All entries by this author

Myth BEYOND the Classroom

May 10th, 2012 | By
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Two weeks ago, my students displayed their final projects in the third floor gallery space in Clough.  For the final installment of my “Myth in the Classroom” column, I thought I’d reflect back on what I learned, what I enjoyed, and what I struggled with in putting the exhibit together as we look ahead to

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Myth in the Classroom (or the column formerly known as such)

Feb 26th, 2012 | By

After a longer-than-anticipated hiatus, I return to discuss something relatively far afield from myth. Instead, I want to share an assignment that my students recently completed, because it was relatively painless for me to teach and grade and relatively productive at getting students to learn the difficult skill of close reading.

I often tell (read: nag; cajole; harangue) my students to pay attention to all of the little details of language, to notice how the most seemingly insignificant choices that the author makes have significant effects on the text’s meaning. I’ve found in the past that teaching close reading with poetry is often the best approach, since poetry (at least good poetry) is able to jam as much meaning as possible into the smallest amount of space. So I often begin my courses with poetry and a discussion of close reading: what it is, why it’s beneficial—even to aspiring engineers. (Being able to discern the tone that their email is conveying if they write it in ALL CAPS, for example, is a useful skill for them to have.)



Myth in the Classroom 3.0

Dec 16th, 2011 | By

Since I’m awash in grading, I’d like to wrap up the semester with a meditation on final projects and cultural studies. I asked my ENGL 1101 students to create websites that perform a cultural study of a chosen artifact of American culture in terms of its relationship to race and technology. Overall, I think the assignment went quite well. Students appreciated the opportunity to share their ideas with an audience beyond me and even beyond their fellow classmates. And they especially enjoyed playing around with Dreamweaver, html, and iWeb. (Or so they tell me in their reflection papers.) An additional enticement was that they got to select artifacts of American culture that were important or relevant to them, including the Ford Mustang, the iPhone, and the NFL.

The greatest challenge students faced when making their arguments about these artifacts, though, was to bridge the issues of race and technology. Most of their websites ended up devoting one page to race and one to technology and not tying them together…



Myth in the Classroom, take two

Nov 11th, 2011 | By

I know you’ve been holding your breath for the second installment of my musings on and eternal search for effective stereotype-breaking strategies. So here goes. Today I take on the elusive term “race” as a myth that students approach rather curiously: with great resentment. And I think I’ve figured out at least part of the reason why. Let me try to explain:
I attempted to have a conversation with my students this week about white privilege. They read “The End of White America?” by Hua Hsu, published in The Atlantic in 2009. I also had them look at this hilarious video made by Smirnoff in 2006, which Hsu mentions.

So, they had read (or were supposed to have read) Hsu’s essay on the “beiging” of the white race in the United States, the increasing diversity of American popular culture, and the ensuing backlash against multiculturalism and retrenchment into whiteness.



Digital Divide, part two: gender, sexuality, and ability

Oct 21st, 2011 | By

Ready for the next installment of our discussion about the digital divide, access, and privilege?  This time, we’ll focus more of our attention on how issues of gender, sexuality, and ability should be addressed when we incorporate new media and technologies into the communication classroom. We’ll start the seminar off with a really cool exercise

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Myth in the Classroom – A monthly column about challenging stereotypes while teaching literature, communication, and the oral tradition

Oct 18th, 2011 | By
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This is the first installment of what I’m hoping will be a recurring discussion about breaking students of a nasty habit: the tendency to rely on harmful preconceptions when engaging with literatures, cultures, and traditions that they aren’t very familiar with. In the title of my column, I’m using “myth” in two (of the many) meanings of the term: as stereotype (a widely circulated falsehood); and as culturally significant narrative (a local, communal, or national “true” story). My research explores the way twentieth-century US writers of color incorporate culturally specific mythic narratives in their literature. When I bring aspects of this research into the literature and communication classrooms, I inevitably come up against significant hurdles…



Greetings, Britts!

Aug 15th, 2011 | By

I’m thrilled to be joining a group of teachers and scholars from whom I can already tell I will be pilfering many valuable ideas and resources.  In fact, the pilfering has already begun.  Fellow Emory alums and current Britts Katy Crowther and Michelle Miles have been very generous with their advice and expertise.  I should

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