STS 2007, Part V - Pedagogy and Textual Studies Roundtable

For the last session of the conference, on Saturday 17 March, I attended the Pedagogy and Textual Studies Roundtable. This was a very lively session with smart advice and anecdotes from both the panelists and the audience. It was chaired by Maura Ives of Texas A&M.

  • Dan O'Sullivan (U of Mississippi): "Teaching Pre-print Textuality to Post-print Students" -- Took a group of honors students to the Bibliothèque Nationale, in Paris, after a seminar on medieval material textuality. Recruitment for the seminar and the trip was difficult, but he ended up taking a handful of students to see the manuscripts they had studied during the seminar.
  • Katherine Harris (San Jose State U): "Sneaking it In: Teaching Textual Studies without Teaching Textual Studies" -- Devised a few lessons to teach differences and similarities between authorship and editorial practice. In an introduction to literary criticism course, she addressed copyright law and the concepts of authorship and editorial practices by having her students read Charles Dickens' Great Expectations and then Kathy Acker's essay "Plagiarism," which lifts the first paragraph of Dickens' novel. They also get into the lawsuit over The Wind Done Gone, a retelling of Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. She also had her students look at the source code of an online version of Great Expectations, which allowed them to realize that it's a version of a material text and to discuss the role of technology in literature--including print culture. At that point, she brings out her 19th Century cigarette cards of Dickens' characters, making sure her students are able to "touch the stuff" and realize the importance of material culture.
  • John K. Young (Marshall U): "Textual Instability and Undergraduates" -- Assigned different editions of Richard Wright's Native Son and had his students do a comparative activity. It conveyed the notion of authorship as a social process and showed that the author's true intentions are unrecoverable. The uncertainty of the material text reinforces the ways students receive textuality in the rest of their lives.
  • Martha Nell Smith (U of Maryland): "Back to the Future: Teaching Manuscripts to Undergraduates" -- One of her primary teaching questions is 'how did the poem on your page get there?' She then guides them through the processes of the author, editor, and so on, and allows her students to see different states of finished and unfinished works -- both digital and print artifacts.
  • Archie Burnett (Boston U): "Boston University's Editorial Institute, and one of its Courses" -- Related the prehistory, founding, and evolution of Boston University's Editorial Institute and discussed the topics covered by its degree program.