Second week of classes, and I'm still in search of the right rhythm. As I mentioned before, this is our first semester on an entirely new schedule: hour-long sessions have dropped to fifty minutes, ninety-minute sessions to seventy-five, and three-hour sessions to two-and-one-half. You wouldn't think that losing ten minutes (or more) would have that much impact, and yet.
In my case, the problem is not so much taking a completely-scripted lecture and whacking ten minutes out of it, because that's not how I lecture.* I reserve that type of script for situations in which I need to deliver substantial quantities of factual content. Instead, my notes tend to be skeletons, used either to extemporize or to stimulate student discussion. Or, to put it differently, they're maps. For example, from today's class on The Castle of Otranto:
Effect of clashing erotic desires as the narrative continues on? (Theodore and Matilda, 72-74; love interferes in the relationship between Isabella and Matilda, 86-89; Theodore’s relative disinterest in his father, as compared to Matilda, 92-93; Frederic’s desire for Matilda, 96, 100, and his rebuke by the ghost, 105-6; Manfred’s accidental murder of Matilda, 108)
Which led us to discuss the role of intense desire in the novel and its usually dangerous moral/intellectual effects; passion vs. reason; the repeated calls for patriarchal authority vs. the novel's men acting like addled teenagers (if the teenagers were murderous...); and so forth. I know what I want to say, and I know where I would like the students to arrive at the end of class, but most of my "dialogue" in class emerges from the process of asking questions and then responding to the answers.
The problem, then, is trying to identify what can't be discussed, now that those ten minutes have gone missing. (I wanted to talk about interruptions today, but was, er, interrupted.) Lecture-with-discussion, after all, tends to be an amorphous sort of being: what if the students wind up having nothing to say? I've been momentarily bounced back to my early years of teaching, when I would consistently overestimate how much we could do in the space of an hour. Notes for a fifty-minute session just look embarrassingly skimpy, even though there's almost certainly too much on the plate.
*--Which is why the whole "hey, just turn your lectures into podcasts and stow 'em on the web" would not work so well.