Teaching the Novel and Short Fiction

Article excerpt

Teaching the Novel and Short Fiction. These essays cover a very wide range of topics, yet they can be organized meaningfully into three major groupings.

The first includes essays on the complications arising when we teach literature in radically different contexts. Layla Al Maleh and David L. Gugin address the challenges of teaching Anglo-American literature to students in the Arab world, whereas Rob Baum looks at the difficulty of spanning cultural differences--including race, class, gender, and sexuality--within the United States. Other essays reflect on related difficulties of teaching literature from earlier centuries to students of today. Carl H. Sederholm focuses on the Gothic and Matthew Hilton-Watson on French naturalism, while William Wandless addresses more general concerns about the 18th-century novel.

A second set focuses on the beginning student, particularly the non-English major, and the need to make meaningful connections between the work and the reader. Colin Irvine describes writing activities that guide students in exploring "the surprising similarities and/or differences between life and literature." Laura Rotunno asks students to consider how their expectations shape their interpretation of what they read. Ann M. Tandy-Treiber encourages students to confront and analyze the racism, sexism and other "isms" in 19th-century fiction. David C. MacWilliams relates how the use of "hometown" novels improves the sense of relevance of assigned readings for students in the composition classroom. …

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