World Literature, Castiglione

Last week in EN203, we discussed Baldesar Castiglione’s Book of the Courtier, thinking especially about the deliberate cultivation of public identity as a Renaissance trait. Students seemed a bit less enthused about this text, and they have been getting more difficult in the past weeks. Discussion has been going well, and while it’s rare that everyone participates, usually a good 1/2 of class will have something to say. We’ve been doing a lot of group work recently, largely so that the students can get a feel for what I want in essays and exams–as well as experience the value of the reading guides, which makes real the act of active reading.

On Thursday, we spent the day primarily going over my expectations for the midterm. Individually and in groups, students tried their skill at identifications, with expectedly mixed results. I’m hopeful, though, that having seen the “tricks” to effective quotation identification–process of elimination, content, key images, style–the midterm will bear positive results. The last portion of class we spent generating essay questions for the exam, which could also double as questions guiding the first formal paper.

Next class, we’ll begin discussion of Fuente Ovejuna, which is always fun; we’ll do some dramatic readings that will allow us to think about characterization and theme. I’m particularly interested in the play’s exploration of the public communal forum, as well as the significance of community and social contract. Students will likely have questions about their essays, so I’ll allow some time for that as well; finally, we’ll need to sign up for research presentations, which I’ve been putting off for the time being.

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