Problem Library

A Case for Classics

Length: 6+ Hours

Discipline: English

Level: Intermediate (non-majors)

Author: Kumar, Rita

Students who are not necessarily English majors but take sophomore level literature courses as an elective or a general education requirement often lack the appropriate critical thinking skills required for literary interpretation. Additionally, students often perceive literary study as perfunctory to their ‘real’ career goals. These attitudes can become a hurdle especially in a literature course that includes texts representing a time and setting which is unfamiliar to contemporary students. This problem emphasizing collaborative work asks students to explore within these not-so-contemporary texts elements that make them examples of demonstrably enduring quality The problem evokes an exploration of texts, which requires students to explore and discuss the texts within a collaborative framework in an effort to uncover how they are a product of setting and society at a certain point in history yet represent elements which make them valuable in contemporary times. This exploration allows students to practice and further enhance their critical thinking and literary interpretation skills in addition to making them think of the practical value of literature. The students are challenged to think beyond the text and make connections with other texts and contemporary life. The problem helps to reinforce course knowledge, evoke analysis, synthesize discussion, lecture, and reading toward a deeper understanding of literature and its application beyond the classroom. The collaborative nature of the problem requires students to share ideas, offer evidence for their interpretations, and defend their views, which are all skills that help develop literary interpretation and analysis.

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