Well, far from it, actually. The class have been considering Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1855) for a couple of sessions and for the first time there is an online session to accompany their in-class discussions. I’ve adapted an idea I’ve used on my Fin de Siècle course previously in online sessions for this one. It’s a relatively simple idea of getting each member of the class to choose a chapter from the novel to discuss: they situate it briefly in the plot, and discuss in more detail what happpens in the chapter and what significance it has in the ongoing novel. This means everyone has got something of their own to contribute by way of each student picking a different chapter. They are encouraged not to duplicate each other’s chapters — hence they also need to keep an eye on what is being posted up. I was pleased to see that posts were going up only hours after the Friday morning class as a few students were keen to make sure they could post on their particular chosen chapter.
This exercise is of course partly trying to encourage the practice of good, concise, attentive close reading — skills which we all want to see in essays. I’m pleased too to see some students are clearly doing some extra reading on Gaskell, and are bringing that to bear on their posts.