All courses are affiliated with the WhatEvery1Says project (WE1S). Each course is designed to consider a different theoretical aspect of humanities advocacy, such as making literature more mobile across disciplinary boundaries, directly applying humanistic study to current social issues, and understanding the relationships between reading communities both inside and outside the university.
As part of WhatEvery1Says, I am directing the Curriculum Lab, which ensures a strong connection between the research goals of the project and practical teaching experiences. I will also be maintaining a scholarly blog about my pedagogy this year and its relationship to the work of WE1S.
English 148: Society, Culture, and Information
Reading with Scientists: How to Export Literature
This course considers an experiment: what would happen if we assigned literature in a science classroom? What questions, for instance, could a well-timed excerpt of Frankenstein help you to explore in an Artificial Intelligence course? We will discuss what is to be gained and lost by making literature more mobile. How would such a model of teaching ask us to rethink the lines that we draw between disciplines, or between general education requirements and specialized majors? For the final project, teams of students will work together to choose an audience they want to reach, an issue they want to address, and a text they want to “export” in order to address it. Our collective goal will be to compile an open-source collaborative portfolio of our ideas that can be shared with communities beyond our classroom.
English 11: Literature and its Uses
Literature in the Real World: How to Solve Problems with Books
Should literature be applied to current social issues? If so, how? If not, why not? In this class we’ll consider the pros and cons of connecting the study of English to present debates, such as environmental policy, education, gender equity, legal representation, housing reform, and economic inequality. Through readings of nineteenth-century authors (which could include William Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Ruskin, William Morris, and Oscar Wilde), we will ask whether “relevance” is the right question, or whether “art for art’s sake” is a valuable alternative. As a final project, we will put on a half theatrical/half analytic public colloquium, in which teams of students impersonate different historical figures and act as a “board of advisors” for current issues. What would Elizabeth Gaskell have to say about climate change? How would Charles Dickens implement an after-school tutoring program? Our main goal will be to discuss and debate whether or not we should take such advice, whether “advice” is an appropriate outcome of literary study, and what relationships we might draw between historical literature and present problems.
English 197: Upper Division Seminar
Reading in Santa Barbara: Past, Present, and Future
How do we come to be studying literature in a UCSB classroom? What’s the difference between why we read at all and why we read in school? In this class, we will consider the historical interactions between reading communities, both inside and outside of the university, in order to analyze present relationships between such communities, and imagine future reconfigurations. As a class, we will undertake a sustained collaborative research project in Special Collections: a deep engagement with the archival records of UCSB’s own academic history. The main goal of the course will be to curate a public humanities project (such as an exhibit or performance), based on the archival research we have done. The final showcase should in some way model or foster the relationships that students want to see between reading communities of different demographics, backgrounds, and ages. In this way, students will be better able to reflect on what it means, has meant, and might mean to be a reader at UCSB.