"I am a Minnesotan by birth and a traveler in wild places by vocation and compulsion." -Paul Gruchow

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Teaching for Coverage/Uncoverage

Aubrey sent me this link and I thought it was a very interesting article, especially one to consider in light of our place-conscious discussions. Seems like it fits exactly what we've been talking about in this class.

Any thoughts?

Yesterday, in our place studies meeting, we briefly touched on how different disciplines within the English/writing community see place studies, and I'm pretty excited for upcoming brown bag sessions on place pedagogy in undergraduate English courses--but I'm also interested in what discussions we might have in the future for how place studies can find its, well, place in literature studies and creative writing as well, especially in the UNL English department.

And so this week, as I'm trying to figure out what I want to do next semester (yes, I know, thinking too far ahead), I think I finally got a handle on how to structure this class I have in my head about Natural Disaster Narratives (those that deal directly with natural disasters as well as books that are influenced by them)--and I think I'm going to structure it chronologically, starting with the biblical flood/Epic of Gilgamesh. Anyway. I'm not too far into this planning yet, but I'm definitely going to have these ideas of coverage/uncoverage in my head as I do.

And, as I love how thoughts come out of the woodwork at just the right moments, Robert Brooke (professor of my 992 class) posted on Bret's blog about Sharon Bishop's assignment for her high school students involving the Nebraska photographer Wright Morris, as an entry into an oral history project in their town. Robert posted a version of the Wright Morris assignment, which he calls "What's Just About To Vanish." In light of today's thinking about coverage and uncoverage (which I feel like I will be exploring further in my Week 5 response), this writing assignment seems particularly timely:

"Following in Morris's intellectual footsteps, go out into your community landscape and photograph some cultural artifact that you believe is right now in the process of vanishing. Work on the photo until you get one that really resonates with what that thing is and the fact of its transitoriness. Then write the essay that goes with the photo. Why is this thing just about to vanish? What does its vanishing mean, both for the folk who really used it, and for the folk who don't need it any longer? Where do you fit in relation to these other people?"

I love this idea. I think it'll absolutely find its way into some future curriculum (maybe into Writing Project 1 of this particular 150 syllabus, should I teach it again). Part of me just wants to do it myself, which I just might.

No comments:

Post a Comment