Thursday, January 31, 2013

"Wallpaper" Not Such a Popular Story

The reason I like "The Yellow Wallpaper" so much is because it's not always clear what's happening. I don't need clarity; I just need possibilities. I like the different interpretations of the story. Mostly, I read it as an allegory, where a woman is trapped in her marriage, position, life, etc. Kudos to the students in class with the guts to say, "I didn't read it that way." This attitude will get you far.

I should give a (late) disclaimer now. My taste for fiction leans towards the more depressing. I usually read things that require interpretaion, things that have a level of ambiguity. Most of the things I choose are sort of dark and there's often death and/or desertion. And if there's not death and/or desertion, then there's probably a different darkness element. The next story I've assigned for class (to be read for Friday, Feb. 1) is Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants." If the students weren't crazy about "The Yellow Wallpaper" (pun intended), then they're probably not going to like "Hills Like White Elephants" at all. In the past, students have come to class not knowing what the heck is going on in the story. Almost always, a few have figured it out. I told them to be thinking about what the "operation" is. We'll see.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lots of Blogs ... LOTS!!

To tell you the truth, it's been a little hard to keep up with them. Lately, I've spent my spare time adding url after url to the list to the right. While the blogs are still pretty informal, I have asked students to stay on topic a little more this semester than last semester. And I've added my ENG 102 students who have no other option but to write in response to some of the readings. I'm really enjoying the responses so far. Most of them are rather insightful and they seem to be serving the purpose of helping students get ideas from their minds into word form.

On a fun side note, I sent an email to Sherman Alexie's agent so the agent can let him know that students are writing about one of his short stories ("The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven"). His agent says he's too busy to respond to all correspondence, but she will pass it on. The possibility that an author of one of the stories we have read in class may be reading students' responses to that story is intriguing. I've dome something similar in the past when I had students read First Blood. Turns out that David Morrell, the "father of Rambo" is a very accessible author; I emailed him directly and he responded directly, answering some student questions about the novel. This semester, my 102 students are also reading Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. Maybe Chabon would like to know this and comment on students' reactions??

Thursday, January 24, 2013

So It Begins ...

I have about 100 students writing blogs this semester. All of their links will eventually be on the list to the right, which automatically puts the most recently updated blogs at the top. Please take some time to read them and comment. Some of them are from ENG 101: Writing and Research, where students can write in response to readings, class activities, or other approved topics. Other blogs are for ENG 102: Intro to Literature, where students have to write in response to readings. So far, they are looking pretty good, I think.

Friday, January 11, 2013

School's About to Start

School starts Monday and I'm once again incorporating blogs. This time, though, I'm doing it for all five of my classes -- three ENG 101: Writing and Research and two ENG 102: Intro to Literary Genres. I'll still use this site as the host for all of them. I'm working on organizing it so it will be more reader friendly.

My syllabus language for the blog changed ever so slightly. Here it is:


Each student needs to create a blog. You will create one blog post per week (starting week 2 through week 12) in response to readings. You will also need to comment on other students’ blogs. We will try to use Blackboard to share our posts with each other. Blog posts are usually 200-300 words, but you are welcome to write more. Comments need to demonstrate that you read the post you are commenting on. These will be graded on completion unless there is a clear lack of effort.

The blog serves a few purposes. One is that it acts as a journal and helps students get their thoughts out of their heads into word form. Blogs should also create, in students, some sense of accountability because the blog posts will be on the web for the world to see.

If you have a spare moment, I would appreciate you reading a student's blog now and then, maybe even leaving a comment.