Category Archives: 426

Finishing Moll Flanders


As we wound up our discussion of Moll Flanders on Wednesday, I was especially interested to note student’s investment in ethical questions–both those raised by Moll herself, and those raised by our reading of Moll. I briefly raised the “surprised by sin” argument, and we considered whether it could be applied to Defoe’s novel. Our first secondary source presentation opened the meeting, and I was generally happy with the results; however, the introduction from Kahn’s Narrative Transvestism could have been linked a little more fully in discussion and in presentation to the editor’s role, as well as to the negotiation between gender and narrative structure. I think this last point, however, was a bit too nuanced for students to grasp without a better foundation in theories of the early novel, so I’d like to go over formal realism again–and more explicitly–when we begin reading Pamela.

Popular Fiction by Women

I’m so very much looking forward to EN426 this term! We had what I thought was an excellent first class last night, though the first portion was livelier than the second–of course, we were discussing Haywood at the beginning, and I modeled a sample presentation on Backscheider & Richetti’s Popular Fiction by Women in the second. I was struck by how observant my students were, and how able they seemed to be at keeping previous discussion points in mind to inflect and shape later ideas. We’ll be reading Defoe’s Moll Flanders next, and coupling that with either Trumbach or Stone as historical context. One of the things I’m going to have to keep in mind as the term progresses, however, is that very few in the class have encountered much early literature, and much less from the 18th century; this means that I’ll potentially have to rethink the secondary/supplementary readings. We’ll see what the first journal pages bring, though, and that will give me a better sense of how the second half of class registered.

New Classes, Old Classes, Reimagined Classes

Classes resume on the 11th of January for us here at Marymount, and I have to admit, last term was a bit of a supersonic blur–and the holiday “break” was anything but, given our trip to Philadelphia for a serious several days of interviews. Syllabi are due on the 4th (er, that would be today!), and I’ve been working on my class wiki for the upcoming term. This term, I’m also going to be experimenting with facebook as a teaching and communication tool, though I’m a bit worried that not every student will be using the platform already. Ideally, I would be able to find a simple widget that would allow simultaneous cross-posts on Blackboard, PBworks, and facebook. But that doesn’t really look like it’s going to happen…. Thank goodness for graduate student assistants!

So, in the Spring I’m returning to Composition 102, a writing course that engages the 1920s through film, as well as Elements of Literary Study, a writing/research/introduction to the discipline course that I’ve designed around classical Ovidian myths, folktales, and their adaptations in a variety of genres. My new class for the term is Studies in the Novel, a 400-level majors and honors student course subtitled “Selling Stories of Sex and Gender in the 18th Century Novel.” We’ll be reading novels by Defoe, Richardson, Cleland, Lennox, and Dacre, supplemented by shorter pieces by Haywood and Fielding, in addition, if possible, to a few other primary source contextual materials. The course will be organized around the web, in a very loose sense, as students will contribute their materials for presentations and discussion leadership projects to the class wiki; in addition, I’m going to replace the last, long essay with a “research web” students will create around a topic they’re interested in. A little along the lines of David Porter’s Eighteenth-Century England, but with less emphasis on a coherent project and more on discovering a topic, presenting relevant research materials, and organizing the site. In Elements of Literary Study, I’ll also be returning to the wiki as a classroom tool, for the explication project and the collaborative research project–however, I’ll definitely need to tweak the assignment for the collaborative work, as students last year found it difficult to keep the kinds of annotations they were to do straight. I’d also like to emphasize the use of hyperlinks to create a coherent whole for the collaborative project–though the pages are rapidly multiplying, and I’ll probably also need to have a GA organize it into folders and prepare a document for students on navigating them. In the future, it might be useful to have a priced site, but for now, the free PBworks seems to do what’s needed.

New year’s resolution? To use this blog the way it should be used!