EN490: Alexander the Little and the Furious Sappho

This upcoming Spring, I’ll be teaching our Major Authors course–organized around Alexander Pope, Mary Wortley Montagu, and the material culture of authorship. I’ve not taught these authors in any extended fashion before, so I’m very excited about the opportunity! Given those butterflies in the stomach, I’m making a draft available on Google Drive–any and all feedback, comments, and suggestions are very welcome. In addition to suggestions about adding/cutting/replacing the readings, I’m particularly interested in ideas for scaffolding the major term assignment options.

Students will have three options to choose from: editing/creating Wikipedia pages on selected works of Pope or Montagu, creating a new Librivox recording of Pope and/or Montagu (I have dreams of students reading the correspondence between AP and MWM!), or correcting the OCR of selected works by Pope or Montagu using 18th Connect’s Typewright. I want to keep it as simple as possible, while allowing for the highest degree of (within reason) flexibility, so I plan to organize the students into “clubs” of 3 or 4 students each. They will be able to draw on these clubs for peer review, research, and general technical assistance, but I decided not to have the projects be more fully collaborative in nature–I think this allows students to benefit both from the familiarity of individual authorship and the organized difference of the media they’ll be working within. Learning how to edit a Wikipedia page is hard enough, without being forced into what for many students still feels like an artificial collaborative activity. Ultimately, I want the collaborative elements of the writing to emerge organically from the medium and the selection of primary source texts, becoming instantiations of the critical contexts we’ll be examining–public poetic debate, authorship, print and manuscript culture.

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