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Author Biography

Jodi L. Wyett, Associate Professor of English at Xavier University, Cincinnati, has published on Jane Austen, Frances Brooke, and animals in the long eighteenth century. She is currently working on a book about women novelists’ use of the female quixote trope to address anti-novel discourse.

Abstract

This essay describes a classroom role-playing activity that incorporates both modern social media and the tools of eighteenth-century composition. Students communicate with each other as characters in the assigned novel, by either texting, tweeting, or writing longhand with quill pens. The exercise aims to help students grasp the sometimes-elusive historical contexts of eighteenth-century writing as well as the ways in which we interpret and adapt those contexts and their attendant modes of communication when we read for meaning in our own moment. My experiences suggest that the activity is particularly effective at helping students to reflect upon their own interpretive choices and to understand how medium affects content. Furthermore, it can illuminate the ways in which the medium influences not only the message, but also the messenger, thus revealing potentially surprising connections between material modes of communication, embodied behavior, and intellectual output.

Keywords

communication, pedagogy, eighteenth-century, women, gender, novel, Twitter, texting, epistolarity, role-playing, character