English | Teaching of Literature in College
L503 | TBA | Marsh

Teaching of Literature in College

11:15a – 12:30p TR

L503 is a practical pedagogical course that requires us also to come
to terms with a diverse body of literary, filmic, artistic, popular,
and theoretical material.  Our objective is to craft a new L142
course, “Celebrity,” which we will teach together in Spring 2010.

Our task in L503, then, is, first, to break that subject down into
teachable units (each of perhaps 2-3 weeks) of the most vivid and
intellectually rewarding kind, so that, say, by studying Princess
Diana, we also explore concepts of “public intimacy,” as well
as “royal” and “deadly” celebrity.  We may decide to make individual
participants, in collaboration with myself, responsible for the
final shape of particular units; participants may also plan
individual lectures, to be delivered to the class in the Spring.

Our second task, in keeping with the brief of this class, to
introduce students not only to Literature but to Critical Writing,
is to create assignments, exercises, and energizing strategies by
which to help students to think, to invest in the class (and its
methods), to develop habits of self-criticism, and therefore to
become better writers.

Our third task is to ensure that every participant of L503 leaves
the class (regardless of the success of the subsequent course,
L142), with materials and skills that will enhance their teaching
careers--and also their research.  Exit assignments that may help
those materials and skills develop could include: the writing of
a “parallel” syllabus, keyed to the participant’s expertise and
interests; or the writing of a final teaching-related paper, not
(ideally) to exceed 12 pp., which explores the problematics of
teaching this kind of material at the freshman level.  We will agree
our best approach by mid-semester.

The subjects of our units are for us to decide, collaboratively,
during this semester.  Those I can suggest beforehand, to set us
thinking (but which we may reject) are: Sir Joshua Reynolds and
celebrity portraiture; Rousseau, prototype for celebrity paranoia;
Lord Byron, notoriety, and the celebrity body; Charles Dickens, mass
mediation, and photographic celebrity; Oscar Wilde, “famous for
being famous”; Marilyn Monroe and psychic compensation; F. Scott
Fitzgerald and the Hollywood (silent) star system; the “People’s
Princess” and royal celebrity/celebrity as royalty; “cemetery
celebrity” (perhaps with regard to Elvis or James
Dean); “Brangelina” and the “intimacy of strangers”; and the
religious cult of Charlie Chaplin.

Our theoretical texts will include works by: Richard Dyer and Edgar
Morin (film stardom); Chris Rojek (celebrity as religious
formation); Leo Braudy (the long history of fame); Daniel Boorstin
and Guy De Bord (the celebrity as “pseudo-event” and the “society of
the spectacle”); Hamilton and Hargreaves (celebrity photography and
the celebrity image); and essays and chapters on individual figures
by Dames, Lilti, Gamson, Holmes and Redmond, P. David Marshall, and