Hala Herbly's blog

Reading Like a Detective

Photo of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson from the BBC series Sherlock

Close reading is a cornerstone of literature classes, but it can be a drag to teach. The excitement I sometimes feel about finding new and contradictory meanings for words a little difficult to translate to the average non-major (and even the average major). So this semester I decided to frame my close reading lesson in terms of detective work. Specifically, I decided to show them about fifteen minutes' worth an episode of the BBC drama Sherlock. 

Timelines, Trauma, Temporality

Photo of two characters from Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale

I'm teaching Banned Books and Novel Ideas this year, and most of the books I've chosen focus on the experience of trauma, whether on the level of the individual or the mass. One of the ways that I explain the concept of trauma to my class is by referring to Freud's Beyond the Pleasure Principle, in which he explains the concept of the repetition compulsion as a response to traumatic experiences. The repetition compulsion manifests as a constant reliving of the trauma, often taking the form of dreams or nightmares, daydreams, or even subconscious actions.

Bringing the Uncanny into the Classroom

Sepia photo of doll dressed in frontier-style dress with rocking horse

As cliché as it sounds, as an English teacher I've always thought it one of my tasks to make literature come alive in the classroom by sustaining a sense of engagement and connection in class. While generally this entails rather obvious things like talking to students rather than lecturing at them, and engaging on a one to one level, I find it takes more than this to really drum up interest about our texts. To this end I try to show them how literature that may be one or two hundred years old still lives on, in important ways, in our own lives.

The Pedagogy of LOL

Photo of black cat glaring with text Happy Cat is ready for judgement day

Like most writing teachers, I like incorporating informal writing assignments into my class in order to make my students comfortable with writing casually and in the moment, without the the threat of a bad grade stifling their process. One way I've done this in my Banned Books class this semester is by requiring them to post a blog entry on the day's reading at least once during the semester.

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