Terms of Engagement: Strategies for Engendering Critical Online Discussions of Literature

Dr. Mary Minock
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Although teachers of literature in many countries are being called upon to translate their teaching of literature to the online medium, many are skeptical about how they will know when their students are truly engaged. At this point in time, and until technology progresses to interactive visual and aural approximation — itself a "cool" substitute for face-to-face dialogue — the only proof of engagement is through writing. This fact provides opportunity for those of us interested in linguistic and rhetorical text analysis. This presentation thus analyzes examples of cybertextal strategies used by students to demonstrate their enthrallment to literature, examples that show identity, imitation and emulation. The presentation also offers organizational strategies for teachers that encourage such engaged dialogue. Briefly, teachers may structure collaborative teaching and learning opportunities, opportunities for identification, and continuing opportunities for linguistic play, even and especially irreverent play. As almost all commentators observe, conversations between students and teachers are transformed in cyberspace. Yet I hope to show that such transformed conversations nonetheless may be authentic, emotive, and memorable, and appropriate for the task at hand: instilling a love and knowledge of literature. Some of my examples are drawn from modern American poetry courses and courses in women's literature in English. However, I plan to focus most of my examples on ethnic-American literature courses, where the ethnic diversity of my students and the range of literatures offers several opportunities to explore the question of student identity.

Keywords: Teaching and Learning of Literature, Online Teaching, Virtual Communities, Text Analysis, Ethnic American Literature
Stream: Cyberspace, Technology
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Terms of Engagement

Dr. Mary Minock

Professor, Department of English and Communication Arts, Madonna University

Dr Mary Minock has been leading online discussions for many years, participating in pioneering efforts in computer conferencing while teaching at the University of Michigan in 1986, and extending those efforts to procuring and administering a FIPSE Grant for computer conferencing in courses across the curriculum while in Wayne State University's Interdisciplinary Studies Program. She is currently teaching online courses in rhetoric and literature online, particularly advanced composition, modern American poetry, women and literature, and ethnic-American literature to English majors and undergraduates across the curriculum at Madonna University, a Catholic liberal arts institution with a diverse ethnic population. Aside from observing her own and other teachers' strategies as they experiment with online teaching, she is interested in the rhetorical education, and rhetorical dimensions of literature. She has several articles published on composition and rhetoric teaching, and writing across the curriculum. She is also a poet, with one published book of poetry and several poems in literary journals. She is currently working on a new project: the teaching and writing of memoir. Dr Minock holds a doctorate in English from the University of Michigan.

Ref: H05P0394