References without Referents (Or, How My Class Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Thomas Pynchon)

by Sarah Chihaya, Comparative Literature
How could I possibly communicate the intertextual quality central to the novel’s style to my students, when most of them didn’t have the exhaustive literary and historical background that Pynchon’s proliferating cultural references — which swing wildly from erudite literary digs, to Sixties-specific pop cultural allusions, to puerile humor — seem to demand?

Reading Theory with Courage: One Way to Teach Critical Reading Skills

by Ermine Fidan Elcioglu, Sociology
In the beginning of the course, I argued that “reading” was not the same as “critically reading” something. I distributed a worksheet that enumerated the questions I wanted students to be actively thinking about when they read a text…In order to practice this skill, I devoted every other section to critically reading a carefully selected paragraph or set of paragraphs from the assigned readings.

Free in Theory: Teaching Gender in Historical Perspective

by Gina Zupsich, French
For my students, gender was, and had always been, a personal choice. The queer literature we were studying was fantasy indeed to students in a post-feminist world on an LGTBQ-friendly campus….If we were to understand the radical messages of our texts, I realized that I would have to put these theories into historical perspective and in living color.

Teaching Critical Reading

Instructors often don’t realize that they have learned to read in very different ways from their students. If you want critical engagement with the texts in your class, you need to help students learn concrete analytical reading practices.

Critical Reading in the Humanities

What reading critically entails can vary by discipline; this section provides an overview of what critical reading means in the humanities.

Critical Reading in the Natural Sciences

Critical reading is a vital skill in the natural sciences. Jann Vendetti (Ph.D., Integrative Biology) shares how she teaches her students to read critically.