Thursday, January 12, 2017
January 12, 2017: Spring 2017 Previews: Adult Learning Class on Inspiring Contemporary Voices
[Next week, a new semester begins; so this week, I’ll preview five classes and other aspects of that semester, this time through the lens of teaching and working in the age of Trump. Leading up to a special weekend post on book talks and plans!]
A request for suggestions and nominations for my newest ALFA course.
The presidential election hadn’t happened yet when I proposed my Spring 2017 Adult Learning in the Fitchburg Area (ALFA) course, on Inspiring Contemporary Voices, but somehow I had a feeling that we would need to find and celebrate such inspiring voices in 2017. Much of the time in my work, as in my most recent book and my long-simmering idea for a Hall of American Inspiration, I look to the past, to literature and history, texts and figures, from across America’s many centuries of post-contact existence, for models of inspiration that we can apply in our present moment. But it’s just as important, any time but doubly so in dark times, to find and celebrate the inspiring figures and voices that are part of our own moment and society, to read and hear their words and learn about their identities and careers and consider what we might learn from these contemporaries.
I’ve got lots of ideas for folks and texts I might feature in the course’s five meetings: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her TED talks on perspectives and feminism; Ta-Nehisi Coates and his public scholarly journalism and personal narrative on race, history, and the challenges and possibilities of our own moment; Miyoko Hikiji and her memoir and political and social activism around the topic of gender, sex, and the military; and José Antonio Vargas and his journalism, documentary filmmaking, and web projects dedicated to issues of immigration, ethnicity, and defining America. Any and all of those four figures would give us lots to read, watch, talk about, contextualize, and learn from across our course’s five mid-March to April meetings to be sure.
But that’s still a couple months away, and so even more than usual I’d really, really appreciate any and all suggestions for figures and/or texts that could help introduce us to inspiring contemporary voices. Obviously it’d be important that these folks have texts of some kind—written, multimedia, podcasts, you name it—so that we can have ways to access them collectively, but that’s really my only requirement. This is a class where I’d love the chance to be introduced myself to some new voices, as well as to introduce them to the ALFA students, and that’s gonna depend on getting suggestions and nominations from others. So you know what to do—add such suggestions and nominations in comments, or email me with them directly, if you would. Help me and us find inspiration when we need it most!
Last preview tomorrow,
PS. Suggestions or nominations for this course? Other spring plans you’d highlight or share?