Do you want to travel abroad? Have you ever read a book written by someone from Colombia, Haiti, India or Afghanistan for example? Do you want to go to any of these places? What do writers from these countries have to tell us?
In this class we will read novels and short stories written by authors from around the world particularly with an eye towards writers coming from “developing countries.” Not only will we read these books but we will also sample foreign cinema as well. We will go globetrotting, right within the confines of our classroom!
Students taking this course will be expected to do a lot of reading and there will be several papers and presentations assigned. Those ready to complete a literature PBAT paper will have ample opportunity to do so.
In order to establish some understanding of the time and place within which the story is set students:
Conduct in-class research to establish a timeline identifying key peoples, places and events which shape that countries history.
Draw maps identifying - major cities, neighboring countries, oceans etc of country we are reading about.
Students are expected to write two typed comparative essays. These papers are a minimum of 5 pages. Topics arise out of class discussions about themes of importance to the students and to the structure and themes of the novels. All questions are expected to draw the students into deep analysis of the works chosen.
Students are expected to write an in-class essay at mid-term. Most recently they were asked to respond to a quote taken from the book, The Farming of Bones by Edwidge Danticat. The quote is as follows:
“Jephthah called together the men of Gilead and fought against Ephraim. The Gileadites captured the fords of the Jordan leading to Ephraim, and whenever a survivor of Ephraim said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead asked him, ”Are you an Ephraimiite?” If he replied, “No,” they said, “All right, say ‘Shibboleth.’ If he said, ‘Sibboleth.’ because he could not pronounce the word correctly, they seized and killed him at the fords of the Jordan. Forty-thousand were killed at the time.”
Why do you think Edwidge Danticat chose to start her novel with this quote? Does it seem appropriate? What specific similarities/differences did you notice between what the quote reveals and what the story tells us?
As part of their work for the class students select a short story from a collection distributed in class.
After reviewing the collection students make their selection.
Students are expected to read the story and select a key passage from the story which raises an important theme.
This theme may be something that has been raised in previous conversations about other texts or it can be unique to the story.
Students do a short presentation to the class in which they share their story and passage. In addition to which they raise a question for the class to discuss.
Students write a typed weekly response essay anywhere between 1 – 2 pages. Students can respond to ideas raised during discussions or use the readings, films or other texts introduced to the class as a basis for these shorter writing exercises.
Students find reviews of the films and write their own review either critiquing or supporting the positions taken by the reviewers.