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Notes Towards Day 1 (Tues, Sept. 4): Experiencing, Introducing, Listening, Planning....

Anne Dalke's picture

I. go outside (w/ umbrellas?) for 10 minutes:
be silent. observe. write. return.

II. Wendell Barry, The Silence

"I cannot stand ...mute/but must say....
the world lives/ in the death of speech/
and sings there...."

observing (=interacting w/) the world...
looking for the words to describe the experience...
what are these words?
what are their effects?
(what happens to the world, when we put it into language?)
how to (re)arrange these words, for different effects?

how have others done this?

what was our experience?
what are our words?
go 'round and say....

III. a touchstone, from John Elder:
"It doesn't make sense to have English departments anymore....The traditional model in education has been cosmopolitanism. I've come to prefer a concentric and bioregional approach to makes sense -- educationally -- to begin with local writing; then you expand, adding layers of knowledge -- and not just literary knowledge....we're trying to teach a form of attention to the landscape, to the whole environment, human and natural."

So, we will begin with local experience (and over the course of the semester, expand out from here, looking @ what this place was 150 years ago; and imagining what it might be 150 years from now). We have started by orienting ourselves to this campus (how many students spend 4 years here w/out ever learning where they are?). We will do more of that this week....

IV. But let me first give you some general instructions for the semester.
These are all on our course homepage.
Bookmark this url!
It's on the world wide web; you don't need to log in,
to check it weekly for our (evolving, changing) assignments.
N.B. it's an overfull "syllaship," out for its first ride,
and will be trimmed as we go...
(note also a second senior seminar on this topic).

To access the readings and post your reflections
(much of our reading and writing will be on-line) you will need to
register for a Serendip account. DO THIS TONIGHT; THE PROCESS IS NOT AUTOMATED
and may take a few hours....

I am asking you to read and to write regularly, both in and out of class.

We'll meet here every Tuesday and Thursday to discuss the readings.
Every Friday you'll e-mail me a 3-pp. paper; every other week (on Wednesday mornings?)
you'll meet w/ me to discuss your thinking and your writing.
(We'll do sign-ups when we meet on Thursday, and begin the conferences next week.)

What's unique about this course is that -- besides talking w/ each other in person,
and handing in one piece of more formal writing each week,
and having conferences about your writing --we will be meeting virtually,
each weekend, in an inbetween space: our on-line/class forum @
Every Sunday you'll do a short on-line posting here for the class,
describing your "outside" experiences,
reflecting on their relation to our readings and discussions.
This is more deliberate than speaking in class, less formal than written work:
an excellent place for showcasing revisionary thinking).
I'll ask you to make your first posting tomorrow night, just to get the kinks out of the system...

What is (probably) also distinct about this course is the form of evaluation:
I will not grade any of your individual projects. At the end of the semester,
you will review all your written work and evaluate what you've done in class.
Guidelines for that process, as well as the checklist of my expectations, are all on-line
(they are not mysterious: be present in class and conferences,
contribute in-person and on-line, post your web events and
mail in your papers on time, be responsive to instruction, engaged in the conversation...).

N.B.: my belief in education as a collective endeavor,
our shared responsibility for each other's learning,
the selfishness of silence....

Immediate assignments:
By 5 p.m. tonight, register for a Serendip account.
By 5 p.m. tomorrow evening, follow these instructions for exploring Bryn Mawr,
log on to our on-line course conversation, introduce yourself,
and answer the survey questions. BE SURE TO TAG YOUR POSTING
"EcoLit ESem" (tags are below the body of the post....)

**You'll return here every Sunday evening to make (public) note of your on-going thinking.**

Before you return to class on Thursday, also read the FIRST FIVE PAGES OF
Henry David Thoreau, Walking 1851
; rpt Project Gutenberg, 2008--through
paragraph 14 ("It will never become quite familiar to you...")
classic/canonical eco-text...come ready to report what it was like to read it,
what mattered in the reading? (should we "still" read this?)
HOW did he write? (let's attend to his voice, as a way of beginning to think about our own...)

What else?
Questions about any of these details of "course-keeping"?
reminder that links to all these pages--on-line course forum,
syllabus, instructions for posting, a growing file of my "notes
towards class discussion" --are available as links from our course home page @