In his research, Yale English Professor David Bromwich writes about modern and Romantic poetry as well as the history of literary criticism. He has also taught an astonishing variety of courses over the last twenty years. In this episode, he tells us how and why he’s done it.
0:00 ⏯ Intro
1:39 ⏯ Why teach so many different courses? Reading more and getting fresh thoughts.
4:21 ⏯ How do you create a new seminar? e.g., Shakespeare’s political plays
6:40 ⏯ Studying and teaching literature and politics
8:53 ⏯ Lincoln’s career and thinking. And French cinema.
13:53 ⏯ The seminar: inviting students’ questions and being surprised by what happens
18:00 ⏯ What it takes to teach the novel and not teaching with cliches
22:12 ⏯ When to follow the seminar discussion where it goes and when not to
24:13 ⏯ Comments you don’t want in a seminar
25:21 ⏯ Using your disciplinary equipment to teach English
28:20 ⏯ Animation in a seminar is not the same thing as quality
30:00 ⏯ Keeping BS out of the seminar
32:35 ⏯ Against the vitamin theory of education
34:47 ⏯ Assessing the work of Yale English majors and the error of thinking only testable knowledge can be graded
37:34 ⏯ It’s not as if humans ourselves get better.
39:32 ⏯ On deciding to become an English professor
43:34 ⏯ The arts cast doubt on the notion of human perfectibility. Does teaching improve?
45:55 ⏯ “The first years of teaching show a progress that is…glacially slow.” Worrying about silences
49:13 ⏯ Is it necessary sometimes to say “this is why this is important”? Imagination, experience and the conduct of life
51:24 ⏯ Sign-off