Hard Books, Deep Reading, and Synchronous Conferences in the Humanities "Pickle Factory"


In the Fall of 1995, with other volunteers from many academic departments, I began teaching our university's required two-semester freshman "Core" class, known as "Exploring Human Experience." Core, with a common syllabus of twenty primary works of literature and philosophy, is about more than reading for its own sake; indeed, it aims to engage students in a dialectic about ideas with their instructor and each other. That type of class seems tailor-made for the discourse encouraged by synchronous conferences. For the next two years, my Core students used conferencing software each week; my sections of Core were the first humanities classes, other than composition courses, taught in a computer lab.

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Copyright © 2000 Elsevier. This article first appeared on Computers and Composition (2000), 1-3.