60s courses (multiple messages)

SIXTIES-L (SIXTIES-L@jefferson.village.virginia.edu)
Thu, 20 Nov 1997 13:50:31 -0500


From: 00aoedmonds@bsuvc.bsu.edu
Subject: Re: For the record...

If a course on the Vietnam War counts as a sixties course, then the concept is
alive and well at Ball State Univ. My course on the war for next spring is
oversubscribed by fifty, with about 30% of the students still registering.
I have always had support from my department and the university. I am amazed
that anyone, save for the most curmudgeonly of traditionalists ("Anything after
1600 is current events" etc.) having any problems with these types of courses.
Perhaps a bit of jealousy enters in when the classes attract a lot of students?

Tony Edmonds
Ball State Univ.


From: <TONYW@siucvmb.siu.edu>
Subject: Re: For the record...

Things do not look too bad as far as my "institution" is
concerned. But new Core Curriculum imperatives often involve
dogmatically stating what instructors should teach as well as frequent
biased evaluations done by Faculty outside the discipline who have no
idea of the individual strategies employed by various instructors.

One awful course is a 121 Western Tradition introduced last year for
students in an open access institution, some of whom can barely read or
write. Despite six sections closing this year, the Core Curriculum
Committee seems happy with a "Great Books" course which involves the
Bible, Homer, Dante, Voltaire, Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf etc, etc
but nothing from other ethnic groups or outside the canon. I was able
to modify this horrendous course somewhat by comparing Stone's PLATOON
to Homer's writings. Otherwise, this particular atrocity seemed
designed to appeal to the likes of Lynne Cheyney and bloated Bill

A 200 level class on Literary Approaches to the Modern World allows
some flexibility in using Viet Nam texts and the excellent THE OTHER
SIDE OF HEAVEN anthology. However, the move towards rigorous
categories and control over what may be taught may lead to the gradual
elimination of important 60s text. One can imagine politically
motivated individuals on Boards of Higher Education demanding the
compulsory teaching of works such as FIELDS OF FIRE and right wing
texts and the removal of those texts giving the Vietnamese side of the
picture for this particular Core course.

Unfortunately, core curriculum initiatives often involve control over
what should be taught. We should be wary as the current trend in
higher education (removal of tenure, "Fire at Will" Universities) may
be designed to return academics to the ugly past depicted in Upton
Sinclair's THE GOOSE STEP - a very relevant text dealing with the
world of academia prior to tenure and applicable to certain movements
happening today.

Tony Williams.


From: "Luchando@msn.com " <Luchando@classic.msn.com>
Subject: RE: Future of '60s courses? (multiple posts)

We would do better for our children and grandchildren to offer courses
on the Thirties. Most who were active in the Sixties (except hippies)
were merely continuing the traditions of the Thirties of hard work and
determination. Plus the Thirties actually accomplished some things
that benefited working class and poor people. Self-centered
libertarian hedonism was not a part of the Thirties movement, it was
based on responsibility and caring for each other.



From: Sandra Hollin Flowers <flowers_s@Mercer.EDU>
Subject: Competing curricular interests

On Fri, 14 Nov 1997, TED MORGAN wrote:

> [snip] there are potentially a few clouds on the horizon in the
> "new curricular imperatives" that Sandra mentions. In my own case, I'm trying
> to generate a possible new course --a kind of "Democracy Lab" or "Democracy
> Project" in which teams of students work with local area residents to help
> their empowerment, outreach, & mobilization efforts... If it ever flies (and
> it fits into the new "hot" team-learning concept), I'll be faced with some
> tough questions: what can I teach less from Intro. Amer. Govt. (which I would
> drop, but probably have to teach), Propaganda, Media & American Politics
> (which I value as highly as the 60s class), the 60s class, or a seminar that
> right now focuses on the Vietnam war. Tough decision!

These are exactly the kinds of problems I'm facing, Ted. I'd have my hands
full and be in professorial heaven if I were allowed to split my time
among five fields--creative writing, African American lit, modern and
contemporary fiction, advanced essay writing, and literary criticism. Add
to that freshman writing, which most English teachers, if not all of them
in small schools, have to teach and an occassional senior seminar in my
other interests (including '60s) and honors theses (not to mention
committee work) and I'd say that's enough of a contribution for any one
person to make to an institution.

In your case, at least what you want to add to your teaching repertoire is
a course of your own design (sounds incredibly interesting) and one that
you're excited about teaching. That's not always the case for "curricular
imperatives" that take one involuntarily outside one's discipline(s).
Ironically, the situation I'm facing now has given me a new understanding
of and empathy for the hostility with which writing-across-the-curriculum
was (still is?) greeted. This from a former WAC director who ows much of
her pedagogical training and development to the years of studying how to
make WAC work for everybody!

Getting off '60s topics, I know. However, inasmuch as my '60s course will
fall victim to competing imperatives, as might some of those of others on
the list, I thought it worth reinforcing the point that Ted makes.

Sandra Flowers

Sandra Hollin Flowers flowers_s@mercer.edu
Associate Professor of English Voice: (912) 752-2813
Mercer University Fax: (912) 757-4956
Macon, GA 31207