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The Value of Silence

posted: 4.16.14 by Emily Isaacson

Lately, I’ve noticed that my tolerance for wait time—those moments of silence during a classroom discussion– is getting bad.  Really bad.  And perhaps, more importantly, my conviction that class is going horribly if my students aren’t talking nonstop has gotten stronger.  I want my students to be talking, and I want them talking now. [read more]

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When is a Mistake Truly a Mistake?

posted: 3.31.14 by Ayşe Papatya Bucak

Sometimes, as a creative writing professor you just want to put your foot down.  My colleague, Kate Schmitt, told one workshop if any of them used the word flow again, they’d have to go stand in the corner.  One of my beloved professors, Ron Carlson, told us we weren’t allowed to put clowns in our stories. [read more]

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When Organization Fails

posted: 3.25.14 by Emily Isaacson

I am both very organized and a complete organizational nightmare.  I am thankful that computers can easily and quickly search documents for key words.  I would never find old teaching material otherwise, because I am both a hoarder of the old stuff and a person who dallies with organizing systems, then tosses them aside.  (I did finally purge a large portion of my paper files last year, but I’ve still got a box of teaching files that I want to keep on hand.) [read more]

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Why Teach or Study Literature?

posted: 3.19.14 by William Bradley

I was a little nervous to tell my father my plans to major in English with a creative writing emphasis.  Though my parents had always emphasized the importance of literature—my mom was a high school English teacher, and my dad would read us Mark Twain and John Steinbeck when we were kids—I felt like my choice would strike him as being completely impractical. [read more]

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Categorizing the Things in Tim Obrien’s “The Things They Carried”

posted: 3.13.14 by Emily Isaacson

When I teach introduction to literature, I almost always teach Tim O’Brien’s “The Things They Carried.”  And when I teach that I have traditionally begun the class period by writing a list of objects from the story as students call them out.  We then talk about what the objects mean and what they say about the characters, and we’ve generally attempted some work at categorizing them. [read more]

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Why I Teach Literature

posted: 3.4.14 by Samuel Cohen

For the epigraph to the preface of the latest edition of Literature: The Human Experience, I chose a few sentences from an interview given by David Foster Wallace: “We all suffer alone in the real world; true empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with our own. [read more]

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Teaching Writing and Analysis in the Literature Classroom

posted: 2.25.14 by Emily Isaacson

One of the great challenges in teaching a survey course full of non-majors is making sure everyone knows how to write about literature.  This past semester, I faced that challenge in my world literature course – I had a room full of students, ranging from high school students taking college-level courses to senior English majors working on their capstone papers. [read more]

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Why Teach or Study Creative Writing?

posted: 2.21.14 by Catherine Pierce

A while ago, a Joss Whedon quote was being passed around the Internet. He’d been telling an audience about his frustration with repeatedly being asked, “Why do you write these strong woman characters?” His response (now immortalized in a million Facebook posts): “Because you’re still asking me that question.” [read more]

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Starting Fresh

posted: 2.14.14 by Emily Isaacson

I always enjoy the beginning of the semester: new students, new classes, and new school supplies (I still love those, all these many years past grade school).  This year, starting fresh, for me, also means a new university: I’ve recently started teaching at Heidelberg University in Ohio [read more]

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Horizontal divider Ayşe Papatya Bucak

Why I Teach

posted: 2.11.14 by Ayşe Papatya Bucak

The final assignment I give my MFA students is one they often hate, to write a “Why I Write” essay.  Lately it seems the “Why I Write” has become a genre onto itself, a rite of passage for amateur and professional alike. And even a cursory reading in the genre suggests many of us write for many of the same reasons:

  1. To learn
  2. To leave the world better than we found it [read more]

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