Podcast #7

In his research, Yale English Professor David Bromwich writes about modern and Romantic poetry as well as the history of literary criticism. He has also taught an astonishing variety of courses over the last twenty years. In this episode, he tells us how and why he’s done it.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

1:39 Why teach so many different courses? Reading more and getting fresh thoughts.

4:21 How do you create a new seminar? e.g., Shakespeare’s political plays

6:40 Studying and teaching literature and politics

8:53 Lincoln’s career and thinking. And French cinema.

11:37 How much time does it take to prepare a new seminar? Joshua Reynolds’ answer.

13:53 The seminar: inviting students’ questions and being surprised by what happens

18:00 What it takes to teach the novel and not teaching with cliches

22:12 When to follow the seminar discussion where it goes and when not to

24:13 Comments you don’t want in a seminar

25:21 Using your disciplinary equipment to teach English

28:20 Animation in a seminar is not the same thing as quality

30:00 Keeping BS out of the seminar

32:35 Against the vitamin theory of education

34:47 Assessing the work of Yale English majors and the error of thinking only testable knowledge can be graded

37:34 It’s not as if humans ourselves get better.

39:32 On deciding to become an English professor

43:34 The arts cast doubt on the notion of human perfectibility. Does teaching improve?

45:55 “The first years of teaching show a progress that is…glacially slow.” Worrying about silences

49:13 Is it necessary sometimes to say “this is why this is important”? Imagination, experience and the conduct of life

51:24 Sign-off