Portfolio 1: Learning the University Mind-Set

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The author, Agatha Christie, remarks that: "I suppose it is because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas."  As a freshman in college at Seton Hill University, it has been a challenge for me to end the regurgitation of high school, and express my own original thoughts.  In the class EL 150: Introduction to Literary Study, I have been confronted with the hardship of choosing one quote from our assigned reading, writing my thoughts on the quote, reading my peers contemplations, responding to them, and then reconsidering my views on the reading.  I learned that there is no “right” answer.  Instead, as long as my interpretation of the reading is based on the text, it is not wrong.  By reading my classmate’s blogs, I was able to gain a multi-dimensional view.  The following are blog entries, which have slowly, but steadily, been pushing me to look at literature more critically.    

Coverage: These entries demonstrate my ability to use a direct quote from the reading, and then to correctly link my entry back to the course website.

·         If You’re Going to Be a Rogue, At least Be Clever

·         Still So Many Questions Left Unanswered

·         Loneliness at Dusk

·         Understanding of Tragedy Given Through Comedy

·         Keeping Those Words Under Control

·         Lost Without a Visual


Timeliness:  These entries (along with my other entries) were posted 24 hours before class.

·         King Jealousy Dethroned—But Not Killed

·         What Girl Wouldn’t Want Loved For Her Personality?

·         Standing on Tip Toes

·         More Than One Right Answer


Interaction: The first three entries below, show entries which spurred numerous comments from my peers.  The next four, are examples of entries in which I linked my entry to someone else’s blog. 

·         Hidden Gems

·         Nostalgia

·         Do I Spy Othello Among Those Merry Wives?

·         The All Encompassing Story

·         “Do not judge so that you will not be judged" (Matthew 7:1).

·         Can a Ravishingly Beautiful Girl Beat Cliches?

·         Looking Beyond the Feminist Read

Depth: Take a look at these entries for an example of the university mind-set which I have been learning.  I make connections between the assigned reading and other literature.  I prove my point by using quotes from the text.  And I express my original opinions and thoughts.   

·         Mermaids Do Not Equal Unfaithful Women

·         The Story of a Boy With a Brain Tumor

·         Does One Lose More Than Innocence With Age?

·         Who Says The Gals Can’t Pull One Over on the Guys?

·         Going South, The Double Whammy

·         The Jane Austen Factor

Discussion: I’m not the only one who’s been blogging.  Here are some of my classmate’s entries, and what I and others had to say about them. 

·         Jessie Farine's Monty Python and the Merry Wives of Windsor

·         Maddie Gillespie's Mock-vater+Clapper-de-claw= an irate Frenchman lead on a leash

·         Maddie Gillespie's What’s bad is good and what's good is bad

·         Lauren Miller's- To be imperfect or not to be imperfect...that is the question

·         Lauren Miller’s Now, Where Have I Seen This Quote Before?


Excellent work, Greta! In the introduction to Ender's Game (which we'll read later this term), Orson Scott Card says there are thousands of right ways to tell a story, but millions of wrong ways. So, while there isn't a single "correct answer" when it comes to literary criticism, there are more productive answers and less productive answers; there are well-supported answers and unsupportable answers. It's not quite "anything goes," but you are already looking well beyond the multiple-choice reading comprehension quizzes that are so important for high school English, and very unimportant in college.

Having said that, I have given plenty of those kinds of quizzes myself, and they do have a place when you're trying to find out whether students are absorbing the factual content of a highly technical reading.

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