Ambiguous Joseph

I spent a fair bit of time in my classes on Friday laying out my theories about agency and grammar and why excessive passive and expletive constructions hinder good academic writing, so we had too little time, as usual, to talk about Joseph.

This group of students, I think, tends too far towards malleability (or at least shows of malleability), and I’m going to have to watch it. When I focused our attention on Joseph’s dark side, last year’s classes fought me, clinging tenaciously to Joseph as a positive exemplar. I’m used to that; I can always get Socratic on them and make them think harder about it. This year’s group almost immediately turned on Joseph, finding nothing but fault in him. I’m not sure whether they’re doing this out of a genuinely shaky grasp on the story or to say what they think I want to hear, but either way, I had to give a talk to each class about Joseph’s complexity and ambiguity so that they wouldn’t leave this (very brief) unit thinking him an utter scumbag.

I collect the first brief paper Wednesday and get started on our Psalms and 17th-century poetry unit. I’ve got the skeleton of a lecture about English and Hebrew poetic conventions ready, but I need to spend some more time on it between now and Wednesday.

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