At Boston University, I teach introductory literature courses in the English department and a two-course sequence in academic writing and research for the Writing Program.
Though we often imagine reading as a solitary activity, storytelling and literary study have been—and will continue to be—social and interactive. In the courses I teach, student essays, group presentations, and a close reading blog are integrated into class discussions, sharpening our focus on particular aspects of the text or topic at hand while also allowing conversations to extend throughout the semester. For example, one of my World Literature courses dedicated a 4-week-long unit to in-depth discussion and multimedia research around Salman Rusdhie’s Midnight’s Children (1980). But we also used the close reading blog to “tag” any individual posts related to gender. This allowed us to continue a discussion that began early in the semester (after reading Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House) and return to the subject while revising final papers and reviewing for the exam. Together, these sorts of multimodal activities provide the venue for a semester-long process of dialogue and intellectual collaboration.
As a Graduate Teaching Fellow in Boston University’s English Department, I have designed and taught introductory surveys of modern literature (from Voltaire to Marjane Satrapi) and world literature (from Genesis to Jay-Z). While introducing students to important periods and categories of literary history (European Enlightenment, Post-Partition Fiction, Modernism), these courses also use topics such as “coming-of-age in the modern world” and “literature in the city” to explore connections across time periods and national literatures. By stretching ourselves to make these connections (and, crucially, noticing when they fail), we get a better sense of both the universality of narrative forms and the gaps or contradictions that shape cultural expression and intercultural exchange.
- EN 141: Introduction to Fiction
Topic: In Our Time—Modernism, Fiction, and History
- EN 125: Reading Modern Literature
Topic: Growing Up Modern (Course Blog)
- EN 121: Reading World Literature
Topic: Literature in the City (Course Blog)
Comments from Students
EN 141: Introduction to Fiction
- “I enjoyed and learned a lot from our assigned readings.”
- “Assignments were relevant, class discussions productive.”
- “Professor Weberling did a great job at engaging students in in-depth discussions for each of the works we read…. a great, caring professor.”
EN 125: Reading Modern Literature
- “The instructor’s approach to teaching through assigned and discussed blog posts on the course texts was very helpful and effective.”
- “He broke down subjects clearly and allowed us to think abstractly.”
- “I definitely had to work hard, but all discussions were relevant, and he was always able to stimulate participation from everyone in the course. Analysis of close readings was a prime focus, and I think I definitely improved.”
- “The class was great, and the instructor was one of my favorite at BU.”
EN 121: Reading World Literature
- “The topics were incredibly interesting, and I feel I gained a great amount of cultural knowledge.”
- “Helpful in office hours.”
- “I would recommend this class to my peers.”
- “Great course! One of my favorite classes so far.”
“Pushes students to think a different way, or consider another way of writing.”
– WR 100 Student (Fall 2013)
In addition to introductory literature courses, I have taught in Boston University’s CAS Writing Center, which offers all incoming undergraduates a year-long immersion in the practices of research and academic writing.
These semester-long seminar courses focus on a particular topic. My sections of WR 100 and WR 150 have covered topics in British and world literature, including modernist fiction and magazines, literatures of civil war, and fictional narratives about the British Empire. As part of our collaborative engagement with literature and history, each seminar built a course blog and/or research guide composed of topical essays, annotated bibliographies, and an interactive map and timeline tool. For example, in spring 2014 students used Omeka and Neatline to produce this multimodal research guide on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The site was received positively by scholars and teachers interested in digital pedagogy.
@ryweb @omeka @omeka_neatline Splendide! Bravo. — Irène Langlet (@iLangle) April 25, 2014
More undergrad #Neatline work. RT @ryweb: Mapping Conrad: My students' "Heart of Darkness: An Online Research Guide" http://t.co/QrWAZNwEVU — Bethany Nowviskie (@nowviskie) April 25, 2014
- WR 100: Writing Seminar
WR 150: Writing and Research Seminar
- Seminar Topics: Modernist Fiction and Magazines; Litratures of Civil War from Antigone to Adichie; Fictions of Empire
Comments from Students
- “Explained concepts very clearly and helped me improve my writing.”
- “Professor Weberling encouraged class discussions and created mini-workshops each week, which really helped my writing.”
- “Used technology well.”
- “Gives very good feedback on draft essays that helped in the review process.”