ENGLISH 2

bannereng2

I taught English 2 in the final semester the course was offered through the English Department. Accordingly, my course was distinct from the sections now taught in the Writing Studies and Composition Department. Rather than a WAC/WID––a course on writing “in the disciplines”–– it was a literature-based composition course, building on the introduction to critical reading and college-level writing from English 1 through the study of multiple literary genres. I organized my course on the motif of the sea voyage, a topic with Classical roots but also common in literature produced between the 16th and 21st centuries. Readings along these lines included several poems, Robert Southey’s “The Sailor Who Had Served in the Slave Trade,” (1798) Tennyson’s “Ulysses” (1833), and Robert Hayden’s “Middle Passage,” as well as a play by William Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611) and a novel, Charles Johnson’s Middle Passage (1998). We also watched the 1956 film version of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. My first two paper assignments helped acclimate students to Hofstra’s library resources; in the first of these, they wrote a 4-5 page review of academic scholarship on their choice of more than twenty different options on history and culture. Their topics, such as the history of ships and whaling, magic, the American slave trade, and the history of New Orleans, supplied useful contextual information for our study of literary texts. Whereas the first paper assignment required students to report on the state of existing scholarship on a topic, their second paper assignment asked them to make an argument of their own about the material that they had examined. Both papers gave them practice with introducing and integrating secondary sources in addition to giving them a chance to learn about something new and that would enhance the entire class’s experience with the reading. Each student presented her research in class over the course of the semester. For their third paper, students wrote a literary analysis of one or several of our course texts; for their fourth, they used all of the skills and conventions they learned for academic writing in response to a prompt that approximated Hofstra’s Proficiency Exam.

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