Hi, everyone. :: slinks back in guiltily :: Sorry about the blogging hiatus. You can put it down to a combination of being distracted by personal / family stuff, and mid-spring semester slump. (I've always had a hard time with spring semester. It feels like this low, low ebbtide in the year, with all the short days and the greyness and the cold, and the shininess of the new classes wears off much faster than it does in the fall. The students are worn out, I'm worn out, and the nine weeks between the beginning of the semester and spring break feel like a long, long slog. There are many things I love about the eccentricity of the academic calendar, but this is not one of them.)
-- Courseblogging stuff: Thanks to everyone who posted comments on my last post! I think I figured out a reasonable amount of stuff to do with Long Victorian Novels, or at least this particular novel. Here's how it broke down.
- First couple of days: some collateral readings from the "Woman Question" and "Industrialization" sections of the Norton. (Might do more of this next time around -- this is a novel about, among other things, education, and I'm thinking it might be interesting to read some selections from "The Idea of a University" alongside it, and I can see some connections to "Dover Beach" if I squint.)
- Third day: close reading of selected passages. (This did not go over particularly well, but I think it's necessary prep for the short paper that ties in with this novel. I'm still casting around for good ways to get students to focus on language, especially with fiction; mostly, they seem to want to skip straight to plot and character.)
- Fourth and fifth days: Some excerpts from the magazine in which the novel was originally serialized and the author's correspondence with the editor (Day 4), and some selected passages from critical articles about the novel, which pairs of students had to support or refute with evidence from the text (Day 5). They did pretty well with this stuff, and I think it was a nice opportunity to introduce some of the things that professional critics think about.
- Sixth day: Clips from the miniseries. (Oh, all right, you can tell I'm getting tired when my lesson plan consists of YouTube.)
And here we have two weeks of classes fitted.
-- A real live Shakespeare play on our campus! Yay! The theater department did a fantastic job, I thought, and I'm hoping there will be more (although our student demographics make all but a few Shakespeare plays tough to cast, since there simply aren't enough men). I don't know how many of my Shakespeare students made it to a performance, but one of my favorite freshmen from the survey class liked it so much that she went back twice :)
-- Advising season is upon us, and it's coming home to me that I really have no clue what I'm doing. I'm not sure how to get some of these students into my office at all, much less tell them in a nonjudgmental way to get their act together, much less give advice on how to do this. (One of my advisees is in my Shakespeare class. She doesn't turn in papers, she doesn't participate, and she hasn't written five out of six in-class responses. And yet, she keeps coming to class, as if merely being present in the room will magically cause her to pass. And this is the one I know how to find.)
-- Anybody else planning to be at SAA next month? Should we have a meet-up?