As we march ahead, perhaps forebodingly, into a new epoch in America’s political climate, one might wonder exactly what can be the value of teaching Romantic poetry and prose. In the weeks immediately following the recent historic election (however one chooses to define “historic”), we must consider whether undergraduate students really want to spend their time reading Wordsworth’s “A slumber did my spirit seal” or Keats’s “To Autumn” or Austen’s Emma. When these students are otherwise preoccupied with what Twitter and Snapchat have to tell them about the current state of the world, why would they choose to bow their heads over texts that, while they may have something to say about the early nineteenth century in Britain, seem to be so distant and disjointed from our own time and place? This was a question I set out to explore this fall…and then November 8th happened.
One of the last panel slots of NASSR 2016 was reserved for a roundtable with contestants of the Romantic Circles‘s Pedagogy Contest, hosted by RC Pedagogies editor Kate Singer. This year’s competition featured these finalists:
- Simon Bainbridge (Lancaster University) – “Wordsworth Online and On Location: Teaching Romantic Writing Beyond the Literature Classroom”
- Michelle Levy (Simon Fraser University) with Alex Grammatikos (Carleton) and Kandice Sharren (Simon Fraser) – “Remediating Lyrical Ballads”
- Lauren Neefe (Georgia Tech) – “Romanticism’s Social Media”
- Tristram Wolff (Northwestern) – “Poetics of Stone”
In general, I was floored (and, to be honest, a little intellectually intimidated) by the pedagogical innovations on display yesterday. And while Wolff was unfortunately unable to present, I was excited that the remaining panelists and audience would have plenty of time for the presentations plus a vibrant lengthy Q&A discussion session to round off the entire conference. Here’s more:
Sunday’s Tweets about NASSR 2016 via Storify
So here we are, at the end of NASSR 2016, with all of us likely traveling across the U.S. and Canada this evening, or on our way across the Atlantic or Pacific, heading back to our home institutions. Hopefully we’re re-invigorated with an exceptional amount of insight, inspiration, and innovation that will carry into our research and teaching over this coming academic year.
For me, today’s panels provided a surprising amount of vim and vigor on this, the final morning of our annual conference. When I imagine the Sunday morning of any conference, I envision a small gaggle of weary academics dragging their feet and their suitcases to the free morning coffee buffet before plopping in their seats to process, with half-closed eyelids, the final papers that our poor presenters must still deliver after the three action-packed days. To my pleasant surprise, however, both rooms were animated, engaged, and quite lively! Here’s some of what I heard… Continue reading NASSR 2016 Rapid Response: Final Day!
With winter break almost now in full swing, we have to come to a frightening realization: MLA 2016 in Austin is just 3 weeks away!
In preparation for this event, the largest of our academic yearly conferences, some of us might be sweating profusely over the idea of interviewing for those dearly coveted jobs, while others may be frantically polishing papers for our MLA debuts.
To help minimize the fury of pre-conference preparations, here below you’ll find a list of panels and events that may be of particular interest to young Romantic scholars and graduate students. Bookmark it now!
The entire searchable program is available online here. And the Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession has gathered a catalogue of important networking and social events at the conference, along with workshops and panels of interest to graduate students, which can be found listed here.
See you in Austin!!
It is rare that I ever have the pleasure of walking into my classroom to find students enthusiastically discussing our subject matter. Since for the most part I teach courses on poetry or nineteenth-century novels, my eighteen-year-old, twenty-first-century students tend not to get too riled up about the nuances of iambic tetrameter or “ye olden days” characters found in historic fiction (and can I blame them, really?).
Recently, however, I witnessed what other courses with more obviously controversial material might be experiencing on a more regular basis: my students were animated—and not just animated, but even aggravated!!—by the readings for their latest assigned task. They were asked to compare Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman and her fictional Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman with a few contemporary articles. These latter essays suggest that women who choose today to “opt out” of the work force for the sake of raising children are still, at heart, somehow in line with the feminist agenda.
When I stepped into the room, the students were arguing about just how far—or not—feminism has come. Continue reading How Far Feminism?
In my last post, I previewed my newest introductory-level literature course, “Reading Romanticism Today,” where my freshman writing students and I have just wrapped up a unit on “Nature and the Sublime.” As Seth Wilson recently reminded us, the concept of the “sublime” can be a wily one to pin down, even for (or maybe, especially for) scholars who study authors that were themselves fascinated by this aesthetic and philosophical notion.
For the purpose of this course, we’ve been exploring the “sublime” by mashing together some of Romanticism’s greatest hits—Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” Shelley’s “Mont Blanc”—with contemporary media pieces, such as a recent documentary on the Cosmos hosted by astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson (discussed in September’s post). The paper assignment that culminated this unit asked students to find their own example of the sublime in an artwork they would choose from Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. The pieces could be from any historical moment, but each one had to connect to a Romantic poem. Here, I offer some of the students’ fascinating finds: Continue reading Reading Romanticism Today: Artistry of the Sublime
The title of this week’s post echoes the title of my newest course, which I’m currently three weeks into teaching. “Reading Romanticism Today” is one of the English department’s introductory courses advertised as “Freshmen Seminars in Literature.” These classes satisfy our College of Arts and Sciences’ first-year composition requirement.
Having taught several of these intro-level seminars in both the English and Writing Program departments, I’ve designed courses on poetry, fiction, and contemporary media. I typically organize the syllabus around a particular theme, like “the modern American family” or “poetry of the self.” I have not yet focused one on any particular historical period. But since this was likely to be one of the last courses I’ll teach while still a doctoral student, I wanted to develop a syllabus that not only falls within my field of research, but that also pushes beyond a straightforward poetry survey. Continue reading Reading Romanticism Today (A Pedagogical Experiment)
Back in June, I posted some rambling reflections about my current position as Editorial Assistant with Studies in Romanticism. Over the summer, I had the pleasure of communicating with SiR’s current Editor, Charles Rzepka, about his own experiences and expectations with publishing the journal. I asked him to provide N-GSC Blog readers with some insights into the journal’s submission process, editorial decisions, and the dreaded reader evaluations. Here, I offer you some highlights from our conversation:
This post discusses some of my experiences as an Editorial Assistant for Studies in Romanticism since 2012. These are, of course, my own experiences in journal publishing, and all journals probably work differently, having their assistants focus on different tasks. Below, I offer some reflections about the job and my copyediting projects. In my next posting, I’ll offer a follow-up conversation with SiR editors, including some advice on the publishing process and insights for grad students—so stay tuned! Continue reading Studies in Romanticism: An Assistant’s Perspective
Jane Austen was in the news again last week—I know this, because when I log onto Google News, it offers tailored entries based on my previous web searches and sticks them right at the top of the feed. I honestly don’t know whether to be delighted or terribly disturbed by this fact. But artificial intelligence issues aside, I found this most recent bout of Austenmania to be quite a curious one.
It’s not a rare occasion these days that Miss Jane appears in the news, especially during this decade that celebrates “200 years since…” each of her famous tomes, published during the 1810s. Austen’s popularity endures: in 2013, Britain announced it will finally commemorate her in currency (Austen will appear on the 10-pound note, beginning in 2017) and last month she even got a musical in Chicago.
The most recent news cycle that got my attention (to be fair, it was hardly a sidebar item) highlights a new book that claims to make a striking and long sought-after discovery: the “true” identity of the real-life Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy—and (sadly) it’s not Colin Firth. Continue reading Will the Real Mr. Darcy Please Stand Up?