Instructor: Weissman R 9:30-12:20pm
This seminar on teaching literature at the college level will bear on the work you do in the classroom as a teacher as well as your work as a scholar and writer. It will introduce you to a variety of pedagogical approaches for studying poetry, fiction, and other literary texts, while impacting your own practices of reading, analyzing, and interpreting literature. Our emphasis will be on “making students rather than teachers the responsible agents for learning in classrooms,” as Sheridan Blau puts it in The Literature Workshop. To this end, we will examine how to have students study literature as active learners rather than as passive recipients of the teacher’s learning. How do we distinguish between more and less compelling interpretations of a literary text? When and how is a literary interpretation wrong? What qualities and practices distinguish highly skilled readers from those who are less skilled? What kind of literature assignments are more and less valuable for student learning? What concepts and terms may be most usefully applied to literature? These are some of the questions we will seek to answer, often through exercises or “workshops” where, together, we will read, briefly write on, and discuss short texts in class. In addition to Blau’s The Literature Workshop (2003) and essays applying cognitive literary studies, narrative theory, and genre studies to teaching, we may read Cristina Vischer Bruns’s Why Literature? (2011) and, for an understanding of the history and development of literary study in the U.S., Gerald Graff’s Professing Literature (1987; 2007).