From Round to Square (and back)

For The Emperor's Teacher, scroll down (↓) to "Topics." It's the management book that will rock the world (and break the vase, as you will see). Click or paste the following link for a recent profile of the project:

A new post appears every day at 12:05* (CDT). There's more, though. Take a look at the right-hand side of the page for over four years of material (2,000 posts and growing) from Seinfeld and country music to every single day of the Chinese lunar calendar...translated. Look here ↓ and explore a little. It will take you all the way down the page...from round to square (and back again).
*Occasionally I will leave a long post up for thirty-six hours, and post a shorter entry at noon the next day.

Monday, January 22, 2018

New York Review of Books Questions, Spring 2018

On this date on Round and Square's History 
[a] Review RF
All Classes
Spring 2018
Robert André LaFleur                                                       Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 206                                                          Tuesday     3:00-5:00
363-2005                                                                             ...or by appointment              

New York Review of Books
Questions to Ask of Every Review

Questions such as these will be on the quizzes and in class discussions.

  1   What is the title?

  2   Who is the author (check the Table of Contents page…and maybe Google™)? 

  3   How is the bibliographical information organized? 

[b] Holes (in the argument) RF
  4   How is the essay divided? 

  5   How does the essay begin? 

  6   What is the end of the beginning? 

  7   How does the text end? 

  8   What is the beginning of the end?

  9   At what level is the essay written?  Who is the audience? 

10   What kind of essay strategies does the author use? 

11   What is the rhetorical role of illustrations in the text?
[c] Step-by-step RF

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Class Attendance Policy, Spring 2018

On this date in Round and Square History
21 January 2016—China's Lunar Calendar 2016 01-21
21 January 2015—Round and Square Syllabus 2015
21 January 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 01-21
21 January 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 01-21
21 January 2013—Channeling Liam: Book Weights
21 January 2012—Prairie Ethnography: The Thousand Ask Question (c)
[a] Standing at attendance RF
Class Attendance, Class Participation,
and Computer Use Policy
All Classes
Spring 2018

Robert André LaFleur                                              Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 206                                                  Tuesday     3:00-5:00
363-2005                                                                     ...or by appointment                                                                

A specter is haunting Beloit College—the specter of missed classes, half-empty classrooms, and disjointed learning. I have tolerated these patterns of vacuity in the past, but it has reached a point in which missed classes affect both the students who are absent and more punctual class members (who have to hear explanations for material and key points more than once). It also detracts from the pedagogical goals of not only our little course of study, but of liberal education in general. 

From here on, attendance is absolutely required.
[b] Late RF

I will expect regular attendance and participation in class, and anything short of that will result in significant penalties. I will take attendance during every class session, and students will be expected to be on time and respectful of the length of breaks. While this may seem draconian, it is simply meant as a way to create a positive learning environment.

Class Attendance
You are expected to attend every class session during the term. Period. This is not a policy that “allows” one or two (or three) “misses.” Short of significant illness, or a major—catastrophic—event, you must be in class. 

Class will begin promptly at the top of the hour, and there will be a quiz at that time.  All quizzes will be collected no later than twenty minutes after the hour. Be in class on time and use your twenty minutes for the quiz. Blank quizzes will be picked up at five minutes after the scheduled beginning of class. If you are later than that, you will receive the minimum score (70), although you are still encouraged to fill it out for your general academic benefit.

Please note (the following information is new):
Class attendance and participation is expected. 
More than four hours of missed classes will result in the loss of a letter grade for the course.
Ten or more hours of missed class will result in an F grade for the course.
 ***  ***
Class time will cover significant issues that go beyond the foundation of materials you have been assigned. In other words, you are supposed to prepare with the readings and then take the quizzes in order to think in new ways about that material. In the class that follows, we will take all of that preparation in new directions (that is the purpose of class, after all). Much of what we do in class will figure prominently on future quizzes and exams. 

Occasionally, it will happen that you are not able to be in class, no matter what. These occasions should be rare, occurring for most students once or twice every third semester, and only a handful of times during an entire college education (I am not kidding).

Attendance matters.
[c] Portal RF

When absences do happen, send me an e-mail message letting me know. Please note the wording. Do not ask me for “permission.”  Do not plead for “leniency.” I prefer to deal with these matters the way members of any civil society would—with a sense of decorum and mutual respect. That is ultimately how I will evaluate your attendance. It is really quite simple to tell the difference between not being able to pry oneself away from Madden NFL 25® and experiencing an illness or loss. Don’t be too “personal” in your e-mail messages. I don’t want to pry, and I don’t need explanations (or, worse yet, excuses).  Just let me know the situation.

Class Participation
By “participation,” I mean being fully engaged in the lecture or discussion. This may or may not include active voicing of opinions or interpretations. In short, I do not belong to the school of thought that equates “talking” with participation and “silence” with lack of engagement. It is easy enough, after a quarter century of teaching, to see the exceptions. What I seek is solid preparation, engagement with the subject under discussion, and (eventually) evidence in your writing that these things have come together.

I expect you to listen to my (and your peers’) comments, and to add your interpretations whenever you feel compelled to do so. The best advice is for each student to push her or his “comfort zone” a little. If you are inclined to speak often, pull back (a little) and listen. If you rarely speak, push yourself to do so.
[d] Gathering RF

You need to have the required books with you for class discussion. In cases for which reserve materials have been necessary, you need at least a series of notes to which you can refer during our discussions. Reading books on reserve (or leaving it to the last minute) is never a valid reason for being unprepared.

After an initial “getting acquainted” process, I will start calling on people. This will never be punitive, and will only occasionally create (unwittingly) the kind of “I-don’t-know/deer-in-the-headlights” terror that makes everyone uncomfortable…for about ten seconds. I plan to get people talking about the materials with a minimum of fuss and worry—and will explain the process once the course gets underway.

The most important part of the “participation” expectation is note taking. I want you to explore various note-taking skills as part of your expanding liberal arts education. You will more than occasionally hear me say “write that down.” That is for emphasis. I expect all students to develop note-taking strategies so that they have useful materials for further analysis when writing papers or studying for exams.

Because I take the note-taking process so seriously, I am requiring that you keep a notebook that will be turned in as part of your class work. Notebooks will be due several times during the semester and at the end of the term. Do not "just listen." I don't deny the value of listening, but I feel that note-taking is becoming a dying art in our society, and I am requiring that you actively take notes about the course's subject matter, both in and outside of class.

Laptops and Classroom Computers
There will be no use of laptop or classroom computers during class time without approval. I realize that taking notes on computers can be a useful practice, but I would like to emphasize a number of other note-taking strategies in our class (see above). Part of a liberal education lies in pushing one’s boundaries. Experiment with various note-taking strategies. The only possible exception to this policy will be for clearly stated (mostly medical) needs. See me if you need approval.

Keep your laptop, tablet, phone (etc.) in your bag during class.
[e] Connected RF

You may do a quick check of e-mail and social media during break if you wish, but you must complete your work before class resumes (with time to spare). Then put away your device.

Occasionally during class something will come up that might benefit from a quick on-line search. In those cases (these seem to occur a handful of times during the term), I may give permission for people to do a quick in-class check.  Such times are the exception, not the rule. For the most part, we will be engaged in a distant intellectual world of books and paper. It will be a healthy contrast to our “connected” worlds beyond the classroom.

Just to reiterate (and I shouldn’t even have to say it), turn off your phones…and everything else, too.

I fully realize that this is a great deal of legalistic material to handle at once. A single, sensible thread runs through all of it, though—a learning community that is engaged in examining old questions and pondering the new. Or, as Confucius was said to have said:

Acquire new knowledge while pondering the old, 
and you may become a teacher of others

[f] Teaching RF

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Late Assignment Policy, Spring 2018

[a] Early RF
Late Assignment Policy
All Classes
Spring 2018

Robert André LaFleur                                              Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 206                                                  Tuesday     3:00-5:00
363-2005                                                                     ...or by appointment                                                                

[b] Late RF
Please read carefully, especially if you 
have been in my courses before!
***  ***
All assignments for this course must be turned in by the due date (and time), or there will be a penalty. In order to be fair to students who have turned in work on time, yet taking into account the reality that everyone gets overwhelmed occasionally, I have created a late assignment policy that is meant to be fair to all concerned. 

Please note the following:

Weekly Quizzes 
Quizzes must be taken at the beginning of each class session. They will be collected twenty minutes after the beginning of class.

If a student comes to class “late” (and is not chronically late for class), it will be possible to make the best of the quiz during the ten-minute class break. This should be rare.

Quizzes not completed by the end of the class session receive no credit.

You may not miss class and still get credit for a quiz (even if a classmate brings you a copy).

You may do a quiz for no credit if you happen to miss class (in order to keep up with the flow of class). Just e-mail me if you would like a copy of a quiz that you have missed (no credit, though). 

Assignments Due During the Semester (Abstracts, Papers, Short Exams) 
Assignments are due in my office by the time posted on the syllabus. If you turn them in on time, I will return them to you within ten days—and often much sooner than that.
[c] Markers RF

If assignments are up to forty-eight hours late, there will be a two-point penalty* (an “88” on a paper will become an “86”, and an “8” on a short assignment will become a “7.8”). In short, if you have left things until the last minute, and cannot print your paper on time, you will have to accept a small penalty. Just chalk it up to experience and make sure that your planning is better next time. There will be absolutely no exceptions to this penalty. It is meant to provide a wake-up call (with stakes that are not too great) for those who occasionally leave things to the last minute.

If assignments are between two days and one week late, there will be a five-point penalty*—no exceptions (an “88” on a paper will become an “83” and an “8” on a ten-point short-assignment will become a “7.5”).

If assignments are over a week late, there will be a one-time ten-point penalty (an “88” will become a “78” and an “8” on a short assignment will become a “7”). These assignments will be accepted (with the ten-point penalty) for three weeks after the due date. There will be no credit after that date. 

On Time:                           Full Credit
Two Days Late:                 -2 points 
Up to One Week Late:      -5 points
Over One Week Late:        -10 points
After THREE Weeks:         NO CREDIT

Assignments turned in after the syllabus deadline will be graded when time permits. On-time assignments will always be given priority.
*The full version is that they are (2.0/0.2), (5.0/0.5), and 10.0/0.10) penalties, depending on the assignment. 
[d] Blooming RF

Midterm Assessment
Students who have done little written work by the beginning of ninth week (right after break) will need to drop the class. It will not be possible to continue if there have been absences and papers have not been turned in. I will send academic warnings so that students know where they stand, but there will be little chance of passing if the first two assignments have been missed. Do not let things get to that point—if you find yourself falling behind, please contact me. We will discuss it (

Incomplete Grades

Students who have attended class regularly and have kept up with most assignments—but have had a legitimate reasonaccording to the Dean of Students office—must get incomplete contracts from the registrar and fill them out for my signature by class time on the last day of classes (Wednesday, May 16) or they will receive failing grades. Please note that professors at Beloit College cannot give incomplete grades; students must get approval through the Dean of Students office and registrar. Talk to me about this well ahead of time if you think that you might need an incomplete for the course.

I expect all work to be turned in on time. The spirit of the late assignment policy is simply to acknowledge that sometimes everyone (even professors) falls behind. It is unacceptable to be late with numerous assignments. 

This is a course in which weekly work is fundamentally important, and late assignments week-after-week will very seriously affect your grade. Assignments are due when the syllabus states that they are due.

Please respect these deadlines—for both of our sakes!
[e] Done! RF

Friday, January 19, 2018

New York Review of Books Syllabus, Spring 2018

Click here for the introduction to the Round and Square series "Syllabic Cycles"
***  *** 
On this date in Round and Square History
19 January 2016—Round and Square Syllabus 2016
19 January 2016—China's Lunar Calendar 2016 01-19
19 January 2015—Accidental Ethnographer Syllabus 2015
19 January 2015—China's Lunar Calendar 2015 01-19
19 January 2014—China's Lunar Calendar 2014 01-19
19 January 2013—Channeling Liam: Bike Seat Height
19 January 2012—Prairie Ethnography: The Thousand Ask Question
19 January 2011—Celebrity Commentary Resource Center
[a[ Gates to learning RF

All Classes
Spring 2018
Robert André LaFleur                                                       Office Hours:
Morse Ingersoll 206                                                          Tuesday     3:00-5:00
363-2005                                                                             ...or by appointment              

We will be reading the January 18, 2018 issue of the New York Review of Books 
this semester. Each week's reading is REQUIRED, and you need to bring your 
own copy of the NYRB to class for each meeting.

Available behind the sales counter at Turtle Creek Bookstore
Just ask; they know all about it 

Week One 
(No class meeting this week)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
Read all front matter (cover, inside-cover advertisement, table of contents, contributors).
Skim all back matter (letters, advertisements, even the personals; who is an NYRB reader?)... 

Week Two
(6 February)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Martin Filler. Between Nouveau and Deco.

Week Three
(13 February)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Thomas Powers. The Nuclear Worrier.

Week Four 
(20 February)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Adam Kirsch. Classical Cancan.

Week Five  
(27 February)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Raja Shehadeh. This Land is Our Land.

Week Six
(6 March)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Geoffrey Wheatcraft. A Star is Born.

Week Seven
(13 March)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
Sarah Helm. Homeless in Gaza.
Week Nine
(27 March)
No reading this week (Exam I)

Week Ten
(3 April)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Andrew Butterfield. Divine Lust.
Week Eleven
(10 April)
xx-xx Roderick MacFarquhar. Red Emperor.

Week Twelve 
(17 April)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Emily Wilson. A Doggish Translation.
Week Thirteen
(24 April)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Mukul Kesavan. Murderous Majorities.
Week Fourteen
(1 May)
Review the "Questions to Ask of Every NYRB Essay" before each week's reading
xx-xx Ruth Franklin. The Decisive Moment.

xx-xx Adam Beevor. The Unmentionable Season of Death.
xx-xx Alan Ryan. An Anglo-Irish Cicero.
xx-xx Fintan O'Toole. Backing Into the Spotlight. 
xx-xx Sue Halpern. Bitcoin Mania.
xx-xx David Salle. Playing it Cool.