Sunday, January 07, 2018

Choose Your Own (Early Modern) Adventure

I'm trying something totally new and different in my senior seminar this year.  I'm going to give students the opportunity (I hope they see it that way) to choose the texts they want to read, within certain limits.

It's a once a week, three hour course (evening).  For the first week, I'll send them a questionnaire asking them which of the following texts they've studied or read.  And I'll also send them a pdf of Sidney's Defense of Poesy, along with a reading assignment of some sort (like asking them to choose one image they find interesting or confusing or something.  Maybe also a bit of Palladis Tamia or something?

That first week, we'll talk about what literature's for, and I'll give them their first real assignment, which will be to look at Wikipedia type entries for some literature, and to come the following week with choices about what they want to read and why.  (I'll probably make that a group assignment.  Or not.)

The second week, we'll start with Hamlet, which many will have read, but which it won't hurt to read and study a second time.  We'll also go over the choice assignment, and decide on what to read for the rest of the semester.  Then they'll have two more weeks of Hamlet and criticism and such, and then we'll start in on their choices.

For the final text, I'm thinking of ordering Oroonoko just to have something really different.  We'll see.  It's a bit up in the air.

Here's the tentative list for choosing their literary adventures (in no real order yet):

Spenser, The Faerie Queene, Bk 1 or 3  (2 weeks)

More, Utopia  (1-2 weeks)

Montaigne, Castiglione, and Machiavelli (essays, exerpts)  (1 week)

Surrey, Wyatt, Tottel's: lyrics and sonnets (1 week)

Lanyer, Jonson, ? Country House Poems, etc.  (1 week)

Donne: Holy Sonnets, Lyrics (1 week, maybe 2?)

Herbert Lyrics from The Temple (1 week)

Shakespeare: Lear or Rape of Lucrece (2 weeks)

Marlowe, Faustus (2 weeks)

Milton, Paradise Lost  (2-3 weeks)

Shakespeare/Sidney/Spenser: sonnets (not all, of course)  (1 week)

There's WAY more there than we'll read and discuss in 12 weeks, but I'm happy for some more suggestions if folks have them, also for how much time I've assigned, secondary reading, and so on.  (I think I'm going to find a decent essay on canon development and critique for the first week.)

What do you think?  Are there obvious early modern pieces that I should give students a chance at?

1 comment:

  1. I have no early modern suggestions, but I'm really interested to hear how this experiment unfolds. I've been thinking a lot lately about what lifelong readers/learners do and how we can teach the relevant skills, and choice is part of the equation, I think.