As I was updating the syllabus today for this spring (which is the first half), I found myself making some significant changes to the readings, which is something I really haven't done much of since I've been teaching the class. Some of the changes are the result of me adapting to a new text. Others were the result of some kind of internal impulse, the source of which is mysterious.
Here are the changes:
- No more take-home exams. Sick of plagiarism. From now on, we'll do in-class exams which will be totally fair but full of surprises!
- No more Faerie Queene. I know. I know! But I like to teach Book III, and none of the texts have Book III, and many of the students fight the text anyway, so I'm going to take a break.
- I'm teaching Chaucer's "General Prologue" in translation. Gaspe!
- I have gotten rid of the Cavalier Poets in favor of adding more background on the English "Civil War."
- I have kicked out Pope and added more Johnson.
These changes felt very weird and even a bit wrong and scary, but, at the same time, it was liberating to delete "To His Coy Mistress" and "Essay on Criticism." I know these texts are important and show us things about the time periods, but Marvell really is a bit of a tool in that poem, and novels totally beat out the heroic couplet (Sorry, Pope! You lose!), so I'm thinking we might try focusing on other things.
So there. I am ruling my own curricular kingdom!
Do you have any favorite texts that are great for survey courses but still somewhat off the beaten path?