Individual Authors: Charlotte Brontë
Fall 2021 - Going into this class I knew I would, at the very least, enjoy the subject matter being a tremendous fan of all things Bronte. I did not expect to so fully enjoy every aspect of this class. Professor Stephan's presentation and thoughtful exploration of the novel was fresh as it was wise, as nuanced as it was grounded. She enhanced my love for Bronte and cultivated it into something greater without totally ruining that first initial and somewhat naive love I had for her books (as some deep-dive classes can). By providing us with excellent geographical, historical, and biographical context, I felt I was approaching Bronte's novels in a holistic and well-informed manner. This is not to say that Professor Stephan ever claimed to have the definitive word on the minutiae of Bronte's life, simply that there was no facet of her life or her books to which she had failed to devote some thought. This often allowed for great discussion among us which, guided by articles she provided and her own knowledge, equipped us to talk about themes and plot points on a deeper level. There was a lot of reading but that's to be expected in these single-author classes and honestly some books flew by because of how enjoyable they were. Three papers, each longer than the last which helped allow for natural progression of writing improvement as well as deeper text analysis. And then there were also weekly reading responses (only six in total though) that were not graded independently so much as they were graded for having put time into answering them. However, that being said, she proved on many occasions that she read them and would often refer to something someone had said and build off of it. I loved this class so much and hope to take more classes from Professor Stephan in the future. She was always very helpful in discussing paper topics and even spending time in class to make sure we felt prepared for them. I will say I can see how some students might have had a different experience because there seemed to be a polarizing divide between those who sat in the front and those who sat in the back (for no reason really, just an observation of general behavior). The back was almost never heard from, even despite the small-ish classroom. Sitting up front (hello, bad eyesight) really allowed me to naturally engage more and even gain a few friends who also loved sitting up front. It wasn't all rainbows and butterflies, in fact, it entailed a good amount of hard work, but I took it my first quarter as a transfer and I lived to tell the tale! Definitely recommend!