UPDATE: The committee has approved an abridged version of Pamela if you prefer it. For more details, see my comment below.
I wrote this comment before I knew that, and Khurram and Jordan responded before that, too.
So now our question is only, which do you prefer:
- an abridged Pamela, or
- Phyllis Wheatley?
Hi, All. Phew. Ok.
I really want you all to be happy with the list we write, despite the fact that there will inevitably be some compromises for all.
I know that the students in the evening class are feeling like they made a lot of concessions to the desires of the students in the afternoon class. Only one person in the evening class has read More’s Utopia, and they agreed as a group that they really wanted Antony and Cleopatra. They respected the afternoon class’ choices on those two points.
I know also that the students in the afternoon class are concerned about the length of the novel that the evening class chose. So I’ve drafted this document in an effort to balance your concerns.The Honors Exam List
I’ve spoken off the record to the chair of the honors committee about it to get his perspective on this before he submits the list. He says that he can see a few different ways to look at it, so I’m passing his insights along to you:
- The total list of 20 texts will inevitably include texts of varying lengths. So some long texts will be on the list, no matter what you choose; that is part of the deal. The committee will take the length of your texts into consideration when they make their list, so, if you choose long texts, they will probably choose shorter ones.
- Our list doesn’t have much poetry from the 18th/19th century, so the evening class could replace Pamela with a poem or set of poems that they choose. Alternatively, you could leave that to the committee, noting that this is the reason why we combine the lists: to fill the holes we leave, inevitably, since we only have 10 texts.
We can negotiate this, and I invite you to post your thoughts below in the spirit of democracy, collegiality, and intellectual community. And since nobody was in both class’ conversations except me, everybody should be especially mindful of the concerns of your classmates as I described them above. We’ll all work together through the spring, and I know that you all share your best interests in common, ultimately.
So, let’s begin with this one caveat: If you decide to replace Pamela, I think the evening class should have the first choice for the text that replaces it. As it stands, the students in the afternoon class have had disproportionate say in the list, which seems arguably ok, because there are more students in the afternoon class, so that reflects a democratic process. But now we have one early text from outside our syllabus, and it was chosen by the afternoon class, without any input from the students in the evening. I think it’s only fair now to let the other early text come from the evening class.
Also, I think the stakes of this question have become higher than they need to be. You will all be able to write on the exam about the texts that are most important to you.
And I think we will take a field trip to the public library.**