Articles by Jerome Shea

Jerome Shea is an emeritus professor of English at the University of New Mexico, where he still teaches his classical tropes course every fall and his prose style course every spring. He has been the Weekend Wonk since January of 2007. His email is

Great Moments in Teaching II

  March 24, 2007

Last week I made fun of poor Harold Welsh and his colon problem (or perhaps his problem colon). This week is my turn; it’s only fair. So, two stories at Shea’s expense. I taught my first class, a freshman composition class, in the fall of 1964 at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins. I was twenty-two years old. I doubt very much that I slept the night before that very first meeting.

Great Moments in Teaching

  March 17, 2007

The other day I was teaching my sophomore writing class the finer points of colon usage, so naturally I thought of Harold Welsh. But before I get to that, I should add that my students—unless they are too polite—never seem to notice the similarity, indeed the identity, of the colon as a mark of punctuation and the colon that constitutes the home stretch of the digestive tract. (In fact, I just looked it up and they actually are of two different etymologies, the former from the Greek word for “limb,” the latter from the Greek word (same spelling, but with an accent change) for “large intestine.

Jemez Half

  March 10, 2007

I found that other essay, Dear Readers, and I count on your indulgence in letting me run it, for surely you do not want to leave me in ignominy at the hands—or rather the feet—of Ed Green, my nemesis from Devil’s Throne. -Shea The Jemez Pueblo Half-Marathon is one of the prettiest footraces in the Southwest, a circuit starting and ending in the village itself, running out through the corn and chile and bean fields, and skirting the red buttes, all under an ice-blue New Mexico sky.

Devil’s Throne

  March 3, 2007

Dear Readers, An oldie for you this weekend. But I hope you’ll also take it as a goodie. Enjoy. - Shea The thing about Devil’s Throne is, you can’t keep hold of the truth, from one year to the next, of just how tough it is. Oh, you always have a good picture of that absurd hill in your mind and you remember the dozens who don’t make it to the top without breaking into a walk.

I See By My Outfit

  February 24, 2007

“Clothes,” they say, “make the man.” But that is just the start of what they say. The more you think about clothes, the more fascinating the subject becomes. And before I go any further, I would like to acknowledge and recommend a good book on the subject, Alison Lurie’s The Language of Clothes (which is probably out of print, alas, so you will have to scrounge for it). Lurie builds an extended metaphor around the idea that clothes are actually a language, which is an idea that we can, I think, readily agree with: what you wear “speaks volumes” about you.

Hired Gun

  February 17, 2007

Were I to sidle up and whisper “grammar teacher” in your shell-like ear, I bet I know what your gut reaction (beyond screaming “PERVERT!”) would be. Grammar teacher. Not just pursed lips but a pursed face and probably a pursed soul. Stunted aspirations and reptilian mien and metabolism. Gleeful tormentor of schoolchildren. I know these things as well as the rest of you because I was once one of those schoolchildren.

Kairos II... The End of Time

  February 11, 2007

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand In the moon that is always rising. Nor that riding to sleep I should hear him fly with the high fields And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land. Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,

Kairos I

  February 3, 2007

Last week I said that there were no time-outs until the final one. Perhaps I was a tad hasty. A few years ago I underwent my first and—I hope—only major surgery. I expected to be put under the way we see it on TV, with me lying there on the operating table, a plastic mask over my nose and mouth and a nurse saying, “Now just relax and breathe normally.” Off I would slowly drift to dreamland.

Winged Chariot

  January 27, 2007

Ok, so last week I left you with a teaser about chronos and kairos, the two faces of time. Well, I should know better: I would be very severe with a student who proposed a five hundred word essay on “time” (“Sure that’s big enough for five hundred words, Sparky?”). The topic has turned into a writhing kudzu and just escaping with my life will be the best I deserve. This week chronos, then; next week, or some week, kairos.

Me, Myself, and I

  January 20, 2007

Hi. Shea here. I am going to risk a rather prosaic opening (but to what will be, after all, an enterprise of prose, so at least there is an odd appropriateness to it). Matt Cone has invited me—he bought me lunch to clinch it!—to write an occasional column for Macinstruct. Needless to say I was flattered and, flattery going a long way with me, here I sit—at my Mac, of course—about to introduce myself, explain myself, perhaps even proleptically defend myself.

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