"Hosting Live Global Literary Sessions at DU MOO"
Gloria McMillan's presentation addresses the potential of MOOs for generating a new and different type of college classroom discussion of literature. Humanities instructors who use literary texts have come under fire for their curricular materials in a time of "pragmatism." As noted in David Caldwell's 1996 TCC presentation, literary texts foster unique cross-cultural bonds that are not available from other types of texts. This study uses categories suggested by Caldwell's paper and current feminist theory to analyze a MOO log file of a Global Literary session hosted by "miyan" in Japan. The discussion following the presentation of the MOO log explores possible ways to incorporate MOO based Global Literary sessions into the current community college writing format.PAPER
The way global literature has been traditionally taught leaves a bit to be desired. Students have a difficult time relating to texts and places far removed from their daily experiences and local culture. One participant in the 1996 TCC conference quoted a common position regarding literature, saying,
David Caldwell challenges those who use literary works in any fashion to justify this learning activity in terms of the needs of students of the '90s and beyond into the 21st century. Caldwell paper
Using the MOO for a synchronous session on haiku. . .
led by a host in Kanazawa, Japan.
One of our most successful Global Literature sessions was a session on the haiku led by "Miyan" at Diversity University MOO. A look at the log from this MOO session presents some questions to consider when using international hosts for literature sessions:
When we make a rhetorical analysis of the May 3, 1997 haiku session led by "Miyan," we will be considering the above questions and adding more to them.
My hypothesis is that cross-cultural sharing may be kept to a minimum in the traditional literary analysis of global literature. If the literature of others may be reduced to a few universals ("That haiku is just about love") or Western literary theories, the opportunity has been lost to encounter Derrida's "differance." For the purpose of this presentation, I will create some cross-cultural discursive categories. Once the categories are set up, instances may be studied in future for occurrences of these rhetorical behaviors with a controlled-group study or survey of how engaged and motivated students felt in either a traditional discussion or the "global host" discussion. The problematics of measuring "empathy" alone open aporia far beyond the scope of this presentation, but students' self-measures may, at least, give one valuable indicator of their level of motivation in these different types of conversations.
David Caldwell suggests that there are values not found in the essence of business relationships that are the medium of communications in literature. "Good corporate citizenship" is not the single goal for liberal arts students, claims Caldwell. But if this be the case, then what is the goal? And how is this goal furthered by using international hosts for global literature sessions at a MOO? Caldwell claims that "the liberal arts encourage linkage, bridge-building, and a search for interconnection between differing bases of knowledge and experience."
To assess what societal values emerge in global literature sessions, the models of teaching literature must, themselves, be assessed. For instance, the Arnoldian model that literature is "the best that has been known and thought" might be examined to see how the subjective position of an "impartial observer," calmly sifting through formal values measures up to the requirements of today's society, which calls into question the objectivity and impartiality of any subject position. Whose "best" is "the best"? Is "the best" only the Western European model? And how is "the best" arrived at?
The pragmatic values of concern to the global business community may also may not find "the best" that has been thought and written of great interest. Or only certain aspects of "the best" may interest our "corporate global citizenry" as these become pragmatic and can be commodified. Further research may need to be done about the "commodification" of canonical literature for a global readership. Is "commodification" the only possible outcome for meetings between people of cultures widely separated in space and in power?
Linkage involving openness, sharing, and mutual exploration may require students to adopt a mindset not totally committed to pragmatism, because Caldwell's definition of the literary experience as "a willingness to see through the eyes of another" may require us to relinquish some of that Darwinian ideal of control of the situation. The idea that there is more than one point-of-view is a struggle for every person. In using the MOO to show that the unexpected can emerge in discussions that truly cross cultural boundaries, there may be some element of risk as well as a sense of fun in discovery. Meaghan Roberts defines the opposite of the overdetermining patriarchal ideology that operates in the world and classroom we have known. She cites Paul Ricoeur's formulation of utopia as "a metaphoric nowhere which offers the possibility not of escaping ideology in favor of some regressive perfect moment, but of creating tension/pressure between/on what we live/think/write and what we might" Meaghan Roberts paper .
If, as Caldwell claims in his 1996 TCC presentation, other values emerge from the study of literature (linking, bridge-building, and a search for interconnection), then how can we use the technology at hand to promote the broadest array of values in our discipline?
This study will attempt to show how using a MOO to discuss global literature can further goals that may include, but also extend beyond, the corporation's type of global relating.Rhetorical Analysis of Transcripts
What is our data?
What difference does live international discourse make for learning?
Below are excerpts from the MOO tape of "Miyan's" haiku session illustrating the categories listed above:
Some initial questions for further consideration might include
Discussion of these questions will be added to this text after the presentation.
Suggestions for future research in the area of Global Literary
Discussion of these conclusions and suggestions will be added to text after the presentation.
FINAL NOTE: The author wishes to thank "Miyan" for a stimulating and motivating global literary session.
Burke, Kenneth. A Grammar of Motives. New York: Prentice-Hall, 1945.
"Burke, Kenneth." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism <http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/hopkins_guide_to_literary_theory/entries/kenneth_burke.html>
Caldwell, David. "The Chicaging Role of Literature in the Curriculum: Teaching and Learning in the '90s." Teaching in the Community Colleges Conference April 2, 1996 <http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcc_conf96/caldwell.html>
Keegan. Martin. "A Classification of MUDS" The Journal of Virtual Environments 2.2 (July 1997) <http://journal.tinymush.org/v2n2/keegan.html>
Lu, Min Zhan, and Bruce Horner. "The Problematic of Experience." College English 60.3 (mar 1998): 257-77. Roberts, Meaghan "Poetic Subjectivity, Its Imagination and Others: Toward an Ethical Postmodern Imagination" Enculturation 1.2 (Fall 1997)
"Williams, Raymond." The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism.
TCC Online Conferences