Going Back in Time?

I am teaching Early British Literature again in the three week mini-term next May. But, since Computers and Writing is in May instead of in June, I will need a substitute for the first week of class.

What do you think of the idea, a daring one I know, of going backwards in time?

What if, instead of a history of the British Isles from prehistory through 800 and then starting with Beowulf, I go backwards from now and start with Swift?

gulliver2I could do my usual three days on Gulliver’s Travels, and then move on to Shakespeare. Since I usually have the students watch two plays, that would give me the days I need for C&W.

Then we’d go through the poets (Marlowe, Raleigh, Shakespeare, Herbert) and then hit Chaucer. After that Sir Gawain and Everyman. Etc.

What do you think of this idea? Is there any reason we have to go forward?

This class is NOT really sequential with Later British Lit. Most people who take it only need one sophomore literature course. So it’s not like they’d be confused when they got to 800 and then started back up with 1751.

I did a trick with little kids, which I might use some version of for the sophomores.

With the little kids, when I was telling a story in the past, we handed out smarties. Each package of smarties had ten (or twelve?) smarties in it. So that was basically a decade. Each decade we went back in history, we handed out one smartie package. Eventually we ended up with so many smarties the kids didn’t want to eat them all and we shared them. I won’t be going quite that far back and these are college students, so I probably won’t have to give away extra smarties.

Does anyone have any feedback on this approach? Have you ever tried it?

I think I may do it since it will a) allow me to participate in my conference and b) mix the class up for me in what might be an interesting way.

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