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Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cultural Literacy (iii)

I'm thinking of teaching a course in cultural literacy for the University Scholars Program outside my department (if they'll have me.). I have to think quickly about what I want to do. I think this would a natural place to develop my earlier ideas about what anybody ought to know.

Feel free to give me your suggestions. So far all I have is the phrase "cultural literacy" and the idea of working with Bourdieu.


Clarissa said...

It would be easier to give suggestions if one knew what the University Scholars Program is. Who will be the audience? Students? or colleagues? If students, then what year will they mostly be in? From what programs?

Jonathan said...

Sophomores in the Honors Program. It has to be an interdisciplinary course so that students in any major can participate on an equal footing, pretty much. The original idea of the course was a "map of knowledge," My idea is to investigate what it is an educated person should know. it will be a course of fewer than 20 students.

Clarissa said...

That sounds like a fantastic course. If I were to teach it, I'd first subdivide it into different content areas based on different fields of knowledge: literature (who are the authors we need to know, why do we need to know them, where are they from, are there any places left uncovered), music, painting, philosophy, history. (I'd do geography, too, because that area is non-existent in my students' knowledge. I'd do a critical approach to geography where we would analyze why we see some places as blind spots on the map while other places are very vivid in our imagination. I'd also talk about all the theory on internal maps in Bauman and Canclini, for example.) You could even create an actual map for each content area and fill it out with students. Maybe start each part of the course by asking them what they already know and putting it on the map and then adding things that you are learning together over the semester in a different color.

Each student could be asked to contribute one aspect of each content area that s/he already knows and then one that is new to them. Maybe in the form of a small presentation.

Since the course is small, it can be very interactive and student-centered. Of course, I don't know if that's your teaching style.

I'd love to teach something like that. Maybe I can make a proposal for a course like this to be created in the future. Our students are in sore need of something like this.

Do share how you decide to do it in the end.

Jonathan said...

I have to win the competition to teach the course first. Professors from any department can apply. I like the idea of literalizing the "map." Of couse, I am very interactive. I hate lecturing.

If I do get to teach it I will blog it blow by blow, I'm sure.

Clarissa said...

Good luck! I hope you win it. It's always great when people from foreign literature departments bring their knowledge to the university at large. This is often difficult because of the language.

Jonathan said...

Well, my English is pretty good!

Thomas said...

My "required reading" list. (With a link to a more ambitious curriculum design.)