[Milton-L] Bible as lit

gilliaca at jmu.edu gilliaca at jmu.edu
Thu Jun 12 16:01:06 EDT 2008

I'd say also be prepared for a wide range of familiarity/unfamiliarity with the text.

This spring in my gay and lesbian lit class, we read "Oranges Are not the Only fruit," a highly allusive text whose chapters are named Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus, Numbers, Deueronomy ... Ruth. I asked my jr and sr students, many Eng majors, to tell me what happened in the Bible in Genesis: creation, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel [they almost all have read beowulf], Flood .....? Moses?

So one of my handouts for them is a thumbnail sketch of the contents of each book.

In the Bible as Lit class, I sometimes get religion majors who have taken the standard Intro to NT,Intro to OT, and although they are great on detail, they struggle with looking at plot, setting, etc.  

I ask students to notice how very LITTLE physical description there is - sometimes I make a handout of the opening couple of pages of a Dickens novel to show the difference in narrative strategy.

One kind of paper that I give as an option is to retell a narrative from the pov of one of the voiceless characters. Have gotten some quite interestinig takes on Abraham and Isaak from Sarah's POV.  

Sometimes I have handouts like LeGuin's "She Unnames Them" or poems that give Lot's wife's take on what happens.

I's send along syllabi etc but those are gome with the wind with my retirement!

Cynthia A. Gilliatt
English Department, JMU
JMU Safe Zones participant
"You have made God in your own image when God hates the same people you hate." Fr. John Weston

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