How to teach students to comprehend readings in imaginative literature


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A Quest Faculty Development workshop for QEP.

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How to teach students to comprehend readings in imaginative literature

  1. 1. Quest Faculty Development Workshop #2, Fall 2011
  2. 2. Myths about the QEP solved:Fact Or Fiction?ž  After reading and imitating Geoffrey of Vinsauf, Charles Dickens, and Ernest Hemingway, two TJC students responded, “Mr. Skinner, this is my favorite class.” (Fact)ž  The QEP will take away from class time. (Fiction)ž  TJC students don’t read homework assignments. (Fact and fiction)ž  TJC students don’t like reading. (Fact and Fiction)ž  A TJC student says, “Could we get this in nursing?” (Fact)ž  A TJC professor says, “Reading Great Books will help students learn to think and become better people.” (Fact)ž  The QEP will impact every course/ every faculty member at TJC. (Fiction)ž  The students will have to pay for more books. (Fiction)ž  The works on the Great Books list are only for students taking advance courses in Higher Education. (Fiction)ž  TJC will have to pay for more books. (Fiction)ž  An entire Great Book will have to be read for each Quest course. (Fiction)ž  All Quest courses will implement the program the same. (Fiction)ž  The QEP is a temporary initiative that will soon go away. (Fiction)ž  The faculty are an integral part of implementing the QEP. (Fact)
  3. 3. Here’s what TJC students have tosay about this approach.
  4. 4. The Goals of ReadingMortimer Adler and Francis BaconCharles Van Dorenž  “[t]here is still another ž  “Some Bookes are to be goal of reading, besides Tasted, Others to be Swallowed, and Some Few gaining information and to be Chewed and understanding, and that Digested: That is, some is entertainment” (10). Bookes are to be read onely in Parts; Others to be read but not Curiously; and some Few to be read wholly, and with Diligence and Attention” (151, ll. 22-26).
  5. 5. Thesis: what to read, how toread, and why to readž  Consequently, we best equip students with the ability to carry out this process when we teach them to read the right books, in the right ways, for the right reasons – in short, the art of reading well. —  “the process whereby a mind, with nothing to operate on but the symbols of the readable matter, and with no help from outside, elevates itself by the power of its own operations. The mind passes from understanding less to understanding more” (8).
  6. 6. What to Read: Treats, Water, andMeat/Vegetables
  7. 7. The Pyramid of Books Great Books Good Books Amusement/ Information
  8. 8. Books of Information orEntertainmentž  99% of all books written in the history of the western worldž  Worthy only of being “tasted” or read in part or “skimmed”ž  Fosters Mechanical, not organic Growth
  9. 9. Mechanical Growth
  10. 10. The Good Booksž  A fewthousand books of the millions of books written in the history of the western worldž  Worth reading analytically once; that is, deserving to be swallowed, but not necessarily chewed/ digestedž  Fosters organic, not mechanical growth
  11. 11. The Great Booksž  Less than one hundred books of those written in the history of the western worldž  Cannot be outgrown or exhaustedž  Worthy of reading analytically many times overž  Analogous to Bacon’s description of those “Few [texts which ought] to be Chewed and Digested”ž  Fosters organic growth
  12. 12. Organic Growth
  13. 13. How do I Foster Organic ANDMechanical Growth with theReadings in my Classes?
  14. 14. 1. Pair your Textbook Readingwith a Great Book or a GoodBook OR a collection ofreadings from Great Booksand/or Good Books.
  15. 15. “A” Great Books Listž  Not meant to be exhaustivež  Not meant to exclude other approaches to defining great booksž  Not meant to exclude womenž  Other Lists of Core texts — undergrad/coretexts — readlist.shtml
  16. 16. ž  Homer (9th Century B.C.?) Iliad Odysseyž  The Old Testamentž  Aeschylus (c.525-456 B.C.) Tragediesž  Sophocles (c.495-406 B.C.) Tragediesž  Herodotus (c.484-425 B.C.) Historyž  Euripides (c.485-406 B.C.) Tragedies (esp. Medea, Hippolytus, The Bacchae)ž  Thucydides (c.460-400 B.C.) History of the Peloponnesian War
  17. 17. ž  Hippocrates (c.460-377? B.C.) Medical Writingsž  Aristophanes (c.448-380 B.C.) Comedies (esp. The Clouds, The Birds, The Frogs)ž  Plato (c.427-347 B.C.) Dialogues (esp. The Republic, Symposium, Phaedo, Meno, Apology, Phaedrus , Protagoras, Gorgias, Sophist, Theaetetus)ž  Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) Works (esp. Organon, Physics, Metaphysics, On the Soul, The Nicomachean Ethics, Politics, Rhetoric, Poetics)ž  Epicurus (c.341-270 B.C.) Letter to Herodotus Letter to Menoeceusž  Euclid (fl.c. 300 B.C.) Elementsž  Archimedes (c.287-212 B.C.) Works (esp. On the Equilibrium of Planes, On Floating Bodies, The Sand-Reckoner)
  18. 18. ž  Apollonius of Perga (fl.c.240 B.C.) Conic Sectionsž  Cicero (106-43 B.C.) Works (esp. Orations, On Friendship, On Old Age)ž  Lucretius (c.95-55 B.C.) On the Nature of Thingsž  Virgil (70-19 B.C.) Worksž  Horace (65-8 B.C.) Works (esp. Odes and Epodes, The Art of Poetry)ž  Livy (59 B.C.-A.D. 17) History of Romež  Ovid (43 B.C.-A.D. 17) Works (esp. Metamorphoses)ž  Plutarch (c.45-120) Parallel Lives Moralia
  19. 19. ž  Tacitus (c.55-117) Histories Annals Agricola Germaniaž  Nicomachus of Gerasa (fl.c. 100 A.D.) Introduction to Arithmeticž  Epictetus (c.60-120) Discourses Encheiridion (Handbook)ž  Ptolemy (c.100-170; fl. 127-151) Almagestž  Lucian (c.120-c.190) Works (esp. The True Way to Write History, The True History, The Sale of Creeds)ž  Marcus Aurelius (121-180) Meditationsž  Galen (c. 130-200) On the Natural Faculties
  20. 20. ž  The New Testamentž  Plotinus (205-270) The Enneadsž  St. Augustine (354-430) Works (esp. On the Teacher, Confessions, City of God, On Christian Doctrine)ž  The Song of Roland (12th century?)ž  The Nibelungenlied (13th century?) (Völsunga Saga is the Scandinavian version of the same legend)ž  The Saga of Burnt Njalž  St. Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-1274) Summa Theologicaž  Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) Works (esp. The New Life, On Monarchy, The Divine Comedy)
  21. 21. ž  Geoffrey Chaucer (c.1340-1400) Works (esp. Troilus and Criseyde, The Canterbury Tales)ž  Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) Notebooksž  Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) The Prince Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livyž  Desiderius Erasmus (c.1469-1536) The Praise of Follyž  Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheresž  Sir Thomas More (c.1478-1535) Utopiaž  Martin Luther (1483-1546) Table Talk Three Treatisesž  François Rabelais (c.1495-1553) Gargantua and Pantagruel
  22. 22. ž  John Calvin (1509-1564) Institutes of the Christian Religionž  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592) Essaysž  William Gilbert (1540-1603) On the Loadstone and Magnetic Bodiesž  Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616) Don Quixotež  Edmund Spenser (c.1552-1599) Prothalamion The Faërie Queenež  Francis Bacon (1561-1626) Essays Advancement of Learning Novum Organum New Atlantisž  William Shakespeare (1564-1616) Worksž  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) The Starry Messenger Dialogues Concerning Two New Sciencesž  Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) Epitome of Copernican Astronomy Concerning the Harmonies of the World
  23. 23. ž  William Harvey (1578-1657) On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals On the Circulation of the Blood On the Generation of Animalsž  Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) The Leviathanž  Rene Descartes (1596-1650) Rules for the Direction of the Mind Discourse on the Method Geometry Meditations on First Philosophyž  John Milton (1608-1674) Works (esp. the minor poems, Areopagitica, Paradise Lost, Samson Agonistes)ž  Molière (1622-1673) Comedies (esp. The Miser, The School for Wives, The Misanthrope, The Doctor in Spite of Himself)ž  Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) The Provincial Letters Pensees Scientific Treatisesž  Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) Treatise on Light
  24. 24. ž  Benedict de Spinoza (1632-1677) Ethicsž  John Locke (1632-1704) Letter Concerning Toleration "Of Civil Government" (second treatise in Two Treatises on Government) Essay Concerning Human Understanding Thoughts Concerning Educationž  Jean Baptiste Racine (1639-1699) Tragedies (esp. Andromache, Phaedra)ž  Isaac Newton (1642-1727) Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy Opticsž  Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716) Discourse on Metaphysics New Essays Concerning Human Understanding Monadologyž  Daniel Defoe (1660-1731) Robinson Crusoež  Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) A Tale of a Tub Journal to Stella Gullivers Travels A Modest Proposal
  25. 25. ž  William Congreve (1670-1729) The Way of the Worldž  George Berkeley (1685-1753) Principles of Human Knowledgež  Alexander Pope (1688-1744) Essay on Criticism Rape of the Lock Essay on Manž  Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755) Persian Letters Spirit of Lawsž  Voltaire (1694-1778) Letters on the English Candide Philosophical Dictionaryž  Henry Fielding (1707-1754) Joseph Andrews Tom Jonesž  Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) The Vanity of Human Wishes Dictionary Rasselas The Lives of the Poets (esp. the essays on Milton and Pope)
  26. 26. ž  David Hume (1711-1776) Treatise on Human Nature Essays Moral and Political An Inquiry Concerning Human Understandingž  Jean Jaques Rousseau (1712-1778) On the Origin of Inequality On the Political Economy Emile The Social Contractž  Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) Tristram Shandy A Sentimental Journey through France and Italyž  Adam Smith (1723-1790) The Theory of Moral Sentiments Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nationsž  Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) Critique of Pure Reason Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Morals Critique of Practical Reason The Science of Right Critique of Judgment Perpetual Peacež  Edward Gibbon (1737-1794) The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Autobiographyž  James Boswell (1740-1795) Journal (esp. London Journal) Life of Samuel Johnson, Ll.D.
  27. 27. ž  Antoine Laurent Lavoisier (1743-1794) Elements of Chemistryž  John Jay (1745-1829), James Madison (1751-1836), and Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) Federalist Papers (together with the Articles of Confederation, the Constitution of the United States, and the Declaration of Independence)ž  Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation Theory of Fictionsž  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832) Faust Poetry and Truthž  Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier (1768-1830) Analytical Theory of Heatž  Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) Phenomenology of Spirit Philosophy of Right Lectures on the Philosophy of Historyž  William Wordsworth (1770-1850) Poems (esp. Lyrical Ballads, Lucy poems, sonnets; The Prelude)
  28. 28. ž  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) Poems (esp. "Kubla Khan," Rime of the Ancient Mariner) Biographia Literariaž  Jane Austen (1775-1817) Pride and Prejudice Emmaž  Karl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) On Warž  Stendhal (1783-1842) The Red and the Black The Charterhouse of Parma On Lovež  George Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824) Don Juanž  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) Studies in Pessimismž  Michael Faraday (1791-1867) Chemical History of a Candle Experimental Researches in Electricityž  Charles Lyell (1797-1875) Principles of Geology
  29. 29. ž  Auguste Comte (1798-1857) The Positive Philosophyž  Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) Père Goriot Eugénie Grandetž  Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) Representative Men Essays Journalž  Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) The Scarlet Letterž  Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859) Democracy in Americaž  John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) A System of Logic On Liberty Representative Government Utilitarianism The Subjection of Women Autobiographyž  Charles Darwin (1809-1882) The Origin of Species The Descent of Man Autobiographyž  Charles Dickens (1812-1870) Works (esp. Pickwick Papers, David Copperfield, Hard Times)
  30. 30. ž  Claude Bernard (1813-1878) Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicinež  Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) Civil Disobedience Waldenž  Karl Marx (1818-1883) Capital (together with the Communist Manifesto)ž  George Eliot (1819-1880) Adam Bede Middlemarchž  Herman Melville (1819-1891) Moby Dick Billy Buddž  Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881) Crime and Punishment The Idiot The Brothers Karamazovž  Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880) Madame Bovary Three Stories
  31. 31. ž  Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) Plays (esp. Hedda Gabler, A Dolls House, The Wild Duck)ž  Leo Tolstoy (1828-1910) War and Peace Anna Karenina What is Art? Twenty-Three Talesž  Mark Twain (1835-1910) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn The Mysterious Strangerž  William James (1842-1910) The Principles of Psychology The Varieties of Religious Experience Pragamatism Essays in Radical Empiricismž  Henry James (1843-1916) The American The Ambassadorsž  Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (1844-1900) Thus Spoke Zarathustra Beyond Good and Evil The Genealogy of Morals The Will to Powerž  Jules Henri Poincaré (1854-1912) Science and Hypothesis Science and Method
  32. 32. ž  Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) The Interpretation of Dreams Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis Civilization and Its Discontents New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysisž  George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) Plays (and Prefaces) (esp. Man and Superman, Major Barbara, Caesar and Cleopatra, Pygmalion, Saint Joan)ž  Max Planck (1858-1947) Origin and Development of the Quantum Theory Where Is Science Going? Scientific Autobiographyž  Henri Bergson (1859-1941) Time and Free Will Matter and Memory Creative Evolution The Two Sources of Morality and Religionž  John Dewey (1859-1952) How We Think Democracy and Education Experience and Nature Logic, the Theory of Inquiryž  Alfred North Whitehead (1861-1947) An Introduction to Mathematics Science and the Modern World The Aims of Education and Other Essays Adventures of Ideasž  George Santayana (1863-1952) The Life of Reason Skepticism and Animal Faith Persons and Places
  33. 33. ž  Nikolai Lenin (1870-1924) The State and Revolutionž  Marcel Proust (1871-1922) Remembrance of Things Pastž  Bertrand Russell (1872-1970) The Problems of Philosophy The Analysis of Mind An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth Human Knowledge: Its Scope and Limitsž  Thomas Mann (1875-1955) The Magic Mountain Joseph and His Brothersž  Albert Einstein (1879-1955) The Meaning of Relativity On the Method of Theoretical Physics The Evolution of Physics (with L. Infeld)ž  James Joyce (1882-1941) "The Dead" in Dubliners Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Ulyssesž  Jacques Maritain (1882- ) Art and Scholasticism The Degrees of Knowledge The Rights of Man and Natural Law True Humanism
  34. 34. ž  Franz Kafka (1883-1924) The Trial The Castlež  Arnold Toynbee (1889- ) A Study of History Civilization on Trialž  Jean Paul Sartre (1905- ) Nausea No Exit Being and Nothingnessž  Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn (1918- ) The First Circle The Cancer Ward
  35. 35. How do I Choose a Book orSelections from Books?!ž  Use the Syntopicon —  The Syntopi-what? ○  The Syntopicon is “literally, a collection of the topics which are the main themes of the conversation to be found in the…[Great Books of the Western World Collection]” (xii). ○  “The full title of this work – The Great Ideas, a Syntopicon of Great Books of the Western World – thus indicates not only that its structure consists of terms and topics, but also that it functions as a guide to the great books from which its terms and topics are drawn” (xii).
  36. 36. The Topic “Animal”
  37. 37. The Topic “Animal”
  38. 38. The Topic “Animal”
  39. 39. 2. If you chose a single book,read it analytically. If youchose a selection of books,read them syntopically.
  40. 40. What is Analytical Reading?ž  The Essence of Active Reading: The Four Basic Questions a Demanding Reader Asks:ž  1. What is the book about as a whole? —  a. Determine the leading theme of the book, and how the author develops this theme in an orderly way by subdividing it into its essential subordinate themes or topics —  b. The First Stage of Analytical Reading, or Rules for Finding What a Book is About (see p. 95) ○  i. Classify the book according to kind and subject matter. ○  ii. State what the whole book is about with the utmost brevity. ○  iii. Enumerate its major parts in their order and relation, and outline these parts as you have outlined the whole. ○  iv. Define the problem or problems the author is trying to solve.
  41. 41. What is Analytical Reading?ž  2. What is being said in detail, and how? —  a. Discover the main ideas, assertions, and arguments that constitute the author’s particular message. —  b. The Second Stage of Analytical Reading: Rules for Interpreting a Book’s Contents ○  i. Come to terms with the author by interpreting his key words. ○  ii. Grasp the author’s leading propositions by dealing with his most important sentences. ○  iii. Know the author’s arguments, by finding them in, or constructing them out of, sequences of sentences. ○  iv. Determine which of his problems the author has solved, and which he has not; and of the latter, decide which the author knew he had failed to solve.
  42. 42. What is Analytical Reading?ž  3. Is the book true, in whole or part? —  a. Depends upon answering the first two questions; an obligationž  4. What of it? —  a. Determine the book’s significance. Why is it important to know these things? Given this new enlightenment what is further implied or suggested? —  B. The Third Stage of Analytical Reading: Rules for Criticizing a Book as a communication of Knowledge I. General Maxims of Intellectual Etiquette ○  i. Do not begin criticism until you have completed your outline and your interpretation of the book. (Do not say you agree, disagree, or suspend judgment, until you can say “I understand.”) ○  ii. Do not disagree disputatiously or contentiously. ○  iii. Demonstrate that you recognize the difference between knowledge and mere personal opinion by presenting good reasons for any critical judgment you make. —  II. Special Criteria for Points of Criticism ○  i. Show wherein the author is uninformed. ○  ii. Show wherein the author is misinformed. ○  iii. Show wherein the author is illogical. ○  iv. Show wherein the author’s analysis or account is incomplete.
  43. 43. What is Syntopical Reading?ž  i. Surveying the Field: Preparatory to Syntopical Reading —  a. Create a tentative bibliography of your subject by recourse to library catalogues, advisors, and bibliographies in books. —  b. Inspect all of the books on the tentative bibliography to ascertain which are germane to your subject.
  44. 44. What is Syntopical Reading?ž  ii. Syntopical Reading of the Bibliography Ammased in Stage I —  a. Inspect the books already identified as relevant to your subject in Stage I in order to find the most relevant passages. —  b. Bring the authors to terms by constructing a neutral terminology of the subject that all, or the great majority, of the authors can be interpreted as employing, whether they actually employ the words or not. —  c. Establish a set of neutral propositions for all of the authors by framing a set of questions to which all or most of the authors can be interpreted as giving answers, whether they actually treat the questions explicitly or not. —  d. Define the issues, both major and minor ones, by ranging the opposing answers of authors to the various questions on one side of an issue or another. You should remember that an issue does not always exist explicitly between or among authors, but that it sometimes has to be constructed by interpretation of the authors’ views on matters that may not have been their primary concern. —  e. Analyze the discussion by ordering the questions and issues in such a way as to throw maximum light on the subject. More general issues should precede less general ones, and relations among issues should be clearly indicated.
  45. 45. 3. Compare the notes from eitheryour Analytical or SyntopicalReading to the Textbook andDepartmental Guidelines for yourcourse. Look for overlap in theform of agreement anddisagreement.
  46. 46. 4. Attend the FacultyDevelopment Workshops andMeet with me to talk abouthow to Integrate the Organicreadings into the Mechanicalrequirements for the course.
  47. 47. Joan Bruckwicki and JeremyLight: UnderstandingImaginative Literature