6.0560 Rs: On E-Texts and Active Learning (2/85)

Mon, 1 Mar 1993 14:27:55 EST

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 6, No. 0560. Monday, 1 Mar 1993.

(1) Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1993 13:52:42 -0500 (59 lines)
From: wall@cc.swarthmore.edu (Matthew Wall)
Subject: The hard work of poetry?

(2) Date: Fri, 26 Feb 93 15:52:44 CST (26 lines)
From: Glenn Everett <IVAA@UTMARTN.BITNET>
Subject: 6.0557 Rs: Humanities Active Learning

(1) --------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 1993 13:52:42 -0500
From: wall@cc.swarthmore.edu (Matthew Wall)
Subject: The hard work of poetry?

David Latane' makes the following good point a few numbers back:

>What worries me is that students will use the database to write
>papers comparing the imagery of poems that they haven't read. So the
>database fetches up the word "star" from the middle of "Prometheus
>Unbound" and the word "star" from the middle of "Endymion," and
>you'll get a perfectly precise bit of muck. I'm all for having
>computers and texts on them, but at the risk of sounding like an old
>fuddy-duffy I do fear that people will use them to generate lots of
>student "input" and avoid the hard task of actually getting the
>students to read complex, difficult texts.

A couple of responses...

(1) I think the quality of the papers will clarify who did the reading and
who didn't; the computer merely enables the discovery of fortuitous
correspondences, it can't analyze the underpinnings of meaning and imagery.
No way is a student going to 'accidentally' come up with a decent analysis
based on the computer search results unless they do a little further
contextual reading.

(2) Using the TLG as a more familiar example, this kind of searching frees
up a lot of time - a LOT of time - spent wondering "I wonder if there's a
pattern..." and frees the student up to start looking at "why". It's all a
matter of how one constructs the exercises and introduces the technology in
relationship to the literature. Remember, an INDEX is just a simpler form
of the same technology!

I remember a Shakespeare course I took, we were asked to trace color
imagery through several plays. I spent a week and a half re-reading plays
I'd already read two to twenty times -- or rather skimming plays I'd
already read -- to find the hundred occurrences of "green". I had just
enough time left to write a completely facile paper about the beauty of
nature and the parallelism of complimentary colors (no comments, please,
this was a long time ago). If I'd been able to get all the citations in an
half hour, I would've had to spend a wee bit more time actually thinking
about the imagery involved.

In other notes for poetry lovers...

We've been using Voyager's "Poetry in Motion" CD this semester in our
Poetry Workshop. This is a wonderful if simple collection of contemporary
poets reading their works, some with interviews, presented on-screen via
QuickTime movies in a Hypercard stack. The full text of the poem - as
performed or as published at your option - is displayed at the same time.
At $30 it was a great way of both introducing the vitality of poetry
performances and getting the kids interested in computer-assisted text
annotation. (We may have a few students actually creating their own
multimedia poems later this semester.) Highly recommended for those of you
with access to a Mac and a CD drive.

- Matt

(2) --------------------------------------------------------------36----
Date: Fri, 26 Feb 93 15:52:44 CST
From: Glenn Everett <IVAA@UTMARTN.BITNET>
Subject: 6.0557 Rs: Humanities Active Learning

Robert Judd wrote:

> The active learning scenario a few days ago struck a chord with me as
> music teacher. It is common in this discipline to promote active
> learning by "pastiche" composition, i.e. writing (e.g.) a string
> quartet in the style of Mozart; not to create a fine work of art but
> to force one to study Mozart's quartets (and Haydn's and Beethoven's)
> What about the analogy?
> An active-learning scenario
> analogous to music would be pastiche poetry: write a "Shakespeare
> sonnet", e.g.

Since so much of classical education up until the nineteenth century was
exactly this sort of forced imitation (of Horace, Cicero, Cato, etc.) it
has long been out of favor; although it returns every now and then,
since it is an effective means of learning rhetorical structures.

Glenn Everett
English Department
University of Tennessee at Martin