Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

After four long weeks, we’re finally through with Conrad in EN/HU501! We spent quite a bit of time with the piece, using it as a tool to more fully explore the nature of literary analysis, close reading, generating good essay topics, brainstorming, and so on. One thing I’ve done differently in this iteration of the course is spending more time discussing how students read and take notes–literally–and I think it will prove helpful when we move on to the next portion of the class.

The first essay is in, and my students worked extraordinarily hard on their drafts–revising, revising again, meeting with me, commenting on peers’ work, revising, editing. In general, I’ve got a wide array of approaches and skills, which makes the class invigorating–but it can also be difficult to determine exactly where to pitch; the best meetings are the ones where I don’t have to lecture, but can let the discussion happen under supervision, a process that naturally bridges the spaces between skill levels and familiarity with the discipline.  What I find wonderful about this group is their ease with one another, their energy and committment to discussing their work and giving feedback. At the beginning of the term, we had some meetings that somehow became dominated by my voice, but after workshopping the first essay, I think we’ll really be able to explore the joys of the seminar environment. And, of course, the delicious food is an unadulterated plus.

On to Pope!

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