Initial Comments for the Fall 2015 Term at Oklahoma State University

I am scheduled to teach four classes in the Fall 2015 term at Oklahoma State University. Three of them are sections of ENGL 1113: Composition I. The fourth is a section of ENGL 2413: Introduction to Literature. I have taught both before, so I have some experience on which to draw as I develop course materials and assignment sequences, although I will be making some alterations from how I taught the classes last time I was assigned them.

In the composition classes, I have a prescribed assignment sequence, one that is being maintained from the previous composition director (so far as I know; I have asked the incoming director about the matter and received word that no major changes are planned at this point). Students in my sections will write a literacy narrative, a profile, a textual analysis, and an evaluative essay. I had previously linked the latter two assignments together, having students select a single editorial from the New York Times as the subject for both. I mean to expand the linking through the whole term; students will narrate their experience reading the editorial and will conduct the textual analysis and evaluation on it. I am not entirely certain yet, though, how to negotiate the profile. Thoughts that occur include profiling the paper, the author of the editorial, or the theoretical reader of the New York Times, but I am not sure how well any of those will work. Thoughts about it will be welcome.

The literature class is not so programmatic. I am obliged to use a standard text, and there are institutional requirements of addressing diversity and administering a “substantial” exam during the assigned exam period, but other than that, I have great latitude. Since the required text treats the ur-genres of prose, poetry, and drama, a tripartite discussion seems warranted; since my past experience teaching the class suggests that a single, extended project will not work well, the tripartite structure would seem to map neatly into three short papers, each some 1200 to 1500 words in length, and each focusing one a work in one of the ur-genres. I mean to address the diversity requirement through consideration of works’ treatments of either socioeconomic status or postcolonial identity, as those are the areas with which I am most conversant and comfortable teaching such a class. In addition, I will continue my practices of having students post to discussion boards (facilitated by learning management systems in place as the institution) and of administering the occasional quiz as a means to study for the mandated final exam (which will consist of questions about literary-critical terminology and short-answer questions asking after interpretive work–although I have yet to write the thing).

For all four sections, I mean to continue my earlier practice of offering reports of classroom activities, and I hope to resume my yet earlier practice of providing examples of the kind of work I want to see my students do. The past few terms have not been as good about the latter as they ought to have been, and I need to correct that unfortunate tendency. Materials are still in development, of course, and likely will be until near the beginning of the upcoming term; I will post them as they become available.

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