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Old 04-02-2007, 10:13 AM   #121
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If I wanted to stay focused on that, I wouldn't have written the two sentences before.
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Old 04-02-2007, 11:07 AM   #122
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Originally posted by AEON
His justification was that he wanted us to think beyond the influence these two books had on Western art and literature (Joyce for instance), and start thinking about the influence Homer had on other cultures.

...

This isn't about race - it is about 'forced' multi-culturalism.
But you follow that up with:

Quote:
The experience I am sharing is similar, with the exception the professor really did seem to care about the African writings.
So honestly I don't see what your problem is other than the fact YOU thought the poetry was crap. It seems like he had a reasonable and logical rationale for introducing the African poetry. It seems like he genuinely had an interest in it. I don't understand how you concluded from any of this that it was "forced multi-culturalism" because absolutely nothing you've said here indicates that was the motive of the professor.

It's just another thing that says something about you and the types of conclusions you are willing to come to. Maybe you should ask yourself why (the culturalism admission is a good start....)
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Old 04-02-2007, 11:12 AM   #123
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anitram sums it up again.
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Old 04-02-2007, 11:51 AM   #124
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It seems in the humanities, there is simply so much ground to cover that it is almost impossible to fit 'everything' in one class. I always preferred the classes the focused on one author, or even one book.
You probably would have enjoyed one of these 'Great Books' majors, unfortunately there aren't too many colleges which have them as they tend to be seen as not preparing you to do much of anything careerwise. The thing is, a certain amount of those heavily condensed, survey/major-core type courses really is necessary to ensure all your majors graduate with a basic grasp of the full sweep of topical, theoretical and methodological domains that make up the field, even though they'll ultimately wind up in some concentration or another. And if you're teaching a course like that, your choices more or less are A) cover a large number of excerpts from various key texts, with probably only a couple read in full, and rely heavily on intensive lectures to supply historical context etc. or B) choose a small handful of texts, maybe one from each key period/country/etc., then read those closely and in depth (and where applicable, expect to have a few majors planning on academic careers pissed off at you because they were basically expecting rote GRE prep). Although I personally find B) more rewarding, and it definitely offers better opportunities to develop writing and discussion skills, in practice I'm often not comfortable doing that because, for example, if I'm teaching Political Theory it means they're going to wind up with huge gaps in their awareness of the historical sweep of the subject. So I usually do a compromise thing where one session a week takes the form of small-group discussions, taught in different classrooms with me running one and my TAs running the others (these are large courses, 100+ students usually). Then those are also where the writing assignments are given, and we usually devote a couple of those sessions to going over papers once they've been handed back.

Of course there's also always a temptation to spend large amounts of time on texts drawn from whatever your specializations or research interests are, that definitely applies to specialized electives as well as surveys, and everyone's different in how they handle that. Not saying that necessarily had anything to do with your classics professor's choices, but it sounds like it could be an instance of something like that. Normally, though, texts or topics you're going to spend 1/3 of the course on would be mentioned, or at least alluded to, in the online or printed bulletin course description, as at that point it's obviously central to the goals of the class, which themes the professor plans to examine the material in light of, etc. For example, I could easily imagine designing a course which was primarily focused on Machiavelli, but also included several sessions on the late classical Indian philosopher Chanakya--not to be all cool and multiculti, but because I specialize in both political theory and Indian political culture, know both philosophers well, and think, as many in my field do, that there are some fascinating points of comparison and contrast to be found in reading the two of them together. However, I'd certainly indicate it in the course description, if not the course title, if I were going to do that. But, I suppose I could imagine another professor not seeing that as necessary and taking an attitude of, Look, this really is primarily a course about Machiavelli--the Chanakya is just in there to get them thinking in new ways about what pragmatism and realism are with reference to political thought, so as to broaden and enhance their perspective on Machiavelli. Personally I wouldn't see it that way, I'm too methodical and literal (if that's the way to put it) in terms of how I think about arranging and presenting material, but everyone's different there and I'd be hesitant to say that kind of approach is 'wrong' simply because it might not be precisely what a given student expects. Definitely with a survey/major-core course I can see where it would be objectionable, but with electives...that's a much more situational thing; it just depends, I think.
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Old 04-02-2007, 12:38 PM   #125
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Originally posted by anitram


It seems like he had a reasonable and logical rationale for introducing the African poetry. It seems like he genuinely had an interest in it.
He did. And perhaps he should have included that in his class description so I could have decided to avoid the class or not. He could have perhaps taught another class on Homer's influence on African Literature.

The main point I am making is not that the poetry was crap, it was that I signed up to study two, and only two, books by one author.
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Old 04-02-2007, 12:54 PM   #126
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Originally posted by AEON


He did. And perhaps he should have included that in his class description so I could have decided to avoid the class or not. He could have perhaps taught another class on Homer's influence on African Literature.

The main point I am making is not that the poetry was crap, it was that I signed up to study two, and only two, books by one author.
Well we haven't seen the description of the class to comment on that. The poetry being crap is beside the point, poetry is subjective. But it seems the point you were trying to make is that there was an agenda involved. A "liberal" agenda involved since it was on a college campus. I can see you being upset with the suprise, once again I haven't seen the description of the class, but it seems it's more than that to you. And honestly you haven't done a good job explaining what the agenda was and why it pisses you off so much.
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Old 04-02-2007, 02:30 PM   #127
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The main point I am making is not that the poetry was crap, it was that I signed up to study two, and only two, books by one author.


this seems quite anti-intellectual to me. you just wanna read one book and that's it? might it not enhance your understanding of said book to understand how it might have influenced other cultures? isn't that one of the hallmarks of great literature -- that it can be translated and transformed, but it retains it's brilliance? you can have a stellar performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in Elizabethan costumes or you can have an MTV-influeced "Romeo and Juliet" with Leonardo DiCaprio and find power and brilliance in each.

you're free to like or dislike the poetry, but i'm not seeing some pernicious PC-ness that's tantamount to liberal propaganda.
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Old 04-02-2007, 03:46 PM   #128
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Quote:
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He did. And perhaps he should have included that in his class description so I could have decided to avoid the class or not. He could have perhaps taught another class on Homer's influence on African Literature.
This seems to be either another rather unfortunate choice of words or another bigotted comment, take your pick. Quite frankly it seems to reinforce the notion that you had decided the poetry was terrible well before even reading it.

Are you saying that if it was indicated in the description that the professor would also include African poetry, then you would more than likely not take the class?
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Old 04-02-2007, 06:13 PM   #129
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There's no Caucasian American crap poetry?
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:11 PM   #130
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Originally posted by Diemen


This seems to be either another rather unfortunate choice of words or another bigotted comment, take your pick. Quite frankly it seems to reinforce the notion that you had decided the poetry was terrible well before even reading it.

Are you saying that if it was indicated in the description that the professor would also include African poetry, then you would more than likely not take the class?
^ And this seems to be either another rather unfortunate choice of words or another racism witch-hunt, take your pick.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:14 PM   #131
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There's no Caucasian American crap poetry?
Vanilla Ice and Eminem are a few examples...

I would also include just about everything else I've ever read. I actually dislike most poetry. I only favor epic poetry (Milton, Homer, Beowulf writer...etc).
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:18 PM   #132
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Maybe the question is, why didn't you say that "needless to say" most poetry is crap/I dislike most poetry? Sometimes word choice is very important, and sometimes it's important to reflect upon why we choose to use certain words. That's all.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:20 PM   #133
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Originally posted by Irvine511




this seems quite anti-intellectual to me. you just wanna read one book and that's it? might it not enhance your understanding of said book to understand how it might have influenced other cultures? isn't that one of the hallmarks of great literature -- that it can be translated and transformed, but it retains it's brilliance? you can have a stellar performance of "Romeo and Juliet" in Elizabethan costumes or you can have an MTV-influeced "Romeo and Juliet" with Leonardo DiCaprio and find power and brilliance in each.

you're free to like or dislike the poetry, but i'm not seeing some pernicious PC-ness that's tantamount to liberal propaganda.
Imagine taking a class Major World Religions (emphasis on the word major). The class description said that first half of the class would be Buddhism, the second half would be Christianity. However, the instructor decides that the Chruch of Monday Night Football is important and decides to teach it as an equal world religion. Now, 1/3 of the class of Buddhism, 1/3 of the class Christianity, and 1/3 of the class is Church of Monday Night football.

Would you feel cheated? Perhaps not. But I did, and that's my point.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:21 PM   #134
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Imagine taking a class Major World Religions (emphasis on the word major). The class description said that first half of the class would be Buddhism, the second half would be Christianity. However, the instructor decides that the Chruch of Monday Night Football is important and decides to teach it as an equal world religion. Now, 1/3 of the class of Buddhism, 1/3 of the class Christianity, and 1/3 of the class is Church of Monday Night football.

Would you feel cheated? Perhaps not. But I did, and that's my point.
Cheated, yes, but where's the AGENDA? That was your first complaint.

Cheated can be an issue you take up with the dean.
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Old 04-02-2007, 07:31 PM   #135
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^ And this seems to be either another rather unfortunate choice of words or another racism witch-hunt, take your pick.
When you word things in such a way that makes it seem that simply discussing African poetry would make you reconsider taking the class, I think it warrants a question or two.
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