>I’m way behind on book orders for next semester, in part because I’m doing the intro lit class for the first time in a number of years, and I wanted to change up my old syllabus in a major way, in part to fit the revised expectations and goals of the course, and in part because, well, things get boring if you don’t change things up.
I always think such courses make a little more sense to students and have less of that “cafeteria curriculum” feel if you stick to a theme, even a loose one. (Though too narrow a theme and it gets boring.) So this time around I’m going with “Death and Desire.” (Past themes include “Home Schooled” and “Freaks and Monsters.”) It’s going to be kind of a dark syllabus.
My choices for the lyric poetry and short fiction sections are pretty darn unsurprising, traditional, and canonical, and many of the works were ones that I read in high school. The students might have read some of them in high school, as well; however, these days high school have very different curricula and even if my students have had these works before, I’ve always been good at showing students new ways of reading and even enjoying the tried and true — new to them, anyway. Plus, learning that there are many ways to skin a cat, er, interpret a poem, is a basic but important lesson in literary studies. But when it comes to the narrative works on my syllabus, I got a little weird. Here’s what I’m doing:
Marie de France, Yonec
Anon., Sir Orfeo
A Streetcar Named Desire (not in itself a weird choice, but paired with Twelfth Night? Maybe others do it — maybe it’s not as weird as I think)
The novel (here’s where I think I’m getting really weird):
Hardy, Tess of the D’Urbervilles
Ellroy, L. A. Confidential
What do you all think? Too dark? Will my students revolt after having to read Hardy and Ellroy back to back?
Also, I’m going to end with short stories — does anyone have any suggestions for a short story with some relation to the theme that has an upbeat ending with which I can end the course? I don’t want the students to be completely bummed out just as they’re doing evals!!