Let’s start off with a few telling facts: The origin of the word “racism” stems from the French word racisme which appeared during the last decades of the 19th century. In English, however, according to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, “Racism appears to be a word of recent origin, with no citations currently known that would suggest the word was in use prior to the early 20th century.” Now, let that sink in. The people at Webster are also quick to point out that just because the word is “fairly new” doesn’t mean that “the concept of racism did not exist in the distant past.” No wonder we – and with we, I mean all societies – have a problem with racism. So let’s get to the root of it and root it out.
Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020 (10:47 a.m.)
Lydia Davis (1947- ) is a lover of language and an American writer, probably in that order. She’s best known for her minimalist writing style and works of brevity (short stories, flash fiction, and narratives made up of only a couple of lines). One of my favorite prose poems is “A Mown Lawn.” It is literally one-of-a kind. Well, almost. I think Davis wrote two political pieces, of which “A Mown Lawn” is one. If you aren’t familiar with it, please read it, otherwise this blog might not make sense (see image below).
As some of our loyal readers might recall, my colleague Maria Moss has written several blogs on how to teach poetry, including “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost and Haikus. But I’m not like her. To be honest, I’m somewhat leery of the long faces students often make when they hear the word ‘poetry.’ Determined to give it a try, I prepared a lesson that would hopefully help my students appreciate Davis’s poem, engage with the topics, and think about language – the power of language, or should I say, the lack thereof? Anyway, here are my notes:
Off to class. Let’s see how it goes. Read more »
With this fifth blog, we are coming to the end or our series on digital teaching tools. We hope that you’ve been inspired by some of the American Studies links ranging from the heart-warming and hilarious antics of humans and animals to the more scholarly posts on Academic Earth.
Google Lit Trips
By Carolyn Blume
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain
As American studies and foreign language education scholars, we sometimes tend to overlook the vast demand for teachable online resources outside of academia. My work in the transatlantic blended-learning education initiative Teach About U.S. has helped me to establish long-standing relationships with high school teachers and educators in Germany and the United States. Amid the current global health crisis, these teachers are stepping up to support their students and find novel ways to engage them in educational activities while they struggle with ‘the new normal’ during the pandemic.
As schools have been shut down for weeks, many of these colleagues have reached out to us, seeking advice on educational technology and its implementation. All too often, they are pushed to create makeshift solutions as their school servers are overwhelmed with the sudden spike in user demand. Many colleagues have shared their experience of setting up private chat and social media groups to share assignments and educational resources, unsure whether this may violate school and state rules.
With misinformation about the coronavirus on the rise, a historic presidential election campaign in the United States, and the press under attack from different sides, I would like to share some of my favorite student-friendly news media as well as resources on media literacy for primary and secondary school students.
One not so common topic in the broad field of animal studies is the interaction between different animal species. Until recently, any suggestion that interspecies relationships might be based on companionship would have probably met with derision and been dismissed as anthropomorphic illusions. These attitudes, however, are bound to change as research is gradually beginning to erode some boundaries separating Homo sapiens and other animals. If you’re interested (or like your students to get interested in) interspecies communication, these five videos might be the right ones to start out with:
When we think about relationships between human animals and non-human animals, we often think of the relationship between guardians and pets. However, there’s so much more to the topic. This week, I’ll continue our series on Digital American Studies by sharing with you some wonderful videos on human-animal studies I found useful for undergraduate classes. Whenever I teach ecocritical theory – for instance my project seminar, “Study & Save: Eco-Critical Theory in Action” – I make sure it always has a practical component. And even in seminars on North American culture, ecocritical topics (e.g. fracking, plastic oceans, deforestation, and loss of species) are always part of the deal.