First, I apologize for the logistical chaos of this morning! Tomorrow we meet in Razran 318 again.
Second, thanks for humoring me today and writing your goals. It’s quite helpful.
Reading over your goals for this course, it seems that several of you are primarily here to fulfill a requirement. I appreciate your candor and hope that the frankness of your responses will show itself in our classroom discussions as well.
That said, several more of you also expressed a desire to familiarize yourself with different genres of American literature. That, I promise, will be the case. A number of you—actually a great number—express that you don’t want to read boring literature. That’s understandable, for sure, and I can promise that I did not deliberately set out to choose the most boring poems, short stories, plays, and novels I could think of. However, for the sake of breadth in topic, tone, voice, diction, plot, genres, characters, multiple aspects of the US in representation in the works, and what have you, I cannot guarantee that you will find all the works equally fascinating. It’s my hope that you’ll be able to express your personal feelings towards anything we read, while simultaneously grounding your opinion in analysis.
For the work part of the class—the engine room, if you will—a surprising number of you express deep-seated aversion to the 10 page research paper. Given that this session is not even a month long, you are not expected to produce one, so here—at least—we are on the same page (though I do believe that the 10 page paper is a worthy genre). However, you will be doing a lot of writing (in and out of class) about the works we encounter. For those of you who expressed hopes that this class will further your critical thinking skills, vocabulary, and ability to think through writing: good news. For those of you who did not express that as a goal (and maybe were less diplomatic about it), I hope to win you over. The purpose of all the writing, however, is to ultimately allow us to discuss the works in depth rather than remaining of the surface of personal opinion and, as someone put it, “just regurgitate the reading.” No doubt, it’s a lot of work. But, then again, we are doing a semester’s worth of learning in a four short weeks.
Thanks for a good first meeting. If you want to share your Dickinson poem, I’d be happy to put it up here!