Monday, July 27, 2009

The Summer School Experience

Here are a few departing words of wisdom (not my own):
"Thus what the ancients, following Aristotle, demanded of Tragedy is nothing higher or lower than that it should entertain people. Theatre may be said to be derived from ritual, but that is only to say that it becomes theatre once the two have separated; what it brought over from the mysteries was not its former ritual function, but purely and simply the pleasure which accompanied this. And the catharsis of which Aristotle writes - is a purification which is performed not only in a pleasurable way, but precisely for the purpose of pleasure. To ask or to accept more of the theatre is to set one's own mark too low." Bertolt Brecht

In other words, I hope you enjoyed the class. It was my pleasure to teach, and read, with you. Please respond anonymously with a paragraph about your experience in the class. Include anything you think is relevant, particularly things that were useful about the class or not useful at all. 


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  2. Tracey, I really enjoyed this class. I liked how we all had to come up with our own quizzes. I also liked how we were forced to keep up with the readings because we had a quiz everyday. The only book that I did not like reading was Lolita. I thought that reading that book was more disturbing to me than reading American Psycho. The only thing that I am kind of mad about from this class was that we did not watch The Great Gatsby in class but that is because I have a slight obsession with Robert Redford. Thank you for making this class enjoyable.

  3. What an awesome English class this is! Even though the schedule wasn't fixed for this class and that made me worry a bit, everything worked out great!

    The choices of books are splendid. One thing I have learned from looking at the overall picture is that author's background information and time period when they wrote it is extremely crucial for the book. Some books had very scandalized scenes, but it was good to be exposed to them. For example, in American Psycho, it was very hard to read through all the details, but you totally understand that, so it's not a problem. When I was reading A Clockwork Orange, I remembered there was a book I liked that is similar. It is called "A Brave New World."

    Typically when I think of the word hero, I imagined it to be a good guy or someone who I can relate to. However, these books went against my idea of a hero. Very interesting choices of books!

    The daily quizzes are a good thing to keep us reading. I think the idea of assigning a student to make the quiz each day is great. Sometimes as teachers, you read the book more than once and you would catch things that you didn't notice the first time you read it. So it was better for someone who is in the same boat as us to make the quiz.

    The midterm was long, but reasonable. The final was easy as well. Thank you! The bonus opportunities are greatly appreciated. Thank you Ms. Tracey. I hope to have you as my professor again in the future!

    -Jessica Chu

  4. The class was fun and enjoyable.
    Taking it in the summer was more enjoyable than, I think, a regular semester would have been. The limited time between classes gave an opportunity to stay up-to-date and in-touch with the books—and we were never assigned too much that it was a hassle to read. I didn’t get a chance to forget what it was that I read the night before. I did, although, have trouble sometimes over the weekends because of prior engagements.
    The class was laid back and easy going. For me, that’s a good experience. To be able to actively discuss and chime in provides a better understanding of the material. I know that I appreciate reading more now. I never really did love it—although I would read some books that I picked out, I wouldn’t have read most of these.
    AP/Lolita – a lot of controversy. Both are actually worth the read though. I went to three places in BR looking to buy the AP movie(with no luck)
    GG- I’d read it before. It’s a classic.
    TBS- Seems old school and slow. It was an okay story. I liked what you said about how it showed a dark Los Angeles. I also liked the wit about the book.
    ACO- I thought it was terrible. I didn’t like the lingo. I didn’t like the story. This is just my opinion, of course.
    The midterm and the final were fair. We were told exactly what would be on them. We discussed all the topics in great depth.
    I liked the daily quizzes. It kept us up to date. They were worth little enough that if we fell behind a day or two, it wouldn’t hurt too much. They were worth more than enough if we kept up to date and needed a good grade to reward our reading.
    Thanks for walking us through it. You provided great information and insight as well as good comedy.
    I hope to see ya around. Good luck as a newlywed. (I’m in the same boat)

  5. The class structure itself was great. I am a huge fan of seminar over lecture, as it engages scholarship.

    The daily quizes was a good idea in theory, as I can see why it would promote accountability of the reader. The only critique I would say is the downside of fill in the blank, true-false, and multiple guess type of quizzes is this: they don't truly represent the information a reader pulls from a book. In keeping with the theme of a seminar's analytical reasoning, I would offer this suggestion: make the quiz a one question short answer. That way, it is easier to gauge if the reader is actually learning something relevant to themselves, and not just memorizing data.

    I thought the final was fantastic. The topics made the reader use the books to explain what we, as an audience, have truly learned and understand.

    The mid-term was a little fragmented. A format such as the final would be ideal. Nonetheless, it was a fair midterm.

    The books themselves were great for the theme you were presenting. Aside from personal taste, I can see the value in the theme.

    Overall, I loved the class. I really do hate reading fiction. I usually read ethnographies and theoretical composition and it takes a really, really, good book and author to hold my attention when it comes to novels. But, I found the conversations to be very insightful.

    I was honored to have your class as my last at LSU......I had a blast!

  6. Tracey

    I really enjoyed the books we read and the class in general. Your style of teaching is very different but very effective and I really enjoyed class. The daily quizzes were an excellent idea! They definitely made sure we all read the books very closely. My favorite book was American Psycho, parts of it were graphic but it kept my attention and I actually finished it like 4 days early. I liked the midterm and final and thought they were very fair. Im glad that we got to take the final home rather than do it in class because it wouldve been alot tougher if we had been timed. All in all this class was fantastic and I am glad I took 2027 with you as my teacher!


  7. you can change your display name if you go to edit your profile so all i did was change mine to .. (just go edit your profile and you can totally change it from your name to something else).

  8. I really enjoyed the course. The books were a wide variety and were a good representation of the time periods they served. I liked the idea of having daily quizzes by classmates. It gave us a chance to really critically analyze things when we looked at our own section of the book. I liked the seminar style because it gave us a chance to figure out things that we wouldn't have figured out otherwise.

  9. I loved the class and how it was set-up. I think that the quizes everyday really helped to keep us on our feet.

    I liked all of the books. The only character I couldn't really sympathize with was Humbert Humbert. But, I thought Lolita was beautifully written.

    I enjoyed hearing everyone's input. It helped me to look at things in a different way. I feel like I learned a lot about stuff that matters - how people work.

    Overall, I thought it the class was awesome, and I wouldn't change a thing.

  10. Being that I'm not the kind of person who reads books unless I have to and that this was my first English class since high school (five years ago), I was a little bit worried before the semester that I would have a hard time getting into the material. I was pretty much expecting to end up with a stuffy professor and boring old books that would be a chore to read.
    But the book list was badass! I didn't have any trouble getting into them. I consider Lolita and American Psycho to be two of the best books I've ever read and I'll probably remember them for a long time to come. It was cool to watch the 4 movies to see someone else's take on the plot. Good idea to make us watch ACO beforehand, otherwise I wouldn't have known what the hell I was reading. The daily quizzes encouraged me to pay closer attention rather than skimming through the pages. I liked the take home tests as it allowed me time to compose my thoughts instead of an in class test where we have to hammer out an essay or three in the space of an hour.
    I wasn't that crazy about the "analytical" stuff (Hero's Journey, Aristotle's Tragedy, close reading) probably because that seemed the most like work compared to the rest of the stuff we did. I can see the reasons for teaching it though.
    Tracey was probably the coolest teacher I've ever had. She was friendly, laid back, and down to earth. Thanks for showing me that books don't have to be boring. A+++++++ WOULD TAKE AGAIN!!!

  11. This class stretches your idea of the classic hero, which I found to be refreshing. Although I would never imagine to read these books on my own, the discussions held in class were enlightening. I loved the choice of books from different decades. It was interesting to see the difference in the American culture within literature. I would recommend this class for sure, I had a wonderful experience and had no problem reading these books in the summer! It was a very good class and I looked forward to going to class in the morning!

  12. Tracy,
    I really enjoyed this class, mostly due to the seminar style of teaching; lectures get old quite quickly. A few things about the class:
    Quizzes were nice. They seemed like a grade booster and a sure way to make sure we were following the text.
    Again, the seminar style of the class allowed everyone to speak their mind and allowed others to find new insight into the books we read which is always a good thing.
    Lolita and American Psycho are two tremendous books that you should continue to teach.
    The Big Sleep and the Great Gastby seemed too much like American classics to go with this class. Though this may be contradictory due to Lolita being a classic, I just think The Big Sleep and the Great Gastby could be replaced by more interesting books that the normal student would not read.
    I'm apathetic towards A Clockwork Orange.
    The only major complaint, of course, has to do with the analytical stuff. I understand the importance of it, every subject has those certain things you have to go over, it was just boring and seemed like something I did in high school countless times.
    The only other advice I could give is to put more emphasis on the moral implications in each book. I'm glad you picked books that challenged our perceived notion of a hero and books that had huge moral problems, but I feel these moral problems could have been discussed more in detail than they were.
    All in all, I loved the class. I wish more teachers were more laid back and more free (especially when it comes to mid-terms and finals). Thanks for everything Tracy and I hope to see you around!

  13. Ok, first off, English is usually my least favorite class. And thats mostly because i was terrible at interpreting things correctly, but in your class everyone's interpretation and ideas counted and i loved that. I really loved the book choices, they were fun for me to read and discuss in class. I LOVED that we watched the movies too. I dont get to take many free electives or "fun" classes with my major so I was really glad I took this class because besides waking up early I really liked coming to class. I think i got alot out of it thanks!

  14. I really enjoyed this summer class! This is my first English Literature class and I thougt it was great. Now, I feel like I had been missing out not having read these books before. I had no idea that contemporary literature could be so relevant!

    Lolita was by far my favorite book. I was touched by the beautiful story and writing style.

    I loved the laid back style and the book selection (for the most part). I felt like my opinion mattered and that what I had to say was relevant. Also, making the quizes helped me to stay engaged in the class and kept me accountable for the reading.

    Overall, this was an awesome class! I look forward to taking more literature classes (hopefully with you!)! I had a great summer!


  15. This course is probably my final "for the hell of it" class and I really appreciate the fact that it was truly fun and enjoyable to attend class each day. The way you taught this class is what I envision to be a true college/university experience. Letting people share their opinions, ideas, and impressions; and allowing freedom to say just about anything, without judgement, is what it is all about, to me. The choices for the books to read were way outside of the box for what I expected, and that is a wonderful thing. Daily quizzes tend to suck, though, if you attempt to attend summer school courses and work full-time, but as "they" say, "You can sleep when you're dead." The 'Big' Sleep as we now know.

  16. This certainly was one of the more entertaining classes I have taken. The selection of novels were is well balanced. Most of the novels have not been studied much in many classes or else class discussions might have been a rehash. At the same time, the novels are literary and interesting enough to be studied in class. The naysayers who think American Psycho should not be taught in class should, well, expand their horizons.

    Overall, the class structure is good. The reading assignments were fair and the other assignments (such as Future Tense) were rather fun to do. Other than that, there is nothing more I can say except that I certainly did not grow any gray hairs unlike some of my other classes.

  17. I did not dread coming to this class which was very nice since it was during the summer. I loved Lolita so much and it was defnitely my favorite book. I feel like The Great Gatsby should not be included in the reading list because most people have read this book in highschool. In addition, I thought American Psycho was a trashy novel that's only point was to appall people. However, I feel like it helped me as a reader because I became able to read horrifying things. I am completely indifferent to The Big Sleep or A Clockwork Orange because I did not neccesarily like or dislike either of them. I definitely think those can be replaced with better books.

    The daily quizzes were nice and I thought the final and the midterm were fair. I did not like the Hero's Journey or Notion of Tragedy but I think that is because I did not understand it. I would have liked if it was discussed in class.

    All in all, this was an eye-opening class that was very enjoyable.

  18. This class just happens to be the best class I've enroll at LSU. The only bad thing about this class was it's location. I dont have long legs so getting from CEBA to Allen in 7 minutes is a challege. From a student's perspective, you were able to challege me with a new aspect of book I've read many times before reading it again this summer. The disscussions were often humorous as it should be since we are in summer school. All in all, I've learn many new things from old books and all thanks to an old professor.
    Thanks Professor Duncan.

  19. Hey Tracey!!! I enjoyed your class a lot. I don't think that I will ever read literature the same anymore. I was in awe of you inthe way that you were able to analyze the novels so deeply. You inspired me to think that way. Have a fabulous summer!!!!!