by Colleen

Over spring break, I signed my paperwork and I am joining the University of Iowa’s College of Education and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences! Teaching courses such as Children’s Literature, Teaching Shakespeare, Performance and Pedagogy, Rhetoric, and introductory-level literature courses, I decided to make my announcement on Sartorial Scholars by engaging in some hardcore thematic dressing in University of Iowa’s black and gold.


Yes, their mascot is Herky the Hawk, and more specifically a tiger hawk, which is not a real type of hawk at all.* But he wears a lot of gold and black.

During my spring break, I gave my first talk there as a new colleague discussing the concept of “Global Shakespeare(s)” and how to incorporate non-Anglophone Shakespearean films and performances into the English and Social Studies high school classroom to defamiliarize Shakespeare, (in some instances) consider cultural imperialism, and to highlight how global Shakespeare is really local Shakespeare. I wore the Herky-themed outfit at left.  And when I returned back to my current digs in Pennsylvania, I went through my closet to find the rest of my yellow and golden clothing–I have more than I thought!–to celebrate in true bumblebee colored style.

And so, I am stealing the Bond title “GoldenEye” in honor of the Hawkeyes (go sport! win team!) and my golden-themed week.

What’s black and white and yellow all over? My Wednesday outfit

A few quick notes:

  • Yellow is a hard color to wear. When I wore yellow the previous week, several people commented that they like yellow but it doesn’t look good on them. But I think yellow can be worn by almost anyone, if you find the right yellow. It may help you to think about your seasonal color analysis, or at least if your skin’s undertones tend to be warm or cool.
    • This was one of the better quizzes that I found, and it was inclusive of various racial variances (which is lacking in many other guides I have found that still only consider various white skin tones. ugh). This also covers the seasonal analysis for people of color.
    • If you are warm (golden skin tones), true yellow to the orange end of the spectrum may look better on you, whether you are a pale sallow tone to medium or darker olive complexion. If you are a cool tone (pinkish base), you may wish to lean more toward chartreuse, apple and pear green-yellows. The palest complexions often look better with vibrant yellows rather than creams and chiffons, which can make a pale person look even paler; darker complexions can wear many shades including the lemons that wash out pale skins.
    • You can tone down yellows with complementary violets (which look great on many people!) or with white, grey, or khaki. You can make yellow pop more with black, navy, or dark grey. And I love mixing colors, so I like yellows with other warm hues–such as oranges and reds, or contrasted with blues and deep greens.
    • When in doubt, start with a little pop of yellow–maybe earrings or a scarf–or wear the color away from your face, such as on bright happy yellow socks or a purse.


Menswear Monday:  scarf (Modcloth); polka dot jacket (Banana Republic); white button up shirt (Old Navy); yellow and silver bead necklace (Macy’s?); chevron tweed denim trousers (GAP); navy blue Chelsea boots (?). SOTD: Mad Madame by Juliette Has a Gun

Just sitting on my desk taking moody selfies in-between conferences

This was another student conference week with my first-year writing students. That means I was on campus from 9-6 (or 7) each day during this time. I canceled the first-year writing classes for these meetings (25 minutes each for 40+ students) but still taught my other two classes–British Literature and Shakespeare. Lots of meeting with students! (And some students missed conferences, too, or needed to reschedule, so also a lot of 25 minute blocks of time–too short to really get much grading or prepping done.)


Versatile bob. Curly day!

Some of my students are struggling to write at the beginning college-level, so it makes sense to give students highly differentiated feedback during these conferences rather than spending class sessions on what would be lower-level concerns (diagramming a sentence, for examples) so that instead we can discuss critical thinking and higher-level skills. This way, I can push those who already are competent writers to become better writers, thinkers, and readers; and those who are not fully prepared for college writing yet, I can work with more closely on mechanical concerns (and also help them find the best tutors, writing centers, and academic services on campus for additional help).

I always think of first-year college composition courses as a transitional course for students (regardless of their level) to introduce students to concepts such as: how to read a syllabus, composing professional emails, going to the library to meet with librarians, etc. (in addition to writing persuasive essays and research papers). This includes the importance of going to a professor’s office hours to ask questions or receive additional assistance.

I’m teaching at a university with many first-generation college students, and such students may drop out if they get sick because they do not know about medical withdrawal from a course, or they may miss three weeks because they couldn’t afford the textbook and did not know that the library may have a course reserve copy. That’s why I spend some class time covering the basics of college–that are really only the basics for those who have parents or older siblings that they may turn to for such information.

One student told me during conferences this week, “I’m really glad you make us each go to the tutoring center once during the semester. In high school, there was a stigma that you weren’t smart if you went–but now I know that these tutors who helped me with this essay even run a study session for my Psychology class, and I’m going to that later this week before the midterm.”

That is, it’s a lot of work, but it’s necessary work.

Sepia-toned fatigue/ matching those Cliff Notes

I posted on a Facebook group to which I belong about student conferences. And while I received some interesting comments, ranging from suggestions that I may implement (small group conferences to workshop introductions and thesis statements) to the slightly more cynical suggestion that all my office hours will be repaid in better evaluations (one prof noted that her student evaluation scores went up drastically when she started offering conferences).

BUT I initially asked: “Are such conferences more common in humanities/liberal arts classes?” Every prof who answered teaches first-year writing classes, literature classes, or history. I asked again, “But do non-humanities courses do these conferences?”

No one else commented on the thread. I’d love to hear if such student conferences, whether one-on-one or in small groups, are common in the classes my students say are the hardest for first-year students: math, sciences, and psychology/sociology. If not, I wonder why not? Or,  why are student conferences common practice in the humanities?

Tuesday: I inadvertently did some accidental thematic dressing. It’s not the first time that I subconsciously did that. I planned on wearing gold and black, but as I was teaching Twelfth Night, I kinda ended up dressing like one of the characters.

Specs: Black and white tweed moto jacket (Banana Republic); yellow plaid scarf (Modcloth); black dress (Old Navy); yellow tights (Modcloth); boots (Doc Marten)

SOTD: Honey by Marc Jacobs. I wanted my perfume to match my honeybee outfit.



(“Where’s Malvolio?” Two pairs of legs are mine; others are all costuming choices for various productions of Twelfth Night. I gave my Shakespeare students a quiz on Thursday with the bonus point question: What character did I inadvertently dress like last class?)

Wednesday: #BlackandWhiteWednesday!  Taking inspiration from Cruella de Vil, Pierrot/Pagliaccio (the sad clown), and Dracula, I wore ablack and white patterned raincoat (Banana Republic); yellow wool skirt (J. Crew, gifted); black tights (H&M); black booties (Doc Marten). (See our “Black and White Wednesday” post for more on this outfit.) (The image is above) SOTD: Sud Magnolia by Atelier Colognes

Thursday: (Saint Patrick’s Day!)

(And I do not teach on Fridays…)

Monday: #MenswearMonday (2nd round)

This was my Mr. Rogers’ themed day for more student conferences. Left to right: moody film noir detective shot because I found a payphone on campus! I did not even know those still existed (jacket: Banana Republic)); Dr. Rogers (i.e., me); shoe and sock details (any suggestions on cleaning suede?); and closeup detail of the tweed trouser jeans, polka dot tie, and pinstriped belt (so many #menswear traditional patterns).

FullSizeRender-69Tuesday: I finished off my gold and black in one of my favorite gifted dresses. I love late 1950’s/early 1960’s silhouettes and ModCloth delivers on that! 

Specs: Soda Fountain Dress in Ginger (ModCloth; I love it so much I have it in black, too); crimson vegan leather sash belt (ModCloth; out of stock, but this is similar); black cardigan (Target); black tights (H&M); black character shoes (ordered on Amazon); lip color: Smashbox be legendary matte lipstick in Infrared


In a recent post, Cindy writes of her own super cute and polished look:

 I like looking professional  and hyper feminine at the same time. There’s something about reminding people that I am an academic and also a woman that I really like, not because I seek any kind of attention (please, no), but because academia in general tries to force you to be as non-gendered (read: non-feminine) as possible.

This really resonated with me. I am someone who dresses “hyper feminine” almost all of the time (unless I am wearing men’s/boyfriend jeans and a black, striped boatneck, or concert T-shirt with a hoodie). Those are my two modes–hyper feminine or nondescript, schlubby, a little bit punk–and even my recent foray into #MenswearMonday is all new territory for me; I never wore pants teaching before, but always a dress or skirt.

I feel like Dr. Kennedy, the professor of English, when I wear a dress, cardigan, and scarf the same way a medical doctor dresses and becomes when she puts on her white lab coat and stethoscope. (Other scholars and/or academics may feel most confident in other modes of dress or regardless of dress, but for me this is what works.)

Maybe it is because I teach about performance, costuming, and the actor’s body, and especially about the early modern stage in which boys dressed as women–or maybe I preferred wearing dresses long before then–that I feel most comfortable on the classroom stage while wearing a dress.

Teaching is a performance, and I am not sure what part I am always dressing for (sometimes Malvolio, sometimes a vampire-clown, sometimes a mythical sports eagle) but I enjoy trying to improvise and prepare my lines the best I can.


*I totally doodled my own chimerical “tiger hawk” in my moleskin notebook during a recent conference: