Friday, February 10, 2012

The Scarlet Letter

 Before starting class today, I stopped upstairs and found Pape buried in papers.  He was reading and marking from these stacks that look incomprehensible to me.  And yes, he's on strike, and yes, there are no classes going on, but Phd candidates are still taking oral exams and other students still have to pass to the next level which is what these papers are from.
Here are some of my students reading The Scarlet Letter.  We're still getting through about four to five pages in a two hour class, with reading, reading aloud, paraphrase, translation and discussion.  Today's question was why does the text, and presumably Hawthorne reject Puritan law?  If it's the law of the religion and the state, and if Hester broke it, then doesn't she deserve the penalty?  This more conservative voice was quickly countered by some others, and that lead to a good discussion of church state separation.
The hardest part of the class is the fact that these desks are fixed to the floor and immovable.  It's impossible to get into a circle, and only a few of them have joined me on the bench in the front of the class facing the others.  It's a new concept that most don't really embrace.

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