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Via a Boston Globe article, check out this site of 60-second videos introducing classic (and/or oft-assigned) novels. Not only do these seem like useful introductions, they also might serve as models for students to compile and film their own such recaps.Also included is a (again short) video series on steps for writing a lit crit paper, with the hopeful title "How to Write a Paper that Won't Put Your Teacher to Sleep."
Just wanted to draw your attention to a couple of articles in Feb. 2008 CCC that connect to FYC issues:
Jane Danielewicz's article "Personal Genres, Public Voices" led me to revisit an issue I wrote about a few years ago, prompted by a fairly active blogosphere conversation at the time on personal vs public vs political writing in comp classes. A number of bloggers, as I recall, seemed to devalue writing based (solely) on personal experience, depositing it like a nasty-smelling rag held pinched between thumb and forefinger into the expressivist bucket of dirty mop-water. (And, to tell you the truth, I'm not too fond of those car accident, dead grandmother essays either that the personal narrative assignment seems to evoke.) Anyway, Danielewicz makes an interesting case that goes beyond the simplistic dichotomy of personal vs political writing to argue that
writing in personal genres, where the "I" is at the center, not only develops voice and cultivates identities but also enhances authority. Authority increases the chances that individuals are able to participate in public discourse, which is, ultimately, agency. (421)
It all raises interesting questions, I think, about where we're asking our students to draw their information and on what basis we're helping them to develop their "public voices."
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I'd also recommend Richard C. Raymond's article "When Writing Professors Teach Literature: Shaping Questions, Finding Answers, Effecting Change," or, as he puts the question later in the paper,
What happens when a literature course gets taught as a writing course, complete with reader-response journals, group work, peer response groups, conferences, revisions?
(I found this particularly interesting because my CC sets up 2nd semester comp as Writing About Literature, which is intended to be taught as a comp class but often, laden with a hefty anthology, seems to take on Lit Crit Lite tones.) Raymond writes about teaching American Lit (Dickinson and Whitman, mostly) in Albania to students "used to memorizing facts but not to thinking about those facts...Not used to writing to discover what they know, what they want to know, what they want to shape or change." Sound familiar??
Too often (maybe) books and computers are seen as attractions competing for our students' and our own time, with predictable results. But the Internet also offers much to supplement the literature classroom, particularly via the streaming video broadband connections have made possible. For example, check out Daniel Menaker's Titlepage, which debuts today (see here for more info). The first hour-long show features Menaker in a roundtable discussion with contemporary novelists Richard Price, Colin Harrison, Susan Choi, and Charles Bock. Such resources are tremendously valuable, I think, allowing our students to hear and see writers discussing their work. (This semester, for example, I've used the UNH Author Series interview with poet laureate Charles Simic.) Of course, there are many audio resources available as well. Have you found any AV materials in your Internet perambulations that you've used or that you think might be useful in yr literature classes?
To whet the appetite, first let me recommend Douglas Goetsch's essay in The American Scholar, "Poetry Stand," about a group of high school students who offer customized poems on demand.
My question for the week is a slight variation: how best can I sell poetry to my mostly not-so-excited students.This spring I'm teaching a couple sections of 2nd semester FYC, which at my college is titled "Writing about Literature." It's a comp course with students writing in response to literature (fiction, drama, poetry) they read in the class.
The course, for me, is distinctly different from a lit survey class in several ways. Let's stick with one: my selection of poems. Many of my colleagues seem to assign one of those hefty anthologies for the course, canonical works with the now-customary overlay of multiculturalism. I'm trying a different approach, in an attempt to choose more accessible poems (not necessarily the standard fare) and to save students the cost of an anthology of which I'll only assign (maybe) 5%. (I've written elsewhere about similar concerns wrt the essay canon.) So my question, in another form: what poems or poets have you found useful in transforming the poetry-haters?
As my contribution to the discussion, here's a list of sites you may find useful to supplement or replace anthologies as sources of poetry (with the wonderful added benefit that many include audio or video clips as well as text):