Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Teaching the Long Eighteenth: Undergrad Research?

Like the guy in the joke who wakes up to find his underwear lined with $100 bills, I woke up this morning and realized that I had some student papers to attend to. I just got a batch of grad response essays on Richardson, Haywood, or Davys, and I've had a batch of annotated Swift bibliographies that are demanding immediate attention. It seems that all this happened while I was, uh, reading Michael McKeon's posts and responding to them. So now it's time to hunker down and do some grading.

But just in case others would like to procastinate with me, and want to help me postpone my date with the grading-pile just a little longer, I'd like to see how others' classes are going, and I'm particularly interested in what kinds of expectations we bring to undergrad research in our sophomore, junior, and senior courses. What kinds of research can we demand of students still struggling to master their writing, or their research skills, or the standard texts in our period? What distinguishes a really good student project from a mediocre one? How do you encourage your worthy but dull students to develop more interesting projects?

Best,

DM