Thursday, June 27, 2013

Choosing anthologies???

What about choosing anthologies, you may ask. Pffft if I know. I haven't been working at a place that allowed me to choose my own textbooks. Tell me everything you know about anthologies and how to choose them. Pleeze!

As you might guess, I got my teaching schedule. It consists of freshman comp, and the other freshman comp (surprise! it is a community college, after all). They break up the emphasis of the required comp stuff differently than I am used to, which will take a little adjustment. Basically,  one class is like both of our comp classes here in Postdoc City (sob), where they go over writing essays and then do a long research project. So my old 101 experience is actually their remedial class. You should be ashamed of yourselves, Postdoc City School! Then the other comp class is "advanced" rhetoric and argument and is based around literature. Holy flying metonymy Batman! I have been so used to not teaching lit and re-vamping my focus to be all Writing Across the Disciplines and don't-bother-trying-to-justify-literature,-just-give-the-authorities-what-they-want, that I am completely confused by the idea that I would teach literature in a comp class. Hmm.

Soooo...books. I should probably have them for the class, no? I was forwarded some of the course description stuff from accreditation and it lists some anthologies that instructors tend to use. I think there might be a copy shop where I could make my own collection and have students pick it up, but let's hold off on that idea until I have actually been there, and know where it is and how that whole process works (Side note: how do you order textbooks for your class, anyway? Please inform.)

Looking back at those suggested books, should I play it safe and use one of those? Choose a different one I like better? How do I figure out if I like one anthology better than another? And how should I get hold of a sample copy? I see that Postdoc City U's library, being stupid and underfunded in all things, also does not have any of these textbooks. I would order my own from the publishing rep but ... how fast would it get here? I think I would have to send it to The Hot Place instead ... I am all over and back and forth and then driving all around the country in the next few weeks, so I don't think ordering the desk copy would actually help me get hold of it in any way. Huh.

In sum: tell me about anthology/textbooks, especially the argument or argument/research based freshman comp textbooks or the "intro to literature"/literature in the freshman comp class type anthologies. What do you like? Not like? Any things I should watch out for? What do you think a good anthology/textbook needs or should do? What does it not need to do? I think I will make a separate post later all about "apparatuses" and "ancillary materials" and why would you want an anthology at all in the first place, but let's just start from "so you've decided to use an anthology in your freshman comp class": what does it need to do?


Sapience said...

I'll make a pitch for the literature anthology that I helped create when the comp program at my PhD institution got fed up with the fact that there were no lit anthologies that asked for the kinds of argumentative writing we really wanted our students to be doing. My program does writing through literature, rather than writing about literature, which basically means we want students to use literary texts as tools for thinking, just like non-fiction texts are, rather than as simply content to be mastered.

Anyway, the current editor is Mary Isbell (she and I were co-editors for a while, but Mary's the one who took the project from being an in-house textbook to a real thing), the textbook is simply called "Writing through Literature," and you can find it here:

The texts included are pretty diverse, there are no partial selections of larger texts (one exception: there is a chunk of the Bible), there's a great cross section of American, British, and World lit, and some of it is pretty diverse in terms of time frames. There are great assignments to go with the anthology, too (some written by yours truly, but also by a lot of the instructors in my program).

Anonymous said...

To get textbooks, go to publisher websites, look up who the rep is for your new institution, and contact hir with requests. Many will be available as e-texts, so you can get immediate access.

Shane in Utah said...

No opinions from me on the anthology question, but I wanted to belatedly chime in to add my congratulations on the new job! It sounds like a better fit for you than postdoc school. Even if it's hot there--and the whole southwest is The Hot Place at the moment...

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

I like Responding to Literature by Judith Stanford. It's pretty much meant to be used in a lit/comp hybrid class, just like you described. The selections are pretty good, and the writing stuff in there is also handy. I use it and like it.

I would contact the book rep and explain that you're in between places right now and ask if they could send you something to your current address. They do this kind of thing all the time, and would have it to you in a matter of days if you contact them now and explain the situation. They frequently say it takes 7-10 business days, but I have never waited that long. More like 2-3.

Also, ordering books for your stus will likely happen through the bookstore on campus. You could call the bookstore and talk to the manager and find out the process. If you feel comfortable asking your contact at your department, that would also be a good way to go. People often forget what new people need to know, so feel free to ask questions as often as you need to. Entering into my third year, I still have all kinds of questions -- like about advising, for instance.

Good luck! I hope it's a great place for you!

Fretful Porpentine said...

Can you have them send stuff to your new department? Or to your parents' house, since it sounds like you're moving somewhere vaguely near them?

Sorry, no clue about choosing anthologies, especially for a comp-through-lit course, but I guess Amazon's preview feature might be useful...

Bardiac said...

No clue about anthologies either, alas.

But I think the posters above are right about publishers being pretty darned good at getting review copies to you.

Does your new department or program have an admin assistant? If so, s/he probably knows everything and can help.

Contingent Cassandra said...

Good advice above. I've used (and liked) _Text Book_ (for a more advanced class, but it's pretty adaptable). I've also heard good things about (but not used) _Writing Through Literature_ (which does, indeed, solve a problem; for all that it's common, I'm not at all convinced that the mixed comp/lit class is a good idea).

Textbook ordering procedures vary from school to school (and sometimes even department to department within a school), so, yes, ask someone in the department (your contact/chair or departmental administrator). You can usually request desk copies on your own. Many of the publishers do, indeed, offer some sort of e-access these days, and desk copies sometimes show up very quickly (and sometimes very slowly, and sometimes they're reluctant to send them anywhere but your department. You might ask around and, at least this time, go for a publisher who is known for good desk-copy service).

Just to save your sanity, my instinct would be to use something that several others are already using, at least for the first semester (you may be able to get an idea of the popularity of various choices by browsing the school bookstore site), and to try to get hold of a copy sooner rather than later, even if that means paying for it. One thought -- if you've told your current colleagues you're leaving, could you see if one of them has a spare copy of one of the texts, even one you could borrow for a few weeks and then mail back?

If you haven't already, I'd also try to get hold of actual syllabi, assignments, etc. from the new/hot place, to see *how* they've used the books to meet the goals. As I'm sure you already know, overall course descriptions are helpful to a point, but actual practice can look quite different, and that's what you probably want to at least start by matching.

Susan said...

I know nothing about the comp anthologies, but my sense is that publishers will have stuff available as e-books (for you, for your students). FWIW, from a non-comp teacher, I'd say hold off on creating your own anthology, but if you ever do, all the publishers are about helping you do it....I get at least one email a week from a publisher's representative, offering to help me create my own text book. Why I would want to do that when others have spent years thinking it through I don't know!

Anonymous said...

Everyone's an Author, Andrea Lunsford.