MyAmericanFuture

MyAmericanFuture
MyAmericanFuture

Friday, September 7, 2018

September 7, 2018: Fall 2018 Previews: Voices of Resistance for ALFA


[This week I start my 14th year at Fitchburg State. For that momentous occasion, I decided to focus in this fall preview on one thing that has evolved for each class I’m teaching, and one that’s a bit more longstanding. Leading up to a special weekend update on my next book project!]
On a couple voices I know I’ll be including in my fall adult learning class, and a request for suggestions!
After not teaching any adult learning classes in the spring for the first time in many many semesters (just a scheduling issue, as every semester is better with at least one such class on my schedule), this fall I’ll return to teaching in Fitchburg State’s Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) program with a new course on voices of resistance in American history. I’ve generally tried throughout my fifteen or so ALFA classes to alternate between more specifically literary and more broadly AmericanStudies topics, and it was time for a more AmericanStudies one; within that latter category, I started with my Spring 2017 ALFA course on 21st century issues and events to move more overtly into topics that feel salient to our contemporary moment, and decided to continue that trend with this fall’s class. I probably don’t need to write too much about why a class highlighting voices and texts from across American history that have resisted and challenged the darkest sides of our national story fits that contemporary bill, do I?
My plan for focal points for the course’s five meetings is to include both figures for which we can work with particular texts and those for which we can’t. An example of a textual focus would be William Apess, whose resistance went well beyond his essays and speeches (including his vital work with the Mashpee Revolt), but for whom we can still read those wonderful documents to examine his voice and perspective. An example of a less textual focus would be Elizabeth Freeman and Quock Walker, whose resistance does connect to documents like the 1783 Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision but for whom it’d be important to highlight and discuss multiple histories and moments that can help us think about their own identities and actions. Each of those figures resisted some of our darkest national histories (Indian Removal and slavery, respectively), and modeled both strategies for challenging those narratives and victories in arguing for an alternative vision of American law, society, and community. I think they still have a lot to tell and teach us in 2018!
Obviously I have ideas for all five weeks, but I’d really love to extend my own knowledge with suggestions from y’all! So who or what would you recommend as voices, figures, texts, moments of resistance in American history? This AmericanStudying mind wants to know!
Book update this weekend,
Ben
PS. What do you all have going on this Fall?

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