From Sophocles to Twin Peaks: What Killed Laura Palmer?

One of the toughest and most important jobs I have as an English professor at a small, women’s liberal arts college, is teaching students to write well.

I would love to hold forth on Flannery O’Connor—my life-long literary crush—but getting students to care about writing involves helping them find something they’re interested in, not foisting my predilections upon them. My job in first semester English composition is to make sure students know how to write a thesis-driven essay that draws upon primary and secondary sources for support—something as enjoyable as hand-plowing with a team of oxen—and about as practical from a student’s perspective.

I’m keenly aware of this perception and always look for new ways of enlivening an otherwise deadly experience. This semester I decided to show the class several episodes of what is no doubt one of the kookiest, strangest, and downright scary shows ever on network television—Twin Peaks. [Read more…]