Organizer. Curriculum Innovations. November 30, 2010 - November 30, 2010

Curriculum Innovations

Curriculum Innovations ; Literacy in its broadest sense is a much debated term these days as teaching professionals, and literacy advocates, early childhood development specialists, cognitive scientists and the like, all debate the merits of old fashioned literacy (practices of reading and writing that assist in basic learning) over and above say the world of digital and other media, which lay at our finger tips. The last year or two I have necessarily made far greater use of audio and visual materials in the classroom, acknowledging their powers of representation, instruction, and imagination to communicate complex ideas by other means and media than simply the printed page. At the same time I continue to stress the importance of the craft of writing. Most of my courses are structured in such a way as to enable students to “write as they go.” By contrast, and in light of past experience, I tend to ask students to think about final projects by way of alternative media. They can work with a theme or “keyword” from the course interpreting that theme through pre-existing materials we have read, screened, or listened to and in recent semesters I have been delighted to see students respond by working on final projects that run the gamut: from scrapbooks and comic strips, to recipe books and collages, short films and soliloquies, to short video, and music performances. All these varied mediums in which students present work nevertheless draw on themes, concepts, and ideas from the course. Oddly enough, in these alternative forms students are most often eager to spend additional time preparing pieces of written work to accompany visual material. Somehow this marrying of image and word is more productive of good written work than were I simply to assign a final paper. In the spring of this past year I offered a new course based on the HBO TV series "The Wire," which served 50 undergraduate students. The course was much over-subscribed and in some ways would have benefited by being significantly smaller. I am offering this course again in Spring 2011, this time as a seminar to 15-20 students. I also plan to offer a new course in AY 2011-2012 addressing some of the current literature in Anthropology of Finance. Arguably, the current moment of ongoing fiscal crisis demands such a course and I'm hoping that preliminary research in South Africa will enable me to offer something as suited to students of Africa as anthropology.

Service Performed By


  • Organizer


  • November 30, 2010

Service or Event Name

  • Curriculum Innovations

Location or Venue

  • Duke University