All posts by Ryan Cordell


Mind the Gap (Between Graduate Training and Professional Requirements)

11241552515_1044aaefae_bThis post will come out on February 20, one day after digital humanities scholars across the U.S. will have submitted grant proposals to the NEH’s Implementation Grant program. Unlike much humanities work, the digital humanities often require, like the sciences and social sciences, grant funding. This is perhaps a necessary evil. Large-scale digital projects require a range of people with particular technical expertise, and so require funding at a different scale than the individual archival pro…


Writing 20 Minutes Every. Single. Day.

5137407_004032c9e6_bYou might think that after writing a dissertation, I would have pretty good writing habits. Well, you might think that if you were not also an academic and familiar with the continuous obstacles that challenge regular writing. Contrary to political posturing that claims academics only work during the hours they literally sit in a classroom—”only a few hours a week!”—a host of other duties fill our days—preparing for classes, advising undergraduates, supervising graduate students, reviewing o…


Save Money on Electronics Accessories with Amazon Basics

If you’ve bought electronics recently—as in, over the past few decades—you’ve likely experienced salespeople trying to upsell you on expensive cables. And you may have bought in: after all, if you’re spending significant cash on a new, high-definition television, surely those platinum-plated Monster cables are worth the investment? Except, well, not so much. It turns out that if your HDMI cable isn’t defective—if it works—then it works as well as it’s going to work, whether you paid $5 or $50 f…


Weekend Reading: Post-Conventions Edition

I know not all ProfHacker readers (or writers!) are historians or literary scholars, but the academic blogosphere in the past week has certainly been shaped by the fallout, good or bad, from the annual MLA and AHA conferences. I’ve collected some of the pieces I found most compelling or interesting from that bunch:

  • In “An MLA Story,” Lee Skallerup Bessette mediates on important questions about family, adjuctification, labor, and the academic profession. The piece is both moving and challenging…

Weekend Reading: Back to School in a Polar Vortex Edition

Odysseus_26_October_2011-1Hopefully by the time this is published temperatures will have inched closer to normal for most ProfHacker readers, but I’m composing it on a very, very cold day in Boston (and it’s much colder elsewhere). In any case, our spring semester has started under very un-spring-like conditions. Here are some of the pieces I’ve found most stimulating for the new semester:


What’s in Your Favorite Teaching Kit?

This summer I had the great fortune to attend the Rare Book School in Charlottesville, Virginia and learn much more about material book history, one of my research interests. While there, a few of the instructors discussed building a classroom kit for teaching the history of the book. For that particular subject area, a kit might include pieces of type, a composing stick, a printer’s wood block, a line of linotype, or pages printed using different techniques. Though these might seem like rare it…


Weekend Reading: Bleary-Eyed Grading Edition

I suspect many ProfHacker readers are, like me, desperately reading, marking, grading, reading, marking grading. Given that whirl of end-of-semester activity, this weekend’s reading will be minimalistic.


When Technology Fails, Redux

3896121914_1c3610084c_oA few years ago I wrote a column about when technology fails in the classroom. I wrote then, about such moments of tech failure:

Sometimes that failure is the tech’s fault—internet access in a building drops away during a web-based presentation, for example. Other times it’s user error, as with my class blogs. Many observers, however, won’t distinguish between machine- and user-generated failures. Either way, then, these can be anxious moments for known Profs. Hacker—departmental techi…


Use Google Drive to Keep Your Online Class Schedule Up-to-Date

Early last year I wrote about using Scholarpress Courseware + WordPress to manage class websites. While I’m still a big fan of WordPress Multisite for my class websites, I have in recent semesters moved away from using Courseware. For one, Courseware hasn’t been updated in awhile, and doesn’t seem to work as smoothly with recent versions of WordPress. More practically, however, I found myself getting frustrated when making changes to a class schedule in Courseware.

In a perfect semester, the sch…


Organize Your Charging with a Mini Surge Protector

I suspect many ProfHacker readers, like me, have accumulated any number of USB-charged devices: phones and tablets, especially, but other devices too. I used to charge my phone and tablet primarily through my computer, as they needed to be plugged in to sync. Since most devices have introduced wireless syncing, however, I find less and less need (or desire) to hook them up to a computer.

The wall chargers that come with different devices can also be awkward; a USB chord alone would be better. Wh…