“A Right to Be Hostile” – Some Thoughts about Teaching Popular Texts

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For the 2014-2015 academic year, Drury’s Humanities & Ethics Center chose #Humgoespop as its theme. To some, the idea of the “Humanities goes pop” suggests a watering down of what we do, a digression from the important ideas we should be discussing, or simply having fun. My experience teaching popular culture materials over the years, however, has proven that exploring contemporary popular culture can be particularly changing because these texts target the invisible assumptions teachers…

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The Real Crisis in the Humanities: Ferguson, Gaza, and ISIS

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Despite the frequent jeremiads, the crisis in the humanities is not merely found in universities or colleges. Rather, we see the crisis when people have given up on the hope of finding common ground with others, lost faith in shared values, and traded books and ideas for guns, rockets, and tear gas. Too often, the concern about the humanities focuses on declining job prospects for humanities majors, stalled enrollments in humanities classes, and diminished funding…

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#humgoespop

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Too often, discussions about the humanities create the impression that if you are enjoying a contemporary popular novel, you are not engaging with the humanities or asking the kind of existential and ethical questions that are at the root of the humanities. This is not true! This summer, I have read (at the urging of my children) the Divergent series.  These novels have been incredibly popular, especially after the movie came out, and have been…

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Maya Angelou – An Exemplary Humanist

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By now, you have probably read that Maya Angelou has passed on. I hope you take the moment to listen to “Still I Rise”, “Phenomenal Woman”, “I Know Why the Caged Birds Sing,” or “On The Pulse of Morning”. These poems and others illustrate how poetry can help us connect to the personal and the universal. Maya Angelou created poetry that drew on her own personal history and on African American culture.  At the same time, her…

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