Choosing a Teaching Text: James Joyce’s Ulysses
Length: 6+ Hours
Level: Advanced (majors)
Author: McKenna, Bernard
A major challenge for an instructor involves choosing the best available critical edition of a text for a class. Instructors must consider issues of authorial review, authorial intent, the corruption of editions published in the author’s lifetime, the introduction of editorial errors into the text, the review of manuscript material, and availability and readability of available editions. James Joyce’s Ulysses serves as the ideal text to teach potential instructors the fundamentals of choosing the best critical edition because there is no critical consensus regarding the best available text: students must then consider and weigh the evidence for themselves. This problem unit asks students to select the best text for a potential class and to offer evidence not only in favor of their choice but also a survey of the four most widely used editions of Ulysses. In this, it asks students to develop a criteria for choosing a scholarly text, to use that criteria to evaluate each of the four available editions, to consider reviews and assessments of available editions, to evaluate the editor’s stated methods for producing the text, and to choose a text for a class. Students must also present evidence of the strengths and weaknesses of their choice and the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the other three texts under consideration. Students must justify their choice in light of this evidence and also offer specific suggestions for compensating for the weaknesses of their chosen text. Therefore, in addition to developing criteria for choosing a text of Ulysses, this problem unit also asks students to develop a means to develop and apply standards that can be used in the choice of the best available editions for other courses.