Expectations of Literature

I studied English for four years in high school.  My freshmen year, I recall doing many group projects and presenting them in some form of media: powerpoint, video, or skit.  I do not remember much of the literature I read that year, but Greek mythology has engraved a memory in my brain. I still vividly remember watching Romeo & Juliet in Mrs. Sailor’s class.  There wasn’t much writing that year.  My sophomore year, with Mr. Smith, the group projects continued and I was introduced to MLA citation while we dipped our feet into writing essays.  Fictional books were still read; my favorite one was “Fairenheit 451”.  AP Language & Composition during junior year was a slap to face at first; we dove into writing essays right away.  I remember writing evaluations of rhetorical appeals of pieces of literature in the Norton Reader.  My writing definitely improved exponentially over the course of the year; with experience and constructive criticism from Mrs. Griess, I got what I put into that class.  “On Being a Cripple” was my favorite piece.  Finally, my senior year with Mr. Chapman, I was initially overwhelmed by the amount of readings assigned in AP Literature & Composition.  I even went to my adviser with intentions to drop the class, but I was convinced to stick it out, and I received an A both semesters of the class.  The class consisted of many complex, abstract readings which I had to go through multiple times in order to understand.  By the end of the year, my reading and comprehension skills had improved dramatically, and I was glad of my decision to stay in the class and just try to get an A.  I still remember how I finished reading “Invisible Man” weeks before the due date.

The point of this rendition is that these English classes have had a tremendous impact on me as a character and individual.  Without these English classes, I would not have been able to write a competent essay to win any scholarships or matriculate into Emory University.  So even though I hated these classes most of the time because I always complained how I had to do “pointless” work.  I never saw the big picture, and I would always ask the teacher why we have to do this.  But with hindsight, I can see that it was all for the better, and that I even enjoyed some of the readings in each of my classes.  So now, more mature and transformed, my mindset is to trust all of my teachers in teaching me; I don’t question their methods or intentions because I believe it is all for my benefit.  So now, in Professor Claire’s Expository Writing class, I was not surprised when “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box” was assigned as a reading. I do not expect to read any specific kind of literature in this class; I just take it as it goes.  However, I do expect that somehow, I will improve as an individual after all is said and done.  So after reading the entertaining piece, we discussed it in class, and we were assigned another reading that referenced “The Adventure of the Cardboard Box.”  And right now, I am writing a blog about the piece.  My only expectation of a class is for the teacher to do their best to improve the students.

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2 thoughts on “Expectations of Literature

  1. Through this piece of work you have presented an almost stereotypical view on the life of any high school student taking up English classes or AP English classes. You have provided the readers of this article with a map and a glimpse of your high school career and allowed them to visualize what taking up English classes might have been like.
    The entire essay speaks of the flexibility that you found while studying literature and the broad mindedness which it has provided you with towards any other works of literature. This piece provides a pleasurable read and my only criticism would be to include more facts related to the story and the topic in particular than just providing a vague map on what you think literature might be.
    All in all it was a nice essay.

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  2. One small correction: you can call me “Claire” or “Professor Laville,” but not “Professor Claire.” Just convention.
    In general, it would do you well to ask yourself why a particular reading was assigned at a particular time, and not just in literature classes. While it’s true that many, many pieces of literature can be used to develop the same broad skills (reading attentively, recognizing genres of writing, understanding the components of an argument, and so forth), teachers have specific and sometimes eccentric reasons for choosing the books we do. I trust that Romeo and Juliet and Invisible Man affected you in different ways.

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