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Abstract

This article describes a classroom activity that increases students’ connection to literary characters, and by extension, texts. The activity, constructed as a party attended by literary characters, tasks students with taking on the point of view of one character in an assigned novel. This can encourage a student to see the viewpoint of a character that differs from him or her in gender, social status, or any other category of difference. In heightening students’ relationship to eighteenth-century characters, I argue, instructors can bring the eighteenth century closer to contemporary students as well as increase students’ sensitivity to viewpoints that differ from their own. A post-activity writing assignment extends the activity to encourage student analysis and reflection.
ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts,
1640-1830
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Inviting Twenty-First Century Students to the
Eighteenth-Century Party
Kathryn Strong Hansen
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Inviting Twenty-First Century Students to the Eighteenth-Century Party
Abstract
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Keywords
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Author Biography
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The eighteenth century is, in many ways, much like our own time. Yet my students all too often
enter my classroom believing that this is not the case. As a consequence, they often experience
difficulty in seeing from the perspective of someone in the eighteenth century. Admittedly, a
perceived lack of common ground isn’t the only aspect of teaching eighteenth-century texts that
can pose challenges for students. As Paula Backscheider writes, “There’s the language,
especially for the period before 1740, and [the eighteenth century] has always seemed to me to
require the most interdisciplinary knowledge and skills of any period” (1). These linguistic and
cultural disruptions help to perpetuate students’ all-too pervasive belief that the eighteenth
century was radically different from their current era.
Yet because of the unique nature of my home institution, distance in time is not the only
difference that my students must overcome. I teach at The Citadel, the Military College of South
Carolina, and only approximately six percent of The Citadel’s undergraduate students are
women. Because my male students are less likely than other male students to have as much or as
frequent contact with women (at least during their time at college), or as much cross-gendered
interaction as my female students have with men, they can benefit from learning to empathize
with female characters. Though the classroom activity that I will describe can highlight many
different aspects of a selected focal textincluding race, class, politics, economics, and any
other element upon which you might choose to dwellI use it to close the gap between the
experiences of my mostly male students and the very often female eighteenth-century characters
and writers I most enjoy discussing. In this exercise, students role-play characters from
eighteenth-century novels. I tend to assign characters to students that don’t match that student’s
gender whenever possible so that as many students as possible must imaginatively change their
perspective in unfamiliar ways.
To close the chronological and gender gaps between my students and the texts I assign them, it is
necessary for students to empathize with the characters in eighteenth-century texts. Students
must be able to understand the feelings, motivations, and viewpoints of characters to engage with
the themes and implications of the texts. While lectures and presentations providing the
interdisciplinary context that Backscheider calls for are essential, this kind of contextualization
alone does not always spark students’ interest or understanding. I initially stumbled upon an
activity to increase student empathy for eighteenth-century literary characters when teaching
Oliver Goldsmith’s The Vicar of Wakefield. My students could not seem to find much enjoyment
or even interest in the novel, and class discussions were coming to a standstill. So I used an
activity that I called a “Wakefield partyin which I assigned each student a character from
Goldsmith’s novel. Each student had the task of discovering the other students’ Wakefield
identities, but could do so only by asking and answering questions while acting as his or her
assigned character. Why did I take class time to do this, especially when there are too many texts
to fit into the very limited time I have in any given semester?
My answer is best explained by an anecdote. After participating in the Wakefield party, one of
my students told me in casual conversation that he would not have wanted to be a woman in the
eighteenth century. He had been Sophia Primrose in the party and had experienced difficulty
answering questions while trying to convey feminine propriety. Not every question he was asked
was fit for a young lady to answer, and scrambling to put his words in the most delicately
virtuous phrasing was taxing and in some instances even downright impossible. From that point
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Hansen: Inviting 21st Century Students to the 18th-Century Party
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onward, he showed heightened sensitivity to the difficulties of female characters in the
eighteenth-century texts, in particular the ways in which their utterances were constrained. His
empathy for Sophia convinced me that this activity could not only generate more student interest
in and command of a textmany more students had a firm grasp on The Vicar of Wakefield after
the party than had seemed to before the partybut also aid in increasing male students’ empathy
for female characters.
It’s all too true that each semester offers only a finite amount of time for the texts on our
literature syllabi, making the time that we spend in class particularly precious. So every moment
spent in class on one text by necessity creates less time for other texts. But I agree with Elaine
Showalter when she advises that “instead of aiming for comprehensive coverage, we have to
think about what students need to read in order to establish a basis for further learning” (13). As
long as students have the perception that they are radically different from the people who lived in
the eighteenth century, that perception compromises their ability, as well as their willingness, to
understand eighteenth-century characters and texts. Increasing students’ empathy for characters
makes students more likely to consider what motivates someone whose point of view differs
from their own, allowing for more nuanced discussion of texts. Though I’ve isolated gender and
chronology as my foci, you could easily emphasize the closing of other disconnects, such as gaps
between characters who inhabit the beau monde and students from socioeconomically
disadvantaged spaces or those between the relative homogeneity of a text’s characters and the
heterogeneity of an ethnically diverse classroom.
Yet empathy is not without its pitfalls. As Ann Jurecic rightly reminds us,
Recent work in affect theory . . . warns us to be wary of the fellow feeling
associated with social emotions, such as empathy, sympathy, compassion, and pity.
Although these social emotions may seem authentically personal, we are warned,
they can be expressions of power, appropriations of others’ experience, and falsely
oversimplified understandings of social and cultural relationships. (11)
A reader’s background can lead that reader to perpetuate oversimplifications that result from his
or her unquestioned belief in power dynamics as proper, inborn, or inescapable. In other words,
inviting empathy without reflection and discussion of its implications could also be inviting
facile generalizations, or even creating the potential for a student to believe that he or she truly
understands a subaltern or marginalized character from a few minutes of empathy with that
character. Clearly, this is a concern not to be taken lightly. Yet empathy can help students to
understand the political, sexual, and cultural dynamics at work in texts. Discussing the possible
pitfalls of empathy after this “party” activity helps avoid the dangers that Jurecic outlines, as
does the use of a reflective post-activity writing assignment, which I outline below. Despite the
risks, I’ve had success with this activity in decreasing the gap between a twenty-first century
student and an eighteenth-century individual by coaxing students into identifying with literary
characters. In so doing, I hope not only to amplify students’ empathy with seemingly distant
eighteenth-century men and women, but also to provide a basis for students to engage with
literature and gender more fully, to provide as Showalter suggests what they need to read in
order to learn further.
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ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830, Vol. 3 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 3
http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/abo/vol3/iss1/3
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/2157-7129.3.1.3
Playing the game
Ill use Evelina as an example text but will later discuss how to select other possible texts for this
activity. I start by writing on the board “Do not disclose your Evelina identity to anyone yet.”
Then I explain that today’s class will be an activitya party, in fact. At this point I take roll and
assess how to modify the invitations for absences, a process I discuss later. While doing this, you
might choose to have students wear a name tag with their first name and last initial, since this
will facilitate the identification part of game play among students who do not know each other’s
real names. Next, I give students their invitations. If I expect a late arrival or two, I keep in
reserve a sufficient number of invitations.
Then, I tell the students what I mean by “party.” The quickest way to do this is to read a
shortened version of the beginning of the invitation. I tell students that they are “in disguise all
of the partygoers will have false identities. Your objective during this party is to ascertain the
Evelina identities of the other attendees.” They have a list of characters on their invitations, and
the students, as the invitation says,
are to write down the false identity name of the others as you discover them. The only way
to discover the identities of these pretend ‘students’ is to talk to them; ask them questions
such as “where would you sit to watch an opera?” or “when is it permissible for a young
lady to decline to dance at a ball?” Depending on what they know as well as what they
don’t know, you can learn who they are or are not. (See Appendix A)
Students’ adherence to the rules of the party game is essential to its success. The invitation
provides those rules:
You must participate. You cannot reveal your identity by saying who you are. However,
you must answer any question you are asked as honestly and in a manner as consistent with
your character as possible. You may not ask any version of the question “who are you?”
and you must not ask any questions that can be answered with a “yes” or “no.”
Additionally, you must answer the others’ questions in a manner consistent with your
Evelina identity. Tell only the truth as your character sees it, or (to your shame be it
written) confess that you aren’t sure, but make a guess as to what your Evelina identity
would say. You will have ten minutes to review your character as well as refresh your
memory as to what your fellow characters are like so that you can identify them. (See
Appendix A)
To ensure that students play the game to the best of their abilities, I allow them five or ten
minutes to review the text. This helps them to differentiate characters with similar names and to
refresh their memory about their assigned characters. Before releasing them into this review
time, I tell them that there will be a follow-up writing activity, so it is imperative that they
perform as well as they can. This helps focus them on the review and helps prevent them from
merely socializing with their classmates. As they review the text, I circulate through the room to
make sure that I can answer any questions. Alternatively, you could lead a review of the
characters for the class as a group if he or she feels that a significant number of students need
guided review.
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Hansen: Inviting 21st Century Students to the 18th-Century Party
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At the end of this period, I announce that it’s time to put away the texts. I encourage students to
move and talk as their character would, much like an actor tries to embody a character on stage
or in a film. While this kind of acting might seem unnecessary, the potential it holds in helping
students connect with a character makes it worth encouraging. Jean Decety and William Ickes
explain that “[m]atching neural representation or mimicking another’s posture . . . may facilitate
understanding of, or belief about, another’s state,” and moreover, that “[i]ntuiting or projecting
oneself into another’s situation . . . may give one a lively sense of what the other is thinking and
feeling . . . and may thereby facilitate other-oriented feelings” (10). In short, the more fully a
student embodies a character, the better. Next, I announce that the party has begun. During the
“party,” I keep circulating to overhear students’ questions (and ensure that no one is fudging the
rules). When the activity is underway, I keep an eye on the clock, because I want to make sure I
have sufficient time for wrap-up discussion. The end of the party can come at any time you
choose, but I prefer to end it once a solid handful of students have discovered all of the Evelina
identities; waiting for everyone to do so is impractical, as most classrooms will have at least a
few students who did not complete (or did not carefully examine) the reading assignment and
therefore are less skilled at formulating questions for their classmates.
After announcing the end of the party, I ask students to identify each of the Evelina characters.
We do this aloud as a group so that they all know which student embodied which character. Then
I conduct a short discussion. If during the activity I overheard signs of conversation frustrated by
some students who obviously did not finish the reading, I’ll try to move past this challenge by
acknowledging how difficult this activity is when some partygoers have not read Evelina
carefully. To get the discussion off the ground, I’ll begin by presenting some of the questions
that I overheard as I circulated through the “party,” and ask how students chose what would best
help them identify characters. Well talk about any characters who might have been tough to
distinguish. For example, in Evelina, Sir Clement Willoughby and Mr. Lovel might seem similar
because they are both rakish libertines who see Evelina as easy prey. The impossibly worthy
Lord Orville and Rev. Villars also might be easily confused (they are both ideal men, after all),
as might Tom and Polly Branghton as hopelesslyand similarlyhoydenish members of the
merchant class. Clarifying these confusions could lead to discussions of class, as perhaps the
only clear differentiator between Willoughby and Lovel is the distinction in their social statuses,
or to discussions of why certain secondary characters are included in the text. One such
discussion question is: Why is Mr. Lovel necessary to the narrative when Sir Clement already
exists in the text as an unsuitable match for Evelina?
To keep students on task and focused throughout the game, I build in several safeguards. One
twist to the game that can help students follow the rules and keep them working diligently is to
announce before beginning that the first five students to identify all “partygoers” correctly earn
an extra two points on an upcoming quiz (or some other small prize that would work as an
incentive for students). If you take this route, you must keep a master list to check the accuracy
of each student’s completed list. To do this quickly, I recommend having already made tentative
character assignments before class. Then, to adjust for any absent students, make all necessary
changes to the master invitation list during the ten-minute review period. As students complete
the blanks on the invitation form, I compare their answers to my master list and record the names
of those who receive prizes.
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ABO: Interactive Journal for Women in the Arts, 1640-1830, Vol. 3 [2013], Iss. 1, Art. 3
http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/abo/vol3/iss1/3
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5038/2157-7129.3.1.3
The practicalities
The size of a class dictates what texts will work well with this activity. Because my own
eighteenth-century literature classes tend to be small, I enjoy a lot of latitude with text selection.
A small class of twelve or so students can use texts with large or small casts of characters. If a
small class isn’t the case, there are options for larger classes. For instance, texts with a large
number of characters will likely work well. The number of characters could match the number of
students, or you can select the characters you most want to highlight from a text with more
characters than there are students in the class. For particularly large classes, students could be
divided into two separate “party” groups. If using these groups, make sure to have a method to
distinguish the two groups. Otherwise, the activity can be confused by students from one group
accidentally asking question of students in the other group. One way to distinguish groups is to
use different rooms for each group of “partygoers.” You could also name each group by color.
Students could be encouraged first to ask each other “are you in the silver party?A class with
an even number of students divides easily into two groups, but if a class has an odd number of
students, the list of attendee characters for each group simply could differ by adding one. If the
class has two parties in the same room, try to enforce a physical division between the two teams
to avoid confusion (say, the crimson team works at the front of the room while the silver team
keeps to the back). One additional safeguard to distinguish multiple parties would be to use
color-coded name tags with the students’ real names, helping give a visual cue as to which party
the student belongs. If name tags are in short supply at your campus, just bring tape. Students can
make their own name tags from notebook paper and tape them to their shirts. You can also break
up smaller classes into two parties. But keep in mind that texts with a very small number of
characters don’t pose the same level of challenge for the student, since the identification
question-and-answer period would be short.
Class size and student attendance are important factors in conducting this activity, so be sure to
consider them in planning this activity. Because my institution enforces attendance by levying
penalties for unexcused absences, I am aware of student absences in advance except for cases of
documented student illness. This, I realize, is highly unusual, and the number of students in a
more typical college classroom is likely to change without notice. Some classes might experience
wide fluctuations in day-to-day attendance, and this will cause planning difficulty. To
demonstrate one way to navigate this challenge, I have included a sample of invitations for an
Oroonoko party (Appendix B). The Oroonoko invitation includes the nameless figures of “A
courtesan in the king’s otan, Coramantien” and “A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam.
Deleting one or more of these anonymous characters (that is, telling students to cross off one or
more from the list of characters to identify) can allow you to accommodate unexpected
attendance irregularities. When employing this tactic, I prefer to have more than one category of
nameless participants so that students playing the game can’t identify someone by simply asking
“do you have a name?” Keep in mind that, although the invitation rules specify that students
must avoid asking questions answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” this rule is easy for students
to forget. Having only one anonymous category can make the anonymous characters far too easy
to identify. I had only one category of nameless participant in my initial The Vicar of Wakefield
partycitizen of Wakefieldand won’t repeat that mistake. This reinforces my previous
assertion that some texts work better than others, since some texts don’t lend themselves to more
than one distinct kind of anonymous character. In short, knowing the habits of the students will
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Hansen: Inviting 21st Century Students to the 18th-Century Party
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make planning and executing this activity much easier. It’s for that reason that I would suggest
this as a mid- to late-term activity rather than one performed at the beginning of a semester.
Though I previously mentioned assigning characters before the start of the class as a way to help
administer prizes, I also like to do so in an effort to make the party as successful as possible. I
might have to shift some students’ identities around because of absences, but pre-preparation
helps me assign the central characters to my more dramatic students, as well as my students who
are likeliest to not only complete reading assignments but also understand their nuances. For
example, a student with a good sense of humor would be a good choice for the Frenchified and
melodramatic Madame Duval or the blustery Captain Mirvan. A student who seldom reads might
make a better candidate for one of the smaller characters, like the relatively nondescript Lady
Howard or the limited-English-speaking Monsieur Dubois, as he or she would be less likely to
lead the more diligent students astray. However, students who are less likely to read consistently
may well be the students whom you most want to motivate, so I would urge anyone trying this
activity to consider giving at least a few such students a more prominent character with whom
identification would be beneficial. To help such students better embody their assigned characters,
you could even lend aid in the preparation phase so as to better equip them for the roleplaying
involved in the party. Additionally, your more probing readers are likelier to bring greater depth
to secondary characters, so the activity will work more powerfully if you take into consideration
the needs as well as the skills of your students.
To prevent this activity from merely being an entertaining departure from the more standard
lecture or discussion class format, and to avoid the pitfalls of superficial sympathy that Jurecic
discusses, I require students to complete a follow-up writing assignment. For any absent
students, I convert this writing assignment into a character analysis, selecting a character that I
think would be unlike that student and asking a question that requires explanation and
justification in its answer, like “how might this character’s role in the novel be different if she
were a man? Why?” But for those students who participated in the party, I ask a series of
reflective questions (see Appendix C). The point of these questions is to encourage reflection
that capitalizes on what it felt like for the student to “be” someone else, particularly someone
who seems at first blush so different from the student. While it is certainly possible to ask
students to write more at length in response to this activity, my goal with the writing assignment
is to encourage the kind of connection between student and character that my “Sophia Primrose”
experienced in The Vicar of Wakefield party. Having students discuss their experiences is what I
most want to facilitate, and I find that their comments are more carefully considered once they
have organized their thoughts through writing first. Changing the focus of the reflection
questions could easily change the focus of the subsequent discussions; while some of the
questions I ask my students in the appended sample center upon gender, you could frame
questions to focus students’ thinking toward issues of ethnicity, religion, age, or social class, for
example.
Conclusion
Increasingly, students in my classes comment on how “relatable” a character seems to them, yet
those students tend to want the “relatability” to come ready made rather than be something for
which they must work. Not every student will have the kind of reaction to the party that my
Sophia-Primrose student did. But the reflection necessary to put ideas in writing can make
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students participate more actively in finding common ground with a character seemingly
different from them, whether the difference is of chronological era, gender, class, or any other
identity category. Keith Hjortshoj labels the point of writing in higher education as the attempt
“to give individuals more to say, with broader perspectives and stronger voices of their own with
which they can take more active, constructive roles in professions and public life” (193). Helping
students better understand the eighteenth century is one key reason I conduct a “partyin my
classroom, and to that end I endorse the idea of modifying the writing questions to focus upon
issues with which students have been struggling in class discussion.
But a further point of this activity, particularly because the student population in my classes is
predominantly male, is to help provide the reflection necessary to empathize with female
characters and to cultivate the viewpoint of eighteenth-century women. Because few people
think to engage in activities that encourage them to empathize with a member of the opposite
sex, activities that do so provide a kind of viewpoint unlikely for students to obtain elsewhere.
As Ann Jurecic explains, readers “report that they value the experience of empathy in reading,
but they tend to choose books containing characters or plots with which they identify
beforehand. On their own, they do not regularly choose reading material that cuts across social
and cultural boundaries” (15). Stepping into the shoes of a character, especially if the student
engages in movement, gesture, and facial expressions, serves as one way to foster empathy with
a character very different from him or her.
The “relatability” that students seem to seek in
fictional characters suggests that they are likeliest to empathize with those characters most like
them, which is to say that most male students are likely to empathize with male characters. Yet
common ground between students and characters exists even in unexpected ways, and
“[c]haracters can and do invite empathy from readers who differ markedly from them in identity
traits” (Keen 302). Reflecting on shared beliefs and emotions can help obviate differences, even
differences as culturally fraught as those of gender. Classroom time spent on encouraging
empathy with seemingly distant or different characters can then broaden perspectives, as
Hjortshoj might say, which could shift the ways in which students understand not only the
characters in the texts but the texts themselves.
Recently, a New York Times blogger interviewed Dale J. Stephens, founder of Uncollege.org, a
site that urges young adults to “hack” their education and eschew traditional college courses in
the search for their success, and the interview reveals the deep suspicion with which many
people regard college classrooms. “What you learn in college,” Stephens opined, “is generally
the same skill set that you learn in a traditional school environment . . . You learn how to follow
directions, meet deadlines and memorize facts” (Ojalvo). Here Stephens displays a common
belief about a university education, one that insists that college teaches students mechanistically
and by rote.
Yet the people I know who convene collegiate literature classes would argue
strenuously with Stephens’ assessment of university classes’ goals (except, perhaps, the meeting
of deadlines). Ideally, literature classes encourage reflection, discussion, and understandingnot
just of texts, but of the underlying concepts they forwardand therefore foster analytical
syntheses of information that encourage emotional as well as intellectual growth.
Activities like the party exercise I delineate here perform work very differently from what
Stephens imagines transpires within the walls of a college classroom. In particular, the work that
this assignment does is to provide a basis for education that enhances empathy. While spending
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twenty minutes answering questions in the persona of Evelina Anville is not likely on its own to
change a young man from boorish to sensitive, it is worthwhile if it causes a student to find
common ground with someone he might have thought had little to nothing in common with him.
This is likely to be something that the average young person cannothack,if only because these
kinds of activities outside of a university classroom so seldom include reflection upon and
analysis of one’s relationship to a perceived other. It is my hope that this activity opens a door so
that further conversations about women’s issues and about eighteenth-century culture can take
place.
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Works Cited
Backscheider, Paula. “The Futures of Eighteenth-Century Studies.” Digital Defoe: Studies in
Defoe and His Contemporaries 3.1 (2011): 1-4. Web. 8 Mar. 2013
http://english.illinoisstate.edu/digitaldefoe/features/backscheider.html
Decety, Jean, and William Ickes, eds. The Social Neuroscience of Empathy. Cambridge: MIT,
2011. Print.
Hjortshoj, Keith. The Transition to College Writing. 2
nd
ed. Boston and New York:
Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009. Print.
Jurecic, Ann. “Empathy and the Reader.College English. 74.1 (2011): 10-27. Print.
Keen, Suzanne. “Readers’ Temperaments and Fictional Character.” New Literary History 42.2
(2011): 295-314. Print. http://dx.doi.org/10.1353/nlh.2011.0013
Ojalvo, Holly Epstein. Why Go to College at All?” The New York Times 2 Feb 2012. Web.
10 July 2012 http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/why-go-to-college-at-all/
Showalter, Elaine. Teaching Literature. Malden: Blackwell, 2003. Print.
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Appendix A
Greetings, Evelina Anville!
This letter is your invitation to a party. Many people from your life will be there, yet you will all
be in disguise all of the partygoers have false identities. Your objective during this party is to
ascertain the Evelina identities of the other attendees. To accomplish that goal, below is a list of
the other attendees. You are to write down the false identity name of the others as you discover
them. The only way to discover the identities of these pretend “students” is to talk to them; ask
them questions such as “where would you sit to watch an opera?” or “when is it permissible for
a young lady to decline to dance at a ball?” Depending on what they know as well as what they
don’t know, you can learn who they are or are not.
Evelina Anville You!
Rev. Arthur Villars
Lady Howard
Mrs. Mirvan
Miss Maria Mirvan
Captain Mirvan
Miss Fenton
Sir Clement Willoughby
Lord Orville
Mr. Lovel
Madame Duval
Monsieur Dubois
Tom Branghton
Polly Branghton
Mr. Smith
Mr. Macartney
Mrs. Selwin
Sir John Belmont
Lady Louisa Larpent
Lord Merton
Miss Belmont
Dame Green
Mrs. Beaumont
Rules of the party: you must participate. You cannot reveal your identity by saying who you are.
However, you must answer any question you are asked as honestly and in a manner as consistent
with your character as possible. You may not ask any version of the question “who are you?”
Additionally, you must answer the others’ questions in a manner consistent with your Evelina
identity. Tell only the truth as your character sees it, or (to your shame be it written) confess that
you aren’t sure, but make a guess as to what your Evelina identity would say. You will have ten
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minutes to review your character as well as refresh your memory as to what your fellow
characters are like so that you can identify them. I wish you luck in divining the identities of your
fellow partygoers.
Sincerely,
Dr. Hansen
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Appendix B
Good morning, nameless courtesan in the Coramantien king’s otan!
This letter is your invitation to a party. Many people from your life will be there, as will
many other people, like you, who simply live in Coramantien or Surinam. Yet you will all be in
disguise – all of the partygoers have false identities. Your objective during this party is to
ascertain the Oroonoko identities of the other attendees. To accomplish that goal, below is a list
of the other attendees. You are to write down the false identity name of the others as you
discover them. The only way to discover the identities of these pretend “students” is to talk to
them; ask them questions such as “how do you feel about someone changing your name?” or
“how do you feel about slave rebellions?” Depending on what they know as well as what they
don’t know, you can learn who they are or are not. Additionally, you must answer the others
questions in a manner consistent with your Oroonoko identity. In your case, that means knowing
very little indeed about what happens you’re a minor character, my dear, so don’t pretend to
know more than you could possibly know!
Oroonoko (Caesar)
Jamoan
Imoinda (Clemene)
Aboan
Onahal
Oroonoko’s grandfather, king of Coramantien
Narrator
Trefry
Tuscan
Willoughy
Bannister
Byam
A courtesan in the king’s otan, Coramantien You!
A courtesan in the king’s otan, Coramantien
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
Rules of the party: you must participate. You cannot reveal your identity by saying who
you are. However, you must answer any question you are asked as honestly and in a manner as
consistent with your character as possible. You may not ask any version of the questionwho
are you?” Tell only the truth as your character sees it, or (to your shame be it written) confess
that you aren’t sure, but make a guess as to what your Oroonoko identity would say. You will
have ten minutes to review your character as well as refresh your memory as to what your fellow
characters are like so that you can identify them. I wish you luck in divining the identities of your
fellow partygoers.
Sincerely,
Dr. Hansen
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Good morning, Trefry!
This letter is your invitation to a party. Many people from your life will be there, as will
many other people, like you, who simply live in Coramantien or Surinam. Yet you will all be in
disguise – all of the partygoers have false identities. Your objective during this party is to
ascertain the Oroonoko identities of the other attendees. To accomplish that goal, below is a list
of the other attendees. You are to write down the false identity name of the others as you
discover them. The only way to discover the identities of these pretend “students” is to talk to
them; ask them questions such as “how do you feel about someone changing your name?” or
“how do you feel about slave rebellions?” Depending on what they know as well as what they
don’t know, you can learn who they areor are not. Additionally, you must answer the others
questions in a manner consistent with your Oroonoko identity. In some cases, that means
knowing very little indeed about what happens if a courtesan or slave, that person can’t
pretend to know more than he or she could possibly know!
Oroonoko (Caesar)
Jamoan
Imoinda (Clemene)
Aboan
Onahal
Oroonoko’s grandfather, king of Coramantien
Narrator
Trefry You!
Tuscan
Willoughy
Bannister
Byam
A courtesan in the king’s otan, Coramantien
A courtesan in the king’s otan, Coramantien
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
A slave at Parham plantation, Surinam
Rules of the party: you must participate. You cannot reveal your identity by saying who
you are. However, you must answer any question you are asked as honestly and in a manner as
consistent with your character as possible. You may not ask any version of the questionwho
are you? Tell only the truth as your character sees it, or (to your shame be it written) confess
that you aren’t sure, but make a guess as to what your Oroonoko identity would say. You will
have ten minutes to review your character as well as refresh your memory as to what your fellow
characters are like so that you can identify them. I wish you luck in divining the identities of your
fellow partygoers.
Sincerely,
Dr. Hansen
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Appendix C
After the Party: Your Writing Assignment
Answer #1 with a word or phrase, and answer #2-#7 each with a minimum of a one
paragraph response.
1. What character were you?
2. What did you think of this character before the “party?” Why?
3. How did your view of this character change from the “party” activity? If your view
did not change, explain why it stayed the same.
4. Does this character display traits that are usual or unusual for his or her gender
(please give an example)? Why are these traits considered usual or unusual?
5. What would change about the novel’s plot and themes if this character were of the
opposite sex? Why?
6. If you had a minor character, why do you think this character didn’t receive more
attention in the text? In other words, what themes of the novel would change if your
character had been a major character? If you had a major character, what is there
about that character that deserves a high level of attention?
7. Do you think the text treats this character fairly? Why or why not?
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Book
Full-text available
In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people’s thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In the chapters in this book, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology, and cognitive/affective neurosci ... More In recent decades, empathy research has blossomed into a vibrant and multidisciplinary field of study. The social neuroscience approach to the subject is premised on the idea that studying empathy at multiple levels (biological, cognitive, and social) will lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how other people’s thoughts and feelings can affect our own thoughts, feelings, and behavior. In the chapters in this book, leading advocates of the multilevel approach view empathy from the perspectives of social, cognitive, developmental and clinical psychology, and cognitive/affective neuroscience. Chapters include a critical examination of the various definitions of the empathy construct; surveys of major research traditions based on these differing views (including empathy as emotional contagion, as the projection of one’s own thoughts and feelings, and as a fundamental aspect of social development); clinical and applied perspectives, including psychotherapy and the study of empathy for other people’s pain; various neuroscience perspectives; and discussions of empathy’s evolutionary and neuroanatomical histories, with a special focus on neuroanatomical continuities and differences across the phylogenetic spectrum. The new discipline of social neuroscience bridges disciplines and levels of analysis.
Article
: “Readers’ Temperaments and Fictional Character” advocates reviving study of ordinary readers’ variable responses to fictional characters to change the direction of theorizing about character. Admitting the wide range of possible responses to fictional characters limits the governing authority of texts over their denizens and writers over their humanlike creations, I argue here that human temperaments shape reading experiences more markedly than fiction-reading shapes people’s temperaments. The essay concludes with considerations of a revised pedagogy that opens up to the divergent responses predicted by a theory of temperamental character, mediating formalist and subjectivist practices by means of exercises based on Baruch Hochman’s cognitive theory of fictional character.
The Futures of Eighteenth-Century Studies Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe and His Contemporaries 3
  • Works Cited Backscheider
Works Cited Backscheider, Paula. " The Futures of Eighteenth-Century Studies. " Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe and His Contemporaries 3.1 (2011): 1-4. Web. 8 Mar. 2013 http://english.illinoisstate.edu/digitaldefoe/features/backscheider.html
The Transition to College Writing
  • Keith Hjortshoj
Hjortshoj, Keith. The Transition to College Writing. 2 nd ed. Boston and New York: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2009. Print.
Empathy and the Reader
  • Ann Jurecic
Jurecic, Ann. "Empathy and the Reader." College English. 74.1 (2011): 10-27. Print.
Why Go to College at All? The New York Times 2 Feb 2012. Web
  • Holly Ojalvo
  • Epstein
Ojalvo, Holly Epstein. " Why Go to College at All? " The New York Times 2 Feb 2012. Web. 10 July 2012 http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/why-go-to-college-at-all/ Showalter, Elaine. Teaching Literature. Malden: Blackwell, 2003. Print.
Inviting 21st Century Students to the 18th-Century Party Published by Scholar Commons
  • Hansen
Hansen: Inviting 21st Century Students to the 18th-Century Party Published by Scholar Commons, 2013
The Futures of Eighteenth-Century Studies
  • Paula Backscheider
Backscheider, Paula. "The Futures of Eighteenth-Century Studies." Digital Defoe: Studies in Defoe and His Contemporaries 3.1 (2011): 1-4. Web. 8 Mar. 2013 http://english.illinoisstate.edu/digitaldefoe/features/backscheider.html
Why Go to College at All
  • Holly Ojalvo
  • Epstein
Ojalvo, Holly Epstein. "Why Go to College at All?" The New York Times 2 Feb 2012. Web. 10 July 2012 http://thechoice.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/why-go-to-college-at-all/ 1. What character were you? 2. What did you think of this character before the "party?" Why?