Today in my Literature Humanities class, we were a bit reflective, reflecting over the year and critiquing our syllabus from the year. There was much catharsis, I think, in this discussion. There were several issues raised, but the root of much frustration with the syllabus is that there are simply too many works on it (other issues are that it is too western-focused, too androcentric, too historicist--the last refers to the structure or sequencing). And so this evening, I have begun to reflect what my ideal introductory literature course would be like. What if we started from scratch?
I decided that my ideal course would be one in which we would read a single work for the entire semester in great detail intertwining our close readings with the various approaches that have been taken in studying literature (formal, Marxist, feminist, Freudian/Lacanian, historicist, new historicist, etc.), skills, theoretical approaches, and methods of reading and writing that would then be transferable to other works. In fact, everyone would write papers using these skills, methods, theoretical positions on other works and presenting them to the class (that is where the diversity of literature would come in). That one work could be most anything....almost. Many may not be complex enough to sustain a semester's reading and the various approaches of reading. And this is where my curiosity set in. I have asked my class the following question and asked them to think on it a bit: if you had to choose any work of literature in the world (whether it was on Columbia's Lit Hum syllabus or not) to read for an entire semester, what would it be? And why?
OR: If you simply object to this ideal course, what would your ideal course be?