The rigid segmentation of course material into discrete “subjects” provides gaping canyons for student’s intellectual engagement. As the Fall, 2007 semester wraps up, my thoughts leap ahead to the next class and the next group of students. I want to challenge us to think beyond narrow definitions of “group” focused on “identity” to sophisticated notions of “role” and the ways our own day-to-day activities participate interactively with the larger sweep of social and political affairs.

My idea at the moment is to assign the novel, After Dachau (Daniel Quinn), for the first week of class. I read it in about four hours (see excerpt). I also want to show this media analysis from Al-Jazeera, on the divide in US news reporting over the Iran Nuclear Report. Pedagogically, can the students draw parallels between “fiction” and “reality”? In terms of continuity, might I be able to entice some of the students from this semester to keep talking about the important conversations we began?

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