Class Over

My first ever totally literature class is over, three weeks after it started. I got to teach my favorite lit and I had 16 students who were all motivated to stay in the class.

Usually I have about a 50% drop rate in my class and a 15-25% failure rate. (I’m a hard teacher and many of the students are unprepared and uncommitted to college, such as the student who explained he was in school to get a car from his mother.)

In this class, 50% got A’s.

The English secretary said I must have been too easy on them. Maybe. But I don’t think so. The final short answer test, which allowed the use of notes and summaries on all the works we read this semester, was difficult. The highest grade on it was a B. A low B. The lowest grades were 29s. There were a few of those.

So my tests weren’t too easy.

I did count as 50% of the grade all the little homeworks they had to do along the way and their timeliness and presence in class. Those things came to a total of 3100 points. In three weeks. That includes quizzes which were never 100 points. I think there were 11 quizzes. Plus lots of reading. And answering questions. And summaries.

If they were never late and never absent they got an additional point added to their entire average. I don’t think that’s too much to ask in a class that is only 14 days long. But it was not a reward garnered by many in the class. I think 25% got it.

Then the essays and exams, with the final, made up the other 50% of their grade. We had one test and five papers, including a short research paper, besides the final which was an essay and a short answer test. In three weeks. This was the section that most people had more trouble with. But obviously they didn’t have too much trouble. They couldn’t have had less than a 79 average in this section to get an A in the class.


While writing the last post I thought, “Chaucer videos!” Going to look, the best the college has is this.

2 videocassettes (30 min. ea.) : sd., col. ; 1/2 in.
pt. 1. Leaving London: the nun’s priest’s tale, the knight’s tale, and the wife of Bath’s tale (ca. 30 min.) — pt. 2. Arriving at Canterbury: the merchant’s tale, the pardoner’s tale, and the franklin’s tale (ca. 30 min.)
Animated versions, in a variety of styles, of the stories told by pilgrims on their way to Canterbury.
Presented in two versions: modern English and Middle English.

So in an hour you can cover most of the Canterbury Tales. Amazing.

Teaching Literature

I have my PhD in composition, so that is mostly what I teach. I teach writing. I enjoy it and I am good at it. I can help my students to be good at writing and I like doing that.

However, in order to make some money, I agreed to teach a literature course in the mini-mester. And I’m thrilled! It turns out that the literature I will be teaching is British to 1800. That’s all my favorite stuff. We’ll be doing Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, and Gulliver’s Travels.

I am very excited about it and am looking forward to it with great joy. Hope the students enjoy it too.

Looking for Elizabethan Plays on Video

This seems to be virtually impossible to find.

I did discover a theater museum in the UK that lets you watch videos of dramatic productions, but apparently only if you are at the theater.

Someone said he borrowed “a copy of the BBC Duchess of Malfi from Indiana University’s Audio Visual Services.” I wonder if I could get interlibrary loan for that?

I found a Burton-Taylor video of Doctor Faustus which no one liked. But Marlowe is a contemporary, too.

I’d like to find four videos of Elizabethan plays that my class could watch and discuss this summer. I want them not to have to read them at home because they’re supposed to be working on their research papers that week.

I did find a book on teaching The White Devil at our library.

Shakespeare in the Classroom

This site examines Macbeth and the nature of evil. It actually says that evil is the opposite of humanity. It is a deviation from what is natural. (I can see problems with that definition.) But then the author goes on to say that evil originates in the human heart. It’s a start. Finally.

An article on what Hamlet meant to some African tribesmen. (Didn’t say what tribe.) They explained the plaly to the American telling the story. It was much different.