Friday, October 07, 2005

on teaching through cultural studies

another continued thought...

...but I have taught comp through
a 'cultural studies lens' and I think in fact the book I
used (Reading Culture) was edited by George and Trimbur. The
book was good, if a little thin, but I found using cultural
studies types of texts (whatever that means exactly I don't
know) was helpful in getting students to think about real,
contemporary social topics and issues. We read a variety of
essays including personal narratives of people who
immigrated to the US as children and had to learn English;
sections from B. Ehrenreich's Nickled and Dimed; and pieces
criticizing advertising, Ally McBeal, Oprah and Jenny
Jones (is that the talk show woman?). The subject matter
(sometimes) got them interested and talking and then we, as
a group, were able to discuss arguments and evidence, to get
into the texts and the issues and learn how to become more
critical thinkers and active thinking members of our larger
American culture. When we talked about television and movies
as more than simple entertainment, many students were
baffled and took a while to come around to being able to
look critically at the messages that are both subtly and
overtly presented on their favorite shows.

Anyhow, my point is I like teaching writing through cultural
studies because for me it makes the subject matter
interesting and gives a class a lot to talk about. There are
also so many essays to read on every possible
cultural/social topic that I don't feel sad or nostalgic
about not reading 'literature.' As I was saying in the other
post that disappeared, I think there is a critical lack of
real literacy in our country today. Many people don't know
how to read newspapers or visual texts critically; they have
trouble understanding texts enough to think through the
arguments and then analyze and form their own evidence-based
opinions. I feel that helping people to be better thinkers
also helps them to be better writers (and the other way
around too...).

No comments: