Saturday, May 18, 2013
May 18-19, 2013: Next Semester Thoughts
After a week of reflections on the semester that’s ending, I thought it made sense to look ahead for a moment to the one that’ll start in a few months. I already spent a week blogging about my Major Author: W.E.B. Du Bois course, so here are quick thoughts on the other five courses I’m scheduled to teach this fall:
1) My Next ALFA Course: Haven’t gotten too far into planning this one yet, but one thing that came up in the last ALFA discussion this time was the idea of pairing under-read 19th century American authors with compelling 21st century ones: Sui Sin Far and Gish Jen, for example. Suggestions for other such pairings very welcome!
2) Grad Historical Fiction: I’m extremely excited to be teaching, for the third time, a graduate course (in our Master’s program) that I created, on American Historical Fiction. It should probably be called Ben’s Favorite Authors and Novels: Hawthorne, Sedgwick, The Marrow of Tradition, Absalom, Ceremony, Oscar Wao, Lahiri…Yes, I’m drooling. Don’t judge.
3) Approaches to English Studies: I’ve never taught our gateway-for-majors course before, although I’ve taught grad lit theory many times and plan to use many of the same overall strategies (at an undergrad level of course). But more than the content, what really excites me about this course is the chance to work with a cohort of English Studies Majors at the outset of their time in the department, and help get them started on the best possible foot.
4) American Literature I: The only course I’ve taught as frequently as Am Lit II is, shockingly, Am Lit I. But this will be the first time in two years that I’ve done so, and I’m excited to introduce a new group to Cabeza de Vaca’s amazing narrative, John Smith’s stunning third-person mythmaking, Judith Sargent Murray’s and Olaudah Equiano’s Revolutionary lives and voices, the single best chapter in ante-bellum American fiction, and much else besides.
5) First-Year Writing I: It’s been four years since I taught first-year writing (for reasons related to the topics of these two posts), and I’m beyond thrilled to have the chance to do so again. Does it hurt that I teach close reading through a unit on song lyrics, and so get to spend some class time analyzing “The River”? No, no it doesn’t. But beyond even Bruce, the fact is that no class allows for a closer connection to students—to their writing, yes, but also their voices and perspectives and goals—than does this one. Seeing former Writing students graduate remains one of my favorite teaching experiences, and I can’t wait to meet this new batch!
A lot to look forward to! Next series starts Monday,
BenPS. What are you looking forward to this fall (or summer) (or any other time)?