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Organized around the elements of literature common to all genres, THE LITERARY EXPERIENCE allows classes to focus on the real interpretive questions students ask of any text. A single chapter on symbol, for example, includes discussion of symbols in poems, stories, as well as plays.
- The cross-genre approach simplifies students' experience with literature (and instructors with their course outline). THE LITERARY EXPERIENCE is organized into 18 straightforward chapters organized by the literary elements common to all genres. The single chapter on symbolism, for example, includes fiction, poetry and drama. As a result, students understand each literary element in the context of multiple genres.
- Interpretation questions frame each chapter. Rather than focusing the discussion of literature on the formal elements, the chapters are based on the real questions that students pose when they read a text, questions like "What happened and why do we care?" or "Who is involved and why does it matter?". These questions appear at the beginning of every chapter and frame the chapter's discussion.
- Thematic Units within each chapter support element instruction and allow teachers and students to explore the ways different writers examine and develop similar ideas.
- Beiderwell and Wheeler's unique cross-genre approach to teaching literature (including multiple genres in each elements-based chapter) allows instructors to include significant discussions of, and references to, film. The original film series in literature, along with the film guide for THE LITERARY EXPERIENCE, integrates students' natural affinities for film with their study of literature.
- THE LITERARY EXPERIENCE treats writing throughout as an interpretive act, rather than an afterthought. Every chapter contains features that help students write analytically, including end of chapter checklists, end of anthology writing prompts, and "A Note to Student Writers." Essentially, students draft their papers as they engage interpretively with texts.
- Discussion examples. The chapter discussion is punctuated throughout with literary examples that illustrate the topics at hand (poems, stories, scenes from plays, and even references to film).
Incident, Scene, and Sequence. Episode, Impression, and Fragment. Tension, Release, and Resolution. Multiple and Reflexive Plots. Modeling Critical Analysis for Jamaica Kincaid''s Girl. Anthology: Detective Work � Figuring Plot.
2. CHARACTER: WHO IS INVOLVED AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Building Character. Presenting Character. Picturing Character. Feeling For Character. Character and Function. Modeling Critical Analysis for Jamaica Kincaid''s Girl. Anthology: Power Plays � Characterizing Relationships.
3. THEME: WHAT IS THE NATURE OF MEANING IN A WORK OF ART? IS MEANING THE SAME AS MESSAGE?
Theme and Thesis. Theme and Moral. Multiple Themes In A Single Work. When the Message is Unwanted. Modeling Critical Analysis for Jamaica Kincaid''s Girl. Anthology: Exploring Boundaries � Interpreting Theme.
4. POINT OF VIEW: HOW DO WE KNOW WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED?
Perspective. The Narrative Eye. Reliable and Unreliable Narrators. Film Focus and Angles. Shifting Perspectives. Modeling Critical Analysis for Robert Browning''s "My Last Duchess." Anthology: Trust and Doubt � A Matter of Point of View.
5. SETTING: WHERE AND WHEN DOES THE ACTION TAKE PLACE? WHY DOES IT MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Place and Time. The Role of Physical Objects. Imaginary Places. Modeling Critical Analysis for Robert Browning''s "My Last Duchess." Anthology: From Gothic Space to Recognizable Place � Creating Setting.
6. RHYTHM, PACE, AND RHYME: HOW DO SOUNDS MOVE?
Filmic Rhythm. Poetic Rhythm. The Rhythm of Pauses. The Rhythm of Sounds. Modeling Critical Analysis for Robert Browning''s "My Last Duchess." Anthology: Innocence and Experience � Rhythm and Meaning.
7. IMAGES: CAN WE TRADE A PICTURE FOR A THOUSAND WORDS?
Creating Pictures With Words. Registering Taste and Smell. The Interaction of the Senses. Words and Pictures Interacting. Modeling Critical Analysis for T.S. Eliot''s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Anthology: Home and Away � Personalizing Images.
8. COHERENCE: HOW DOES THE WORK HOLD TOGETHER?
Design and Shape. Traditional Structures. Coherence Without Traditional or Fixed Structure. Modeling Critical Analysis for T.S. Eliot''s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Anthology: Ritual and Routines � Structuring for Coherence.
9. INTERRUPTION: WHERE DID THAT COME FROM? WHY IS THIS HERE?
Interrupting the Fictional Frame. Structural Interruptions. Juxtaposition. Montage. Modeling Critical Analysis for T.S. Eliot''s "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Anthology: Framing, Mapping, Exploration � Placing Interruption.
10. TONE: DID I HEAR THAT RIGHT?
Hearing Right. Mixing and Balancing Opposing Tones. Irony and Introspection. Modeling Critical Analysis for O Brother Where Art Thou? Anthology: Caught Between Laughter and Tears.
11. WORD CHOICE: WHY THIS WORD AND NOT ANOTHER?
Precision and Playfulness. Beyond Summary. Definition and Usage. Critically Reflecting on Words. Modeling Critical Analysis for O Brother Where Art Thou? Anthology: Romantic Love � Expressing the Exact Emotion.
12. ALLEGORY: HOW DO CONCRETE ACTIONS SUGGEST ABSTRACT MEANINGS?
Learning Through Likeness. Embodying Timeless Qualities. Reading Allegory. Modeling Critical Analysis for João Guimarães Rosa''s, "The Third Bank of the River." Anthology: The Quest for Truth � Reading Allegory.
13. SYMBOLISM: WHAT MAKES US "READ INTO" AN EVENT OR AN IMAGE?
Figurative Language. Recognizing Symbols. Allegory and Symbol. Modeling Critical Analysis for João Guimarães Rosa''s, "The Third Bank of the River." Anthology: Building and Undoing Community � Taking Part In Symbolism.
14. CONTEXT: WHAT FACTORS OUTSIDE THE TEXT INFLUENCE OUR EXPERIENCE OF THE TEXTS? WHAT DO WE REALLY NEED TO KNOW?
How Does New Knowledge Influence Our Experience of Old Texts? How Is Knowledge "Outside" the Text Helpful? Do We Need To Know Everything In Order To Understand? What If Substantial Outside Knowledge Is Essential? Modeling Critical Analysis for João Guimarães Rosa''s, "The Third Bank of the River." Anthology: Language and War � Considering Context in Analysis.
15. ALLUSIONS: HOW DOES A TEXT BUILD ON OR DEPEND UPON OTHER TEXTS?
Creating Community. Revisiting and Renewal. Identifying and Responding To Allusions. Modeling Critical Analysis for Tom Stoppard''s The Fifteen Minute Hamlet. Anthology: The Myth of Cheating Death � Keeping Literature Alive With Allusion.
16. GENRE: HOW DO OUR EXPECTATIONS IMPACT OUT LITERARY EXPERIENCE? HOW ARE THOSE EXPECTATIONS FORMED?
What is Genre? Conventions. Disruptions. Displacement and Parody. Genre and Popular Culture. Modeling Critical Analysis for Tom Stoppard''s The Fifteen Minute Hamlet. Anthology: Honoring the Dead and Dignifying Death � Tracing Genre.
17. THE PRODUCTION AND REPRODUCTION OF TEXTS: HOW DOES RETELLING AND REVISING IMPACT OUR EXPERIENCE OF A TEXT? HOW CAN LITERARY THEORY CLARIFY WHAT CONSTITUTES THAT EXPERIENCE?
Texts and Technology. The Physical Production of Text. An Orientation to Contemporary Critical Theory. Why Do We Study the Texts We Study? Abridging, Revising, and Repackaging Text. Translations, Subtitles, Dubbing. Modeling Critical Analysis for Tom Stoppard''s The Fifteen Minute Hamlet.
18. AN ORIENTATION TO RESEARCH: WHY DO WE USE SOURCES? HOW DO WE FIND THEM? WHAT MATERIAL DO WE DOCUMENT?
Why Do We Use Sources? Shaping a Topic. How to Find Sources. Giving Appropriate Credit: The Issue of Plagiarism. Integrating Sources Into Writing: What Do We Document? How to Cite.
"I like that approach. It should help the students focus on reading the text per se, as opposed to reading "the genre." And students need all the help they can get synthesizing. I’m also hoping that so many of my students who love film but aren’t sure about their commitment to reading will see the commonality of "reading" a film and reading a text, and might be encouraged to read more."
"I was glad to see that someone had organized a text another way. I think the important goal of this course is that students learn that literature has meaning, that it relates to their lives, that it tells our own story. The authors have succeeded in moving seamlessly from the relatively simple to the more complex, from the beginning concepts of plot and character to the much more difficult concept of critical theories and post-modernism. If students read and understood each of these chapters, and if they observed in each literary work what the authors ask them to observe, they would come to have some real appreciation of literature as an art."
"It is canonical literature, contemporary literature, and pop culture bound in analysis and criticism. I will definitely consider using this text in my College English II (Intro to Literature) class. At last, a literature textbook that is compiled with the student in mind. The authors understand the mindset of the traditional college student taking a required literature class. Why not make it relevant?"
"The range and variety of elements is the most effective aspect of the reconfiguration: literary devices, such as plot, along with rhetorical devices, such as interruptions."
"Since film often is created from a previously published written text, it seems imperative to include it in any study of literature. The films that have been chosen are interesting and will intrigue a student to think more critically and to expand his or her thoughts on literature."
"The arrangement in this text is effective as it enables students to more readily recognize that common elements exist in poetry, drama, fiction, art, and film. This approach may help students appreciate art or film as more than a form of entertainment."
"Your ’canon’ is quite inclusive-- I am happy to see females authors and authors of color well represented. I am also happy to see Shakespeare, Swift, and other ’classics.’ Your literature selections include very new writing and very old-- as it should be in an introductory course in literature. As a newcomer to the text, it is reassuring to see literature that I have taught many times before along with works I have not yet taught. Teaching should be a process of continual learning, and the inclusion of unfamiliar texts allows for that."
"I very much like the idea of works in different genres to teach the basic elements of literature. This not only keeps from relegating poetry to the "deeper, harder" section of the semester, but demonstrates that poetry can be read and understood by the average student. It also helps students to focus on single elements and develop their ideas about specific works rather than trying to write about a work in many general terms."
"The thematic clusters are the strongest feature of the text. Teaching by themes allows the teacher and students to explore the different ways different writers examine and develop similar ideas."
"In terms of the specifics of the chapter (Chapter 12) that I have been sent, I applaud the inclusion of film discussions. Students are very aware of popular culture, and film is often a good way to explain literary terms, techniques, and other tools that literature students need to learn. Additionally, the text seems not to treat film as something simply to be enjoyed (vs. enjoyed, appreciated, examined, studied, treated seriously, etc.), and as a film instructor (in addition to literature, film adaptation, etc.), this is refreshing to see."
"Based on what I have seen so far, I would love to adopt this text for our Literary Heritage course. It is fresh, interesting, and challenging. Whereas most writers/publishers seem intent on creating texts that cannot be differentiated from the others (Meyers, Kennedy, Kirszner, etc.) you have come up with something that is not only different, but which makes the other texts seem timid and tired. I won’t pretend it would not be a challenge getting this text approved by folks too set in their ways, but I think it meets our department’s requirements and would be worth fighting for. I congratulate you on your work and wish you good luck."
"Not only would I consider adopting it, but I can’t wait for it to appear. It would absolutely work within my course structure, as it seems ideally suited to gradually building a deepened understanding of, and appreciation for, the art of literature (and art, and film, and photography). It is fresh and stimulating, and already has me rethinking categories and how I approach teaching."
"I like the idea of mixing genres because, as the authors point out, the separation into discrete genres is often artificial and unlike real life."
"I find this TOC to be not only comprehensive but also really wonderful in its inclusion of so many texts that aren’t in every other anthology I see. I like that it doesn’t just reorganize the same list of texts we find everywhere else, and I think it does a very good job of including texts from a pretty wide range of writers."