Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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English 1900e (2008): Class Notes

Posted: Sep 04, 2008 22:09;
Last Modified: Oct 04, 2008 10:10

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Friday 5 September: In-class Brain-Storming

For today’s class, you should have prepared by reading Gloria Sawai’s short story “The Day I Sat with Jesus on the Sundeck and a Wind Came Up and Blew My Kimono Open and He Saw My Breasts” in the course packet.

Read the story once through so you know its plot; feel free to note anything that seems interesting and/or odd to you, but mostly just enjoy the story.

Put the story aside a while and then read it again. This time be more aggressive about taking notes, underlining passages, marking up the margins. What passages, words, images, ideas, and scenes strike you as interesting this time through?

Using search engines like Google, look up things that strike your fancy: where is Moose Jaw? Does the Hillhurst some division show up on Google maps? The quarry? Did the author ever live there? Look up the title in the MLA bibliography (available via the Libraries website). Are there any articles on the story? Google the story title? any books? Look up the author in an encyclopedia.

Do your ideas hang together in some way? Do you see any interesting connections. Do some preliminary thinking about them, perhaps, but come to class with an open mind.

Wednesday 10 September: Group Brain-Storming

Read O’Connor’s story in the manner recommended above for Sawai). Prepare for meeting your tutorial group by thinking how you might explain the significance of the things that struck you on your first and second reading. What do you think the story means? Is the Misfit a Christ figure? A satanic figure? What does the title mean? Is the Grandmother a sinner? Is she saved? etc. etc.

At the beginning of the class, each group should appoint a chair and a secretary. The chair will be responsible for ensuring each person gets a turn to speak without interruption and to ensure that everybody speaks for no more than 5 minutes. The secretary will act as the group scribe, writing down the most important points at the end of the session.

In class, each member of the group will take turns discussing their best observations (prepare to speak informally to the group for about five minutes). When everybody has taken a turn, the group then goes around the circle again, taking turns at helping the others others find support for (or qualifications to) their observations. Does something you noticed help somebody else sharpen their arguments? Does something you noticed seem to contradict or call into question something they said?

Remember throughout that noticing a flaw in somebody else’s argument or pointing out a weakness is positive behaviour. It is as important to help fellow students discover weaknesses in an argument as it is to praise positive aspects; and nobody is helped if you notice what you think is a flaw in somebody else’s argument but don’t given that person a chance to explain what they mean or refine their point.

About 15 minutes from the end of class, the group should prepare notes for a report on their widely or most widely held observations, ideas, points, and suggestions for further reading and research.

Monday 15 September: Interesting Ideas Sheet

This week we will be discussing various aspects of essay writing at the University Level: style, formats, types of questions, etc.

For today’s class you should prepare the ground work the essay due next Monday. Please write up a page with basic notes for your essay: what are your going to be talking about? What are you going to be arguing? What is your most persuasive evidence?

Our class will follow the same pattern as our group brain storming session on Wednesday September 10: your group will appoint a chair, and each member of the group will take up to five minutes in turn explaining what their essay is going to be about to the other members of the group. After everybody has had a turn, the chair will go round the group asking each member to respond to the talks by raising questions, making comments and criticisms, and/or propose additional evidence and arguments to the others. The goal is to help each member prepare a better paper.

Friday 17 September: Drafts.

For today’s class, the groups will break into pairs. Each member of each pair will read their partner’s draft and make concrete proposals for improvement. These comments may involve corrections in style, grammar, and format. But they can also involve larger suggestions in terms of approach, evidence, and argument. After the members of the group have read the essay and made proposals, they will take turns discussing them with their partner. Finally, each member in the group will tell the other members of their group about their partner’s essay: summarise its argument and evidence, and note any reservations you may have.

Friday 26 September. Surprised by Joy.

For today’s class, the class will break into groups of approximately 5:

  1. (5-10 minutes) Silently read the poem, “Surprised by Joy,” from the screen, considering the following questions:
    1. What is the poem about (in broad terms)?
    2. To what extent is this meaning reflected in the poem’s form—its metre, its structure, line division, etc.
    3. How do formal aspects of the poem help refine its meaning? I.e. are their nuances in your broad paraphrase that the form of the poem helps bring to your attention
    4. Consider how you would read the poem aloud: where would you put pauses? Where would you raise or lower your voice? How much emphasis would you place on metre and rhyme? Which words would you stress?
# (20 minutes) Take turns reading the poem aloud and explaining your answers to the rest of the group.
  1. (5 minutes) Choose the person with the best reading in the group.
  2. (10 minutes) Each group’s best reader will read the poem aloud.
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