Big-Time English Lectures
|Congratulations to Truewit for making it through a semester of lecturing on Shakespeare before an audience of over one hundred undegraduate students. Quite the daunting task, and not something I've yet had the opportunity to do, though one at which I'm sure Professor Wit excelled (he's as entertaining and amusing in real life as he is here when talking about Gascoigne and "fewmets").|
I was away for much of the past week--hence the nonexistent posting and the light commenting--but I also enjoyed reading about everyone's experiences teaching non-Shakespearean drama, which again is something I've yet to do but it's a course I'm dying to teach. It seems to be almost impossible to teach a straight-up Tudor-Stuart drama course at my school, which is unfortunate and may soon be getting harder.
Why is that? Because enrollments in English courses are not what they could be and so my department is currently focusing on developing more courses that will attract large numbers of students. I won't go into too much detail here (both to save you from boredom and to preserve my pseudonymity, such as it is), but suffice to say the university has hit upon an incentive structure that rewards large courses and not small seminars--sort of the inverse of the criteria used by U.S. News and World Reports. And as much as I love Marlowe, Jonson, Beaumont and Fletcher, and Ford, I don't see Tudor-Stuart drama pulling in over 100 students per semester.
Our shrinking enrollments have understandly caused a certain amount of hand-wringing in my department as well as some much needed thinking about the purpose and benefits of an English major, a discussion we had here not long ago. We needn't go into those issues again, though I'd be delighted if people had more thoughts they'd like to share; instead, I'm curious about the more practical issue of courses that draw large numbers of students, as in over 80 per semester. Various colleagues have been suggesting courses they think will prove a hit with students, but I figured I'd ask people here about big-time lecture courses at their schools:
I have some general ideas on what might work, but that's all they are, ideas. What are your experiences with and/or ideas for popular courses? Thanks in advance.