Posts Tagged ‘Literature’

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Multimodal Mondays: Re/Mixing Multimodal Assignments Across Courses and Disciplines

posted: 2.9.15 by Andrea Lunsford

Today’s guest blogger is Jeanne Law Bohannon.

When I begin a new semester, I try to make time to reflect on my pedagogy and its implications/opportunities for student-scholars across my courses and across disciplines.  This semester, I have actually done it! You may recall that last fall I blogged on a Multimodal Monday about Gaming Vlogcasting. I wanted to take that assignment and re/mix it for a different audience and purpose.  [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Digital Writing, Guest Bloggers, Literature, Multimodal Mondays, Teaching with Technology, Visual Rhetoric
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Where do you stand on the Common Core Standards?

posted: 3.21.13 by Andrea Lunsford

If you haven’t been following the national discussion on the Common Core, you may want to tune in about now.  These “standards” for math and English Language Arts, developed by a group primarily made up of administrators and policy makers, are set to take effect in 2014; some 47 states plus the District of Columbia have signed on to them.

But recently a backlash of resistance seems to be mounting, and several states (including Indiana) may be pulling out.  One of the biggest points of contention seems to center on the recommendation in the standards that students do more reading of “information” texts.  Many have reacted strongly, charging that a shift to such “informational texts” will mean the end of literature in the curriculum (see the Washington Post’s Common Core Sparks War over Words”).  [read more]

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Categories: Andrea Lunsford
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Literature and Entertainment

posted: 5.5.11 by Jack Solomon

The classic dichotomy by which we distinguish “high” (or artistic) culture from “low” (or popular) culture holds that the former is educational or uplifting, somehow, while the latter is merely entertaining. This dichotomy is reinforced by the way literature has been traditionally taught; that is to say, literature has tended to mean “texts from the past,” often written according to cultural and stylistic conventions that are alien to us, not to mention difficult and (that most damning of contemporary predicates) boring.

Of course, popular cultural studies has long since deconstructed this dichotomy to point out (among other things) that what counts as high culture today was once viewed as entertainment (the novels of Charles Dickens and even the plays of William Shakespeare are excellent examples of this shift). And from Horace to Sir Philip Sidney, poetry (as high art) has been declared to exist for the purpose of delighting as well as instructing (or, to be more precise, instructing by way of delight).

After a professional lifetime of teaching both high art literature and popular culture, I find myself contemplating just how important the entertainment component of Literature (with a capital L) has always been (more, I think, than it has been given credit for). After all, the fact that literary criticism—which, one way or another, spells out whatever may be instructive in a literary text—is not only unpopular but is often condemned by nonliterary critics is explained by its lack of entertainment value. The literary artist who can entertain an audience has always had far more readers than the critic or philosopher who can say the same thing and say it more clearly and directly. [read more]

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Categories: Literature, Popular Culture
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Gen Ed Poetry: Finding a Real Toad or Two

posted: 3.4.11 by archived

It’s poetry time in my Writing about Literature class, so I’ve been considering yet again how to approach talking about something  a majority of my students dread. I think back to my own experiences with poetry in college. Beyond the introductory Lit Crit course I took as an English major (I remember explicating William Carlos Williams’s “Spring and All”), I took two Form and Theory of Poetry classes, one as an undergraduate and the other in graduate school. In the first, the reading list was eight or ten books of poetry, many several hundred pages long: Rimbaud, Pound, Eliot, Hart Crane, Wallace Stevens. Despite my love of reading and my overall diligence as a student, I found my eyes bouncing over the words without much comprehension and I gave up partway through each book; instead I annotated a few poems while dutifully following the teacher’s comments.

In the second course, with a far different approach, we studied prosody and wrote our own samples of heroic couplets and blank verse, ballads, terza rima, villanelles. It took me forty exhilarating hours to finish my first sonnet. Neither of these courses, however, seem useful models for my method and goals in asking composition students to read, think about, and write about poetry. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Holly Pappas, Literature
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Lit for Comp

posted: 2.11.11 by archived

This semester, for the first time in several years, I am teaching a section of second-semester composition, which at my college is titled Writing about Literature. Its course description sits uneasily between comp and lit:

Students read and respond to diverse literary texts while continuing to build on the critical thinking and writing skills developed in ENG 101. This course provides a foundation for the study of literary genres, including poetry, drama, the novel, and the short story. Students apply literary terminology and theory and use evidence to support their responses through a variety of writing assignments. In so doing, they make connections between their lives and the world.

I won’t address the appropriateness of this as second-semester comp class, since that battle has been fought already (at least locally), but I have practical concerns about exactly what literature to assign in the course.

Many of my colleagues use standard anthologies, with their familiar selections of short fiction, poetry, and drama (Updike’s “A & P,” Theodore Roethke’s “My Papa’s Waltz,” Susan Glaspell’s “Trifles”). I understand the pedagogical goals: to introduce students to some time-tested (or rather English-classroom-tested) literature and to teach the skills that compose careful reading. These anthologies also have the convenience of providing in one volume both familiar texts and an introduction to literary terminology and theory (cf. course description). And I was particularly struck by a colleague’s recounting of how thrilled one of her students was to hear mention in “the outside world” of some Robert Frost poem they had studied in class.

I have my misgivings about this approach, though. Take, for example, Faulkner’s  “A Rose for Emily.” I’ve had several recent conversations with students befuddled about that particular short  story. I spoke to them in vague terms about reading carefully and making note of things they didn’t understand. I did not, however, point them in the direction of all the available online help: 243 essays from alone.  Even if students don’t give in to plagiarism temptation, the situation is uncomfortably close to the ethical concerns of enticement. How many students who know of such resources will resist the temptation to at least look? Maybe that doesn’t matter. Is it so different from literary scholars reading the criticism of others? [read more]

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Categories: Community College issues, Holly Pappas
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Introducing LORE on Bits

posted: 7.6.09 by archived

After months of planning and a five-year hiatus, I’m happy to announce the launch of the Spring 2009 issue of LORE, an e-journal for adjuncts and graduate students who teach writing at colleges and universities.

Bits might not seem like the most likely host for LORE, but our missions are similar: both blogs and e-journals offer advice and observations drawn from real classrooms by real instructors. On Bits, you’ll find practical tips that help with the here and now, with your immediate challenges as an instructor. In LORE, you can read longer studies and deeper investigations of larger, more abstract issues in composition.

The current issue focuses specifically on the way that composition and literature intersect in pedagogy, in politics and professional lives, and in the growth of students. LORE’s editors, Colleen Foley and Kate Huber, gathered articles by instructors in every career stage—from graduate candidates, to adjuncts, to visiting professors, to program directors—offering us a panoramic view of how this issue affects and changes the field. [read more]

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Categories: Assignment Idea, Editor, Teaching Advice
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