Thursday, May 22, 2008

On Researching/Teaching Simmons: A Student Perspective on Hyperion

As you can see from a quick glance at the blog authors, I'm experimenting this year with adding blogging into the mix of things students do in my courses. So this semester I'll be posting post-group research/teaching project learning analyses from students in my Science Fiction course here at sf@SF. The students' task in this assignment, one dimension of many they're being assessed on in this project, is simply to identify the one or two most interesting things they learned about the text and or writer on which they presented as a result of the planning, research, teaching, and reflection/assessment process they went through in doing the project. These are not meant to be full-blown analytical/interpretive/argumentative critical essays, but instead little personal, subjective pieces on what the text they taught meant to them and what they learned by teaching it.

Due to the illness of another student, there was a team of one teaching Dan Simmons's Hyperion.


Paul writes:

Hyperion for me was an extremely hard read. There were so many things going on at once inside the book that I was easily lost in the stories for hours trying to work my way out of the literary references and solid character development. Yet that was the best part of the story for me, and consequently, the best part of presenting the book. These little hints of other science fiction and literature made the pilgrimage of these 6 people very interesting and made presenting the book a lot of fun.

In my junior year of high school I was “forced” to read the book Heart of Darkness, which at that time I thought was monotonous and uninspiring. That being said, when I was first reading father Hoyt’s story I was reminded of Kurtz in Conrad's novel. That uncanny resemblance I initially disregarded as my mind playing tricks on me. Then as I continued to read I stumbled across bits of Beowulf in Kassad’s story and further in the book I found hints of Neuromancer in Brawne’s story.

So when I had to research to present the novel I enthusiastically jumped at looking to see if Simmons had intentionally placed those works of literature in Hyperion. What I found was not shocking, that he not only intentionally placed those stories into Hyperion but he placed many more works in the novel (For example, the Consul’s story was a combination of Romeo and Juliet). I really enjoyed seeing this because it creates an environment in which you feel comfortable in and, consequently, can feel as though you are participating in the story-telling aspect of the novel.

This was by far my favorite part of the whole story, watching this all-star team of literature walk to fight this God-like creature. I absolutely fell in love with this aspect of the novel and I think many people, once they find these literary allusions, will fall in love with it too.

No comments: