This page focuses on the course 21L.501 The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger as it was taught by Dr. Wyn Kelley in Spring 2013.
The course covered American authors and focused on relating the appearance of strangers to different kinds of strangeness. These sophisticated novels collectively illustrated strange places with strange histories, people with strange narratives or backgrounds, and how these can be both strange and estranging at the same time. This course used numerous tools, including Locast (PDF) and Annotation Studio, along with writing assignments and presentations.
Course Goals for Students
- To identify and appreciate the beauty of creative art
- To think logically and critically about language
- To practice revision
On the following pages, Dr. Kelley describes various aspects of how she taught 21L.501 The American Novel: Stranger and Stranger.
- Motivation and Organization of the Course
- Choice of Novels
- Digital Tools
- Additional Class Features
- Teaching at MIT
A version of this course, focusing on the American novel, is taught one semester per academic year. The focus of the course changes each semester. Examples of past focus topics include ghosts, wealth and poverty, and the American revolution.
The students’ grades were based on the following assessment elements:
- 15% In-class presentation
- 10% Class attendance and participation
- 60% Three five-page essays
- 15% In-class writing
Breakdown by Year
Primarily juniors and seniors.
Breakdown by Major
A range of majors.
Typical Student Background
This is an intermediate-level class, so students have had some experience with college writing and exposure to at least one introductory or survey-level course.
There was no cap.
Ideal Class Size
Less than 18.
How Student Time Was Spent
During an average week, students were expected to spend 12 hours on the course, roughly divided as follows:
- Dr. Kelley usually began each class with a 15-30 minute discussion of concepts, biographical background of the authors, or other information needed to confidently proceed with the text.
- Students then discussed specific passages, significant transitions in the text, or moments of tension in the text.
- Classes regularly included presentations, small group work focusing on close readings, annotations, and in-class writing assignments.