post, this post is a “sticky” one for a whole academic term, all the way to its end and the end of the calendar year. It contains various kinds of “stickiness” played out in three four Acts: I. revisiting 2017, II. 2018 and III. Campbellian education in action, and IV. 2019 and learning outcomes.

I’ve also added a few Anarcoos because it seemed appropriate and, well, to quote my first PhD supervisor: “why not?”


Today is the anniversary of the death of Ken Campbell, anarchist polymath genius.

Reader of everything. Writer. Performer. Creator. Stand up comedian, speculative fictioneer, improviser, paranomasiac, marvelling revelling adventurer in existence.

Public outreach educator and life-long learning experimenter in ways beyond the wildest imaginings of Proper Professionals in these fields before they or these fields even existed. The next time you consider using words like “innovation,” “innovative,” “innovator”: have some respect. Think first. Check with reference to Ken. If philology provides a theoretical meaning, it is Ken who provides—incarnates—a reference-point for lived active practice. (more…)

Translation, transformation, magical mid-points, and other werewolves


In the “Animal Reading” lecture this week, we had a backdrop of changing forest scenery while attempting werewolfish reading; today is under the sign of the dog, wolf, and werewolf.

References are to the Penguin Classics editions (Marie trans. Burgess, Montaigne trans. Screech), as this course is taught through English and using translations—with occasional reference, today for example, to the original—in readily-available cheap paperback, that can be obtained second-hand for little, as a compromise between keeping student costs down and retaining content and quality. ‪And having complete books—not dismembered extracts—out of ecosystemic respect.‬

From the syllabus:


  • TOPIC:
    Animals communicating with humans and reading them, anthropomorphic animals, and metamorphosing humans
    • Marie de France: Bisclavret, Yonec
    • Montaigne: I. 8, 11, 14, 36, 48 – II. 11, 27, 30
    • (+ II. 12 excerpts)


Meet the marvellous Marie de France (old notes)

Here are some old notes from January 2018, the last time I taught about Marie de France. I’m posting them here as they might be useful for someone else who’s just started to teach, or is teaching this term, or looking for some stuff to use (maps!) and is introducing this whole marvellous world to a new audience. A new audience who are intelligent imaginative adults, well-read in many areas including ones in which I am not. This kind of thing is way harder to think through, write, and attempt to communicate than detailed close reading. A true story from ancient history: it took me longer to write its introduction (which turned into an introduction and first chapter) than the rest of my doctoral dissertation; as it had to be passed not just by a panel of three specialist experts but by a whole French & Italian department.

Context here: a 300-level undergraduate Medieval Studies course on MARVELS.

Performance notes… (BNF NAF 1104 f. 1r)

Frogs splashing and hopping around: RMST 221B notes, Week 2, Thursday

Preamble or postscript: some more Kermit the Frog … (more…)

Reading frogsong

Lecture notes from RMST 221B, WEEK 2 (as image files crashed on Canvas and UBC Blogs site)

  • TOPIC:
    Introduction: starting small with a frog in a poem

    • context: a bigger picture, whole book, intertextual network of books and other knowledge, and ecosystem
    • reading ecosystemically
    Prologues, prefaces, and bodies of knowledge:

    • Marie de France Lais (+ Fables) prologues
    • Michel de Montaigne “To the reader”
    • + (guided reading in Thursday class) I.1, II.18, III. 2 & 8
    • + (online meanderings) bestiaries and other Big Books Of All Knowledge
  • TUESDAY: Introduction to the Marie & Montaigne introductions (Marie, “Prologue”; Montaigne, “To the reader”) and to this world; via frogs
  • THURSDAY: mainly Marie Lais “Prologue” + Montaigne “To the reader,” plus I.1 + excerpts from II.18, III.2, III.8 on what he’s doing and why; keeping frogs and their small stoical wisdom in mind
    • read Marie Lais prologue
    • read Montaigne “To the reader”
    • read Montaigne book I essay 1 and imagine that we are discussing frogs rather than humans
  • TO DO for next week: reading commentary on Canvas (commenting about this week’s Marie and Montaigne readings; one of the bonus readings at the end, an excerpt from the Pancatantra, provides an example of commenting on and discussing reading; there is also more information on Canvas)



RMST 221B para-syllabic extra: O’Brien’s gratuitous tips for student success while staying human (and animal)

folon-yestothought (more…)