Songs of Innocence and of Experiential Learning

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Jesse Miller (Northeast Modern Langauge Association)
contact email: 

Experiential Learning has been described as an innovative approach to pedagogy in the fields of literature, language, and composition. Proponents argue that integrating Experiential Learning opportunities such as public projects, the production of publications, partnerships with local organizations, volunteering, and field trips into the curriculum enable students to connect what they've learned in the classroom to the wider world. But the significance of the concept of experience in the scholarship on experiential learning, although far from self-evident, remains largely untheorized. In Songs of Experience, Martin Jay points out that in modern philosophy the concept of experience has taken on a range of meanings, sometimes to conflicting ends. This roundtable aims to explore the multivalent meanings of experience as used in the discourse and practice of Experiential Learning.

Participants will share examples (actual or imagined) of Experiential Learning pedagogies in action and will use these case studies as an opportunity to reflect on the implications of how various notions of experience are embodied in particular activities, assignments, and projects. Particular attention should be given to the mobilization of the concept of experience within specific institutional contexts.

Questions to consider include: In what ways does experiential learning offer up experience as a challenge to didacticism and entrenched classroom hierarchies by connecting student learning to problems and communities beyond the university? In what ways does the emphasis on experience reassert the anti-intellectual distinction between study and action, and the corporate university’s utilitarian insistence on the production of observable learning outcomes? What kinds of experience are relevant in the context of globalization, uneven modernization, and the proliferation of networked media? How can approaches to Experiential Learning account for the non-fungibility of experiences filtered through complex identities and shaped by social oppressions.This roundtable will take place at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) 2019 Conference in Washington, D.C. March 21-24, 2019. Please submit a proposal of up to 400 words here: