Compass Achievements

Friday, December 9th, 2005

I’ve nearly completed my British Literature I finals and have been looking at journals and revisions of earlier writing by students. I think the final, a series of short answer questions, pin-pointed pretty well what I want students to know at the end (after lots of writing and reading), given the expectations and requirements of this mode of demonstration. The students pretty much got the prosody elements, showed more confidence in their responses, and knew where cited support was necessary.

But I’m thinking about something else: the knowledge structure of our British Literature sequence in relation to the college as a whole. Ideally, a student will enter the intro surveys with background in Composition and an additional semester of writing work in Composition II or Literature and Composition. Ideally, a student will have a pretty good grasp of textual analysis and critique, the fundamentals of argumentation, documentation styles for academic work, essay organizational structures, and the modern library. Ideally, the student will have followed this course of north to south/south to north study semester to semester so that the knowledge and practice is fresh upon entering the survey.

But what other elements form an ideal if we see the entrance into the course as a circle rather than a line of knowledge. A student might enter the survey with some degree of knowledge of historical analysis and some coverage of western history. Other elements could be mathematics and quantitative anlysis, an understanding of the analysis of instructions in a social, human context, psychology frameworks.

Case in point. Students in Brit Lit may also be enjoying Professor Timmons’ film course. In that course John covers elements of the hero’s journey and does so through viewings and lots of written analyses. These objectives compliment the study of Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight; they also compliment a student’s practice with styles of writing. Likewise, the study of the journey elements in British Literature compliment the study of film. In both courses, the journey constitutes a study of morphology, narrative, genre, character, history, social dynamics, and human culture and cognition. Beyond specific courses and their objectives, students in both courses should come out with a good sense of the journey as a big idea across the spectrum of human experience and in doing so learn something about film and literature.

It takes a lot of practice amd much thinking about it just to grasp the connections and significance of similar morphological elements in Star Wars and Sir Gawain. Mucho time spanned between the synoptics and Milton, and time can be deceptive. Milton had no ‘lectricity, right. If we are different and distinct from those who came before, then what could the similarities possibly be? Other discipline connections help to bust down this powerful barrier to creativity.


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