The first Joseph Conrad Society of America panel at the 1997 MLA convention in Toronto was held on the afternoon of 29 December and was entitled "Teaching Conrad's 'The Secret Sharer'." Brian Shaffer, who put together a similar panel on "Heart of Darkness" at the 1990 MLA, was the organizer and moderator. This well-attended session featured four provocative papers, response by Hunt Hawkins, and a series of insightful and probing questions from the floor directed at the panelists and the discussant. The first paper, " 'The Secret Sharer' as an Act of Memory," was delivered by Daniel Schwarz of Cornell University. (Professor Schwarz recently published The Bedford Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism edition of Conrad's "The Secret Sharer.") This wide-ranging paper was followed by "Historicizing the Homoeroticism in 'The Secret Sharer'," a provocative look at the history of homoerotic readings of this tale, and what we should make of the readings, by Richard Ruppel of Viterbo College. The session's third paper, by Brian Richardson of the University of Maryland, College Park, was "Learning the Conventions of Interpretation:'The Secret Sharer' and Narrative Analysis." This insightful, theoretical contribution elicited the most responses from the floor. The fourth paper, "On Screen: Student Access to 'The Secret Sharer'," by S. W. Reid of Kent State University, offered practical teaching approaches for those using audio-visual aids in class, especially a projected hypertext edition. In all, the panel furthered the discourse on teaching one of Conrad's most studied and popular short fictions. We hope that this panel, and the earlier one in 1990, will lead to an MLA volume Teaching Approaches to Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and "The Secret Sharer".
as reported in
Joseph Conrad Today,
Volume XXIII, Nos. 1-2,
Publication of the Joseph Conrad Society of America, 1998