Jane Austin on Board
|Robin Mooney, Brandi Unruh, Susan Schreiner, Jamie Fenoglio, & Lora Winters|
Upper level university English literature classes aren’t usually much for fun and games.
Pittsburg State University English professor Paul McCallum changed that recently when he allowed students in his English 7 7 1 (Major Authors) class to choose their class projects rather than write major literary papers.
The results surprised them.
“Three sets of students decided to design board games,” McCallum said. “I was expecting something on felt with plastic game pieces, but they turned in something altogether different and altogether wonderful.”
The class focused on Jane Austen, who remains a popular author despite the fact that she died nearly 200 years ago.
A team composed of Jamie Fenoglio, Lora Winters and Brandi Unruh created “Jane Austen The Board Game,” working on it most of the spring semester.
“We worked really hard to make it fun,” Winters said.
Unruh said their game mixed questions on Austen, the books and movies made from them, as well as pop culture of her time.
Susan Schreiner created an Austen trivia game.
“It’s definitely for the person who knows Austen well,” she said. “I’ve got 445 questions in 10 categories, including her novels, her times, her life, the movies and her other writing from her juvenilia to her unfinished novel.”
It sounds impressive, by Schreiner said that she actually fell short of her goal.
“I should have had 500 questions,” she said.
In Trivial Pursuit, those who answer a question correctly receive a colored wedge and have to fill up a pie shape with them.
“In my game, you collect little books and fill up a bookshelf,” Schreiner said.
“And they ’re cute little books,” McCallum added.
Robin Mooney named her game “Playing Jane.
“It’s accessible or those who have not read all Austen’s novels,” she said. “I wanted something my nieces and nephews could eventually play . It covers each of the novels equally and the era in which she lived.”
It’s unlikely than any of the games will ever be commercial available, but Unruh said she had gotten a teaching job and might use her game to introduce Jane Austen to her students.
“We could put them in the display case as a museum piece from when there were giants,” McCallum said.
And they might go on display at Axe Library for a time as well.
But Schreiner reminded him that there are other good projects in the class as well, and McCallum said that was true.
“There was a cooking demonstration, with two students fixing Austen dishes, and there was a presentation on the architecture of Austen’s time,” he said. “There was also an equestrian demonstration, which was presented on film. We wanted to bring the horse into the classroom, but it would have taken two trips in the elevator to get it there.”
He said the Austen class, which is a night class, typically has about 10 students. This semester he had 24.
So why is Austen still so popular after nearly two centuries?
“She was quite a satirical author, and had a lot to say about the society of her time,” McCallum said
--By NIKKI PATRICK
The Pittsburg Morning Sun
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