Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Help me fill a class day

Having caught up on my sleep last night, and with the semester a mere three weeks away here, I spent today updating my syllabuses for my two fall courses. One of them, I'm happy to say, needed no changes other than dates. Lest you think that I've already become one of those moribund stereotypes of a lazy prof even before being tenured, I feel I have to say that the reason why I'm not changing this class a bit is because it worked and I don't want to mess with it. Huzzah, a class that worked! Sure, I'll retool individual lesson plans, but the big picture part doesn't need messing with.

On the other hand, my research and methods class needed complete re-doing. Last time I had my colleagues come in to give state-of-the-field talks in their various fields, but I'm not sure that was useful for the students and I'm pretty sure it was a burden to my colleagues. My students and I might have debated which were the most useful/informative talks, but I think we'd all agree that the series was hit-and-miss, and when you're a beginning grad student, it's hard to take it all in anyway.

So this time I'm taking the class back -- more work for me, alas -- and spending much more time on the nitty gritty issues of research. I'll do a blog post with more detail about what I'm doing -- which I've been promising to do anyway -- but first I need your help. I have one slot in my class schedule that needs filling and since it comes near the end of the course, and after we finish reading Gerald Graff's Professing Literature, I'd like to do a day devoted to "The Future of Literary Studies." I might turn to blogs like The Valve (just to give one example) for the content, but I'm wondering if you wise people of tha interwebs have other ideas, particularly articles (in print or online; conventional media or blogs) about the profession (including those of both the hand-wringing ilk and the optimistic kind) and its future. I'd prefer they be specific to English/American literary studies, but related humanities fields, or the humanities in general might also be useful.

Any ideas?

1 comment:

Sceopellen said...

The Future of Literary Studies:

Well, in my humble opinion, the most crucial thing you could emphasise is that each person in your class could be the future of literary studies. And even though it seems like something that could fade, when we have been though feminist crit, postcolonial crit, marxist crit, queer crit, etc. there will always be new ideas.

When new texts are published, we need to explore them further than just the printed page in order to understand them. When we discover previously unknown texts, they need to be seen in their contexts. And most importantly, the world is an ever changing place, and we (as a race) are constantly developing new ways at looking at the world which clouds, or perhaps opens up new ways at looking at texts. Who would have thought, 200 years ago, that 200 men could fly in a metal bird?

Hope some of those ideas are useful...