Question for Feb. 20 Winter Institute

What element of your Cluster or LIB200 curriculum do you see yourself creating or revising in this NEH seminar? Are you considering developing a new assignment or activity, or mapping out a new theme/syllabus? Please post your response as a comment below by Feb. 19. Thanks!


  1.  I want to reconfigure my research paper assignment so that the students will create a short “graphic research autobiography” about themselves built around two photographs: a selfie and a family portrait. This paper will describe and analyze the images using Rhetorical Vision’s “visual rhetorical triangle,” include basic research on either their neighborhood or nation of origin and analyze a cultural artifact (book, movie, song or work of art) that moves or illustrates them.
     The second part of this dream assignment is to turn the short paper into a 4 page illustrated version where each of the paragraphs is transferred to a “graphic version” including “comic book text” “speech,” “thought bubbles,” “narration” and “text-effects.” I will have them use MSWord and or PowerPoint to insert language and ideas from their paper onto the images (which they might be able to augment using digital apps on their smart-phones or on-line).
     The “graphic-ization” of the paper should do 4 things: 1. have them rethink their ideas and see their analysis out of a “paper content” context and in a more real world context, 2. give them the ability to change emphasis by using layout and scale thereby discovering the most important ideas in their papers by putting them along side graphic representations, 3. force the students to extract and re-evaluate the key text or content from their paragraphs and 4. Provide the students with two competing versions of one research paper to compare which might better argue their points.
    I have tried this lesson in ENG101, but the basic compositional needs of the students confounded my efforts to execute a passable paper with enough time left over to revise it into a graphic version.

  2. Karen Miller says:

    I am planning to integrate an exploration of the technologies that the American state has used to track immigrants and immigration through the 20th century. I’m going to focus on technologies related to tracking both documented and undocumented immigrants and how those technologies have helped reshape our understanding of immigration. These are compter-based tracking systems, as well as organizational “technologies,” like cooperation between law enforcement and ICE. The theme of my LIB 200 class is the US in the World over the twentieth century, so it will be a discussion about immigration “tracking” across the course (and across the twentieth century). Readings I will use to talk about these questions include Libby Garland, “Building the Apparatus of Immigration Control” in After They Closed the Gates: Jewish Illegal Immigration to the United States, 1921-1965, and Marie Gottschalk “Catch and Keep, The Criminalization of Immigrants,” in Caught: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics (Princeton University Press, 2015), pages 215-240.

  3. I am planning on revising my LIB 200 syllabus as follows. I would like to re-build the third and last unit of my course entitled “Mathematics and the origins of Western thought” in order to incorporate direct comparison of the concepts of mathematics, science and technology via historical analysis centered on Ancient Greece. I already have sufficient material on the math/science comparison, however, I need to find additional reading(s) on the origins of technology in ancient times. I also plan to create several low-stake writing activities and to revise the Unit 3 short paper assignment in this direction.

  4. To help faculty explore the theme of online identity with their students (and for themselves) I’m developing an activity that integrates discussion, quotes from Koosel’s article “Exploring Digital Identity: Beyond the Private Public Paradox” in The DIgital Turn: User’s Practices and Cultural transformation, and a hands-on making activity. We’ll be doing a version of this activity in TSS tomorrow, and I don’t want to give it all away:-) This workshop will be the first iteration; I plan to continue developing the activity for use in the “Design for Social Pedagogy” seminar I co-lead, and possibly for other settings as well. While many faculty members are aware of the need to discuss parameters of online behaviors and interactions with students before using digital platforms, an investigation of online identity and the many questions is raises can be an intriguing way to integrate the introduction of various platforms into a learning environment. Exploring identity online can serve as a springboard for many points of discussion, such as cultural behaviors, acting out, surveillance culture, celebrity, virtuality in relationships, cultivating multiple identities and much more.

  5. I think I’m going to stick with the idea I presented in my most recent post: I’m going to develop my fall hybrid LIB 200 section as an opportunity to explore the anxieties surrounding robotics and cyborgs. I’ve started a Zotero library, and I’ll use excerpts from Turkle and the Cyborg Handbook. We’ll watch the re-imagined Battle Star Galactica as our major focus, with additional readings on the show itself (the assigned watching will be the mini-series and season 1, but I hope they get addicted and watch more). For those who haven’t seen it: humans created cylon robots, used primarily for manual labor and service. The cylons eventually revolt, and there is a tentative peace treaty. The mini-series begins 40 years after the peace treaty, when the cyclons have “evolved” into humanoids (thus able to infiltrate human society) and launch a devastating nuclear attack, wiping out most of humanity. There’s been a fair amount of scholarly work on the series from a variety of disciplinary/theoretical approaches (as the Zotero link should reflect): philosophy, international relations, gender, race/ethnicity, post-colonial, the war on terror & torture, media studies, cyborgs, queer studies, fandom, musicology, film studies, etc. I’m hoping students can find connections between their own areas of interest and the series, and that the show can serve as a platform to discuss the current state of robotics (and the responses to such developments).

  6. I could probably include a chapter from Turkle’s Alone Together for the Medicine, Mind, Body
    cluster. What is particularly relevant is a) how technology can be an extension of the body and mind that can compensate for physical and mental disabilities, b) how technology is being considered to provide physical and psychological care, therapeutic robots in particular, where it is no longer about artificial intelligence, but the new frontier of artificial emotions.
    An interesting question is to what extent can these technologies be empowering if used as extensions, and demeaning if human care is to be replaced by a robot, and what is being lost- for care receivers and human care givers.

  7. Mara Grayson says:

    I’ve already found myself, as I often do, incorporating my own readings for this seminar and the ideas we’ve discussed into the classroom, primarily into in-class discussions. As I teach LIB 200 during the shorter Fall II and Spring II sessions, I often feel – as do my students, from what they have told me – that we cover a little bit about a lot of things and don’t go in-depth into many of those ideas. I think this is part of the blessing and curse of the short semesters – classes become survey courses in a way. As it is also the capstone course, most of my students are close to graduating and have plans to move onto four-year schools. My goal as such has been to give them a variety of themes from which they can pick the threads that most interest them as they move forward in their academic careers. Our seminar is structured in a similar way, I think, and it has presented me with additional options for questions I might present to my own students. I do wonder, now, if it might be best to narrow some of the topics I use in LIB 200. The LIB 200 focus I have taught is rather broad and what I have been questioning over the course of this seminar is whether a broad or a narrow focus would better serve my graduating liberal arts students.

  8. When I originally began this seminar I had intentions of using many of the ideas I had come up in my new Photo Class on Identity and Photography, now I see using it for my HUA 289, the Art and Design Seminar course, which is the capstone for the Visual Arts majors. They have to finalize their ePortfolios as part of the class, so I see a lot of the natural applications there. But I also have hopes of developing ideas around the autobiographical, as students prepare work for a graduate exhibition in June in the Presidents gallery. This will be the first time I am teaching the course and am still trying to figure out how to structure it. I am currently planning to use the Autobiography/Biography of Patti Smith/Robert Mapplethorpe called Just Kids, which deals with many issues of gender and personal, as well as, professional identity. I should be building the syllabus this month.

  9. After a rewarding collaborative experience with two professors from the Natural Sciences and the Math departments, I am planning on changing my LIB200 syllabus in order to include more readings and assignments on Women and STEM. I would also include more data on how career choices are determined by socio-cultural factors. I would ultimately like to have an open discussion on how Higher Education might reinforce gender stereotypes when it comes to majoring and pursuing a career in the field of STEM.

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