25 September 2007

Where Teaching and Research Meet

(Or: wherein the Historianess gives a quiz, is disappointed, and then works on her own research.)

Yesterday I gave a quiz in my survey class. I like quizzes; they're a good way to measure how well students are picking up basic facts and patterns, and they're a good way to see both if the students are reading, and how they are doing the reading.

One of the easier questions was "Name two Puritan colonies." Based on my notes, they had three options there: Massachusetts Bay, New Haven (I would accept Connecticut as an answer), and Providence Island. I figured some students would answer with Plymouth or Rhode Island, which would give me an opportunity to remind them that the Pilgrims were Separatists, and that Puritans considered theologically-liberal Rhode Island to be a den of iniquity.

Instead, about two-thirds of the class answered with "Jamestown" or "Virginia."

ARGH! I'm sure that somewhere in a lecture I did talk extensively about how Massachusetts was a Puritan colony and Virginia was *not* a Puritan colony.

So after finishing my grading, I went home to work on the footnotes for my conference paper A Puritan Virginia? Rethinking English Identities in the Early Chesapeake, 1607-1644.

(Insert ironic comment here.)

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07 September 2007

Madeleine L'Engle, 1918-2007

The children's fantasy writer Madeleine L'Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time, has died.

A Wrinkle in Time was one of my favorite books when I was little. I love the scene towards the end, when Meg is pondering how to free her little brother Charles Wallace from the clutches of the Big Brother-like creature IT, and she realizes that all she must do is tell him she loves him, and mean it. It's a wonderful, emotional book about the trascendent power of love in the face of evil. And it's also about instantaneous travel through time and space, if that's your thing.