Instructors’ Teaching Experience

With few exceptions, my students enjoyed reading this work. To my surprise many of them liked the experience of becoming lost in and frustrated with a text that refuses easy interpretation. We had a good time discussing the various points of view and different narrative “threads” that appear and disappear as the story becomes more “fantasy”-heavy. However, they resisted discussion of the themes at work (in part due to the disturbing violence and rape fantasies, which require a mature and comfortable class setting), and I found it difficult to get them interested in the larger “metafiction” issues at work. They deeply wanted to read this story the same way we’d read traditional narratives, as opposed to as a text in which notions of “narrative” are themselves the themes under consideration. [B. Mauk,]

Classroom Strategies

I asked my students to read this story four times at home, and to chart their understanding and enjoyment of the text with each reading. I then had them meet in four small groups and give short presentations about their experiences with each reading. They were happy to have the chance to commiserate about the text’s difficulty. (Some of them actually seemed to have read the story several times.) I spoke briefly about Ricoeur’s “first/second naivete”, “mode of suspicion” and “mode of understanding,” and asked them whether these different stages corresponded to their reading experiences. [B. Mauk,]