Rule # 1: Don't Panic!
Hoping that you are on your way into the literature...seriously, a Blockseminar only makes sense if you guys read all texts before we meet...I want to drop a short line on the material we'll cover.

First of all, we are currently six students, so the course will definitely take place. I am glad that you joined the course, as students in EI tend to stick to what they know, especially if it happens to take place between Tuesdays and Thursdays around 1 pm. ;)

Possibly the style I used in the syllabus scared some off--though in that case they seem to have ignored the fourth sentence from the top (not a good sign), in which I point out that the syllabus is a collection of rules that will allow us to have more fun in class.
Many people also have problems with a Blockseminar, though I personally always thought it a great thing to take an extra course with my own pace of preparation during the semester.

Our fabulous reader is HERE, and you can pick it up at Frau Niegsch's office. The reader contains ALL short texts and a bunch of secondary literature, with short intros telling you what to do with it.

As I said before, please have ALL texts read BEFORE you come to class, this is really important. We only have a few hours on this or that text, with presentations and discussions we probably won't have time to read the texts in class.

You can read far more effectively in your own space and with all your resources at hand to answer any questions you have about the texts, you can take notes, look up vocabulary, etc...

The order of the texts you read does not matter, though I did structure the course in this way: usually AR courses start with Emerson as the forefather of it all, but he is rather abstract and philosophical, so I chose an easier author, at least more readable one first, namely Hawthorne, who is a good introduction.
I personally think Hawthorne - Thoreau - Emerson - Whitman - Melville is a good order, just because Hawthorne is a good read and his texts can be easily remembered, Thoreau is fun and lively, then you need some more abstract foundations for the texts in the form of Emerson, followed by the radical innovator Whitman, and everything culminates in the masterpieces by Melville. Again, this is an idea, you don't NEED to do this, and if you are well into Moby Dick, then go on reading, but make sure you read the info I posted on the blog on how to read effectively and with our course goals in mind. The texts don't really build on each other, but their ideas and concepts mix and connect.

Please do not hesitate to drop me a line if you have any further questions, go ahead and read the material I put online to help you on the blog, use the blog as a platform and contact each other and me if you need any help.

Now, obviously there are "simpler" and "more complex" texts. Already, I put these terms in quotation marks, but at least when it comes to readability, be it syntactically or psychologically, there are vastly different texts here.

Now mind you, it's all good, we are all friends here, and you've got somebody the good German tax payers invested a lot of money into to be able to help you through this stuff.

They all, as we say in German "kochen auch nur mit Wasser"!

So whether it is a novel, poem, or article, don't panic, we'll get it sorted out, just don't worry.

Make sure you follow a common approach of literary studies:

-Read the foreword of your edition. Ideally buy editions that have a good foreword, written by someone in the field. There are decent ones, and usually big publishers will take the time to look for someone qualified. If you want to, check out the Norton Critical Edition or similar, they come pre-loaded with a ton of footnotes, explanations, references, criticism, and other valuable material.
-Look at the text's structure (books, chapters, sections, verses, ...) and keep it in mind when reading the text. How does the structure relate to the content? Also, check when the text was first published and quickly browse the major historical facts of that time, what was on people's minds and does the text relate to events? If no, then why not?
-Rest assured that nothing "just happens to be written like that" in texts we assign you in literature classes, so if something seems strange, note it down and ask, it probably is something important. If the text(s) "fight back," if they are resisting your reading of them in any way (syntax, lexicon, content, characters, message), reflect on that too. Authors are aware of the option of making a text difficult or strange to read, and we want to watch ourselves read texts.

For our course, also look at the links I provided and let us all here know if you found a good site online, we will surely appreciate it!

It is important, however, for you to dive in and really sink your teeth into these texts, to wrestle with them, write down your questions, and so forth, so let's go.