Sunday, January 10, 2010

Learning Activity Assignment

These Learning Activities are designed to get you to think more critically about certain key themes from the assigned readings and films as they relate to the larger aims of the course and to the university’s liberal arts charter of fostering a sense of global citizenship in each student. While various learning activities ask you to perform non-writing or non-linear writing tasks, the final paper you submit will ultimately be a short (three- to four-page) essay. You will append any written lists, interview questions, etc., to the end of the formal essay. I will grade Learning Activity essays on evidence of critical thinking that reaches well beyond the realm of class discussion (depth of engagement with the material), relevance to the course, clarity of expression, and adherence to assignment directions. See the course grading criteria handout for further format and content criteria.

Learning Activity Options

Kid’s Stuff? We have learned that oral narratives and hieroglyphics are both art and tools that teach children how to behave and communicate in their respective cultures. We know that these art/tools can also teach adults. If they can teach both children and adults, then what value do they pose to each group? Can you think of any examples of art forms from your own culture of origin that are also artistic and pedagogical (that is, they teach)? Make a list of five or so and briefly summarize or describe each. Do the items on your list teach both children and adults? If so, how? If not, why might this be? What does this experiment suggest to you about the relationship between art and learning?

Gender and War. On Terisa Turner’s website, read the Foreword to Mau Mau Women, which is an interview with Muthoni Likimani; the abstract for “Feminism in the Mau Mau Resurgence;” and the comic “Nakedness and Power.” Consider these in light of the arguments made here in the United States for restricting women’s service in the military. Did such arguments ultimately hold water in Mau Mau-era Kenya? How does the website define “war” by suggesting that Mau Mau women are still actively fighting? If “war” can take on various forms, then what war or wars have U.S. military women fought? Do they fight any wars today? Describe them, if any.

“Poetry of Revolt.” Fanon argues that overthrow of oppressors requires two things: arms and the creation of a national literature, which he calls “poetry of revolt.” Understanding that Fanon did not mean to specify only poems as revolutionary, which other readings or films in this class qualify as poetry of revolt? What makes these examples revolutionary? Can you think of other examples from your other readings outside this class? Does this newly defined “poetry of revolt” genre feature any common themes? What does a “poem” of revolt do? Can/Why/How does it help a people gain independence as powerfully as do guns? What is its usefulness, if any, outside a traditionally-defined revolutionary setting?

Reading a Region. As de Landa demonstrates, early missionaries, imperialists (and, later, colonists) justified their exploitation of natives by creating or reinforcing negative stereotypes about those natives. Many such race- and gender-based stereotypes persist in the former motherlands today in the media, art, and ideology. Choose one of the regions listed in the title of this Learning Activity. Make a list of all the terms or concepts you have come to associate with that region as a result of your accumulated exposure to Western (North American and Western European) media, art, social interaction, etc. Conduct an informal survey of ten people in your residence hall or other organization on their understandings of the same region. What is their initial reaction when you ask them about the region? Do they know that the region in question is a group of many countries rather than just one? How many countries from the region in question can they name? What five words or concepts have they come to associate with this particular region as a result of their accumulated exposure to Western media, art, social interaction, etc.? What, if any, personal or peripheral experience do your interviewees have with this region? Compare your own impressions with those of your interviewees. Do you notice any themes among the impressions you collect? If so, what are they? In what ways, if any, do you think Western media, art, and ideology shapes our/your understandings of this particular region? Are these understandings historically based? Explain. What is the relationship between your social understanding of this region and the one you have gained in this class? What do you conclude based on your research?

1 comment:

  1. Professor Brown please get back to my email I sent you earlier, the draft for the last learning activity is due tomorrow and the list of regions is not in the title of this activity. I can't find them anywhere.
    - Natasha