Sunday, May 19, 2024

An Update... (Jennifer Semple Siegel)

Countryside, North Macedonia

I retired from Academia in 2010, after closing my teaching career in Skopje, North Macedonia, where I taught for a year, so this site has been sorely neglected.

For the past week (May 2024), I have been going through my various websites, trying to decide what to keep and what to delete.

No way will I delete this site; I have enjoyed revisiting the creative work of my former students from Introduction to Literature, African-American Literature, and Creative Writing who produced fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, and drama. I pushed them to do their best, and they delivered – big time.

The Introduction to Literature students surprised me the most. These students, from various majors, were often the most reluctant scholars, so I decided to add in an optional creative writing component, certainly going against the overall mission of the course (so sue me – the statute of limitations has long passed).

Some students, not all of them English majors, took me up on it. Their resulting writing used literary works from our textbook as springboards, for example, writing sequels or prequels to famous (and not so famous) works. I figured if they could write a decent prequel/sequel to a work, then I knew they were reading the assigned work.

Sneaky, eh?

Some students decided to rewrite stories as poems and poems as stories.

Some garnered ideas from essays to write their own personal essays.

There are also some “graphic” representations of known works, long before the graphic novel and non-fiction trend in publishing.

The quality of their work really surprised me, so this is why I started this site – to offer them a chance to showcase their work. This, too, was optional; after all, these weren’t publishing courses. Some bowed out of publication and one writer wished to remain anonymous. I was fine with this.

Just a note: for the literature courses, I was not grading “quality” (whatever that means) of the creative aspect of their work, but, rather, how well they demonstrated their understanding of the original work. In that sense, I was accomplishing the original mission of the course – but through the back door.

The biggest surprise: how well some students wrote in their timed essays – 75 minutes or fewer. I marked these posted pieces as such. They were on fire!

So, if you come across this site, take a few minutes and dive in; if you are a teacher/professor, you might want to think about using this approach for your intro to lit courses. You might be delightfully surprised.

Retaining the students’ work intact, I have made a few minor changes in this site; I have added a gadget that lists each writer’s name and a link to their work(s) and deleted outdated announcements. I have also deleted my own work because I now have other sites where my work and links to my work appear.

To my former students: if you find this site, give me a shout-out in the comment section (you will need a gmail address) or email me at Jennifer [at] BanMyBook [dot] com. I’d love to find out what you’re up to these days!

I’d love to hear from you!

My home page:

Why I Write

Although I’m gray-haired and retired from teaching, I’m still quite active, writing and working in the digital space.

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