Here Comes Everybody: An Epistemic Approach to Teaching Ulysses in a Small College


Using George Hillocks’s epistemic pedagogy and Michael Smith and Jeff Wilhelm’s concept of “flow” as frameworks, I create a classroom in which students teach each other to read James Joyce’s Ulysses . Students can do this while reading Ulysses for the first time because of the intricate scaffolding I create that requires close interaction outside of class with me, with one or two peer mentors, and with small groups of other students in the class, and that is actively supported by the library, which creates a special “Joyce room” whenever I offer my course. This essay describes how the course is organized and what students are required to do, and it attempts to explain why, in this particular course, students develop complex reading and writing skills and engage in critical work on a difficult literary text beyond what one would think could be possible in one semester on an undergraduate level. While one could teach this course in any type of college or university setting, I suggest that that the values and community of a small liberal arts college encourage faculty to create courses requiring intense student-faculty interaction and encourage students to blur intellectual and social boundaries that enable them to grow in myriad ways.