This was a pretty pathetic mail week. In fact, one friend–who usually writes long, informative letters–responded to my lengthy letter through a lengthy email! Oh, pooh! I understand “busy” and since her email was loaded with great news, I forgave her.
Since nothing new arrived and I still have a lot of catch-up blogging to do, I’m sharing “something old and something blue.” In honor of the first week of classes at my university, here’s a book-themed postcard “Onyx” of swap-bot sent earlier this year:
“All-time Favorites,” By Onyx
“Onyx” read my profile and made this postcard especially for me. The painted postcard measures approximately 10 x 6 inches. She featured three of my favorite texts: The Holy Bible; Homer’s Ulysses [The Odyssey]; and (we’ll assume) The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.
The Bible is a favorite not simply because it is the sacred text of my faith; I’ve loved it since my undergraduate days when I enrolled in the course “The Bible as Literature” with the inimitable Dr. Bernard Benn. It was under his tutelage that I fell in love with scripture as poetry, history, narrative, and so much more. It was also in his class that I realized that studying sacred texts as I would study literature–uncovering multiple layers of meaning–led to deeper, more meaningful Bible study.
Although I learned to seriously love and appreciate Shakespeare’s works as an undergraduate and The Odyssey as a graduate student, my teaching them to my own students solidified their place among my favorites. Shakespeare became a favorite because of his incredible insight, his masterful wordplay, and his revelations of the political and social climate in which he lived. The Odyssey because of Odysseus’s journeys to self-knowledge and home, quests that are a part of the “universal human experience.”
This is probably the first time in a long time that I won’t be teaching all three of these texts in some form, but it won’t be difficult to find a way to work them into my courses–British Literature Survey and Contemporary British Literature.
The first week with my mostly new students made up for the empty mailbox. I’m always happy for the start of a new semester–fresh faces, fresh ideas, and new opportunities to make a difference.