Come Join Me

Since putting Pedablogue on hiatus in 2012, I’ve continued to share my scholarship of teaching and other research on a variety of social networks. In case you’d like to join me in these explorations, here are a few key links:

While you’re here, click and scroll around — the complete decade of Pedablogue archives (2003-2012) is still online right here! (With my apologies for dead links or missing photos…I’ll fix what I can, when I can.)

Putting Pedablogue on Hiatus

I am putting Pedablogue on indefinite hiatus. Comments are closed, but I’ve left the archives up so that people can still read the many articles on educational theory and praxis.

I started this blog back in 2003 with the intention of sharing my research into the scholarship of teaching, and I think keeping a public journal really served me well. It expanded my knowledge of pedagogy, tied me in with the work of so many other educators out there, and helped me really develop my awareness of my own educational praxis, while also helping me to question the assumptions I harbored about teaching. I published several articles as a result of keeping this blog, and I continue to teach many of the principles I’ve learned in here (especially in a graduate-level course in “The Teaching of Writing and Popular Fiction” for our MFA program). But I have been lax in keeping this journal going, and reticent about renewing my work here for several reasons.

First, it has always been a little difficult for me to juggle my roles as professor and creative writer in a productive way, but when a new ball was tossed into my juggling routine — the administrative duties of being the Chairman of the Humanities Division at Seton Hill U — blogging became the lowest of my priorities. Where once I was blogging at least once per week, I now have been blogging every few months, and that’s just too sporadic and inconsequential for my tastes. That is not to say that my Scholarship of Teaching has fallen by the wayside — I continue to publish and write articles about teaching and I get to apply what I’ve learned in this journal in much of my work with faculty as Chair.

But beyond my own lack of time to commit to this project, I could point to the cultural shift from blogs to social networking, which sort of winnowed away my sense that I was writing for an active audience. But worse, the server on which this blog is based experienced a radical shift when the system moved from Moveable Type to WordPress and our system admin also changed. I can no longer edit the theme, which bothers me to no end, and as you’ll see in many of the posts line breaks and other errors found their way into hundreds of blog posts. This fractured my commitment to the site, and only added more administrative work to my plate…and I now find myself deleting comment spam from the site more often than I write for it.

So I’m taking an indefinite pause while I focus on other things. I may return to this page in the future, or I might turn it to some other purpose someday, but for now, this space is more of an archive of a learning journey I took from 2003-2011 than it is a living breathing document. Thank you to everyone who contributed and visited over the past eight years. You all taught me a lot, and I appreciate the many comments and ideas that were shared here. Pedablogue has been a successful edublogging experience and I still share many of the entries here with others. I hope readers will continue to draw inspiration from some of the articles, and explore the rich diversity that is available in contemporary scholarship of teaching.

This is not goodbye. Follow me on to keep up with my other irons still burning in the fire.

Professor of the Year Address

This week, I had the humbling distinction of being awarded Seton Hill University’s 2011 Professor of the Year. I am very grateful for this, and I really appreciate the kind encouragement. The award comes with a plaque and a plum parking spot for next academic year (Hurrah! I’m thinking of subletting this), as well as addressing the graduating class and award-winning students (and their parents) at the Honor’s Convocation. I had a great time with this, and tried my best to make it as un-boring as possible. You can read my speech — called “Scary Things” — over on my creative writing weblog.

Congratulations to the Class of 2011.
Here’s the campus press release.

Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction

New Creative Writing Guide!

Title: Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction
Author: Edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller
Publisher: Headline Books Date: May 2011
Hardcover. 384 pages. List Price: $29.99 (US)
ISBN-13: 9780938467083
ISBN-10: 0938467085

If you teach creative writing, you might consider adopting my latest book, Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. Modeled after the graduate program where I teach — the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction at Seton Hill UniversityMany Genres is a thick hardcover collection of over sixty essays by prominent writers and teachers who look under the hood of both the craft of writing for a genre audience and the business of penning novels in today’s publishing world.

The book is ready to be distributed in the first week of May 2011, and is taking orders.

The introduction and complete table of contents is available on

We are keeping an active weblog about the book, featuring contributor profiles, bonus articles, and book news. To celebrate, we’re also conducting a Virtual Book Tour that itself promises to offer a lot of instruction.

“Speaking from experience, I can tell you there isn’t a muse and if there is, she’s already dating someone else.” If there isn’t a muse, as you’ll read in this invaluable book for writers, MANY GENRES ONE CRAFT is surely the next best thing. No matter what you want to learn–from choosing the point of view for a scene, from getting the most out of a critique group to fine-tuning your final draft, from approaching a literary agent to promoting your published book in print or electronically or both–it’s all there. The contributors know their stuff, and what they’re teaching applies to writing at any age. MANY GENRES ONE CRAFT covers all the bases superbly, including issues I haven’t seen addressed anywhere else in today’s rapidly shifting publishing landscape.”–Renni Browne, co-author of SELF-EDITING FOR FICTION WRITERS


The blogosphere at my host college, Seton Hill University, is in the process of migrating from a Moveable Type system administered by our longstanding faculty member in New Media, Dennis Jerz, to a WordPress-based system serviced by the college’s IT department.  I appreciate all that Dr. Jerz has done and continues to do; his post on his struggles and successes with this process is here.

I think most everything has moved over smoothly, and I’ve been able to restore things like tags and categories.  But I’m certain a number of links and references will be broken in the archives.  Right now, the biggest issue I’m trying to sort out is how to restore line breaks between paragraphs, as those seem to be lost…

Patience, as I try to clean up the old posts and work out the kinks.  If you run into a problem, feel free to let me know.  And if you have an older link to Pedablogue, please do me the favor of changing it to the new domain:

Happy New Year!

Mike Arnzen

p.s. If you’re looking for something that’s gone lost, the previous server still seems to be online for now, so you can try there.

Creative Writing Guide Coming: MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT

One of my big nonfiction projects this past year was co-editing a huge, 130,000 word collection of instructional articles for writers, called MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, along with a former student, author Heidi Ruby Miller. It’s early, but the website for the book has launched, and many insightful features are planned for it in the months leading up to the book’s release this coming Spring:
I am very pleased with this book, which should be released by Headline Books this Spring. It would be useful for any teacher interested in working with students who want to write genre fiction and novel-length prose for publication. The unique focus of this book on writing for multiple popular genres is something you won’t find in most instructional guides for creative writers, …but what makes it really unique is that every single contributor is a faculty member, visiting guest writer, or published graduate from the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University, where I work.

In other words, it’s the product of a learning community. I’m very proud of my colleagues and the students who put a lot of passion into sharing their wisdom. This gives the book a “writer’s workshop in a bottle” spirit.

But it also reflects a pragmatism and focus on genre theory not often found in creative writing textbooks. Look at the sneak preview of the Table of Contents. You’ll see it is a hefty tome (130,000 words with 60 contributors!). It includes sections on not only the “craft” but the whole spectrum of popular genres in which writers of fiction ply their skills… and a third section on the writer’s life (and even features a chapter by Lawrence C. Connolly on “The Teaching Writer” that would be useful for teachers reading this who also write fiction).

I’ll likely post more reflections or news about this book in the year ahead, especially when it’s available for ordering come Spring 2011. But for now, there’s the weblog, which will include news and features leading up to the book launch. Check it out, and if you have questions about the title, let me know.

Writer Wanted: Open Faculty Position in Writing Popular Fiction

Public Service ALERT:

The following search on my campus — for a published mystery author qualified to teach creative writing — has been RELAUNCHED, and will continue until filled — is closed and the search committee is deliberating over candidates has hired urban fantasy author Dr. Nicole Peeler for the position.

Here is the job description for posterity….

Assistant Professor of English
Application Due: Feb 3rd, 2010
Type: Full Time
Tenure-track, starting June 2010.
Seton Hill University seeks published genre novelist (priority for popular mystery/crime/suspense writer; will also consider fantasy or romance author) for tenure-track position in our low-residency MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction, starting June 2010. Commitment to genre fiction essential. Composition, online and graduate teaching experience highly desirable. MFA required (Ph.D. preferred). 4/4 teaching responsibilities; half of course load will serve undergraduate English and Composition instruction.
Seton Hill University is a Catholic, liberal arts University, serving undergraduate, adult and graduate students. Seton Hill is located 35 miles east of Pittsburgh. Visit for more information.
Immediately send a letter, C.V., official transcripts, statement of teaching philosophy, sample publications, and three letters of reference to Michael Arnzen, Ph.D., Seton Hill University, Greensburg, PA 15601. Deadline: February 3rd, 2010. The review process will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Seton Hill University is committed to a faculty, staff and student body that reflect the diversity of our global population. AA/EOE.

Feel free to e-mail me with questions.

Class Writing Opportunity: THE FICTION PROJECT


As a creativity challenge, I recently signed up for THE FICTION PROJECT, sponsored by The Art House Co-op. Registrants (before Feb) will be mailed a Moleskine sketchbook in which to tell and show a story using words and art, based on a surprise random theme. Most participants scan and share their work-in-progress, with commenting available much like a weblog. The deadline is in April, when sketchbooks are returned to be put on permanent display in the Brooklyn Art Library.

The length of the experience nicely fits into a college semester-length calendar for the coming Spring, so I thought I would recommend it to others who are considering a creative class project for their art or writing courses. The “rules” are flexible enough to allow collaborative creations for the class as a whole, or to allow individual entries. The site offers an educational discount for groups over 10.

Visit my profile and feel free to friend me if you sign up. I don’t know what I’ll be doing for this project, or if I’ll even succeed, but I know it will be very weird.

Congratulations to Dennis Jerz

My colleague down the hall, Dennis Jerz has been awarded the John Lovas Memorial Academic Award from the journal, Kairos, for his Literacy Weblog. Visit his site, browse around and drop him a note of congratulations.
He joins a list of other interesting academic weblogs in honor of late blogger John Lovas worth following:

2008: Alex Reid: "Digital Digs"

2007: Elizabeth Losh: “VirtualPolitik”

2006: Clancy Ratliff: “CultureCat: Rhetoric and Feminism”

2005: Collin Brooke: “Collin vs. Blog”

2004: Jenny Edbauer: “Stupid Undergrounds: I Found It on the Street”

Horror and the Responsibilities of the Liberal Educator

The latest issue of DISSECTIONS: The Journal of Contemporary Horror just went live online. The theme this time around is “Teaching Horror” which emerged as part of a series of panels at the International Conference for the Fantastic in the Arts in March 2008. It includes a few spectacular articles from a panel I was on with Doug Ford and Frances Auld. My article from that panel (“The Unlearning: Horror and Transformative Theory”) went on to be published at a journal called Transformative Works & Cultures), but I wrote a new essay for Dissections in its place: “Horror and the Responsibilities of the Liberal Educator” . Here’s a sample:

….Luckily, the teacher fully knows what the students want to ignore: that horror is inherently an educational genre. The very notion of a ‘cautionary’ tale is predicated on the notion of teaching someone a lesson. And while not all horror stories and films are cautionary in nature, they are always stimuli that aim at generating a dark emotional reaction which – when all the screaming stops – one inevitably attempts to manage with enlightened intellectual reasoning: whether it’s in the mode of investigation (‘what’s really lurking in the shadows?’) or metaphysical inquiry (‘do alternatives to God exist?’) or logic judgement (‘why did her baby have to die?’). Our rational minds are still at work when we contend with the most irrational of fictions. Indeed, even when a horror narrative – such as the work of Lovecraft – attempts to obliterate logical reasoning and symbolic systems altogether, it needs to construct them first.

What all this means is that, despite the naysayers, horror provides an excellent context for learning. It raises the serious questions that allow critical inquiry to transpire.

Go visit Dissections to read on, or to see other essays on issues related to integrating the horror genre into the classroom by Ford, Auld, Brock-Servais, Schnopp-Wyatt, Wisker, and more!

Now On Twitter…and Other News

Follow me on twitter (user: arnzen). Once I figure out the code, I’m planning to use the site as a sideblog, so I can share links and snippets of thoughts related to teaching and academia that don’t quite qualify for full-blown blog entries on Pedablogue.

[That twitter account is for my Jekyll. My Hyde side has a twitter account all its own.]

I also finally updated my bio page here on Pedablogue. Aside from a neat photo (courtesy of Jim Judkis, who did that fantastic photo shoot for the article on me in Pittsburgh Professional magazine), the major change is: I’m being promoted to Full Professor and will be Division Chair of the Humanities this coming August!

200 EduBlogs: Or, Why It Is Impossible for Me to Use a Blogroll

Richard Hake has generously shared a super bibliographic resource: Over 200 Education and Science Blogs. He kindly included Pedablogue in the directory. Here’s the abstract:

ABSTRACT: This compilation, an expansion of the earlier “Over Sixty Education Blogs,” lists over two-hundred education and science blogs, providing for each blog: the author’s name and background; the blog title, focus, and URL; and (where available) the Technorati Authority [TA] and the Blogged Rating [BR]. Appendix A discusses the Academic Discussion List Sphere (ADLsphere) and the Blog Sphere (Blogosphere), indicating the strengths and weaknesses of each. Appendix B considers the ADLsphere and the Blogosphere as harbingers of a collective short-term working memory. Appendix C discusses the International Edubloggers Directory, Technorati, Blogged, ScienceBlogs; other blog directories and lists; and other social networking sites. The REFERENCES contain over 100 general citations to open access, internet usage, the ADLsphere and the Blogosphere.

Visit HakesEdStuff to download the file.

FACULTY WANTED in Popular Fiction!

[NOTICE: The deadline for applications has ended and we have begun vetting a parcel of strong contenders. Should a viable candidate not be chosen, I will repost.]

*** A Public Service Announcement! ***
Assistant Professor of English
Location: Greensburg, PA
Category: Faculty – Liberal Arts – English and Literature
Posted: 11/10/2008
Application Due: Open Until Filled
Type: Full Time
Seton Hill University seeks published novelist of popular fiction (preferably mystery/suspense), to teach and to mentor novel-length theses in the graduate low-residency Writing Popular Fiction program (half-load), and to teach undergraduate courses in creative writing and first-year composition.
Candidates should hold a Ph.D. in English, MFA considered. Background in journalism, publishing, and/or editing a plus. Teaching experience/potential at undergraduate level desirable.
Send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, official transcripts, a statement of philosophy of teaching, a writing sample, a teaching portfolio, and three letters of reference. The review process will begin February 15, 2009 and will continue until the position is filled.
Seton Hill University is a Catholic, liberal arts University, educating traditional and non-traditional undergraduate and graduate students. Classes are offered in a variety of formats – day, evening, and weekends. Seton Hill has a student-centered campus culture based on Catholic values, acceptance, community and service. The campus is located 35 miles east of Pittsburgh.
Postal Address: Dr. John Spurlock, Chair
Humanities Division
Seton Hill University
Seton Hill Drive
PO Box 507F
Greensburg, PA 15601
Email Address:

[NOTICE: The deadline for applications has ended and we have begun vetting a parcel of strong contenders. Should a viable candidate not be chosen, I will repost.]

Humanities Resource Center Online

Dennis Jerz’s Literacy Weblog today points to the new Humanities Resource Center and “a major study that aims to establish benchmarks for assessing the humanities” from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. This looks like a terrific resource for guaging the Humanities and a good assessment tool to delve into at a later date. I have agreed to chair our Humanities Division at our university starting in the Fall, so I definitely appreciate this lead.

Winter Break Decluttering

“Buried in Paper” by writer couple Melanie and Steve Rasnic Tem was recently posted at Storytellers Unplugged. It uncannily reflects my own recent resolution to declutter a lot of the paperwork that’s piling sky high in my home office. I’ve been meticulously cataloguing and reorganizing my home bookshelves for months, and still haven’t gotten it perfect, with stacks of books here and there still on the floors in offbeat categories that don’t “fit” on shelves with others in a tidy way (I keep vacuuming around these stacks, secretly hoping the vacuum will suck them up and solve my problem).

I often go through bouts of decluttering in the early summer, right after classes end. It gives me a feeling, quite literally, of a ‘clean break.’ But whenever I’ve invested a little time during the (ever so short) winter break to do this, I’ve had a more enjoyable spring. Wish me luck.

A few related links to pass along and note for later reading, should I fail to meet my resolution: