MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Saturday, May 20, 2017

May 20-21, 2017: Summer and Fall 2017 Previews



[As the Spring 2017 semester comes to a conclusion, this week I’ve offered semester reflections focused on new things I tried in my courses. Leading up to this special post previewing my Summer and Fall courses!]
My Fall 2017 semester will feature only one course (the Honors Lit Seminar on America in the Gilded Age that I’ll be teaching for the third consecutive Fall) that’s likely to stay very similar to its prior iterations. The others, which are either entirely new or will be significantly revised, are:
1)      American Historical Fiction (Graduate): For the third straight summer, I’ll be teaching a hybrid course in our Graduate English Program. But while the prior two such courses were entirely new, and thus created as hybrid classes, this time I’ll be turning a class I’ve taught a few prior times, American Historical Fiction, into a new, hybrid version. To be honest, my initial impulse was just to use the same syllabus and have half of our discussions (those focused on literary excerpts and scholarly essays, rather than novels) online; but that’s not a truly hybrid class, nor would it take advantage of the form’s possibilities. I’m still figuring out how to best use digital materials for those online meetings and discussions (and as always I’m open to suggestions!), but am determined to make this class hybrid in meaningful as well as practical ways.
2)      First-year Writing I: My Fall section of Writing I isn’t hybrid, but I’d say somewhat the same thing. That is, I’ve ordered the same two anthologies (the Seagull Reader: Essays and Short Stories collections), and am planning the same main units and writing categories (personal essays and analysis, short stories and argument, songs and close reading, and a combination of personal and academic writing on a topic of their choice), as has been the case for my last few Writing I sections. But I’m nonetheless determined to revise the course, and especially to find ways to include digital and multimedia texts, materials, and writing possibilities alongside those more traditional print forms. I’ll keep you posted, and again I welcome any and all suggestions and ideas!
3)      Major Author: Mark Twain: Here’s where it gets really new and exciting. For my third section of our departmental Major Author course (previously I’ve featured Henry James and W.E.B. Du Bois), I decided to get seriously filial, focusing on Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain. As I did for the Du Bois course, I’m hoping to have the students produce their own work in (and as a way to analyze) many of the genres in which Twain worked: humorous sketches and satire, travel writing and autobiographies, stage performance, and more. I’m also thinking hard about following up my NeMLA roundtable on re-reading by having students begin and end the course by reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, to see how our readings of and conversations about that complex and important book develop and shift after working with all the semester’s materials. But those are just starting points, and again I welcome any and all suggestions for content, strategies, or anything else!
4)      ALFA: Great New Short Stories: To reiterate what I said in my earlier post this week on my adult learning courses, my goal of balance requires that this fall’s new ALFA course be a literature-focused one, and it will be: we’ll be reading and discussing nine short stories (one together on the first day, two each for the remaining four meetings) from the Best American Short Stories 2016 anthology. But while that’s a relatively set plan, there are twenty total stories in that anthology (you can see the Table of Contents here), so if you have strong preferences or recommendations among them or their authors, you know what to do!
Next series starts Monday,
Ben
PS. Summer or Fall plans you’d share? Responses to these classes? Lemme know!

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