Director: Abigail Droge
Latest Curriculum Lab Post
How to Solve Problems with Books: Archives and Advocacy (February 12, 2019)
This week marked a real treat for “How to Solve Problems with Books”: a chance to see Victorian print culture up close and personal in UC Santa Barbara’s Special Collections. Our goal was to reach a better understanding of how Victorian literature was originally produced and consumed. Of particular emphasis was the question of how the materiality of texts might be related to their accessibility by different audiences, particularly readers from a range of socio-economic classes. To encounter the nineteenth-century archive is also to encounter the impact of industrialism on narrative and knowledge – an impact which resonates in every detail, from the feel of mass-produced paper to the commercialism of advertisements. Ultimately, I hope that a trip to Special Collections can give students a new way of understanding possible connections between the texts on our syllabus and the effects of industrialism that still govern our twenty-first-century experiences….
Welcome to the Curriculum Lab, a home for teaching resources affiliated with the WE1S project. Our goal is to unite scholarship and pedagogy in the same conversation. We start from the premise that if we put the conceptual issues raised by our project in dialogue with our teaching practice, the two can mutually inform one another. How might knowing “What Everyone Says” about the humanities change our own frames of reference as humanities advocates in the classroom? And conversely, how might we interpret and act upon our project’s digital research results in light of our own teaching experiences?
The Curriculum Lab takes a lead on data collection and analysis related to the student experience of the humanities. We also compile sample syllabi and lesson plans related to themes such as the Public Humanities, the relationship between the humanities and other disciplines, the history of the humanities, and Digital Humanities methodology. The Lab contributes regularly to the WE1S Research Blog, giving live reports from ongoing courses and providing reflections on the intersections between the conceptual work of the project and the practical opportunities and challenges of teaching. (See an archive of Curriculum Lab blog posts.)
The resources and reflections here are meant to act as a pedagogical laboratory running alongside the WE1S project and providing a tandem venue in which to work through our core issues. By starting local and addressing questions in our own community, we hope to be able to share syllabi, lesson plans, activities, and course notes that can be adapted and scaled for different audiences and different contexts.
Proposed WE1S-affiliated courses at UCSB for the 2018-19 academic year:
English 148: Society, Culture, and Information
Reading with Scientists: How to Export Literature
This course considers an experiment: what would happen if we assigned literature in a science classroom? What questions, for instance, could a well-timed excerpt of Frankenstein help you to explore in an Artificial Intelligence course? We will discuss what is to be gained and lost by making literature more mobile. How would such a model of teaching ask us to rethink the lines that we draw between disciplines, or between general education requirements and specialized majors? For the final project, teams of students will work together to choose an audience they want to reach, an issue they want to address, and a text they want to “export” in order to address it. Our collective goal will be to compile an open-source collaborative portfolio of our ideas that can be shared with communities beyond our classroom.
English 11: Literature and its Uses
Literature in the Real World: How to Solve Problems with Books
Should literature be applied to current social issues? If so, how? If not, why not? In this class we’ll consider the pros and cons of “solving problems with books” as we build a dialogue between major works of the Victorian era and pressing debates in the twenty-first century. Our particular focus will be the Industrial Revolution and its aftermath, including topics related to climate change, economic inequality, and education reform. Through readings of nineteenth-century British authors (which include William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Ruskin, William Morris, and Oscar Wilde), we will ask whether “relevance” is the right question, or whether “art for art’s sake” is a valuable alternative. As a final project, we will put on a half theatrical/half analytic public colloquium, in which teams of students impersonate different Victorian figures and act as a “board of advisors” for current issues. What would Elizabeth Gaskell have to say about environmental policies? How would Charles Dickens implement an after-school tutoring program? Our main goal will be to discuss and debate whether or not we should take such advice, whether “advice” is an appropriate outcome of literary study, and what relationships we might draw between historical literature and present problems.
English 197: Upper Division Seminar
Reading in Santa Barbara: Past, Present, and Future
How do we come to be studying literature in a UCSB classroom? What’s the difference between why we read at all and why we read in school? In this class, we will consider the historical interactions between reading communities, both inside and outside the university, in order to analyze present relationships between such communities and imagine future reconfigurations. As a class, we will undertake a sustained collaborative research project in Special Collections: a deep engagement with the archival records of UCSB’s own academic history. In partnership with UCSB Reads, the main goal of the course will be to curate a public humanities event (such as an exhibit, a talk, or a performance) around this year’s book, Thi Bui’s illustrated memoir The Best We Could Do. The final showcase will be informed by our archival research and should in some way model or foster the relationships that students want to see between reading communities of different demographics, backgrounds, and ages. In this way, students will be better able to reflect on what it means, has meant, and might mean to be a reader at UCSB.
WE1S-affiliated courses at CSUN for the 2018-19 academic year:
English 525DH: Graduate Seminar in Digital Humanities
This course provides an introduction to the questions and methods used in the field of Digital Humanities (DH) with a special emphasis on the study of literary and other textual materials. The course embraces the project-based approach prevalent in the Digital Humanities, in which students are active participants in high-level scholarly research. As part of their participation in the course, students will contribute to one of two ongoing multi-institutional research projects, WhatEvery1Says, or the NEH-funded Lexomics project for literary text analysis. The aim will be to provide students with the opportunity to collaborate on cutting-edge DH projects that are not bound to traditional course assignments. Students will jump into projects already in progress, and will have the opportunity to continue to contribute after the end of the course. Both projects share commitments to the cultivation of digital methods of establishing meaning and to providing widened access to the methods they are exploring. Students will be charged with studying the scope of the projects and their place within the DH ecosystem, and they will as groups conceive of ways in which they can make a contribution to activities in process or extend the projects in new directions. The overall aim of the seminar is to foster the ability to learn by doing, to experience the production of scholarship at an advanced level, to students a greater stake in their work, and to provide an opportunity for them to make a lasting contributions to Digital Humanities knowledge and infrastructure.
The WE1S Curriculum Lab is directed by Abigail Droge, a postdoctoral scholar with the WE1S project.