I’ve started my last class at TCC – a hybrid literature course that meets from 8:15 to 10:25 on Monday nights. I’m not thrilled about the time slot (or the fact that the class is a hybrid), but I’ve decided to make my last class a great one.
I got them started on Frankenstein – both the most challenging piece we’ll read all semester and the one with which I am most deeply in love.
I adore this story, and I have ever since I first read it. The funny thing is, I can’t tell you when, exactly, that was. I do know for sure that I read it on my own, though – I wasn’t compelled to read it for a class – and that I remember being profoundly moved by the story, but I can’t tell you when that was. This seems strange to me; I would think that, given the impact that the novel had on my being – both professional and personal – I would remember the circumstances under which I first encountered it. Not so, though. Huh.
Anyway, I’ve got the students reading the entire story for the first two weeks. Because I’m away at a fellowship for teaching the Holocaust this coming week (I leave for Not So Local College tomorrow afternoon, as a matter of fact), I won’t be able to meet with them for our second class. The students have been instructed to plow ahead with the reading in my absence, and to be prepared to discuss the novel and all its complexities and social commentary when we meet again in week three.
Every time I read this story – and every time I teach it or share it with people whose opinions I value – I am delighted by what I come away with that I didn’t have before. I’m often hesitant to share my most valued things with others; I’m afraid that they’ll dislike something I treasure and somehow devalue my appreciation for it, or that they’ll bring up an aspect or question that I’d never considered before that puts a bit of tarnish on my admiration for it. That’s never happened with this novel, however: in fact, the opposite has been true. I find that every reading – and every discussion and debate and investigation – leaves me more pleased with the story than I was before, and every time that happens, I’m pleasantly surprised because I was sure that, the last time I read it, I couldn’t be more pleased.
My students, as far as I can tell, are making a good go of it. Their online homework is to begin an email dialogue with me about the novel, and a few of them have written some insightful questions and made some interesting (though, in one case, incredibly WRONG) predictions. A few others have written only that the reading is “slow going,” and they’ve received responses from me to the effect that this is insufficient.
Still, I think that the class is going to be interesting and exciting – I’m taking a few chances as far as the readings and the themes go – and I’m looking forward to meeting my students again.