Monday, April 20, 2009

downpour: some things I'm teaching

Avoiding Staleness
I'm very excited that next fall, I'll be including John Fowles' The French Lieutenant's Woman and Jhumpa Lahiri's The Namesake in my gen ed lit syllabus. I feel like including these novels makes the course my own. I'm also not assigning any books that feature poetry; instead, I'll be creating my own poetry reading list through digital attachments and online links. And I'm also changing texts for my comp class, again simply because I feel the old text was getting stale and dated. This certainly adds work to the summer, but I think it is well worth it. I want to be energized by what I teach, and think I'll do a better job teaching it if I am.

In "Obedience," Ian Parker writes "It's hard not to think of Stanley Milgram in another set of circumstances--to imagine the careers he did not have in films or in the theatre," and quotes from Milgram from a letter: "I should not be here, but in Greece shooting films under a Mediterranean sun, hopping about in a small boat from one Aegean isle to the next."

I find this remarkably unsurprising, and think the same thought could apply to Philip Zimbardo and his Stanford Prison Experiment (for some reason, in my imagination Zimbardo appears like the "impresario" artist at the end of The French Lieutenant's Woman). Parker and Zimbardo are psychologists that appear to view themselves as something like artists. And perhaps, from Freud on forward, it is psychology with an artistic bent that most frequently forces its way into the popular imagination.

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