Thursday, September 13, 2007

Teaching your Research

I just got word yesterday that I'll be teaching a grad class on the same subject as my book, which has been lying dormant for at least a year now. I was planning on returning to it in the Spring in earnest, and now the course will force me to. Now if only I can hold off writing the syllabus until I'm caught up with this semester!

Also, since it will be my second grad class in my first three years at this school, I'm taking this as evidence that I did ok with the last grad class.

Anyway, any advice for teaching subjects that are this close to your research are welcome.


Dr. Crazy said...

Ok, I'm not sure how this translates to a grad class, but I will say this about teaching the texts that I look at in my book to undergrads:

1. It's really not less prep. Because the thing is, you need to take all of the stuff that you've thought about at such a high level and translate it into what you need to bring to students, translate it into questions that they can explore on their own.

2. That said, it's totally less prep, because you know all of the criticism and relevant debates, and you can just call on that stuff when you need it in class without having to prepare to do so really. I suppose my point here is that in my experience with the course that I taught that centered around my book stuff that I prep differently for it than I do for any other course that I teach.

3. I think teaching a course based on the book makes for a better book. For me it really helped with the revision of my manuscript (esp. in terms of making the prose more accessible) and it encourages you to read any new scholarship that might belong in the book-form that didn't make it into the dissertation form.

Ok, must stop commenting - my book is staring at me and wondering why I've not completed the revisions I've known about since June :)

Nels said...

Don't make students even begin to feel like they are helping you write the book or do research for it. They will shut up fast, not wanting you to take their ideas. One of my best friends took a dream course from her dream prof, but the tone of the class was very much of talking about things the prof would then write about. She stopped speaking after the third week, felt like she had to change her entire dissertation because she couldn't figure out what she thought or what the prof thought.

Sisyphus said...

Also, (speaking as a grad student who's been listening to other grads kvetch) sometimes a seminar can be _too_ tailored to a prof's book. I think grad students often take classes hoping (perhaps unrealistically) for some sort of "coverage" or "overview of a field" and it can be really frustrating to feel like you are reading the footnotes and critical work of one chapter of a prof's book, however useful that may be for the prof working his/her way through chapter by chapter. But a balance of canonical and marginal text, old standby criticism and recent work, would be good.