Teaching Bartleby

Mike Edwards describes his first time teaching Bartleby the Scrivener:

I stole the idea for my lesson plan from a colleague, who’d used it to great success. Minor modifications on my part, but it went like this: for homework, I’d asked them to read the story in its entirety, and told them to be prepared to lead discussion in class today, and to come to class with notes on motivation and action in the story to help them do so.

I brought my laptop to class, which I’d never done before. (Each classroom has its own dedicated computer.) I set it up on my desk. In the seconds before class started, I said to them something like this: “You’ve just read a story in which someone, with a screen between him and the other characters, fails to do what they expect of him, and in violating the expectations customary to their relationship, causes disruption and concern.”

And that was All. I. Said.