Category Archives: This Week In My Classes

This Week In My Classes: Appeasing Fascists

You never know what twists of fate will bring new relevance to the readings you’ve assigned. Teaching A Room of One’s Own soon after the David Gilmour fiasco, for instance, made Woolf’s arguments about women’s writing (“everywhere and much more subtly the difference of value persists”) seem unhappily current; teaching Walter Mosley’s Devil in a Blue Dress just […]

This Week In My Classes: Revisiting Chartres Cathedral

From the Novel Readings Archives: Since I started this blog almost ten years ago, one of its most important roles for me has been as a place for me to reflect on my teaching, which is the part of my professional life I value the most and that takes up, usually, the majority of my […]

This Week In My Classes: No Classes!

This week will be our first ever week-long fall break, one of several adjustments to the academic schedule that have come into effect this year. I’m against it in principle, because no matter how long the break, more and more students (in my experience) leave early for it and come back late, which, along with […]

This Week In My Classes: Mercy and Tenderness in “Lizzie Leigh”

Our reading for today in The Victorian ‘Woman Question’ was Elizabeth Gaskell’s 1850 short story “Lizzie Leigh.” We’re reading it at the end of a cluster of other works that deal with ‘fallen women,’ including Aurora Leigh, Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s “Jenny,” Augusta Webster’s “A Castaway,” and Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market” (which, we agreed, is certainly about women and sexual […]

Last Week In My Classes: Where’d They Go?

I’ve been feeling a bit downcast since Friday, because attendance absolutely plummeted in the tutorials for my Close Reading class and I can’t stop worrying about why — and wondering what to do about it. My particular cause for concern is that last week, as you might recall, we started working on Middlemarch. I brought all […]

This Week In My Classes: In the Thick of It All

First of all, where did this past week even go? It feels like just yesterday I was writing my previous post, in a flush of enthusiasm about Aurora Leigh, and now we’ve wrapped up our time with it in The Victorian ‘Woman Question.’ After Wednesday’s student presentation, we’ll be moving on, first to a pair of poems about ‘fallen women’ (Dante […]

This Week In My Classes: The Radicalism of Aurora Leigh

In my seminar on the Victorian ‘Woman Question,’ we started work last week on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s 1856 verse-novel Aurora Leigh. It’s usually kind of hard going for the students: although it does have many of the familiar features of a Victorian marriage plot novel, it also includes (among quite a bit of more miscellaneous material) […]

This Week In My Classes: A Rogues’ Gallery of Style

Over the past few weeks in Close Reading we have been working on disentangling specific elements of poetry and fiction in order to improve the precision of our analysis. We’ve focused, for instance, on tone and diction, on figurative language, on imagery, on symbolism, on rhythm, on point of view, on narrative voice, on characterization, and […]

This Week In My Classes: Back At It Again

I was struggling over what to write about in this post, which begins the 10th season of my blogging regularly about my teaching. What angle, what big idea, what topic, should I focus on? What do I have to say that’s new? I couldn’t seem to think of anything. And then I remembered that when I started […]

Next Week In My Classes: Back to School!

It happens so gradually at first: there’s a slight chill in the evening air, the sky is a little darker on my morning run, the leaves look just a little less green. Then a faint hum begins on campus: more people are in their offices, the sidewalks are a bit more crowded, signs of arrivals […]

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