I like to think of May as one of the most amazing months – not only because it’s National Pet Month, but also because May 20 is National Rescue Dog Day in the United States. Let’s face it: Pets are so much more than just cute companions – they are fluffy family and friends as well as endless sources of comfort, joy, and hope. But what about all those animals out there who don’t have a human to look after them, love them back, and maybe even save them from horrible fates?
What Does the Fox Say? A Simple Tale with a Plethora of Possibilities
When I first read George Saunders’ fable-like tale, Fox 8, I initially felt amused, then sad, and finally outraged. I also felt a blog brewing – not of the book review variety but of the teaching tool/creativity corner variety. For starters, Fox 8 is less of a charming bedtime story for children – who will no doubt enjoy it – and more of a darkly comic cautionary tale for adults. The titular first-person narrator takes the readers on a journey through his life as a fox who lives and forages with his fellow foxes in the forest. Fox forest life is running smoothly until Fox 8 has his first confusing encounter with humans, which results in conflicting feelings.
Having Fun with Language on German American Day 2022
In countries, such as Poland and the Netherlands, learning German is on the rise. Yet, in the U.S., it’s been declining for the past hundred years. Numbers of students learning German have decreased from roughly two million in 1910 to a little over one million today. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that German programs have been closing all over the U.S. The very liberal arts college I attended as a bachelor student in Indianola, Iowa – Simpson College – eliminated its German program a few years ago. So in preparation for this German American Day (Oct. 6), I decided to attempt to do some PR for German.
Recently, while I was surfing the web, I came across something that almost knocked me for a loop. It’s nothing bad, just a 58-letter word. So let’s hear that drum roll….
That word is: Kurzfristen-energie-versorgungs-sicherungs-maßnahmen-verordnung.
All the Stories That We (Were) Told
Life writing – which includes a wide spectrum of sub-genres such as (auto)biography, memoir, letter, diary, (digital) life stories, and oral histories – has a long tradition in the U.S. and is becoming more and more popular all over the world. An abundance of artifacts compiled by famous, semi-famous, and not-at-all-famous people fill public libraries, private bookshelves, research centers, social media, hard drives, and websites. And that’s actually not even surprising since writing and/or talking about ourselves is a deeply rooted cultural practice and comes very naturally to most human beings. We do it all the time: We tell a significant someone how our day was, we put together our résumé when applying for a new job, we talk about childhood memories with siblings or a close friend. However, talking and writing about ourselves in an academic context and, to boot, in a foreign language is a completely different story.
Teaching Native North America: A Continuing Challenge
Intellectual legacies of colonization play a powerful role in shaping how mainstream U.S. and global society has come to see Native Americans. Artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries – such as James Earle Fraser’s sculpture, “The End of the Trail” – have helped to create the image of Native Americans on horseback as representations most associated with Indigenous populations of North America. Type “Native American” into a search engine, and you’ll likely get many historical images of Great Plains Indians. In parts of Europe as well, the perception of Native Americans has been shaped in unique ways by authors like Karl May and the later movies based on his books. Without a doubt, our students’ perceptions about Native Americans are influenced by these fantasies and representations.
Setting the Stage for Black History Month
It’s that time of year again. February 1 marks the beginning of Black History Month. Before I suggest some useful resources, let’s briefly look at its origins.
Fact 1: The United States is not the only country to officially celebrate it. In addition to our neighbors to the North, who also celebrate this time of remembrance in February, the Irish and the United Kingdom observe Black History Month in October.
Fact 2: The roots of Black History Month in the U.S. can be traced back to historian Carter G. Woodson and the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, who together marked the second week of February – which coincides with Abraham Lincoln’s birthday – as Negro history week in 1926.
Fact 3: Even the Great Emancipator had his failures, and so it’s undoubtedly best that in 1969 students at Kent State moved to celebrate the contributions and culture of Black Americans for an entire month, instead of placing President Lincoln, who upheld the mass public hanging of 38 Dakota Sioux on December 26, 1862, in the center of their celebrations.
So, if your school has never celebrated Black History Month before, it’s never too late to get on that ‘soul train’. And since we didn’t want to leave you in the lurch, we’ve provided a list of some suitable blogs we’ve published over the years on subjects, ranging from cultural icons, such as Aretha Franklin, Don Cornelius, and Beyoncé, to best books and fabulous films dealing with Black identity and history. You’ll also find information on some current controversies: