Thoreau

Will Chinese Students One Day Appreciate Thoreau?

With the fast pace of growth in China and its emphasis on modernism, I wonder if my students will one day come to appreciate Thoreau’s ideals, especially his love of nature and his concern for the environment.

Understanding Thoreau

In this literature class I help Chinese university students decipher passages in Thoreau’s essay, “Reading,” pointing out that it may take multiple visits to his works — a journey over a span of years — to gain more understanding. I also answer a student’s question into why Thoreau thought reading the classics, preferably in the(…)

Teaching Thoreau in the Heartland of China

I was teaching Thoreau in a time when the Chinese were migrating from the countryside into the cities. It was a new Industrial Age—but this one was taking place during the age of globalism, cell phones, and Hello Kitty. Experts estimated that a population greater than that of America’s total population would move into Chinese(…)

Thoreau: His Life and Times

In this literature class I explore Thoreau by delving into his perspective on life and his motivation for choosing a spartan lifestyle, despite having a Harvard education. I am surprised by the brilliance of one Chinese student’s penetrating question about Thoreau — one that I had never heard before. The whole class works on an(…)

Back to School: Boomlay, boomlay, boomlay, Boom!

They were a tough crowd. I introduced my first two literature classes to my concept of learning as a journey. At first their faces were impenetrable masks. Then I told them, “Even in America we know about Chair Mao’s famous Long March, and the founding of the People’s Republic of China.” Their faces lit up(…)