You want cold? I’ll give you cold! Monday, Feb 11 2008 

I could complain about the negative windchill (-56 degrees), but I won’t. I’ve been reading Mike Horn’s Conquering the Impossible, his account of an expedition around the Arctic Circle. I picked it up to consider for my travel literature course. It really captures the driven nature of folks like Horn, who are professional adventurers and may be a great opener for the course.


Literature in Composition Courses Friday, Feb 1 2008 

Our campus librarian sent me an article from The Chronicle on the necessity of being a good reader.  It seems to me, though, that many bloggers are ferocious (yes, I mean this, as in “fierce” and not voracious, though that works too) readers. Those who maintain only a diary-type blog don’t necessarily have to read as much as someone who maintains a traditional log of links, but unless they have overly dramatic or adventurous lives, avid reading would certainly provide ideas for topics.

There is some pressure to change our ENGL 1102, which is currently a literature-based writing class. As one of my colleagues observed, a student would then be able to graduate from our school without ever having read Shakespeare. Well, I don’t teach Shakespeare in my 1102 anyway, but I do enjoy it when students comment that they are glad they had to take the course because they would never have read such-and-such a story or poem on their own. Of course, some come in as avid readers, but as students they don’t have time to read for pleasure.

My students have the option to read The Kite Runner for my current 1102 class. Many expressed great excitement because they had read it. Others read it over the first weekend of class just because they took a peek and were hooked. One young man said, “Uh. Yea. Thanks for making me read this book by the way. I admit it: I cried. I’ll never forgive Amir for what he did.” Cool.

So I’m reading as much as I can about the value of literature in today’s composition classroom. Just this morning, I found William Harris, a professor Emeritus of Middlebury College, has posted his take on the role of the “electronic world” on literature. He writes, “Global linking of information, which is such an important part of the scientific and economic world today, should also be a part of the academic study of Literature.” Yes! But if instructors won’t even post grades on D2L because it’s too complicated, will they embrace hours of compiling electronic resources to incorporate into their class discussions and projects?