By describing periodicals from the 1840’s for the class, students in Elisa New’s seminar begin to understand the course material and find a voice in the classroom.
On the first day of the seminar, the professor distributes to each student original periodicals, such as a pamphlet about the founding of America by the Christian tract society, a serialized short story in a weekly Boston newspaper, and an article on tatooing.
The students were asked to describe for each other the particular pieces they were holding. They began to try to contextualize what they were holding and analyze 19th century American materials for themselves. It was a great way for them to get to know each other and become comfortable speaking in class.
Professor New says that students love activities of this kind. Keep things light; let them know you are having fun. In this same class they also made chowder, went on a field trip to Nantucket, and went to see whale skeletons at the Museum of Natural History.