Grateful for showing up and hope you and yours are coping well enough with this enormous disaster.
If you're not, or if things go from bad to worse for you, please communicate whenever you can and together we can try to keep everyone going through December.
Made some adjustments to the course requirements so that we can do our work without adding to misery
1st classes--profs want grand preview, get big ideas up front, prepare students for later reinforcement
What students get: sense of personalities, styles, expectations (how much work, what possible pleasures)
not try to do too much, and if it starts to feel that way, I'll refocus.
me: at UHCL since 1992, 66 years old, married longer than I was single, grandfather, first students grandfathers; last year or two before retiring
hired to teach early American literature + multicultural studies
teaching style: student-centered learning, learn by doing, discussing
you: small class, challenges / opportunities
peculiarities of course: so many different materials > students must self-direct (contrast American Renaissance)
discussion questions (today)
why we read literature of the past?
knowledge + critical thinking
but do we identify? How far back can we go in literary history and feel as though it matters to us now? (Shakespeare, Classical Tragedy, etc.)
approach the unknown through the known—if we like something from the past, why? If not, why not? What does either tell us about ourselves?
frees us from tyranny of the present
humans mostly limited to very short time, limited attention span
if you can think like the past, you can think like the future
Also helps see present fresh, what you take for granted, how it evolved, what may happen next
(history as necessity > analogy > recombination of human agencies and natural or built environments)
pleasure of learning
Which America do we teach?
multicultural population but dominant culture institutions: university, English language
cross-pressures between what students want to or can read
what authority figures say students should read
Emergence of “Literature” as we know it today from earlier genres like letters, pamphlets, public documents; spoken and written literatures and cultures
"Literature" as known today = creative writing, esp. fiction, poetry, drama
> creative nonfiction: autobiography / memoir
appeals: escape, entertainment,
"LIterature" as known before 1800s = anything written, from poetry to history to science
direct cultural information
less symbolic and figurative, more literal or informative
appeals: knowledge how world works, but can feel more like work than entertainment or escape
Federalist 10.22 kindle a flame > conflagration
syllabus is never finished but continues to be improved or developed--no big changes without warning
instructor has taught course maybe a dozen times
doctoral training and dissertation in American Renaissance
course evolves with changing scholarship and changing students
balance instructor's ancient knowledge with students' developing insights and fresh apps
instructor's ancient knowledge:
brief lectures and presentations
terms, objectives, themes linked through website
students' developing insights and fresh apps:
Student presentations & student-led discussions