+++++++ COURSE PORTFOLIO +++++++
American Literary Traditions / Randy Bass (Georgetown University)
This is the longest and most extensive section in the Course Portfolio. Therefore, I have divided it up into five sections:
The Argument section can be read straight through, following the NEXT links at the bottom of the pages, or using the Argument Section component of the Navigation Bar at the bottom of the page. Cross-references will be included throughout.
1. Overall, the course was successful at modelling new paradigms about narrative form. Most students seemed to feel that they learned something significant about the openness and complexity of form and literary narrative.
2. Most students saw continuities between technical and literary aspects of the course; most found the balance between the traditional and networked classrooms stimulating and productive. Most students were attracted to the course and saw its chief virtues in the balance and variety of learning activities, as well as its sense of coherence.
3. Most students were able to articulate, in their reflections or their projects, significant connections between their engagement with nontraditional and nonlinear narrative paradigms on the one hand, and narrative and literary complexity on the other, including some persistent themes of American literature, such as memory, storytelling, history, individual subjectivity, and communal and national meaning.
4. For most students, the chance to use electronic tools (and hypertext writing), while difficult for many, was interesting and expansive. For many, playing with the topography of writing was productively related to seeing narrative form differently. Whether they explicitly said it or not, many saw connections between new ways of reading and new ways of writing.
1. There is a fundamental tension between two of my basic goals: the desire to teach in two separate settings with multiple agendae, on the one hand, and the desire to utilize collaborative and active pedagogies even in the traditional setting on the other. As the semester progresses, the limited days in a traditional classroom leaves little time for traditional modes of discussion and analysis. Increasingly then, I am inclined toward teacher-centered, presentation style teaching. Collaborative pedagogies take time. There are several ways to address this I believe, which I'll elaborate below. But, this is a basic tension to be negotiated if both goals are maintained.
2. Although I was satisfied that students were able to open up their notions of form; I did not produce in them a high sense of rigor and responsibility for their writing to the extent that I wished.
3. Students need to be eased into writing in hypertext, through small assignments that begin with traditional rhetorical forms and branching out. In this course I believe that is the most productive way to go. I started them off with too extensive an assignment. It was very productive in opening up their approach to writing, but it was nearly overwhelming and bogged down the course in the middle.
4. Adjustments need to be made regarding the technical and structural aspects of the course. Most of the student evaluation critique revolved around one of these two elements: they felt that there needed to be more time spent on ironing out technical skills and glitches; and/or they felt that there was too much to do (studying the novels and learning the technical skills for treating the novels) in a two-day a week, three credit course. Somehow the balance and proporting of time needs to be adjusted. It is probably the case that the course should be a four credit three day a week (200 minutes) course, instead of a two day a week, three credit (150 minute) course.
5. The demands for balance and integration in this course would be better served in a different kind of physical space. Optimally, I need a teaching space that could accommodate both technology work and discussions (e.g., the "hollow square" model). Additionally, I cannot teach the course again with more students than computers (28 computers, 34 students).
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