There and Back Again: Introduction to Literature (and Genre) Megan K. Mize firstname.lastname@example.orgTwitter: MerryQuinn
Pedagogical Concerns “Sage on the Stage” Model of Lecture How might Textual Studies instructors better engage students? Periodization as Organizing Principle Is it reductive, leading students to passively accept literary history as clear-cut constructs?
Alternative Approach• Lower level courses may observe the evolution and interaction of texts through the lens of genre-based theories in combination with formalistic terminology.• Students should respond to classic and contemporary texts that reﬂect trends and diversity within a selected genre. Such discussions highlight socio- cultural concerns and various forms of expression.• At the same time, such a course must acknowledge the changing modes of textual production, discussing the effects of new media on the genre.• As a result, using genre studies at the lower levels encourages students to examine patterns within literature, rather than focusing on periods of time and their arbitrary impositions.
Pedagogical Inﬂuences Paulo Freire “The Banking Concept of Education”“Education is suffering from narration sickness” (99).Freire describes traditional instruction in terms of studentpassivity.Through collaboration, students should interrogate theways a genre unfolds. By introducing a creative writing element, students alsoengage in the creation of that genre.Thus, they move from passive recipients of “knowledge”to active participants in the ﬁeld of literary and textualstudies.
Pedagogical Inﬂuences The New London Group Situated Practice: students discuss their pre-existing awareness of and engagement with the genre, or “available design.” Overt Instruction: will be used to introduce key terms and lead discussions of genre and critical theories, using guiding questions to allow students to reach their own conclusions. Critical Framing: will provide theoretical lens to consider the nature of genre and the role it plays within culture. Transformed Practice: assignments, such as multimodal presentations and creative writing projects, encourage the student to join in the act of “designing,” as well as a traditional analytical essay in which students become producers of knowledge.
Course Goals•Apply traditional tools of literary analysis to a broad array of texts, within the framework of genre.•Become familiar with conventional elements of the fantasy genre, while assessing the ways such traits are engaged with, undermined, and altered over time.•Encourage students to actively evaluate literature, rather than passively accepting institutional canon.•Enable students to draw connections between texts from past periods to their contemporary, "real world" experiences.•Promote collaboration as a valid method of inquiry.•Prepare students for future literature courses, many of which are also genre-based, as well as increasingly multimodal in scope.
Genre Theory Uri Margolin“Historical Literary Genre: The Concept and Its Uses” Highlights the constructed nature of genre, initiating the discussion pertaining to the ﬂuidity of genre conventions. Also calls attention to students’ ingrained constructions of contemporary genres. Offers a methodology for discussing genre, establishing a three-tier of generality, describing genre in terms of a “system, norm, and parole” (53).
Genre Theory Alistair Fowler “Genre and the Literary Canon”Suggests that through genre we are studying theevolution of canon.Claims genre determines canonical worth, creatinghierarchies of value.Claims there are multiple versions of literary canon,differentiating between institutionalized canon and the“personal” canon of individuals. As each generation has new concerns, and hencedifferent generic tastes, the “ofﬁcial” canon eventuallyincorporates individuals’ “personal” canon (98).Validates genre studies as relevant to literary history asa whole.
Genre Theory Wai Chee Dimock “Genre as World System: Epic and Novel on Four Continents.”Through genre studies, we witness texts from avariety of cultures interact and inﬂuence oneanother.Provides a model in which we view genre as“constellation” added to by various cultures,rather than a straight line within a singular culture.To apply the theory, students will ﬁnd examples offantasy from other cultures, creating a similarconstellation within class.
Why Fantasy? •The fantasy genre has a long and complex history •Currently experiencing popularity •Has been adapted into many modes •Novice may readily identify many conventions •Those conventions are currently being altered, creating sub-genres.
Establishing Genre Within the CourseMicah Mattix’s “Periodization and Difference” supportsgenre study, succinctly describing current problemsregarding periodization.Students will create their own justiﬁcations for using genreand fantasy as organizing principles.Using freewriting and lists to start the discussion, the classdevelops a list of conventions signiﬁcant within the genre.The list is consulted throughout the semester, marking theorigins of conventions, as well as alterations in the tradition.This marks the ways that a genre unfolds, as well as waysthat students currently experience contemporary iterations
Origins of Fantasy Gloss on the origins, such as mythology, folklore, and fairy tales, acknowledging that wide body of texts demonstrate similar markers. Begin to establish a line of inﬂuence Introduce formal elements such as “plot,” “setting,” “character” Possible Texts: Fairy Tales J.R.R. Tolkien (translator), Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
Contemporary FantasyShift into more recent examples of the genreIntroduce “point of view,” “focalization,”“symbolism”Introduce signiﬁcant theoretical lenses, such asgender and race studiesIdentify evolving sub-genresBegin comparisons with adaptations Possible Texts Michael Ende, The Never-Ending Story William Golden, Princess Bride Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber Ursula Le Guin, A Wizard of Earthsea
Adaptations The New London Group: “literacy pedagogy must now account for the burgeoning variety of text forms associated with information and multimedia technologies” (9). Thus, this course examines various modes, such as ﬁlm, graphic novels, games, and fan ﬁctions as a means of observing the genre in alternative modes. Possible Texts Animated Hobbit Live action The Never-Ending Story and Princess Bride Bill Willingham, Fables: Legends in Exile Zelda, World of Warcraft, Dungeons and Dragons
Fantasy and Young ReadersThrough contemporary incarnations of earlier texts, thissections establishes a sense of genre’s cyclical natureExamines context for recent popularity and growthHighlights the darker aspects of youth fantasyStudents provide other examples from their childhoodthat may have shaped their perception of the fantasy genreThus the course examines how our generic expectationsare shaped from an early stage. Possible Texts Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book J.K. Rowling, The Sorcerers Stone Guillermo Del Toro, Pans Labyrinth Jim Hensons Dark Crystal
Evolution and Hybridity Focus on current popular culture versions of the fantasy genre Examine hierarchies of value within the genre: “high art” vs “low art” Discuss the ways mode and visual elements may shape the genre Through interaction with another course centered on science-ﬁction via ﬁlm-viewing, observe overlaps and divergence between the genres Discuss the possibilities for the fantasy genre’s future Possible Texts Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere Jim Butcher, Storm Front Bill Willingham, Fables: Legends in Exile Guillermo Del Toro, Hellboy II
Signiﬁcance By combining Freirian principles and the NewLondon Group’s stress on supplementarypractices, as well genre-study theories, we createa course that works with traditional texts andtheories, as well as artifacts that reﬂect otherliteracies that the students are already engaged in. Through the study of genre and its varioustextual modes, students may view literary studiesas having a more immediate bearing on theirpresent culture.
Dimock, Wai Chee. “Genre as World System: Epic and Novel on Four Continents.” Narrative, 14:1 (Jan. 2006): 85- 101. Print.Freire, Paulo. “The Banking Concept of Education.” Pedagogy of the References Oppressed. New York: Continuum Books (1993): 99-111. Print.Fowler, Alastair. “Genre and the Literary Canon.” New Literary History. 11:1, Anniversary Issue II (Autumn, 1979): 97-119. Print.Kalantzis, Mary and Bill Cope. “A Multiliteracies Pedagogy: A Pedagogical Supplement.” Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. Eds. Bill Cope ad Mary Kalantzis. New York: Routledge, 2001. 239-248. Print.Margolin, Uri. “Historical Literary Genre: The Concept and Its Uses.” Comparative Literature Studies. 10:1 (Mar., 1973): 51-59. Print.Mattix, Micah. “Periodization and Difference.” New Literary History. 35:4 (2004) 685-697: Print.Taylor, Richard. “Literature and Literary Criticism.” English Studies: An Introduction to the Discipline(s). Ed. Bruce McComiskey. Urbana, IL: NCTE (2006): 199-222. Print.The New London Group. “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures.” Multiliteracies: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures. Eds. Bill Cope ad Mary Kalantzis. New York: Routledge, 2001. 239-248. Print.
Megan K. Mize email@example.comTwitter: MerryQuinn