VirtualLit looks like a set of excellent tutorials in close reading poems and fiction. I came across it searching for definitions of connotation – I’m grading papers, you see, and grading papers you always see what you didn’t teach well enough. VirtualLit not only has a decent explanation of connotation and denotation, it has simple but effective exercises you could do yourself online, but that would be easily transported to the classroom (write sentences on blackboard with alternate words, have the students discuss the different connotations and senses either all together or in pairs). I could find, perhaps, some images or even mockup a website or two that similarly let students see how small differences change meaning. I didn’t use any verbal examples to explain connotation this year. Just images. Perhaps words would be better.
The students have done great work, though, honestly, and most of them do use words like connotation correctly. They’ve dug up some fascinating websites. Look at Playmusicmagazine, for instance, discussed by Tom Henrik, who was a a well-established blogger long before signing up for my class. Isn’t that an astonishingly retro, remediated look for a website? The students had to come up with a question about the website which their analysis was supposed to answer, and my favourite question so far was about a brewery’s website. Beamish is a brand of Irish stout that ran a campaign in Ireland last year proclaiming “Beamish Consistency” – you can always rely on Beamish, was the idea. So Daniel’s question was whether the Beamish website could be said to have a “Beamish Consistency”.
His conclusion is no. Unfortunately not. But I love that creativity. I love it when people mix knowledge gleaned from several spheres of life.