Updates

Dear Readers, 

I have been quite busy in the last few months working on many class projects, writing projects, and researching many possibilities for changes to my department’s way of evaluating students for their Masters degree. So sorry that I have not been on to write in a while. 

A class project that I am doing this semester is working in the CSU, Sacramento Special Collections Library with a 15th Century manuscript, which is a single sheet double sided ripped from a book and sold off by collectors. The collector did not know what the actual book was and was only interested in selling off pages of the manuscript for money. Our text was originally thought to be a “psaltiarium” from a 15th Century book. Working with two other classmates to determine where the text actually came from, what the words are on the page (originally written in Latin), translating the Latin into English to figure out what text it actually came from. This project was started by our professor Dr. Kim Zarins (author of Sometimes We Tell the Truth published by SimonPulse)  for her ENGL 240A- Chaucer class as a way of furthering our knowledge of Medieval manuscripts and as a way of preparing for doctoral programs, where we will probably be working with original manuscrips for our Ph.Ds. If you are reading this Dr. Zarins, yes, I did just plug for your class and your first novel. 

My second project was editing, revising, and presenting my research findings from a literary analysis paper on Walt Whitman’s Third Edition of Leaves of Grass, which inclded his “Children of Adam” (Enfans d’Adam)  cluster and the “Calamus” cluster the two clusters are the equivalent of Heterosexual and Homosexual  experience respectively. My research was specifically on the “Calamus” cluster and the title of my research paper is “Whitman’s ‘Calamus’ Cluster in the Third Edition of the Leaves of Grass: The Closeted Homosexual Experience”, which was a fifteen page paper originally, was presented at the Student Reseach Symposium at California State University, Sacramento on March 4th, 2019 at 10:20AM. 

The Third project has been looking at all CSU campuses English M.A. programs to see how they evalute their students to grant a Masters of the Arts in English. Our current methods at CSU, Sacramento are 1) Thesis and 2) Comprehensive Exam, both of the current options have some significant draw backs for our students and the department. The first draw back for students is the fact that a student needs a 3.7 GPA to write a thesis and find two readers willing to read the piece of work that will be published in our library for you M.A. The GPA cap and the finding readers are both in existance because faculty members in our department are not compinsated to read thesises, meaning that they are not being given release time or being paid for the hours that they put into being a reader for students work. So, this option is extremely limiting in who can write a thesis instead of taking a five hour written exam on 40 texts and 5 theoretical texts. The Exam option is very challenging because students are doing a timed writing and being forced to memorize over 40 texts and be able to pump out three lengthly essays on the texts in just a small five hour time frame. Some of the texts the student may never have been exposed to in our classes or in their academic career up to this point. The exam is an archaic way of testing students knowledge as a way to meet old academic standards from a formalist approach, we at CSUS do not teach timed writing in our M.A. classes, so the question becomes why have this exam? The exam is another way that faculty members get around the not being compinsated delema, it is only a small amount of readers reading the exam. 

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End of the Year 2018

Dear readers,

It has been a while since I have given you all a message from my desk to your screens, but I have been busy. As the year closes out, I want to remind all of you to hold your dear ones close and remember that tomorrow is never promised and we might have to make some decisions to change our lives. I have decided to go back to a job that I was in for almost ten years and will still continue to go to school. My masters is almost done and it has been a long time coming, but with these changes comes another change. I have decided that it is time to lose the weight that I have been holding onto for the past few years. I am not just giving up junk food and soda, but I am drastically going to change my diet by going full on Keto diet. No more carbs for me! I also plan to give up coffee, since I have to put creamer and sugar in the cup with the coffee. So if you see me around and I look dead, approach with caution because I have no coffee in my system. So here is to hoping that I can lose the 85 pounds that I want to before I graduate with my masters in May of 2019. 

Cheers to you and yours, 

KRH

P.S. Don’t drink and drive tomorrow. 

Fessing- Up Friday

Well, today is Friday, October 26th, 2018 and its time to Fess-Up. Today I have finally come to the conclusion that I cannot keep pushing things away and hiding from real life responsibilities. For the past year, I have been hiding the fact that I am struggling in graduate school. I have been told by friends and family members that I “Make them so proud” or that “You are doing so well keep going” but in sad reality, this is a façade. I have been masking the struggle in this modern day to accomplish achieving the Master’s degree. I am taking three classes and teaching five while trying to have a somewhat social life and a dating life. It is not an easy feat to do all of that together, but I am trying, failing, but still trying to do it all. 

In some ways, I have been slipping in schoolwork and drowning myself in much more work than I need to just to keep afloat in graduate school. It may be time to take a breather and skip one area of the triangle that has been taking up my time. It will not be school and dating, but it will have to be the social life. I am going to be staying quite out of all social interactions until I feel like I have a lot more grounding in my life and some stability in graduate school. Next semester is supposed to be my last one, but if nothing falls into place with the rest of this term I may have to push back my graduation date to feel less stressed. 

Thanks for reading, 

Kenneth R. Hinton

 

Wicked Wednesday

Dear Reader,

Today has started out like any other day. Got up showered and made coffee then it was out the door I went. I sat through morning traffic just to get to work to alphabetize close to 1800 students exams that were scored on Saturday. The exam that was scored is what our university calls the Writing Placement for Juniors exam or (WPJ). The scoring was kind of crazy, but the alphabetizing is almost done after two days of doing it. I finished almost all of it by 11am this morning. 

I had to teach my three classes today, but after the first one, I started to feel sick. After work today it is a night of hot soup, hot tea, a hot bath, and off to read in bed. Nearing the end of my day, so hopefully, I can go home and start on my healing night. 

This image is what has been plaguing me since last Saturday. 

IMG_1633.jpg 

So if you thought your job was tedious, just imagine having to sort all of these books by alphabetical order. A lot of papercuts have been happening too. 

Thanks for reading,

Kenneth Hinton

 

 

Monday Morning Madness

This morning I woke up at 4:30am. I have been having a hard time sleeping of late. Too much has been keeping my mind busy from school work to teaching to the characters that are playing around in the complex labyrinth of my brain.

The characters are doing cart-wheels, dancing on raised platforms, singing in the rain, or sitting down to tea with a large book while it pours outside the window. When they aren’t doing that then they are chasing each other to the center of the labyrinth (or the center of my attention). Some mornings I wake up with a headache and cannot help the fact that two characters from the same novel have reached the center of the labyrinth and want me to write them a spin-off of my main novel that they are in. 

School work has been going well so far, but I have midterms this week and have been meaning to get more studying in so I can hopefully get an A in the class and not have to worry about doing anything else next semester besides the two classes that I need to do. My Ph. D application is due on January 15th, 2019. I have a tour set up for the campus around November 10th, 2018. I may not have any idea just yet how major this step is going to be, but I am so ready to make the leap from being a graduate student to being a professional student in my area of American Literature. 

In terms of teaching, my students are doing their peer reviews for their Writing Intensive courses each week. This week they are writing their midterm essays for my class and having a peer review session before they turn it on Saturday night. 

Outside of all these things I am writing scholarly articles and getting ready to do a guest lecture on Nathaniel Hawthorne, which the title reads “Nathaniel Hawthorne: The Age of Romanticism and Gothic in ‘The Birth-Mark.'” It is no secret that I am a huge reader of Hawthorne from his short stories to his novels, I cannot help but fall headlong into the narratives he wrote. I became a Lifetime Member of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society during the first year of graduate school. It is amazing to look at his texts with so many different lenses because his text left ambiguous questions as to what some symbol meant or what he truly felt towards women that were speaking out. I also am reworking an essay to hopefully have published in a magazine for literary studies on Walt Whitman. The essay is titled, “Whitman’s ‘Calamus’ Cluster in the Third Edition of Leaves of Grass: The Closeted Homosexual Experience.”

So just like any other day, today is Manic Monday. I am trying to write more and more for the books I have been working on while trying to balance other obligations, but I am a firm believer in the one lesson I learned from the Aesop Fable “The Tortus and the Hair” that slow and steady wins the race. This is my journey and I should enjoy it while it lasts and not rush the process of being a writer. 

Thanks for reading,

-Kenneth Hinton 

My Coming Out Day

In Honor of Coming Out Day here is my story: 

The year was 2006. I had been dating a girl that I was in school with and was dating a guy that I was friends with from a couple years before, so it is safe to say I started out as bisexual. Dating both of them at the same time did not work out, so I stuck to only dating guys and gave up on women.  I had just updated my sexual orientation to say GAY on MySpace, I know it’s not in fashion now but that is where it was updated. One of my cousins had looked at my updated sexual orientation and told my dad and stepmom at a family Thanksgiving at my grandma’s house. A Thanksgiving family dinner, which I was not at by the way. So I was outed. I did not talk to my dad or stepmom in a while, which felt like years due to having the feeling that my dad and stepmom would not have accepted me. After all, they were the more religious out of the two sets of parents I have. I did come out officially to both sets of parents and the rest of my family around the time that I was outed. 

I was getting into a lot of trouble in school and once with the law. I was not doing well in my classes when I came out. I went from being an A/B student to getting Ds or Fs, hardly had anyone to talk to about being gay. I went from having a mixture of male and female friends to only having like two friends that were guys and all the rest of them were girls. I think it was because of what our society says is acceptable to have as friends or maybe it was the increased sense of homophobia that permeated with all of those high school boys.  I took my mom’s car out a few times without a license and got caught. Though the law thing never got placed on my permanent record, it was still a learning lesson one that I have never forgotten. 

I started dating more guys and eventually, my dad and stepmom were asking to have my boyfriends and me over for a family dinner. The first three never had the chance, but my last long lasting boyfriend who became my partner for about six and a half years was invited a couple of times, but never came.  I still haven’t had a boyfriend to invite over to my dad and stepmoms for dinner. 

As I have bloomed into a more comfortable gay man in society, I started to watch more films featuring gay guys and societal problems that we face every single day. I also started to read more works or fiction, non-fiction, and even history books documenting the movements of the LGBTQIA+ society. I have heard horror stories about teens coming out to their parents and being thrown out into the streets because the families were super religious or homophobic. I have heard stories of gay men committing suicide for not being accepted by their own families. There are a few movies that have stuck out to me for families not wanting to accept their kids. Some movies that capture the loss of an LGBTQIA+ child. And some movies where the child is accepted wholeheartedly. These movies are Prayers for Bobby,  Latter Days, Matt Sheperd is a Friend of Mine, and Love, Simon. Below you can find video links to the most moving moments of the films or trailers. 

If you are a religious parent, I would recommend watching the first two clips. If you are just wanting to know the films that have shaped the Gay men’s experiences or have been movies that have downright made me cry here are the clips:

This starts out bad, but is a part of the film that the mother rights her wrong. 

The Trailer from Latter Days

The Trailer for Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine

A moving moment from Love, Simon

I hope this helps parents talk to teens coming out. I hope this gives light to some of the movies and things that have shaped me as a gay man. 

Thanks for reading and possibly watching the clips, 

-Kenneth R. Hinton 

The Feelings of Failure

Dear Readers,

Lately, I have been feeling like I am failing at every aspect of my life. I have fallen behind on many things that have been due or coming up on being due for classes, I have been quite distracted by life in general, and have felt like I don’t know what I am doing with my life anymore.

Recently, I tried dating again after 9+ years of not dating and boy was that a failure that I could not have seen coming. During that dating period I put a lot of things that I needed to do on hold or pushed them aside so I could spend time with the person I was dating, but alas it did not work out and now I am playing the biggest game of catch-up I have ever played while being a graduate student. I am trying to complete a 10-page paper, a 6-page paper, study for a midterm, and make sure that I am up to date on grading all of my students work before their midterm is due next Saturday. 

I often cannot focus on the tasks that I must complete to finish graduate school and maybe that was due to this dating incident or maybe it because I am losing sight of the end of the tunnel that I am working towards. I have always wanted to get my Doctorate in English Literature with my primary focus being on 19th Century American Literature- Romanticism, Gothic, and Women Writers with emphasis on marginalized voices. I have found a program that I really like and that is not too far away from California, just trying to plan my visit to the campus in the next couple of weeks. Feeling like I am drowning in my Master’s degree program makes me very apprehensive about going further for my Doctorate. I have thought about taking some time off to get a little bit more of a relaxation period in, but am afraid that I may not want to come back for a while so I can start a career. 

I always have to remind myself that I may have small failures, but those failures lead to learned experiences. I am reminded as I finish writing this post of a speech, now turned into a book, by J.K. Rowling entitled: Very Good Lives: The Fringe Benefits of Failure and the Importance of Imagination. In this speech, she discusses her failures and how they shaped her and reminded her that she had the power of imagination. For those of you living under a rock and have no idea what accomplishment she achieved by writing the Harry Potter series, this speech discusses her failures in life prior to writing Harry Potter as a character and how because of her vivid imagination she was able to overcome her own sense of failure. If you ever feel like I have been the last week or so and need to be reminded of the benefits of failure you will probably want to hear exactly what J.K. Rowling said. Link is below. 

 Thanks for reading, 

-Kenneth