Just recently I was asked about the course and how things went. In all honestly, I'll say the class went okay and I had fun. I learned a lot. I got to read some new things and think differently about some things I'd read before.
I got to share Rudine Sims Bishop's concept of books and stories being mirrors, windows, and sliding glass doors. Many of us who are readers know that books and stories can take us on all sorts of adventures. I won't speak for other readers, but I believe that some stories help me see the world through someone else's eyes.
There are a lot of things writers can do depending on the genre and their purpose. I think many writers reflect on what they see and hear. They capture that essence. They form it and craft it in specific ways to tell a story.
I think stories can break down barriers when we are willing to accept that there are a lot of differences in this world, just as there are a lot of similarities.
I can appreciate why some people don't care for it. I can appreciate why they didn't much care for the constant intrusion of the narrative voice, like the narrative voiceover in a film, but I don't think I would have liked the book nearly as much without that narrative intrusion.
Well, back to Literature and Spirituality. After reading John Donne's Holy Sonnets and then Isaac Asimov's I, Robot, we read short stories. Lots of short stories. My hope was that students would read the texts because they are short stories. I think most students did read, but it occurred to me much, much later that too many students don't really know how to read texts for comprehension.
They don't know how to read for the story. That is a different post.
But we read stories by Amy Tan, Leslie Marmon Silko, Graham Greene, Anton Chekhov, Shirley Jackson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Chinua Achebe, Willa Cather, Leo Tolstoy, Flannery O'Connor, and Isaac Bashevis Singer.
For one part of their five-part final "project," they read Langston Hughes' "Salvation" and for another part they could read Gabriel García Márquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings."
My students are young. Some are graduating at the end of this academic year; some have one more year to go. They may not make any connections after the class, but they might. I'll probably never know.
I do know this. Two students came up to me after class to shake my hand and say "Thank you." I'm not sure for what exactly, but I said "You're welcome." And one student shouted, "Thank you for being my last English class ever." He'd made some comments about stories he enjoyed throughout the semester, so I think there was a compliment in there.