I just got an email that brought this new interdisciplinary group to my attention. I thought some of us may be interested, so here it is!
Title: Graduate Interdisciplinary Group in Sexuality Studies Open Forum > Date: Wednesday, December 2, 2009 > Time: 10:00 am to 11:30 am > Location: Appleby Hall 41 > > We would like to invite all interested faculty, graduate students, > and scholars to join us for an organizational meeting to discuss > ideas for promoting interdisciplinary teaching and research on > Sexuality Studies at the University of Minnesota. A more extensive > description of the group is attached. > > We have been given some financial support to fulfill this mission > and we ask you to join us at this meeting - either in person or > electronically - with ideas on using the allocated funds. Perhaps we > could bring in speakers, artists, have discussion groups, retreats, > workshops, etc. Please forward this invitation to other graduate > students and faculty members. > > Please RSVP to Beng Chang, either by email email@example.com or call > (612) 626-2562. Also feel free to contact me if you have any > questions, comments, or suggestions.
NAME OF GROUP:Graduate Interdisciplinary Group in Sexuality Studies
This interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students brings together their collective experiences, epistemologies, cultures and diverse perspectives from across the disciplines and colleges in an effort to better understand the social, historical, psychological, literary, legal, and political contexts in which human sexualities have been and are currently being expressed and theorized. This is an advanced discussion group focusing on the relation of gender and sexuality to structures of power and inequality.Our mission is to advance interdisciplinary teaching, research and advocacy in Sexuality Studies, as well as to promote sexual literacy, sexual well-being and social justice.Our goals include but are not limited to: promoting interdisciplinary and collaborative discussions and research; to provide a rich environment for graduate students from across the university to think through their projects in dialogue with experienced researchers; to supplement the educational experiences and training of graduate students interested in sexuality studies; to foster an atmosphere that is increasingly open to and excited about research addressing sexuality, gender, and GLBTQsociopolitical issues; to enhance and complement the educational missions of various departments and colleges; to investigate the ways that sexuality is shaped by social roles and intersecting or overlapping identities based on race, gender, dis(ability), nationality and socioeconomic class; and to enhance and enrich the students' regular curriculum opportunities by exposing them to expertise in a truly interdisciplinary forum that will position them to compete on the academic job market or in professional fields where such training is vital.
The proposed activities would provide a forum for graduate students from across the disciplines to interact with an interdisciplinary group of faculty members-many of whom they might not otherwise have a chance to meet, especially if they are working in non-interdisciplinary programs.As sexuality studies transcends the boundaries of single disciplines and colleges, we expect to draw in students from across the university.Because these issues and scholarly inquiries have global implications, it is important for students to have a strong interdisciplinary background from which to address questions around citizenship and the role of sexuality in determining varying relationships to power that influence not just our personal but also our social, economic and political lives.Because expressions of sexuality differ across cultures, time and space it is imperative that students learn to carefully analyze the nature and effects of sexualities and socializations in order to produce new research instruments, theories, and practices. Clearly, the impact of such scholarship is or will be important in almost every academic discipline in universities around the globe.
Working on my syllabus and reading those of my group gave me
a very practical question about the implications of how we make available
readings for our classes. I know that some folks prefer to supply them online
so that students need not buy course packets, whereas others prefer the course
packets so that 1) students can bring them to class and 2) because it's cheaper
for students than printing each reading on their own. I'm interested in where
y'all fall in this debate, but I also have a series of other related questions
that relate to reproduction costs and ethics. Do any of you have answers or
know who might?
there different copyright and/or printing issues between WebCT, Moodle,
and the library's e-reserves?
determines the cost of reproducing essays in course packs? Especially if
I'm using essays that have appeared in multiple sources, are there reasons
to choose the original version vs. various anthologies?
the money actually go? Does it stay with the publisher or does it ever
reach the author?
are the political and/or ethical issues of avoiding reproduction fees (via
online distribution methods, etc.) when the authors we're using may be
under-published, under-supported, and under-paid? It may be one thing to
avoid paying fees when they'll only go to the publisher (like very old
texts), or for authors/publishers that run a racket, but "hiding" our
support for others may be detrimental to our intellectual communities and
forward to hearing what you ideas and experiences have been! Thanks!
I've been thinking about a central irony in feminist
pedagogical writing on the importance of valuing student voice and experience:
the absence of student voice in the writings themselves.My critique is not that there are "better"
articles not on the syllabus that do
incorporate student voice, but rather that such texts do not seem to exist (or
are extremely scarce).Plenty of
articles incorporate scenarios where the professor reportedly "makes sense" of
a classroom response with a student
in an office hour interaction, and certainly there are discussions centering on
student responses in the classroom that aim to theorize what classroom
happenings are "symptomatic" of.I have
also come across collaborative articles written by grad students critiquing a
grad seminar they took part in, and as we've seen, collaborative articles
written by professors--but where are the collaborative texts by students and professors?Certainly there
are institutional restraints on such processes (namely time and concerns about
what constitutes appropriate relationships with students), but this seems
like a very meaningful way to make students aware of the value of their input
and to claim a stake in their education.To clarify, I am not suggesting that including student voices would
allow for a more "real" picture of what is going on in the classroom (although...),
but what I am suggesting is that we miss out on a lot by speculating and
theorizing what worked/what didn't without working through these ideas with
other people who were involved (i.e. countering master narratives through partial perspective).I also raise this issue because I do plan on incorporating
student-reflections in my dissertation project that critiques the university's
model of multiculturalism, and I'm wondering what people think about the
possibilities, limitations, contradictions, and challenges of such ventures.
I just read this article by Merry Merryfield that discusses how she has used WebCT in her teacher education classes over 2 years with students from diverse cultures. Because the classes she taught were online she often had students from other states or countries enrolled and she wanted to see how the technology was used as a pedagogical tool. It reminded me of the blog in a way because similar discussions happened.
What I was surprised by was this: She and her TAs made sure that they posted a response to every entry and they set a number of minimum and maximum posts for each person in each threaded discussion so that one person could not monopolize. They found that this equalized the discussions online and that the course was qualitatively different from one where some dominate and others are silent. For whatever reasons, I know that our blog has some members who are more vocal/silent than others. Would adding these elements to future class blogs be too limiting? Is it an administrative nightmare to keep track of it all? Would it help equalize if everyone got at least one response to a post? Does that control add too many requirements and de-rail the nature of what a blog is supposed to be?
She also talks about the privacy of the secure discussions and how this closed online environment allows her students to take risks, admit to the realities of prejudice and discrimination or ask questions that they would otherwise censor. I have thought about this with the public nature of our blog and how I really think carefully before posting anything because it will be in public forever. What do you think? Do closed online environments aid in risk-taking or is there enough anonymity on a blog that doesn't identify last names?
Merryfield, M. (2003). Like a veil: Cross-cultural experiential learning online. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 3(2), 146-171.
I've been thinking about last week's practical activity on and off this week. Thanks Jess and Michelle for your hard work. The parts that have resonated with me the most were: the process of drawing on the board and the chance for all of us to voice our conceptions of dis/ability.
I appreciated the drawings and have been thinking about hangups many high school students have about their inability to draw. As a teacher, I often would draw diagrams on the board, and I would proudly draw my stick figures. On occasion I'd ask students to draw what they conceptualized about biology on the board - but I see a real power to this. A chance to stretch our usual way of thinking and learning in science class, away from words and vocabulary lists, and towards a different way to depict our understandings.
This lends very nicely to the content that we were discussing about access and dis/abilities. If nothing else, it reminds students about the various difficulties a school environment imposes on its students. And there is greater likelihood that it will lead deeper conversations about access at a school, increasing awareness, and empowering students to act on behalf of other students. Thanks - bb
In case you have misplaced it, here is the syllabus handout that I distributed in class during our syllabus workshop a few weeks ago. I will also post a link to it under "handouts" in the links section.
Here is what we decided about peer review groups last night (11.11):
a. On 12.2 you will meet in small groups (3-4 people) to discuss your syllabi. You will have about 35 minutes to discuss each syllabus. b. On 12.9 we will meet as a large group to discuss your syllabi and the process of putting together your readings, etc. c. Please bring 5 copies of the syllabus next week on 11.18 (1 for me + copies for you each group member). Also bring your 1-2 informal reflection about the process of putting together the syllabus (were there difficult choices that you had to make? are you especially excited about a certain assignment?). Included in this reflection is your definition of feminist pedagogy and how you implement it in the syllabus. d. Email me a pdf (not a .doc) of your syllabus so that I can make it available to everyone on WebCT. e. Make sure to carefully read and comment on your group members' syllabi prior to class on 12.2. f. If you include specific readings within your syllabus, you are not required to have an additional bibliography at the end of the syllabus.
We still have to decide how to break you up into peer groups. One option is for you all to email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your topic/title and I can put you into groups with similar interests. Another option is for you all to post your topic/title on the blog and then decide (via the blog or email) which groups you want to work in. You could them email me with your group. Any thoughts?
In yesterday's class about vulnerability and authority, I experimented with a couple of different ways to a. make myself vulnerable and b. let go of (share?) some authority as the professor:
I asked you all for advice on a teaching question
I encouraged you to turn your questions about the effectiveness of feminist pedagogy strategies onto our class by asking you to assess how we negotiate the various levels of knowledge about feminism/feminist theory/feminist pedagogy
During discussion, I remained silent so as to listen to what you all had to say
In what ways were these strategies effective? Not effective? Can you think of other methods for sharing authority? What about ways to ensure that you (as the teacher) are not too vulnerable?
Hi All! Per our conversation today, I thought I'd give you some more information about the Graduate Student Workers United group. This group is currently working on organizing a union for graduate student workers, and the issues that came up in class today would surely be relevant to future collective bargaining conversations. In addition, the GSWU publishes a monthly newsletter, and anyone interested in submitting an article (around 200 words) regarding their position as a grad student worker is strongly encouraged to do so!
GSWU meets every Thursday evening at 6pm in the Geography dept lounge (4th floor, Social Sciences Tower on the West Bank).
If you don't want to come to meetings but want to be involved in other ways (via the newsletter or other things) you can ask me or Melody H for more info!
I was curious whether posting feedback on a person's syllabus report would "count" as a blog post? Could it count as directly replying to a fem pedg question? Or "your choice?"
I feel like I'm now directing my blog writing to what I have to "fulfill" still via the blog assignment.
For example, I may choose to only post "your choice" posts to fulfill that part of the assignment, and stop replying to peoples' pedg questions (to be efficient at the very least). Which is fine, right, because that is part of the assignment...but just seeing where any flexibility would be.
(Note: This 200 word thing is hard! This is not the most eloquent entry and it's 54 words over the limit, not including this disclaimer! eek!)
These readings reminded me that I was taught things as an undergrad (in progressive, feminist-agenda'd courses) that were highly un-nuanced, and completely underestimated my ability to understand complicated ideas. For example, I did not really have an understanding of "post-structuralism" until grad school. On a less theoretical level, there is also the issue of teaching things that seem "good" but might actually be kind of "bad," depending on how radical one's politics are. The hate-crime bill that Obama just signed, for example, seems like a good thing, right? Trans and queer folk cannot be made victims of violence without the law stepping in to label it as a hate crime and "punish" the perpetrator. But when looking at the history of actual hate-crime legislation, it does very little to prevent crimes from occurring, and generally just acts as another way to give the state more power (often just "counting" the number of LGBTQ folks that have been victims of violence), and often puts more trans and queer folk of color in prison (a straight person could be hate-crimed by a queer person due to claims of sexual discrimination). A similar conflict is brought up between Fisher and Mohanty's respective take on affirmative action. My question is, how do professors with radical politics present nuanced views of liberal ideas while still allowing students to grasp foundational understandings of social justice issues? How can you be critical of things like hate-crime legislation and affirmative action without confusing undergrads who may have barely encountered the liberal perspective?
After reading, "TA/TG: The Pedagogy of the Crossed Dressed,"
I was totally in love with it. Beyond that, I noticed it was published by Bad Subjects,
which always seems to have bad ass articles. Bad Subjects is also a
public-access website...which made me think of open access journals (which BA
practically is). I recently attended a COGS meeting, in which a librarian came
in and schooled us on the concept of open access databases and journals. So I
know enough about open access to abuse my 200 word limit. We could talk more in
class, but my question is:
concept of open access a form of feminist pedagogy? Would open access journals
privilege any subsection of the academy?
a question about troublemaking too:Do
you think that certain troublemaking creates a space for retribution? It seems
like some of the trouble I make in academia and elsewhere could cause me
serious problems--problems that would be rooted in misogyny and corporate greed.
I just find that there are pressures I feel as a female troublemaker that men
may not feel...
November 17, 2009
11:30 am - 1:00 pm
Carlson (CSOM) Private Dining Room
Kristi Rudulius-Palmer and Natela Jordan will
discuss "This is My Home," an innovative web tool designed to help
educators locally, nationally and internationally teach human rights in
a multicultural context.
Walt Jacobs will discuss making digital stories -
short 3-5 minute videos that combine voice, images, text, and music to
preserve memory, write history, learn, entertain, organize, and heal in
various communities. He will detail both the process and outcomes of
making these digital stories.
RSVP to SEDAN@umn.edu as space is limited and lunch will be provided.
Note: I just RSVPd and there is still room for more. Anyone want to join me?
This opportunity was posted to one of my alumni listservs, and I thought some of you might be interested!
Call for Writers
Gender Across Borders (http://genderacrossborders.com),
a global feminist blog, is planning a series to run mid-December on
Women, Art and War. The site is currently soliciting writers to
contribute articles relating to this topic. If you enjoy writing and
have a passion for the visual or performing arts as well as women's
studies, international politics or human rights, this is a great
opportunity to put those interests to use. Articles may be on either
retrospective or contemporary subjects and may address the critical
concerns of the United States and/or abroad. Articles must be between
300 and 1500 words in length and would preferably include accompanying
images and outside links.
To apply, please submit your article along with a resume OR short description of background and interests to Roxanne at email@example.com or Abigail at firstname.lastname@example.org
by 10pm (CST) December 6th, 2009. Decisions will be made by December
13th, 2009 and all contributors must be available via email December
14th and 15th to participate in the editing and uploading process.
No previous professional writing or blogging experience necessary. College students and recent grads are encouraged to apply.
Please address any questions or concerns to the editors listed above.
In my research, I intentionally question how and why certain histor(iograph)ical
constructed (by white, male scholars) in the twentieth-century. In this way, I
see the project of my own research as inherently aligned with Caughie and
Pearce's project in their article, "Resisting "the Dominance of the Professor":
Gendered Teaching, Gendered Subjects." Caughie and Pearce question hegemonic authority
in the classroom through a dialogic analysis of Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own. The authors read
Woolf's discontinuous narrative form as a pedagogical model to be employed in
They outline, rather than the more traditional, patriarchal
model of educational authority, a model in which multiplicity, flexibility, and
overlapping voices are to be heard. Though I fully support their model for a classroom
where multiple, overlapping narratives are located and encouraged, I have a
harder time imagining how such a model should be mobilized in introductory courses where students might encounter certain topics for the first time.
In a university setting where prerequisites are increasingly rare,
students don't always come to the classroom with the same level of knowledge as
their classmates might. Some students are seniors fulfilling introductory-level
credits while others are freshmen in their first semester. So how can and should
instructors negotiate a classroom in which socially constructed narratives/norms
are reconsidered while simultaneously providing students with
information that may or may not be new to them? How might we present information
in such a way that it seems less "foundational," but still provides students
with a framework in which they can be critical and self-reflexive?
For those of you who are interested in how Jane Elliott de-briefs the blue-eyed/brown-eyed sessions, here is how she does it. This is from quite some time ago when she was working with corrections officers in a staff training. The first clipis to the set-up where she berates a man for not taking notes on listening skills (just like the first young woman from the clip we saw in class). The second clip is how she helps them work through it all. At the end she touches on her pedagogical choices and talks about the class reunion from her original experiment with her 3rd grade class (also on YouTube). She is apparently still doing this work. Her website gives some of her motivations for doing this type of work in this way. In addition to her original experiment with racism she lectures against sexism, ageism, homophobia, and ethnocentrism.
In your midterm evaluations, several of you mentioned that it is difficult to keep up with reading so many long blog entries. In response to this concern, I thought we could try an experiment (not required but strongly encouraged). Make your next entry or comment 200 words or less. Although I am (very) guilty of writing ridiculously long entries on my own trouble blog (like here), I have also experimented with a shorter form (see here for my explanation of this experiment and here for my attempts on my blog). So, can you do it?
I briefly mentioned this at the end of class last night. I would like to get your thoughts on how to do the syllabi peer review session/s. Here are two options:
1. Keep schedule as is with 2 full sessions for peer review. Each of you will get about 20 minutes for feedback from the entire class.
2. Reduce peer review to 1 session. You will break up into groups of 4 with each of you getting about 30 minutes to discuss your syllabus. The left over class will be an extra discussion session and a chance to add a few more readings on topics that we haven't discussed yet.
I am partial to option 2, but I wanted to get all of your feedback. Other options? If you are interested in 2, any suggestions for readings/topics that we haven't covered?
I've got a lot of dream syllabi, many of which I'll be
proposing over the next couple of months: Food and Literature; Reading/Writing
Illness; Literary Oddities & Outcasts; The Mississipppi River in American
Literature and Culture; Writing Geographies: Place, Space, and Landscape; and
Writing Processes & Generative Practices. Some of these classes I hope to
run at the Loft Literary Center or through the U's OLLI program. But for this
syllabus project, I figure I should go with the sure thing. I'm slated to teach
Introduction to Fiction Writing next semester, so here are my tentative
plans/concerns for that class.
Content/Canonicity: I'm considering including work by Margaret
Atwood, James Baldwin, John Barth, Charles Baxter, TC Boyle,A.S. Byatt, Italo Calvino, Angela Carter, Raymond Chandler, Anton
Chekhov, Kate Chopin, Junot Diaz, William Faulkner, Charlotte Perkins Gilman,
Ray Gonzalez, Ernest Hemingway, Amy Hempel, James Joyce, Jamaica Kincaid,
Maxine Hong Kingston, Jhumpa Lahiri., Kelly Link, Katherine Mansfield, Bobbie
Ann Mason, Lorrie Moore, Vladimir Nabakov, Tim O'Brien, Flannery O'Connor,
Dorothy Parker, Edgar Allan Poe, Katherine Anne Porter, George Saunders, Julie
Schumacher, Amy Tan, John Updike, Alice Walker, David Foster Wallace, Eudora
Welty, John Edgar Wideman, Jeanette Winterson, and Richard Wright. Clearly, I
need to whittle this list down and figure out exactly what kind of focus I want
this class to have.I know I want to
include some canonical texts (like Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants")
and some less traditional ones (like one of Kelly Link's stories). It's very
important to me to address, both implicitly and explicit, the bias towards
white male Christian writers that often is the norm in classes (at least,
classes that aren't already designated to cover "Multi-Cultural Lit" or "LGBT
Voices" or some other label like that). In part, I hope that the course's
reading list will become a kind of text, a focal point for talking about the
canon (in writerly terms, that is--whose voice is heard, whose is missing, what
kinds of cultural judgments are inherent in the canon, what the canon teaches
us about "good" writing and "worthy" voices, why and how we should struggle
against these prescribed lists and discover what else is out there). I'm also debating
whether to present the readings thematically around subject matter,
thematically around craft and technique, or from a critical/cultural
perspective--postmodern British women writers, contemporary genre writers,
etc--or if this will force unwanted binaries and further marginalization of
already understudied work.
Structure: My class meets three times a week for fifty
minutes each; this means (gulp) meeting 44 times over the semester. I've only
ever met once per week with any student group (with the exception of May
Session, which was 4x/week for 4 hours each meeting, but that only lasted 3
weeks). I'm struggling to figure out how to structure these classes. With only
50 minutes, it's hard to do much intensive work. I'm thinking about using
Mondays for close reading, Wednesdays for writing exercises, and Fridays for
either workshops, conferences, or getting out into the world and seeing where
fiction and literature overlap with other arts like visual art, music, and
theatre. But I worry that this kind of segmentation will only reinforce rigid
boundaries and undermine my attempt to elucidate connections among reading,
writing, and other creative processes.
Questions of Genre: Though this is billed strictly as a fiction
course, I plan to occasionally integrate poetry and creative nonfiction;
instead of being constrained by prescribed boundaries, I want to encourage
students to find points of overlap and opportunities for transgression. I
believe the genres complement each other and want to encourage students to
read/write from this perspective as well (or at least give it a shot); I'll
include readingsofhybrid/short forms and cross-genre pieces and
assign writing exercises in the same.
Student-Centered Activities: Each student will be
responsible for leading a discussion on a short story once during the semester.
They'll sign up early in the semester. I may also assign students to lead
workshops for others' work; however, every student will be responsible for
writing a letter to the writer of the piece being workshopped, offering
constructive feedback and suggestions for revision. Finally, since I'm planning
on using an anthology, I'll ask students to select pieces they want to read in
addition to the pieces I've assigned (I guess they could find pieces from
outside the anthology as well). So, I'll be able to revise the syllabus w/in
the first 2 weeks to reflect the stories that my students are most interested
in reading, and they'll see their interests and preferences reflected in the
(semi-) permanent document of the class syllabus.
Other Possibilities: I may ask students to pick one novel
from a list of 10 or so; the students will be responsible for reading and
responding to the novel of their choice (I may also incorporate a
presentation/led discussion as well). Another possibility is giving students
the option to work in a volunteer capacity at a reading enrichment or literacy
program around the cities; they could do this instead of one of their major written
assignments, though they'd still have to turn in a written assessment of their
Tone: Given some of our earlier discussions on whether to
include "feminist pedagogy" as a guiding term on the syllabus, I've been
thinking carefully about what kind of authority I want to convey in the syllabus,
through tone/language/etc. I do think it's always possible to go "nicer" or "easier"
but never a good idea to become stricter or harder. I've been gathering syllabi
from other graduate students who have taught this course, and I'm learning a
lot about what I do and do not want to convey in my syllabus. I can share this
info during workshop or in my draft reflection, or post them here if people are
interested in the specific examples.
I have many more questions & concerns but want to
spend some time really fleshing this out in proper syllabus form, looking more
closely at sample syllabi, and brushing up on how to actually teach fiction. I'm
a poet first and foremost, and I've have dabbled in nonfiction, primarily the
poetry-analogous lyric essay - I actually haven't taken a fiction class since
college! While I love to read modern and contemporary fiction, being a reader
and being a writer/teacher of writing require two totally different outlooks
and skill sets. I feel like a bit of a sham teaching this class, but I'm also
really excited to take on the challenge and hope to learn as I go along.
Here's what I've got so far in terms of my syllabus. It is a dream syllabus, the idea of which is based on that of one of my favorite undergrad professors, who would occasionally say that some day, he would really like to teach a class called "The Bad Asses of Art History." Granted, what I have right now is still very incomplete. Nevertheless, here is my attempt to capture, in my own way, the spirit of "The Bad Asses of Art History." Any comments, suggestions, or questions would be most welcome.
Title: Art History: Sites of Resistance, Interruption, and Repair
Department: Art History
Level: mid-level undergraduate
Prerequisites: Intro to Art History
Overview: This course seeks to provide a sampling of various artists across the globe and history who, in their work, have resisted, problematized, or called into question oppressive hegemonic practices specific to their background. More specifically, this class will focus on artists whose work deals with racism, sexism, homophobia, colonization, and classism. An understanding of the artists' cultural and historical backgrounds, in addition to their specific station in life, will be necessary in understanding strategies employed to resist oppressive forces. My goal is that as a result of this course, students will view art, from various locations and time periods, as something that has the potential to be active, vibrant, and relevant to social struggles. Additionally, I hope that this course serves as a supplement to canonical art history; there will be special attention brought to gender, race, class, and queer perspectives.
Methodology: Taught with a focus on feminist pedagogy, this course not only examines artists who have resisted various forms of oppression, but also assumes a critical stance toward the methods and institutions of canonical art history. As such, the methods of resistance as demonstrated by artists covered in this course will inform the way this course is taught and how we (instructor and students) write art history. How might the art historical classroom itself be a dynamic space of transgression, resistance, and cooperative learning? My hope is that students of art and art history (to whom this course will be primarily geared toward) may find points of intersection with the ideas and methods of this course and their own work, thus prompting students to put new strategies, ideas, and methods into action.
Assignments: Students will be assigned 3-5 articles or chapters to read per week.
Throughout the semester, 4 2-3 page analyses of artworks will be assigned, which are meant to act as preparation for the final project.
Final project: Design your own exhibition! The final "virtual exhibition" must include 8-15 artworks, which relate to each other according to a common theme, to be determined by the student. Accompanying this project will be a 7-11 page program/paper. This program should include not only pertinent information about each artwork on its own terms (i.e. visual analysis, biographic detail of the artist, etc), but it should also critically engage with the implications of the exhibition as an ensemble. How do the artworks relate to each other? How do they relate to the space in which they are shown? How do the artists' objectives compliment or augment each other? Is this exhibition meant to answer questions or raise them?
Artists I am thinking of talking about in class: Kara Walker, Fred Wilson, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Yoko Ono, Hildegard of Bingen.
I realize I am a bit late with
this, but for the longest time I couldn't decide whether I am going to design a
syllabus for a course I might possibly teach here in the next couple of years,
or design my own 'dream course'. Seeing that I will be probably TAing till my
Prelims next Fall, and thus probably not teach a course till Spring 2011, I
eventually decided to let myself go ahead and imagine a course that I'd really
like to teach at some point - taking into account the practical opportunities
and constraints of doing it at the U.
Though I (think I) know what I
want to do with the course, I am having a difficult time coming up with the
title, which has to do with the nature of the course itself. Broadly speaking,
I want to design a course that looks at the intersections and co-constitution
of gender and caste in postcolonial South Asia. I envisage the course as being
cross-listed for graduate students in South Asia studies (under the Asian
Languages and Literatures department in the U.) as well as in the GWSS
department, and would like to design it in a way that both retains its
area-specific focus as well as a 'broader' theoretical interest for Feminist
Studies graduate students. One way to do this could be by bridging the
literature on intersectionality and the Postcolonial feminist scholarship that
challenged the universalizing category of 'woman' with theories of global
modernity and historical time. To unpack that statement: unlike, say, gender
and race or gender and class, the co-implications of gender and caste have been
undertheorized and neglected at least in the metropolitan academia. One big
reason, it seems to me, is that unlike race or class, caste has been seen in a
lot of older literature as a 'relic' of premodernity, the survival of brute
tradition into the 'enlightened present'. This of course dovetails with
developmentalist theories of modernization that paint certain regions of the
world as backward or lagging behind others, and caste in South Asia becomes a
paradigmatic case; apart from being colonizing this approach is also
ineffective for it might prompt righteous anger against caste discrimination
but does little to explain, for instance, the role of gendered caste
hierarchies into making labor pools for contemporary global capitalism, and the
role of capitalism itself in reforming and (in some cases) reinforcing caste
structures. More recent scholarship in Subaltern Studies and Postcolonial
Studies has questioned the modernity-tradition binaries that 'caste' as an
analytical category seems to be often caught in, but gender and caste are still
relatively understudied with an emerging academic literature (of course,
'outside' academia there is a long and vibrant tradition of writing by lower
caste or Dalit women, some of it accessible but much of it untranslated into
English). Bringing the literature on intersectionality and postcolonial
feminism in conversation with the older and more recent scholarship on caste
seems (to me) to be theoretically exciting.
As for practical considerations,
the course would have to have both sufficient background information so as to
not throw off those new to the context of South Asia, but not go on with it so
much that those who aren't get bored. Possibly the first (or second, actually)
week would be thus spent in doing the more 'basic' stuff and giving the
historical context; then on we would plunge into the theoretical literature
that could lay the ground for more specific reflections. I wish this to lead up
to two crucial texts that reflect on gender and caste, one the pioneering 1989
anthology Recasting Women (ed.s
Kumkum Sangari and Sudesh Vaid) and the other Gender and Caste (edited by Anupama Rao), coming almost two decades
later in 2007. I am debating whether to place these texts near the end of the
course or somewhere in the middle; this would of course also depend on how I am
able to bring together and place the different literatures in relation to each
other. I envisage that doing the pacing logically such that students can both
keep up and make connections would be the greatest challenge for designing a
course like this, which thus requires me to lay out a detailed conceptual
schema at the outset for the sake of my own and the students' clarity, rather
than keeping it flexible. But this raises the other challenge, that is to
balance the lecture component with space for student discussion and
intervention, given that many of the concepts that we will be working through
(like intersectionality for instance) haven't been exhausted in gender/caste
studies at all and thus there is much scope for fresh conceptual linkages and
insights - the excitement of which I want my students to sense, as a process in
which they would be encouraged to participate.
I am perhaps rambling on at this
point and a lot of the thought is preliminary, thus any suggestions and
comments would be most welcome.
This is going to be very brief, but I'm curious to know if anyone has either considered or done this in the past. I'm thinking about not having paper handouts of my syllabus (because it's getting to be pretty darn long) to give to students in the future, but instead would post them online, probably on a Moodle site, for the students to access/print as they choose. I know a number of professors who do both, but in the interest of saving paper, I really feel like not having a printed syllabus for every student would reduce paper waste at the end of the semester and created by those students who don't continue in the course and drop after a few weeks. I know this sort of an act would support an eco-feminist viewpoint (I'm thinking of Michelle's work, here), but is there anything inherently anti-feminist about not providing students with paper syllabi? Is this a form of witholding information from them or not? I'd appreciate your thoughts. Thanks!
I just added a few more items to our extra readings folder on WebCT:
a. Chandra Talpade Mohanty. "On Race and Voice: Challenges for Liberal Education in the 1990s." b. Mary Bryson/Suzanne de Castell. "Queer Pedagogy: Practice Makes Im/Perfect." c. Emi Koyama, Dr. Lisa Weasal, ISNA. "Teaching Intersex Issues: A Guide for Teachers in Women's, Gender, and Queer Studies." d. Tre Wentling, Elroi Windsor, Kristen Schilt, Betsy Lucal. "Teaching Transgender." e. Kathryn Conrad and Julie Crawford. "Passing/Out: The Politics of Disclosure in Queer-Positive Pedagogy." f. Meyer, Elizabeth J. "But I'm Not Gay: What Straight Teachers Need to Know about Queer Theory."
Please let me know if there any sources that you would like me to add to our extra readings folder. Also, if there are any topics in feminist pedagogy that you want to more about, post a request here on the blog. Happy reading!
I knew this would happen. I would start constructing my syllabus and not stop. So, here it is thus far. I need to work on filling in full citations for the readings and other random blanks. Any feedback, input, thoughts, reactions would be great!
Feminism and Pornography Studies
(I have been extremely influenced by the teaching,
mentoring, and class content of Katinka Hoojer. This syllabus is a huge reflection
of her impact on my life.)
cultural/media studies course
Overview: In this class, we will study pornography as a form
of media (just like we study TV, films, and music). This course is rooted in
cultural media studies. The history of Western feminism and the feminist porn
debates of the 1980s/90s will be the basic framework for this class. The class
content will force you into uncomfortable realms including: the sex industry, feminism,
understanding agency, (your own) sexuality, sexual performance, race, and
class. We will be consuming a variety of pornography and visiting cultural
sites of the sex industry. Each of you will get something different out of
class, depending on your life experiences. I hope that you will come out of
this class with a greater understanding of how feminism has informed, impacted,
and understood the pornography and sex industry.
1. You must respect the sexual orientation and sexual
preferences of all classmates.
are the recorders and reporters of facts-not the judges of the behaviors we
2. Be aware of your privilege when participating in class.
3. I encourage an open and honest dialogue in this class.
Please respect our classmates' narratives by refraining from speaking of the
narratives outside of class.
4. Utilize your emotions when reading for this class. Take
notes on the readings, focusing on how you are reacting to the arguments and
narratives we read.
Bring Your Own Porn (BYOP)
Themed response papers
Midterm- Sex toy shop analysis:
You will visit Smitten Kitten and Sex World. Interact with
the products for sale. Talk with the shop owners. Observe who is in the store.
Observe your feelings in the store. Submit an essay that compares your
experience in the two sex toy stores. The frame of your analysis must be
partially informed by class readings.
Strip club reflection:
We will be visiting a strip club, of the class's choosing. You
will write an honest reflection of your experience. Please integrate class
content and readings into your reflection.
Final- Build your own sex industry:
You will write a proposal for a unique sex industry structure.
You should reflect on class content, discussion, readings, and feminist theory
to support your proposal. It does not need to fit nicely in our current
society. For example, it does not need to be structured about capitalism. Some
things to consider: What would your sex industry look like? Who would be the
consumers and producers? What type of pornography would it include?
Assigned readings: Most readings will be compiled in a
course reader (available for pick up at locally owned print shop). The cost
will be $30. Some readings will be posted on WebVista. You are responsible for
buying a copy of Hustler and Playboy.
Legal note: Child pornography is deemed illegal to possess
in this state. You are not allowed to bring child pornography to class. You
will also be required to sign a waiver to participate and attend this class.
From the looks of it, I've been constructing my syllabus a bit differently. I've had fun reading through past syllabi, anthologies, and papers to construct a tentative list that will be reshaped once I try to practically place these readings into weekly course meetings. I like to start big, by making a list of everything that I would like to teach related to this topic at this moment in time. From here, I try to group these readings into themes and/or to place them in dialogue with each other. Then reluctantly decide what pieces might be "unnecessary," redundant, or hard to engage in the classroom. I'll admit it, I hate making my vision "fit" into seemingly arbitrary schedules of days and hours, so I resist this until I cannot resist any longer. I DO realize these are not arbitrary and ARE important for the flow, tone, and interconnections enabled by course discussions/schedules, but they do "interrupt" the thought processes I want my students to undertake and I find that coming to terms with this can be a painful process.
Because I am envisioning this syllabus to fit under GWSS 3xxx "Women's Contemporary Fiction," I feel like the course title is broad enough to allow for the focus on the politics of reading we will engage throughout the course. I have tentatively divided my readings into four thematic sections: "Politics of Language," "Feminist Reading Praxis," "Institutional Positionings," and "Testimonio." Although the last section is the one to engage with the most creative pieces, I do add creative pieces throughout in order to explore the theoretical issues raised through them.
Politics of Language
Anzaldúa, Gloria."How to Tame a Wild Tongue."Borderlands/La
Frontera:The New Mestiza.San Francisco:Aunt Lute Books, 1987.
Jordan, June."Nobody Mean More to Me Than You and the
Future Life of Willie Jordan."
Feminist Reading Praxis
Allen, Paula Gunn."Kochinnenake in Academe:Three Approaches to Interpreting a Keres
Indian Tale."The Sacred Hoop.
Dimock, Wai-Chee."Feminism, New Historicism, and the
Reader."Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism.Ed. Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price
Herndl.New Brunswick:Rutgers UP, 1997.
hooks, bell."Theory as Liberatory Practice."Teaching
to Transgress.New York: Routledge,
Schweickart, Patrocinio P."Reading Ourselves: Toward a Feminist Theory
of Reading."Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism.Ed. Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price
Herndl.New Brunswick:Rutgers UP, 1997.
Abel, Elizabeth."Black Writing, White Reading:Race and the Politics of Feminist
Interpretation." Feminisms: An Anthology
of Literary Theory and Criticism.Ed. Robyn R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl.New Brunswick:Rutgers UP, 1997.
Alcoff, Linda."The Problem of Speaking for Others."
Christian, Barbara."The Race for Theory."
Dingwaney, Anuradha and Carol Maier."Translation as a Method for Cross-Cultural
Teaching."Between Languages and
Cultures: Translation and Cross-Cultural Texts.Eds. Anuradha Dingwaney and Carol Maier.Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1995.
hooks, bell."The Oppositional Gaze."
Mohanty, Chandra Talpade."Under Western Eyes."Feminism
Without Borders.Durham: Duke
University Press, 2003.
---."Under Western Eyes Revisited."Feminism
Without Borders.Durham: Duke
University Press, 2003.
Beverly, John."On Testimonio."De/colonizing the Subject: The Politics of
Gender in Women's Autobiography.Ed.
Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson.Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992.
Leigh."The Limits of
Autobiography."The Limits of
University Press, 2001.
and Valerie Smith."Feminism and
Cultural Memory."Signs 28:1 (2002): 1-19.
Edwidge DanticatKrik? Krak!
Ifeona."Caribbean Women Writers and the
Politics of Style: A Case for Literary Anancyism."Small Axe 9:1 (2005): 64-79.
Traditional Beliefs and Popular Culture in Edwidge Danticat's Breath, Eyes,
Memory and Krik? Krak!"MaComére 3
Helen."Reading the Text in its Worldly
Situation: Marxism, Imperialism, and Contemporary Caribbean Women's
Literature."Postcolonial Text: 2.1 (2006).
Nawal el Sadaawi, Woman at Point Zero
Fedwa."Writing Nawal el Saadawi."Feminism
Beside Itself.Ed. Diane Elam and Robyn Wiegman.New
York: Routledge, 1995: 283-296.
Mitra, Indrani and Madhu Mitra."The Discourse of Liberal Feminism and Third
World Women's Texts: Some Issues of Pedagogy."College Literature 18:3
Mine Okubo, Citizen 13660
Readings from Following Her Own Road: "Gestures of
Nora Strejilevich, A Single, Numberless Death
S."The Case for and Case History of
Women's Testimonial Literature in Latin America."Woman as Witness:Essays on Testimonial Literature by Latin
American Women.Ed. Linda S. Maier and
Isabel Dulfano.New York: Peter Lang,
I'm at a crossroads in my syllabus planning.I had a pretty good start a few weeks back,
however, now I just keep dreaming.So
far I'm preparing a syllabus for a class I've taught before and may teach again.But perhaps I should think about the course
that I dream of... teaching science educators when I complete my doctoral
However, the department I work and study in is considering
reworking the sequence of the licensure course offerings for science education
this coming summer.With that said, I've
started to rethink what this fall methods course could look like.I've been thinking about how it could be
tweaked in addition to how much feminist pedagogies I'd like hidden and revealed in the syllabus.
The course is Middle School Science Methods for graduate
students in the post-baccalaureate program at the U.Some of the assignments that I've used in the
past I'd continue to use. Changes I'd like to make include: increasing the
number and kinds of personal narratives in journaling assignments, reducing the
structure around lesson planning - allowing students the opportunity to find a
method that works for them rather than prescribing a process, linking their
observations to understanding culturally-relevant pedagogies and critical
feminist pedagogies, and rather than relying on a textbook for readings, using
the educational research literature to meet the needs of student understanding
of the important concepts of science education (see bibliography listed).
Assignments related to methods
1. Discrepant Event/Demonstration= (15%)(BOT standard 1-10)
and write-up a discrepant event and demonstrate in class. The demonstration should be made
relevant to a middle school science concept and be presented in an enthusiastic style. Write-up
due day of presentation with 5 copies for distribution. Keep to 10 minutes or less. Post on
Moodle. Part I Due Date, Part II Due Date.
2. Clinical Interview = (25%).(BOT standard 1-4, 6-10)
Conduct, and present Findings of a clinical interview with 4 middle school
students, 2 boys and 2 girls.Components of the interview must include:
Interview Plan=10; Brief Description
of Students=5; Sample of the interview
in the form of a transcription=10; and the Implications
of the Interview for science
instruction=10. See Moodle and planning book for details. In class presentation
10 minutes or less.Presentations start on date.Write-up Due Date.
3. Original Observation Form = (10%).(BOT standard 1, 3-7, 10 )
Develop your ideal teacher
observation/evaluation form with your partner.Due Date.
4. Unit 1 Lesson Plan/Reflection = (30%). (BOT standard 1-9)
5. Unit 2 Lesson Plan and Reflections = (20%).(BOT standard
Due Dec. 4.
Assignments related to practicum:
Journal Assignments = (30%).(BOT standard 1-10)
complete five (5) journal assignments about different aspects of teaching
middle school science and being a science educator. These assignments should
always include your thoughts and reflections about the assignment as it
pertains to your middle school experience and what you have learned in class
and from our readings. These assignments should be one page in length (500
words), maximum of 2 pages (1000 words). The assignments will be posted on Moodle
and you must respond to one student's posting (minimum 250 words). see calendar for due dates
Guided Observation Forms = (20%).(BOT standard 1-10)
complete guided daily observations entries during the first three weeks of your
placement. These will be evaluated based on thoroughness and relationship to
experience. Due Date.
Video Review = (10%) (BOT
second teaching experience, your partner will videotape your teaching. Using
the form provided,
you will need to critique one of your lessons. Due Date.
Teaching = (40%).(BOT standard 1-10)
You will be
engaged in microteaching twice during the semester. Each microteaching should
be 3-5 days long. A
University Supervisor will observe you a minimum of once during each of your
microteaching experiences. Due Dates
A list of readings that I have encountered and would plan to
use (but have not sequenced or weeded out yet) includes:
Science Education as it
related to girls in science:
Bailey, B. L., Scantlebury,
K. C., & Johnson, E. M. (1999). Encouraging the beginning of equitable
science teaching practice: Collaboration is the key. Journal of Science
Teacher Education, 10(3), 159-173.
Barmby, P., Kind, P.M., &
Jones, K. (2008). Examining changing attitudes in secondary school science. International Journal of Science Education,
Beghetto, R.A. (2007).
Factors associated with middle and secondary students' perceived science
competence. Journal of Research in
Science Teaching, 44(6) 800-814.
Calabrese Barton, A., Tan, E., &
Rivet, A. (2008). Creating hybrid spaces for engaging school science among
urban middle school girls. American Educational Research Journal, 45(1),
Calabrese Barton, A. (1998).Teaching science with homeless children:
Pedagogy, representation, and identity. Journal
of Research in Science Teaching, 35(4), 379-394.
Corbett, C., Hill, C., & St. Rose, A. (2008). Where the girls are: The facts about gender equity
education.Washington D.C.: AAUW.
Dentith, A. (2008). Smart
girls, hard-working girls but not yet self-assured girls: The limits of gender
equity politics. Canadian Journal of Education, 31(1), 145-166.
Greenfield, T.A. (1997). Gender- and grade-level differences
in science interest and participation. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Kahle, J. B., & Lakes, M. K. (1983). The myth
of equality in science classrooms. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 20(2), 131-140.
Lundeberg, M. A. (1997). You
guys are overreacting: Teaching prospective teachers about subtle gender bias.
Journal of Teacher Education, 48(1), 55-61.
Rennie, L. J. (1998). Gender
equity: Toward clarification and a research direction for science teacher
education. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(8), 951-961.
Sadker, M, & Sadker, D.
(1994).Failing at fairness: How our schools cheat girls. Simon &
Schuster: New York.
Science classrooms using fem ped
and feminist/critical/queer pedagogy related articles:
Capobianco, B. M. (2007). Science
teachers' attempts at integrating feminist pedagogy through collaborative
action research. Journal of Research in
Science Teaching 44(1), 1-32.
Eisenhart, M.A. & Finkel, E.
(1998).Women's science: Learning and succeeding from the margins.Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Eisenhart, M. Finkel, E. and Marion, S.F.
(1996).Creating the conditions for
re-examination.American Educational Research Journal 33(2), 261-295.
Ellsworth, E. (1989). Why doesn't
this feel empowering?: Working through the repressive myths of critical
pedagogy. Harvard Educational Review, 59(3),
Freire, P. (1970/1993). Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York:
(1994). Teaching to transgress: Education
as the practice of freedom. New York: Routledge.
E.V. (2002). Connecting girls and
science: Constructivism, feminism, and science
education reform. NewYork: Teachers College Press.
Johnson, A. G. (2006).Privilege,
power, and difference, 2nd ed.Boston: McGraw Hill.
Kleinman, S. S. (1998). Overview of
feminist perspectives on the ideology of science. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(8), 837-844.
Kimmel, M. (2006). A war against boys? Dissent, 65-70. Retrieved .....,
Kumashiro, K. (2002).Troubling
education: Queer activism and antioppressive pedagogy.
Falmer: New York.
Mayberry, M. (1998). Reproductive
and resistant pedagogies: The comparative roles of collaborative learning and
feminist pedagogy in science education.Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 35(4),
McLaren, P. (1989). Life in schools: An introduction to critical
pedagogy in the foundations of education. New York: Longman.
Richmond, G., Howes, E., Kurth, L.,
& Hazelwood, C. (1998). Connections and critique: Feminist pedagogy and
science teacher education. Journal of
Research in Science Teaching, 35(8), 897-918.
Strike, K.A. & Posner, G.J. (1985). A
conceptual change view of learning and understanding. In
T. West and A. L. Pines (Eds.), Cognitive
Structure and Conceptual Change (pp. 211-230). Orlando: Academic Press.
Von Secker, C. (2004).
Science achievement in social contexts: Analysis from National Assessment of
Educational Progress. Journal of
Educational Research, 98(2), 67-78.
Zozakiewicz, C., &
Rodriguez, A. J. (2007). Using socio-transformative constructivism to create
multicultural and gender-inclusive classrooms: An intervention project for
teacher professional development. Educational Policy, 21(2), 397-425.
I have decided to create a course for prospective school
administrators focusing on leadership development.This type of course is a requirement for
licensure and is usually one of the first classes taken in a program.Therefore, it will have to consist of a lot
of leadership theory.This is the type
of class I see myself teaching down the road, so I will use this opportunity to
get a jumpstart on the process.I foresee
feminist pedagogy in both topic and format at work in this class; the nature of
the class itself, the topics discussed, my role as a facilitator, class
activities, readings, and the role of the student will all be influenced by
feminist pedagogy.The most important
thing for me will be creating obvious connections between how the class is run
to how a building is run.
I am starting with a list of readings that have played a
role in my leadership development.However, I would also ask students to look over the outline of topics
and choose a week where they will work with a classmate (or two depending upon
class size) to suggest readings and create discussion questions for the rest of
the class.It is my hope that this will
create a space in which we discuss relevant topics and students will ownership
of the curriculum.
In terms of student assignments, as mentioned earlier,
students will take part in a group activity in which they will choose a reading
assignment for the class and formulate some discussion questions to shape class
discussion.Students will also spend
some time thinking about their philosophy of leadership and present it in a
paper format early in the semester.Another paper that I would like to include would be about leadership for
social change.The intent behind this
assignment would be to envision the modifications that have to take place in a
school/district to accommodate a changing world (this is a hot button item in
I would also plan to include as many speakers as possible...community leaders, administrators, advocates, etc.
I have a lot to do...what you see below is the skeleton of
readings regarding leadership theory.
relationship between ourselves, our world, and our leadership
Week 2 - Leadership:Chaos and Change
Wheatley, M.J.(1999). Leadership and the New Science:Discovering Order in a Chaotic World.San Francisco:Berrett-Koehler Publishers.
Week 3 - Leadership:Classic, Contemporary, and Critical
Rosener, J.B.(1999).'Sexual Static' in America's Competitive Secret:Utilizing Women as a
Management Strategy.Oxford:Oxford University Press.
Lilley, S.J. & Platt, G. M.(1994).'Correspondents' Images
of Martin Luther King, Jr:An Interpretive Theory
of Movement Leadership' in Constructing
Calas, M.B. & Smiricich.(1991).Coicing Seduction to
Organizational Studies.12, 4:597-602.
Week 4 - Caring:Self and Community
Chapters 2-3 and 5-6
Noddings, N.(1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools:An Alternative Approach to Education.New York:Teachers College Press.
Assignment #1 Due - Leadership
Week 5 - Caring:Creating Caring Schools
Noddings, N.(1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools:An Alternative Approach to Education.New York:Teachers College Press.
Week 6 - Power:"The Warriors Path"
Chapters 4-11 - The Seven Principles of Power
Brunner, C.C.(2000). Principles of Power:Women Superintendents and the Riddle of the Heart.New York:State University of New York Press.
Week 7 - Social Change
Chapter 1 - Shallow Educational Response to Deep Social Change
Noddings, N.(1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools:An Alternative Approach to Education.New York:Teachers College Press.
Week 7 - Educational Change
Assignment #2 Due - Leadership for
Week 8 - Vision:The Leader You Will Become
Chapter 4 - An Alternative Vision
Chapter 12 - Getting Started in Schools
Noddings, N.(1992). The Challenge to Care in Schools:An Alternative Approach to Education.New York:Teachers College Press.
Are you interested in using video blogs in your pedagogy? Here is an example from Jay Smooth at ill doctrine entitled "How to tell people they sound racist." What do you think? How might we put his strategies into conversation with Berlak and Erickson?
One more thing...I have added a category called "syllabus reflections." Make sure to check the box for this category when you are writing your syllabus reflection entries. Also, remember to check the box for the category pedagogical question when you are writing your official pedagogical question entries.
I'm finding this assignment a bit
tricky in some ways because I have not been in school or teaching for
several years. I feel a bit rusty, and I also don't have a drawer
full of awesome readings that are fresh on my mind. So while I have a
few dream syllabi in mind, I had to think of a practical way to apply
what we're learning without making this more complicated than it needs to be! I just so happen to work in the Writing Studies
department and I have experiences teaching high school composition so
I've decided to design a syllabus for the First Year Writing course.
This is a course required of all undergraduates at the University
(excluding a few rare exemptions). As such it has some standardized
components. But it is also a course that is taught by students from
several different departments (American Studies, Writing Studies,
Cultural Studies and English) each of which approach the teaching of
writing from different disciplinary angles.
So far my primary "work" on the
project has been to skim through the syllabi from last Fall (70 or
so) looking for samples of syllabi with some kind of theme or angle
over and above the standardized minimum syllabus requirements. There are a handfull that seem to mesh well with feminist
studies and I hope to meet with a couple of the instructors for coffee or similar
to discuss how they designed their syllabus, how it went, what they
might change, etc. It seems that most of the syllabi that I connect with
are using the same text book (First Year Writing has one required
text book and allows instructors to assign additional readings as
well). So I will review this text book and likely select readings
from it. I can also speak to the director of the FYW program about
what kind of flexibility instructors have and to see what his
suggestions and thoughts would be and how these themed sections seemed to play with the students who enrolled them.
Questions I'll be wrestling with:
How can you implement feminist
pedagogies with a "captive" audience? These students didn't
signe up to have their consciousness raised, they want to learn how
to do "academic" writing.
How can you negotiate feminist
pedagogies within a mass produced course like FYW. How much tweaking
can you do before you begin to disadvantage students by not
providing them base-level common experience that this course is
supposed to create?
How can my grading reflect my
course goals that are specific to feminist pedagogy, or should I
only grade based on the prescribed goals of the FYW course?
How can I prepare for an
unpredictable student demographic. It may be highly diverse, or not.
Their understanding of and interests in feminist and critical
perspectives could be wildly varying. They may fight me. I might
terrify them. How can a syllabus be flexible enough to deal with
whoever happens to walk through the door?
These are just some of the questions I
have at the moment. I'm excited about seen how I can shape this
course to address at least some of these questions. I have to try to
not be immobilized by the impossibility of "perfect" feminist
pedagogy. I just have to see what I can figure out. When/if I get to
actually teach the class, I'll learn more, do better. AND I get the
benefit of getting feedback from all of you, so I don't need to feel
responsible for thinking of everything. We can help each other.
I've been waffling about this syllabus project for the past
few weeks. My debate is between being highly practical or highly imaginative. Do
I reform a current syllabus or do I dream big and create something that
includes all of the elements that I find important (and none that I don't)? I've
long desired to create effective change in the field of teacher education -
that is why I left the classroom and entered graduate school - and I think that
this project can help me reach that goal.
So, here is the deal: I have been told that I am slated to
teach a 3 credit introductory social studies education course (CI 5741:
Introduction to Social Studies Education) in the summer of 2010. The student
cohort enters the program in May and spends the next 12 months earning a
teaching license and a Master's in Teaching. (How someone can have never taught
and be a master at teaching puzzles me, but this is the model that we work with
here). Because the program is so spelled out (the sequence and course outlines
fit into a coherent licensure program) the syllabus for CI 5741 is relatively
prescribed. Interestingly, as a program we rail against "teacher-proof"
curriculum for our students but what we have to work with is pretty durable. However,
I do know that as the instructor I will have significant control over how I
teach and what readings I choose to use. I see this syllabus assignment as an
opportunity to re-model and refine the existing syllabus into something that
reflects two of my educational philosophies: feminist pedagogy and human rights
education. Both serve the future social studies teacher in providing theory,
content, and methods that align with the goals of our program here at the U and
those outlined by our professional organization, The National Council for the
Social Studies (NCSS). There will be elements that I cannot get rid of, but I
think that I can approach them in a feminist way. I will also be able to
actually use this, so the level of authenticity and accountability is high.
I've also been thinking about how long this syllabus is
going to be. There are goals and certain readings and assignments that I will
have to include and I am guided (constrained?) by state and national standards
as well as guidelines outlined by the accreditation body (NCATE) that we belong
to. I have to include all of these elements for the U (diversity statements,
college mission, late work, etc), elements that I want to make obvious, and the
reading and assignment schedule. This syllabus is going to be so long! In the
past some of the instructors have chosen to make multiple documents with the
assignments and schedules, but I think that having everything in the same place
is more efficient. If we need to make a schedule change or a date modification,
I will be able to say, "make this change to your syllabus" not "find that
particular piece of paper or link on WebCT and make the change there."
I'm deciding to look at all of these outside influences
(with the standards and the like) as fuel for the process as opposed to looking
at them as efforts to reign me in. I know that they are a reality for my field,
so I may as well see how far I can go within these guidelines to bring FP and
human rights education into this course. Knowing that I will be teaching it is a
bit intimidating but it is also invigorating having an assignment now that gets
me thinking about it. I know that when the time comes to order books and the
course packet that I will be prepared with something that I feel good about
rather than having to rely on what has been used in the past.
I've been planning on arranging my syllabus according to
weekly themes, which represent various nodes in the field the course will cover, rather than chronological layers that build off of one another in a linear
fashion. I'd like to stick to this
model, because it not only moves us away from linear thinking, but it's also
impossible to cover the topics I feel are important chronologically; there are simply too many interconnections, overlaps, and interdisciplinarities to begin attempting
this. Yet I worry about the
limitations of this model as well: Will certain points become redundant if they
continually resurface? Will
students be comfortable with the inevitable gaps between weekly themes that
will arise since the weeks won't necessarily "flow" into one another, and will that
impede their learning?
I'd also like to roughly follow a weekly model of lecturing
and discussion on Tuesday classes, with Thursday classes being reserved for
more creative activities, like group work, hands-on learning, films, or
other ideas that connect the week's theoretical or historical themes. The advantages of this model is that
their reading over the weekend can be digested right away at the beginning of
the week, and then applied later on (or revisited, if need be). I think it also ensures that students
can expect a certain rhythm to the course, without being locked into one method
of learning. Yet I can see some
disadvantages to this model, too.
I worry that students may not show up to Thursday's classes if they
think the "real" work is covered on Tuesdays. Have any of you had experience using this weekly model, and
did you find it successful?