Monday, September 29, 2008

Sample Syllabi: Take One & Two

After developing an initial draft of a sample syllabus for a Restoration and 18th c. Brit. Lit. survey course, I give it to my advisor for feedback.

She laughs. Right in front of me. More than once.

She said she liked it a lot, and most of the texts I selected overlapped with what she usually teaches. It was, however, "ambitious" and she thought I'd kill myself trying to teach it. Apparently, one does not--cannot--teach "The Rape of the Lock" in one class period.

When I asked her what the syllabus "said" about me, she replied, "It says you've never taught this course before." Alrighty then. Glad to know this now.

Two days later, I submit a revised version, with pared down readings and a trajectory that seems to go full-circle from the beginning of the semester to the end. She says it's better, more reasonable in terms of reading load, and she likes the way I've grouped certain authors/texts. Good, right? Yeah, except that she noticed the first half of the semester seems to be chronologically following the writers, whereas in the last half time is "more flexible." Uh, sure it is. I meant to do that.

For example, Haywood comes a week before Johnson and Defoe one week after, but not because I'm suggesting they're contemporaries, but because students will be reading a novel from Haywood and Defoe, and I wanted to give them a bit of a break in between. Not sure yet if this is a good enough reason for separating them or not.

At this point, I realize that I'll have a great syllabus when I'm finished, but I'm also realizing that it's really difficult to decide which ideas, themes, historical moments, etc. are most critical to cover in surveys like this. Right now, my philosophy is It's All Important! Read Everything! Clearly, this will not suffice. So, I continue to work on it and hope my advisor doesn't think I'm a total dumbass!

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