At the helm of my D Block 20th Century American Novel class is MA’s Dean of Faculty and English teacher extraordinaire, Nicole Stanton. Here, Nicole shares her passion for this course.
20th C. Novel is one of my favorite English electives to teach. Why?
First of all, I enjoy teaching the course because students enjoy taking the course. We read three amazing novels: William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying (1930); Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye (1970); and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (1925). Each novel is a pleasure to read – the prose is gorgeous and masterful. And all three are canonical pieces of American literature – novels that are well regarded and widely read, and that inspire thought-provoking conversations in class.
Secondly, I enjoy teaching this course because of how much students get out of it. We learn about modernism and post-modernism; we study genre, point of view, metaphor, imagery and symbolism, and theme; and we hone in on analytical writing skills like crafting a strong argument, supporting an argument with evidence and analysis; and writing effective introductions and conclusions. Students also study new vocabulary words and try their hands at some creative and personal writing too.
Finally, I teach this course as often as I can because every semester, I learn something new about these novels that I love. Each time I teach this course, students comment on a symbol I hadn’t seen, or interpret a passage in a way that makes me see it in a new light. I’ve read Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying at least six or seven times, but every time I teach it, I come to appreciate its beauty and complexity a bit more. Teachers choose this profession because we are committed life-long learners, and MA students have a lot that they teach their teachers.
So alums reading this, please know how much your teachers loved having you in class, and loved teaching you things we felt passionate about. I hope you felt well prepared for college and beyond, and stay in touch – we miss you!
Homework assignment (due Monday) – Read and annotate: Pages 232 – end. Vocab: accrue (pg 226, verb); imminent (pg 254, adjective); reproach (pg 260, verb)