NeMLA 2016 Pedagogy Roundtable / Interdisciplinary Humanities

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Northeast Modern Language Association
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The Bane of Their Existence: Making Interdisciplinary Humanities Matter

At many colleges and universities, there exist general education requirements in the so-called "interdisciplinary humanities." Most students, even those majoring in the humanities, don't look forward to these classes—which can be large and unwieldy—and they don't regard them as especially important in their own degree trajectories. Students seem to think that they won't learn anything, that they will have to endure lecture after lecture, write a couple of papers, take a final, and forget the rest. And, all too often, professors and graduate students saddled with the task of teaching these courses feel the same way. What might we do about this? Are there ways to make general education courses in the humanities interesting and engaging for all involved?

This roundtable seeks to investigate several things. One, how do humanities scholars define "interdisciplinary humanities," in the first place? Two, how might we compare that definition with students' expectations and university course descriptions? Three, how can we discuss ways in which we might make this kind of learning both fun and engaging for students in all majors—and for us? Topics may include, but are not limited to: general pedagogical approaches (face to face and online), approaches to specific texts and contexts, text selection, writing assignments, and our own goals and expectations for such courses. The goal is to come away with a sense of how and why teaching such courses matters, and with new approaches to course materials.

Please submit a 250-word abstract and CV to Kate Birdsall via NeMLA's system: https://www.cfplist.com/nemla/Home/S/15706