At the end of each semester, I ask students to tell me the single most important thing they learned in my class.  Below are some responses I have collected at Spelman College.  

(Hover over or click each image to read its content)

 

"...history is informed by the stories we tell.  The events that have occurred for centuries are often interpreted, manipulated, and organized by literature.  Perhaps history is simply one long story."

"Even literary movements and 'schools of thought' are constructed to maintain social hierarchies and subjugate masses.  Colonization also completely negates the Enlightenment.  Art...never has existed in a bubble, untouched by prejudice.  [The] Western canon is built on exclusion based on race, class, and gender."

"...we do not have to accept what is already in place.  We have the power to give a voice to marginalized communities even if erased by white supremacy."

"...the definition of ideology...It made me change the way I see the world and had me question everything around me.  I started to rethink everything I have learned since I was little and [have] opened my mind to a never-ending world of questions and wonder."

"English literature is interdisciplinary.  I've known this before, but this class has been evidence of that.  Similarly, this class confirmed my interest in the sociology of literature, especially in regards to how history is wrapped up in all of that."

"...18th-century literature could actually be quite informative and useful in modern contexts.  Although the field is dominated by stuffy old white men, I, as a young, black, and queer student was able to not only enjoy 18th-century British literature, but I was also able to gain and refine my reasoning and analytical skills by trying to relate to the texts."

"I learned that Koretsky's teaching style helps me absord and retain info better.  Free speech and freedom in the classroom have shaped my learning preference drastically."

"...it's important to go out and do research on what you find important instead of believeing everything historians tell you is important."

"We need scholars | conversations | articles | books | everything! to represent the underrepresented.  If I hadn't taken this class, I wouldn't have known about the contribution / conversation of and about women [in the 19th century]!...it helped me to understand, as a Mellon scholar, to represent for the underrepresented.

"British literature from the viewpoint of slavery.  I never looked at it from that perspective."

"...[Prior] to this class I had a preconceived idea of 19th century British lit.  I assumed it to be mundane, repetitive, masculine, and above all, boring.  To my surprise, I was challenged with questions of gender, race, and class in different texts where I had not previously thought."

"...it is important to always engage in critical consciousness.  By studying various works of 18th century British lit, I have been exposed to different ways of reading the world.  Additionally, I learned that although some voices are hidden...they can always be found."

"...women really ran everything.  Whether behind closed doors or publicly, they/we deserve lots of cheer for that.  I also learned not to procrastinate as much, even though it is still part of my DNA."

"I learned iambic pentameter."

"...for years in my English classes, I always took that what the teacher said is what the author meant.  However, doing this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde symposium taught me that there can be over 10 different interpretations of just one book, not just what the teacher says.  I know this will help me in years to come, to have this mindset.  More commas in life and [fewer] periods."

"..it is not ok to be limiting, especially when the sky is the limit.  I learned that any piece of literature [can] be interpreted in a multitude of ways.  Who knew that I could look at Jekyll and Hyde as more than a novella about a crazy science experiment gone wrong?"

"...there is a lot that goes into being an English major, and just being present for the whole process is the best way to go about it.  Take the time to really enjoy what you are learning and you will be fairly successful."