Last week, we focused on the Sherlock Holmes stories from a "narratological" perspective, looking at how the workings of narrative and the "work" of detection are analogous. The critics we read were primarily interested in the formal properties of the narrative and how those structures thematized or informed the "hermeneutic" quest.
This week, we have read critics who comment on the stories from rather different perspectives. While all three are interested in the stories as fictions, they are even more interested in widening the focus from intratextual to extratextual (or perhaps contextual) matters. In other words, all three critics stress, in different ways, the literary and cultural "relations" that link Holmes stories to other elements of 19th-century Britain.
I would like to try to study these essays and stories, as well as promote your ability to "formulate questions, particularly about the relation of primary materials to other phenomena," by asking you to conduct an in-class email discussion.
For the topic below which I initially assign you, spend 10 minutes (following my time signal) writing on the topic, ending your response with a question and your name. Your are then to send it to the person I have directed you to correspond with (you won't get a response from directly from that person). Once you have done this first topic, you will receive one (with a response) from somebody else. Respond to that topic/question (again, for 10 minutes), and then forward it to your assigned correspondent. You will receive a second posting (on the third topic) from the person who sent you the last. Respond again (to some or all of the message) and send your response on when I signal. We will do as many "rounds" like this as we have time for.
According to Landow, the whole point of using this technology in the classroom should be to foster a student who is an autodidact, one who teaches him or herself.
What are some of the things we can learn from these professional critics about creating satisfying interpretations?
What other of their critical insights do you find useful? What would you critique about their readings?
I have given you a xeroxed handout about using the Internet for research and another handout about sources for research in Victorian literature and culture. I would like to demonstrate, however, some of the strategies mentioned in the handout on WWW searching.
There are also specialized research tools on the Web for humanities research, and even some for Victorian research. Go to the class reading schedule and let's check out . . .The Victorian Web
For an electronic journal on 19th-century literature, try Nineteenth-Century Literature, which I left off the class reading schedule.
Be advised: There really aren't that many "in-depth" (book- or article-length) materials available on the Web as of yet, so you will have to do most of your research in print materials if you are to find deatiled information about the writer/text/culture. As you put your "Web" together for your group project, you can anticipate spending plenty of time in the library.