Friday, July 30, 2010

Escape Goat

In class the other day, we were discussing Frankenstein. This is my first time teaching it, and I really wasn't sure how it was going to go. First, I had never read it when I assigned it to my class. It's just something I've always meant to read, so I picked it.

After committing to it, I got/made the time to read it. The language from 1818 (the original publication date) is a lot harder to wade through than today's. The style of a Romantic author like Mary Shelley involved long, complicated sentences, verbose descriptions, and long-winded conversations. You notice the emphasis on "long?" I wanted to read the book, and I still thought it got off to a slow start. Plus it's not at all what you expect from our modern film-inspired view of Frankenstein.

I didn't start teaching the novel until halfway through the class, and was nervous. Would they read it? Would they discuss it, or would I ask questions and just get a class full of blank stares?

Of course, in a class of more than 20 students, there's was a bit of everything. After 2 weeks of the novel, I had students who still didn't know that Frankenstein was the creator's name—NOT the "monster's." And discussion, particularly at 8:00am on Monday morning, could be a bit slow.

But I've also been pleasantly surprised. A few times, the class discussion get very involved. People had strong opinions about the characters and their actions, and it was really refreshing to take a step back and let the students take over and take over the class.

During one such discussion, a student remarked that the monster was being used as an "escape-goat," and I tried to keep my grin to myself. It made me wonder: how is an escape-goat different from a scapegoat? Does an escape-goat get blamed, but then run away from the situation?


Jonathan said...

Frankenstein, and Moby Dick are at the top of my "want to read" list, but seem scary to even start.

I tried reading Moby Dick years ago, and gave up within the first 50 pages... crap, I know..

M. Lubbers said...

Moby Dick is still on that list for me. Although I haven't even gotten as far as picking it up!

Frankenstein gets off to a slow start, but by the mid-point it's pretty exciting. Let me know if you read it, and what you think!