Abstract

Moby-Dick—an ultra-canonical text but also a favorite of postcolonialists, feminists, and cultural studies critics—nowadays goes untaught for pedestrian reasons: size and difficulty. Its absence from college syllabi points to a larger problem in the academy: the increasing gulf between scholarship, including scholarship on pedagogy, and the practical exigencies of the classroom. Eschewing the theoretical for the pragmatic, this article suggests specific ways to teach Moby-Dick successfully. The first strategy is to demystify Melville, his text (as some unapproachable icon of high culture), and the rhetorical situation of studying Moby-Dick in a classroom. The second is to develop a question-guide for students to consult that focuses their reading and makes it more productive. The third strategy is to use the novel's symbolic field of binary oppositions to explore the indeterminacy of the text. Although the article is specific to Moby-Dick, these strategies can be pedagogically useful for other texts.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4286
Print ISSN
0093-3139
Pages
pp. 42-62
Launched on MUSE
2005-01-31
Open Access
No
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