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The interesting stuff >> About teaching on Renaissance intellectual history >> Teaching miscellanea
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Message started by hck on 27.08.2008 at 09:35:57

Title: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 27.08.2008 at 09:35:57

At http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/08/im-back.html there is a post by Fretful Porpentine with the title I'm back in which there are some lines on an approach, which, well: I find no good way to praraphrase, so I'll quote:

Quote:
She said Dire Things about the students' reading and writing skills, and then finished off by saying she no longer assigns papers in her 200-level lit classes because they were so awful. Well, dude. How are they supposed to learn to write papers if they don't WRITE any?

plus some other things IMO worth reading.

But: how does one teach a class with 101 pupils??? At least if it's not to be pure lecturing?



At http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/08/day-one.html you can find the same author's report on her first day of teaching at her new university.



Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 29.08.2008 at 08:51:27

In a 2008-08-26 posting with the title Under the influence (http://feruleandfescue.blogspot.com/2008/08/under-influence.html) Flavia in Ferule & Fescue reports about quite a success of her(/his?) teaching:

Quote:
Walking into class today, I was hailed by a student who had taken Shakespeare with me last semester, but whom I'd known only slightly. After a moment or two of how-was-your-summer chit-chat, she held up her inside right wrist to show me the tattoo emblazoned there: MEMENTO MORI.

"That day you brought in the skull?" She said. "And wrote this on the board? That really stuck with me."

So there you have it: I inspire students to deface their bodies and meditate on death. And I couldn't be more proud.


(At least some of the comments there are worth reading too, IMO.)

Anyway: AFAIK I never taught with any success comparable to this one. Which probably is not only due to a potential lack of pedagogical competence and commitment on my side, but also (once again) to differences in styles of teaching.

Said posting by Flavia (http://feruleandfescue.blogspot.com/2008/08/under-influence.html) got me meditating on why I myself never did (and probably never will) bring a skull into class. Here are the tentative results:
  • I don't own any skull except the one still in use to house my brain.
  • I always try to concentrate on the text(s), and on the many context-related and definitely rinascimental truths perhaps contained in the texts, and I do find the occasional flashes of statements of perpetual truth (like "all humans are mortal") in these texts rather irritating and distracting. Commonplaces unaffectable by time IMO are about as interesting as "2+2=4", but somehow they seem to contain greater wisdom than "2+2=4". They are good material for teaching if you can show how their statement, weight, frequency, relevance and interpretation is context related; but nevertheless they seem to hit the readers/audience quite directly before they can examine and evaluate etc. the context(s).
  • Bringing magic objects into class tends to put the teacher into the position of the magician, the magus, the one who has abilities beyond the abilities of his audience, the guru. And I try to avoid this. I don't teach wisdom. I try to teach competencies, and knowledge, and last not least doubt.
  • I see no way to put a skull into doubt, nor the fact that we'll die, nor the assumption that we should be and keep ourselves aware that we'll die.
  • But perhaps this is also due to the fact that I don't teach English literature but intellectual history and philosophy, and philosophy is at least boring, and probably not all all if it is without doubt; it is less about what we know than about what we'd like to know, how we might get there, why we got there, what are the consequences of having got there, etc.. And that's true too concerning (many/most of) the texts historians of philosophy deal with.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 22.10.2008 at 08:25:06

This is neither explicitly nor exclusively renaissance related, but I guess many of us here do face this problem: how to transfer the methods and advanced content of what we teach (about) to a not primarily scholarly public?

KHSchneider writes in Von der Banalität der Ortsgeschichte (http://digireg.twoday.net/stories/5269178/) i.a.:
Quote:
Warum schaffen wir es nicht, unsere Forschungsergebnisse so zu vermitteln, dass sie auch von interessierten Laien aufgenommen und entsprechend den eigenen Wünschen umgesetzt werden können?




Found thanks to http://archiv.twoday.net/stories/5270425/.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 29.10.2008 at 09:44:58

At http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/10/we-offer-you-our-failures-we-offer-you.html writes on imitating ones teachers in teaching.

Interesting posting, IMO.

Well, at least for me.
As far as I can remember: I never consciously imitated any of my academic teachers. I do tend to tell anecdotes about some of them, but I'm not imitating them. Maybe this is due tom the fact that for me there was quite a gap between being taught and teaching due to the time I spent outside of academia between my PhD and returning to LMU.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 03.12.2008 at 13:05:01

Fretful Porpentine writes at http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2008/12/examinating.html i.a.:

Quote:
I never know what to do with exam week, since I don't believe that exams are particularly useful pedagogically, not in literature and definitely not in comp.


Concerning the rest of that posting: well, I do admit that I had to use google to find out what a "blue book" might be in a context without Wittgenstein ... . :)

As for the usefulness of exams: I guess exams are less connected with pedagogy or any type of really scholarly work that with rites de passage.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 07.01.2009 at 14:40:25

Daniel Paul O'Donnell in his 2008-12-21 blog entry Digital Plagiarism (http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/Blog/digital-plagiarism) writes several things which made me see some parallels between "normal" renaissance authors' procedures/methods and those of his "digital plagiarists".

Do try to think of commonplace books, and the times when you where more or less certain that a certain author was using Erasmus's Adagia (or Zimara's Tabula) without writing in his text that he was using these texts ...  :) ... . (Of course the practice is older, and Luke tells us nothing about Mary footnoting the Magnificat ... .)


Quote:
the plagiarism I found this year with turnitin involved the much more subtle use of unacknowledged passages, quotations, and argument and at key moments in the students’ papers. In the old days, my students used to plagiarise with a shovel; these students were plagiarising with a scalpel.

(highlighting mine)






Quote:
A good blog, unlike a good essay, builds its argument and topic through the artful arrangement and excerpting of usually verbatim material passages from other people’s work—in much the same way that some types of music are based on the original use and combination of digitised sound samples from earlier recordings.

In other forums this method of “argument by quotation” is the norm

(highlighting mine)
(statement by A - commentary by X - statement by B - commentary by Y, - statement by C - commentary by Y, etc.: J.C. Scaliger, Exercitationes (http://libcoll.mpiwg-berlin.mpg.de/libview?mode=imagepath&url=/mpiwg/online/permanent/library/NWU9YBZ3/pageimg) anyone?)





Quote:
In the case of our students, the problem this generic difference between the blog and the essay causes is magnified by the way they conduct their research. On the basis of my interviews, it appears to me that most of my first year students now conduct their research and compile their notes primarily by searching the Internet, and, when they find an interesting site, copying and pasting large sections of verbatim quotation into their word processor. Often they include the URL of this material with the quotations; but because you can always find the source of a passage you are quoting from the Internet, it is easy for them to get sloppy. Once this accumulation of material is complete, they then start to add their own contribution to the collection, moving the passages they have collected around and interspacing them with their opinions, arguments, and transitions.

(both some of my own texts and quite a number of the texts I write texts on are written this way (hopefully not "sloppy" though (in the case of my own texts because I try to avoid it, and in the case of the texts I write on because they did write for a differently trained audience: and this continues for quite some time: do compare Michelet's statements on his use of citations only for rare material at the start of his Renaissance in case you should not remember it anyway)).





Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 07.01.2009 at 15:00:27


hck wrote:
Daniel Paul O'Donnell in his 2008-12-21 blog entry Digital Plagiarism (http://people.uleth.ca/~daniel.odonnell/Blog/digital-plagiarism) writes several things which made me see some parallels between "normal" renaissance authors' procedures/methods and those of his "digital plagiarists".


See also http://listserv.uleth.ca/pipermail/dm-l/2009-January/001169.html.

(I responded via email directly to the author.)

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 08.01.2009 at 10:05:06


hck wrote:
Do try to think of commonplace books, and the times when you where more or less certain that a certain author was using Erasmus's Adagia (or Zimara's Tabula) without writing in his text that he was using these texts ...  :) ... . (Of course the practice is older, and Luke tells us nothing about Mary footnoting the Magnificat ... .)


The 1923 ed./version/printing of James Thompson Hackett's My commonplace book (http://www.archive.org/details/mycommonplace1923hack) has medium-precise indications of its sources, and has (i.a.?) Macrobius's/Robert Burton's "omne meum nihil meum" on its title page. The concept is not exactly only a 21st century one ...  :) ... .

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 28.01.2009 at 13:53:59

Fretful Porpentine's posting Something unexpected is happening in the Brit Lit survey, and the comments to it (http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2009/01/something-unexpected-is-happening-in.html) are (i.a.) about using (optical) images in text oriented teaching, and about the potential benefits of teaching about something which one does not know too much about.

This is from a statement by the commentator Susan there:

Quote:
It may be, you know, that your relative lack of expertise makes it easier for the students. WHile we feel more uncertain when we are teaching what we do not know, we can be clearer and simpler because we don't see all the little alleys and paths that things can take.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 09.02.2009 at 16:52:47

Part of Sarah Werner's  2009-02-06 "Wynken de Worde" posting navigating the information landscape (http://wynkendeworde.blogspot.com/2009/02/navigating-information-landscape.html) IMO are relevant for this thread here:

Quote:
One of the things that I found the most frustrating at various times of my variously employed career is missing access to databases of digital learning. Let's democratize, if it's not too late!

But let's pause, too, for a moment. As a scholar of early modern books, I have to wonder, how do we democratize those? Do we just agitate for free EEBO, Early English Books Online for everyone everywhere? Will those books be read? Will those books be understood? Every semester I see my students interact with early printed texts for the first time and initially, they can hardly make sense of what they are looking at. Why do they mix up their i's and j's? Why are their f's instead of s's? Why can't they spell? What's that word down there at the bottom of the page and where are the page numbers?!

Libraries, digital and otherwise, make texts available. But it is teachers who enable them to be read. Scanning all the books in the world won't make a Digital Republic of Learning if we don't value reading and learning in the first place.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 17.02.2009 at 13:27:54


hck wrote:
Part of Sarah Werner's  2009-02-06 "Wynken de Worde" posting navigating the information landscape (http://wynkendeworde.blogspot.com/2009/02/navigating-information-landscape.html) IMO are relevant for this thread here:

Quote:
One of the things that I found the most frustrating at various times of my variously employed career is missing access to databases of digital learning. Let's democratize, if it's not too late!

But let's pause, too, for a moment. As a scholar of early modern books, I have to wonder, how do we democratize those? Do we just agitate for free EEBO, Early English Books Online for everyone everywhere? Will those books be read? Will those books be understood? Every semester I see my students interact with early printed texts for the first time and initially, they can hardly make sense of what they are looking at. Why do they mix up their i's and j's? Why are their f's instead of s's? Why can't they spell? What's that word down there at the bottom of the page and where are the page numbers?!

Libraries, digital and otherwise, make texts available. But it is teachers who enable them to be read. Scanning all the books in the world won't make a Digital Republic of Learning if we don't value reading and learning in the first place.


Now see also her next posting (2009-02-16): democratizing early english books (http://wynkendeworde.blogspot.com/2009/02/democratizing-early-english-books.html). And as far as I can see all of her points might be made concerning Latin texts/prints too.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 26.03.2009 at 12:19:59

Fretful Porpentine has a piece on how to deal with "different logic" and sense of humour (or absence thereof) when dealing with early modern texts: Courseblogging: Differently Logical (http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2009/03/courseblogging-differently-logical.html).

i.a.:

Quote:
And Christine, bless her, tends to make matters worse when she makes Lady Reason say things like "Well, there's this rhetorical figure called antiphrasis, in which people say the opposite of what they mean, so whenever you come across a book that dispraises women, you may as well assume that the author is actually praising them, regardless of what his real intentions were." (This inspired me to go off on this weird tangent about what it means when a text destabilizes the whole idea of written authority, presumably including its own authority,

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 20.04.2009 at 13:24:37

CFP: The Monstrous Middle Ages and the Wretched Renaissance (http://call-for-papers.sas.upenn.edu/node/32670) (Medieval and Renaissance Teaching Conference).


Quote:
We are especially interested in papers
dealing with the teaching of the macabre, monsters, heretics, the occult, torture, anything appropriate for presentation over the Halloween weekend!


Ach!

Why not Niphus? Or Balduinus?

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea (FP, courseblogging 3)
Post by hck on 11.08.2009 at 14:48:34

Fretful Porpentine continues her courseblogging here (http://fporpentine.blogspot.com/2009/08/courseblogging-series-3-taking-another.html).
This time she/he teaches courses with 60 (sixty!) participants, and tries not to deal with Marlowe &c., and to "help medieval and early modern people seem a little more real and more human".

And, as always: it's a text which IMO is well worth reading.

Title: Re: Teaching miscellanea
Post by hck on 05.11.2009 at 10:54:52

I posted a pointer to a CfP for a conference with the title http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/W4RF/YaBB.pl?num=1257414751/0#0 over there in the section dedicated to CfPs (http://www.phil-hum-ren.uni-muenchen.de/W4RF/YaBB.pl?num=1257414751/0#0). If you don't want to do there: you can find the CfP itself directly at http://earlymodern-lit.blogspot.com/2009/11/call-for-papers-teaching-renaissance.html.

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