Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Bit of Panic

As I'm thinking about next year's classes, I'm in a state of semi-panic.

It looks like I'll have a number of new class preps.  Some of these are my own fault.

Majors' Gateway Course (I've taught this before, something like 8 years ago?) (This is instead of comp, and like our comp, a course that meets for five hours a week.)
Lower Level Early British Course
Senior Seminar (Comedy, with lots of ideas, thanks to you folks!  I'm looking at texts now, and thinking about how to integrate some of the ideas you've shared.)

Majors' Gateway Course (repeat!)
MA level grad seminar

I may end up with another partial assignment and drop a course.  If so, I'll likely either drop the lower level Brit course or the grad seminar.

I was thinking about using the Routledge Romance of Arthur anthology (Eds. Norris J. Lacy and James J. Wilhelm) to do an Arthurian lit course in the lower level Brit course.

Pros: It would be potentially very fun, and students would be likely to find it so.
Cons: I'm not really up on Arthuriana and would need to read a lot during the summer.

 Or, I could do a Liz/Jac lit course from an anthology, and give students a taste of lyric, non-Shax drama, some prose fiction, and maybe a romance or two (or even end into Paradise Lost). 

Pros: The prep would be a ton easier, and I could choose from a lot of great lit.
Cons: A bit less popular with students.

What are your thoughts on the joys of either sort of class?  (In neither case would I do a rush through 200 years of lit thing.)

The Majors' Gateway course is mostly aimed at trying to get students to think like English majors, but inclusive of all our different sorts of majors (we have five sorts of majors, at least).  So we think about texts, metaphor, and so on.  Last time I taught it, I used a sort of questy theme, starting with Chretien and Perceval, and ending with Winterson's Oranges are Not the Only Fruit, Monty Python, and Indiana Jones.  I may rework the theme, or come up with something different.

I would like to have more variety: a non-fiction sort of text, more lyric poetry.  Those are sort of hard to work into the questy theme.  (I'd happily take suggestions.)  I did like it for the variety (Marie de France!  Monty Python!)

Now I'm trying to think of other themes which would play to my strengths and be interesting to students.

One of the things I really like about my job is that I don't have semester after semester of the same thing, endlessly.  (But then with lit, it seems like even a basic intro to lit could always be different.)

The flip side, though, is that I'm always thinking of new courses, prepping new stuff, sometimes giving myself more work than I should.

If I end up teaching the grad seminar, then I also need to do most of the prep for that over the summer.  (Our MA program students can take our senior seminars, so I need to offer something different for the MA program than for the senior seminar.)


  1. Arthurian lit is a lot of fun, and students do love it, but I don't like the Routledge anthology. For one thing, it's more European than British, and if you're doing *Brit* lit, this is a problem. IIRC, the texts also create a sort of composite life of Arthur, which, combined with the European focus, becomes a problem if you're trying to do only or mainly the English (or at least read in England, so including French and Latin) texts. I should probably just e-mail you some syllabi and text suggestions, because I have done a lot of iterations of Arthurian lit.

    I'll be doing the majors' gateway course next spring, after a similarly long time since my last go at it, so I'll be interested in what you do with that (though our course sounds much less intense than yours).

  2. I'm probably prejudiced as an early modernist, but do the Liz/Jac and please, please, please get them to read Paradise Lost. It's one of my all-time favorites works and seeing students' lightbulbs when they start to get it is the best.

  3. Dame Eleanor, I would be grateful for your input re the Arthurian class, or possibilities. And I would certainly be very interested to chat about your gateway class.

    Jodi, I know! PL is so wonderful to teach, even for a non-Miltonist, and it's just so central to so much later lit as well.

  4. I envy your three/three load....I'm teaching four classes this semester, three of them brand-new, and it's difficult. As much as I love variety, I'm looking forward to teaching all "old" classes next fall.

    And after teaching Monty Python in the comedy class, I'm determined to find a way to fit it into every literature class I teach!

    1. The Argument Clinic sketch is a must for First-year Comp.

  5. Can you open WordPerfect documents, or do I need to save as RTF?

  6. I would need RTF, please. Thank you! (I emailed you, too.)

  7. If you do a questly theme for the intro to the major, you could use Raleigh's Voyage to Guiana as a "non-fiction text....

  8. A teaching plan that I've committed myself to of late has been to run any major teaching prep TWICE before I totally rework it (barring catastrophes, mind you). So you could revisit the questing theme to good effect, reusing what worked and subbing in/out what didn't.

    Questing-themed lyric poetry? How about Byron's "Child Harold's Pilgrimage"? Maybe not but, hrm, I think it could be done. Good luck in any case!