December 23rd, 2010

Final blog…

Posted by jeannem in Uncategorized

            When I first registered for English 255 I was expecting a normal typed English class, similar to those I’d taken in the past.  Up until now, the English classes I’ve taken have been structured around cannon literature with at least two exams and/or papers to test comprehension of the material.  I thought this class would be similar.  I thought we were going to read a couple cannon books either taking places in foreign locations or from the point of view of a foreigner.  I thought I was going to be bored for the most part, but I was pleasantly surprised. 

            First off, the syllabus itself was full of questions and not the typical course description one might be expecting.  One question in particular stood out:  What type of literature constitutes a global literature course?  Cannon or other?  I enjoyed the fact that this was a constant question throughout the course and that we came back to it with each work we read.  It gave us freedom to examine all types of literature under a careful eye while contemplating its appropriateness for the course.  I think that this type of examination is important to English majors.  English majors are always attempting to look at things from a new perspective, to look outside the box.

            While I usually enjoy the classics, cannon stuff, I really enjoyed the other works we read throughout the semester.  While it is great to recognize the importance and vitality of the cannon literature of the twentieth century to our education, it is also of great importance to recognize the other great contributors from other places.  For instance I really enjoyed reading the graphic novel Persepolis and the memoir The Woman Warrior.  Both novels, I thought were very fun in the way they expressed the serious ideas of culture, social hierarchy, and government in their own ways.  It was not only fun, but also easier to read these books.  Let’s face it, even though Satrapi’s novel is one that portrays sometimes horrific and gruesome things, it’s a giant picture book.  Also, I loved the way Kingston expressed her story of the woman warrior by telling her own stories, first by introducing them, and then looking back on them, and contemplating them.  It’s almost as if she is having a conversation with the reader herself, talking story about her childhood and how her experience have shaped her into the person she is today.

            I think it is important that we as students are exposed to both types of literature in a global literature course.  Yes, my vote would have to be for a mixture of the two types of literature.  I’ve already taken both American and British literature surveys so I know my cannon literature very well.  We read it in every English class for the most part.  While reading the cannon stuff is important to the course, considering it’s wonderful contribution to the literary world of the 20th century and beyond, it is important to realize the understanding we gain from reading works from other cultures, other places, helps us to broaden our perspectives as English majors.  The title of the course is in fact global literature and should be highly considered when taking this course.

            An aspect of this class that I loved dearly was the freedom of opinion.  I’ve had many classes where the professors view of what the book was about was what it was about and that was it.  We took the notes, wrote paper we didn’t care about, and took a final exam on which we fed the professor the answers he/she wanted.  However, this class was exceptional because of the fact that we were able to consider a number of possibilities and ideas while we were reading.  It made it so much easier for me to think on my own and come to conclusions about the works.

            The blogging aspect of the class made it easy for me to express my real feelings about the books that we had read, rather than just what I think they meant or what I thought the author was saying.  Initially, I thought I was going to hat the blogs.  I am just not a person who blogs.  I am not a person who feels the need to sit in front of a computer and type pour out my thoughts and feeling to the world in typed form.  I am a person who carries a notebook around in which I write whatever I feel whether it be poems, short stories, or even the beginnings of a novel.  I found myself getting nervous when I was getting ready to write my first blog.  It was something I had never done before and I wasn’t sure of how to do it.  Even so, once I sat down in front of the computer and started to type about my life as a reader, it became easy.  My passion for reading and writing is so intense that it was difficult to put into words, but once I started going, there was no stopping me.  Much like every other assignment we had throughout the course, having the freedom to express how I really felt about something was exhilarating and that was all it took to get me going.

            I took a children’s literature course this semester as well, in which we used black board to share our responses to the books we had read.  We were given a set of questions to answer as freely as we could, but many of the answers overlapped and made the class discussions boring.  I very much enjoyed that the assignments we got for this class were more of general questions in which we were free to express our feelings or opinions in any way we pleased even if we hated the work in everyway possible or didn’t agree with what they were saying.  I think all English majors would agree that this was like a breath of fresh air considering all the structured assignments and boundaries we have to avoid when typing up papers or responses.  There was no real direction in which the responses should go and they flowed in different directions depending on the person writing them.  It was really interesting to see how many different takes there were on the books we read.  After all, isn’t English a subject based on the ability to say things in many different ways?  We as English majors praise our ability to read a work, deconstructing it piece by piece for its main points and ideas, and then putting back together again.  We are able to find that even though there can be many works about the same ideas that it can be told in about a million different ways.  I really enjoyed being given the opportunity to prove not only that I could, but also being able to not only state my opinion and present it along with twenty or so others that made for a rich, exciting conversation.

            Over all, I’d have to say that my experience in this class was one that was much unexpected and most enjoyable.  I’d have to say that my view of what should make an English class has changed since taking this course.  Now, I think that other classes should also experiment with non-canonical literature and freedom of expression.  It would make for a most interesting class.  As for where myself is considered, I think moving forward that I might just take a step back form cannon myself and explore my other reading options.

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