Category Archives: Teaching

Teaching Art: “Let me describe it to you”

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that we’ve been watching one of The Learning Company’s ‘Great Courses,’ The History of European Art. In the comments thread, I noted that the lecturer’s favorite move is to “describe” an artwork to us. At first glance (so to speak!) that seems an odd strategy: we’re looking right at […]

The May Marks Meeting: That’s What It’s All About

Today we held one of our department’s most cherished and loathed rituals: the “May Marks Meeting.” It’s called that because one of its key elements is the annual review of students’ marks in aid of awarding our departmental scholarships and prizes, and also because we go over the standing of all of our current graduate […]

This Week in My Classes: Anger and Passivity

Andrea Kaston Tange’s post on ‘the chastising professor‘ at Curiouser and Curiouser was timely: on the very day it went up, I had started my intro class with a brief rant pep talk about last week’s disappointing attendance and lackluster participation. It was a subdued occasion: no hissy fits, I promise! My intervention was very much […]

Is Cormac McCarthy a Terrible Writer?

For the record, I don’t think so. In fact, I think he’s brilliant. Mind you, so far I’ve read only The Road. [Update: now I’ve also read No Country for Old Men.] Still, though I had my doubts when I began it for the first time, by the time I finished it I was under the spell of […]

This Week In My Classes: Information and Education

We’re starting new books in both of my classes this week (well, weather permitting, we are, anyway!): The Road in Introduction to Literature and Cranford in 19th-Century Fiction. What makes this a particularly exciting but also daunting prospect for me is that they aren’t just the next books on our syllabus but they are also […]

This Week In My Classes: The Value of F2F

Last week I cancelled two regular class meetings for my Introduction to Literature Class and instead set up individual conferences, 15 minutes per students. (If you want to do the math, of the 26 registered students 24 ended up meeting with me, so that was six actual contact hours in place of two, and since it […]

From the Archives: The Last Time I Taught Bleak House

For some reason this phrase has been running through my head to the tune of “The Last Time I Saw Paris.” I don’t know why I would be feeling nostalgic about teaching Bleak House, though it was rather a while ago–it was Fall 2008, to be precise. Because we’ve started work on it in my 19th-century […]

This Week In My Classes: Wrapping Up

The last ten days or so have been all about evaluating the final assignments for my two fall-term classes, Mystery and Detective Fiction and The Somerville Novelists. The students in my Intro to Literature class wrote a last essay for the term too, but that came in earlier and so I was able to turn […]

This Week in My Classes: Year 6 Begins!

I find this hard to believe, but 2012-13 will be the sixth year for my series on ‘this week in my classes.’ I began this series as a straightforward attempt to document and reflect on what goes on in an actual university English class, as opposed to the phantom indoctrination factory some people seemed to […]

From the Archives: My Teachers — An Appreciation

My daughter starts Grade 6 tomorrow, which for her is the beginning of the end of elementary school. Talking to her about that tonight reminded me of my own Grade 6 year, which was a turning point for me both personally and academically. This thought, in turn, reminded me of this earlier post. As I […]

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