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ERIC Number: EJ861150
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 8
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
Applied Humanities: Bridging the Gap between Building Theory and Fostering Citizenship
Nikitina, Svetlana
Liberal Education, v95 n1 p36-43 Win 2009
Scholarship and teaching in the humanities can sometimes be overly self-referential. Rather than foster citizenship and social engagement, undergraduate literature classes are often limited to exercises in textual interpretation as students learn to compare and contrast formal devices and thematic motifs. The step from analyzing verbal polyphony to fighting poverty is not a short one, and only rarely does teaching and scholarship in the humanities help students make that step. Ultimately, fostering the ability to own (enact and embody) a literary or philosophical insight should be central to humanities learning in college. Withdrawal into information transfer without a view of tangible action or application is a serious failure of education. In this article, the author proposes five strategies for making concepts tangible: (1) through media and the arts; (2) through activism; (3) through cocreation; (4) through contemporizing; and (5) through cross-pollination. Underlying these strategies are three interconnected ideas that have been suggested in the literature on the crisis of the humanities. These ideas are centered on overcoming extreme specialization and formalism, opening a wider frame of reference through interdisciplinary crossover, and reattaching the humanities to the arts. The five strategies derive from the author's own personal teaching experience at two colleges, as well as from the observation of countless classrooms across the country in the course of a nationwide study of interdisciplinary education conducted by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. The course examples discussed in this article are composite portraits of courses either observed or personally delivered. The idea behind proposing specific strategies is not to foreclose further experimentation, but rather to open doors wide for building upon these pedagogies by way of extension, critical development, and adaptation to individual instructional needs.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A