Thursday, February 4, 2016

Serializing MOBY-DICK

This winter 2016 semester, this space will attempt to offer regular dispatches from two new adventures in literature pedagogy from my course in  "The American Renaissance:  1830-1860."

My students and I  will be taking on two separate projects to get a little closer to the rich interdisciplinary and inter-discursive nature of 19th century American texts :

1) a "Time Travel" reading of multiple, consecutive issues of mid-century magazines featuring the work of canonical authors, as well as the many contemporaries publishing beside them in a variety of disciplines.

Each selection focuses upon a different time span and literary turning point.
  • The United States Democratic Review (1830s; including early printings of several of Hawthorne's "Twice-Told Tales")  
  • The Dial (1840s, including Margaret Fuller's "The Great Lawsuit")
  •  Putnam's Monthly (early 1850s, including the holiday issue sequence of Melville's "Bartleby, a Tale of Wall-Street")
  • Harper's New Monthly Magazine (late 1850s, including poetry and stories by Emerson, Whitman, Alice Cary, and others) 
2) a (Re?) "Serialization" of Moby-Dick.  Though a couple key chapters did make their way into the literary monthlies of the time, Melville's novel did not receive a full serialized treatment in its day.    My students will work with partners through a dialogue journal experience of the novel to coincide with the whole-class, shared reading of other texts.  I've given a suggested breakdown of ~11 chapters each week over the next 12 weeks (students having read the opening sections--Extracts, Etymologies, and Chapters 1-4, through Ishmail's first encounter with Queequeg--over the winter break between semesters), but student partnerships can set their own reading schedule.

In the past I have used this blog space rather infrequently to share or post information or share ideas and practices that were part of talks or presentations.  But because of a simultaneous project in my undergraduate Writing Pedagogy course inviting students to explore unfamiliar genres (more on that project in a later post), I've committed myself to try to make this a more regular and interactive space. 

For the next few months, then, it will attempt to offer dispatches of this experiment--itself serializing the process of re-serialization a mammoth 19th century novel for a 21st century context.

Our schedule of readings is below.  Feel free to join along and/or comment along the way!


LITR 569  American Renaissance 1830-1860
John Staunton
Eastern Michigan University

Preliminary Schedule of Reading/Topics/Assignments Due (Subject to change):

Week 1            M 1/11             Introductions

Melville, Moby-Dick “Etymology”/”Extracts”; Chs 1-3: “Loomings”, “The Carpet-Bag”, “The Spouter Inn”
Week 2            M 1/18             No Class, MLK Day
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 4-14 (“The Counterpane”-”Nantucket”)

Week 3            M 1/25             READINGS: Caroline Kirkland, A New Home, Who’ll Follow?
                                                Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nature
                                                 Critical Readings TBA
                                                Transmediation 1
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 15-25 (“Chowder”- ‘Postscript”)

Week 4            M 2/1               READINGS: Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Circles", "The American Scholar," and
                                                "The Writer" and/or "The Poet") Link
                                                Margaret Fuller (Woman in the 19th Century) Link to Donna Campbell's American Literature site at Washington State University

                                                Transmediation 2
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 26-36 (“Knights and Squires”- “The Quarter Deck * Ahab and All”)

Week 5            M 2/8               READINGS: Julia Ward Howe, The Hermaphrodite

                                                X Version of Critical Inquiry (Proposal and Abstract)
                                                Transmediation 3
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 37-47 (“Sunset”- “The Mat-Maker”)                                            

Week 6            M 2/15             mid -19th century Poetic Forms 1
                                               selections from Whitman, "Song of Myself" (1855 version)
                                               Longfellow, "Evangeline," Sigourney,  & others)
                                                Critical Teaching Presentation 2
                                                (Critical Readings TBA by group)
                                                __Students 1 , 2 & 3_____
                                                 Transmediation 4
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 48-58 (“The First Lowering”- “Brit”)
Week 7            M 2/22             NO CLASS—EMU WINTER BREAK
 Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 59-69 (“Squid”- “The Funeral”)                                             
Week 8            M 2/29             Happy Leap Year!
                                                Time Travel Reading Presentations          
                                                (Primary and Critical Readings TBA by groups)
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 70-80 (“The Sphynx” – “The Nut”)
Week 9            M 3/7               READINGS: Henry David Thoreau, Walden Link and " Resistance to Civil
                                               & Margaret Fuller, Summer on the Lakes Link  [google ebook]

                                                 Annotated Bibliography for Critical Inquiry
 Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 81-91 (“The Pequod Meets the Virgin”- “The Pequod Meets the Rosebud”)

 Week 10          M 3/14            READINGS:
Harriet Beecher Stowe [Excerpts]
 Link to the Re-Serialization from  The National Era version with contemporary critical commentary
Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life [Excerpts] Link
                                                Critical Teaching Presentation 3
                                                (Critical Readings TBA by group)
                                                __ __Students 1 & 2__
                                                 Transmediation 5
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
 Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 92-102 (“Ambergris” - “A Bower in the Arsacides”)
Week 11          M 3/21             READINGS: 19th Century Prose Forms (Selections from
                                                Hawthorne, Poe, Cary and others)
                                                 Critical Teaching Presentation 4
                                                (Critical Readings TBA by group)
                                                __ _Students 1 & 2_______
                                                 Transmediation 6
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs.103-113 (“Measurement of a Whale’s Skeleton” – “The Forge”)

Week 12          M 3/28             Y Version Critical Inquiry (submitted for peer review in doc

Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 114- 124 (“The Gilder”- “The Needle”)

Week 13          M 4/4               mid -19th century Poetic Forms 2 (READINGS TBA)

                                                Transmediation 7
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________                                   

Melville, Moby-Dick, Chs. 125- Epilogue (“The Log and Line”- “Epilogue”)

Week 14          M 4/11             mid- 19th century Prose Forms 2 (READINGS TBA)

                                                Transmediation 8
                                                Image ____Student A ______
                                                Music____Student B _____
                                                Text ____Student C ________
Week 15          M 4/18             Readings to be selected from LC/DJ Texts
                                                Dialogue Journal Presentations

FINALS           F 4/22              Z Version Critical Inquiry and Abstracts by 7pm


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