EDST 1002A Teaching August Wilson
August Wilson has been hailed as “Theater's Poet of Black America,” yet many students have little exposure to this literary giant. This course explores Wilson’s impressive cycle of 10 plays illustrating 20th African-American experiences. We will take an interdisciplinary approach to reading, analyzing, and understanding Wilson’s work, exploring the influence of the blues, visual artist Romare Bearden, and playwright/poet Amiri Baraka. We will also use Critical Race Theory as an analytical tool for understanding Wilson’s significance within the larger context of race relations. We will also take some time to explore ways to teach Wilson’s work in high school settings.
INTD 1075 Debating Global Literature: Ngugi Wa Thiongo's The Wizard of the Crow
In this interdisciplinary course, we will analyze eminent Kenyan writer Ngugi Wa Thiongo’s magisterial novel The Wizard of the Crow in the context of current debates on globalization, world literature, colonial and postcolonial theory, ecocriticism, and gender studies. Set in a fictional African country, the novel weaves together the stories of corrupt political leaders and the ordinary folk who use extraordinary means—wizardry, underground organizing, and ritual performances—to oppose them and carve out a place for themselves. Readings for the course will include Ngugi’s novel as well as theoretical readings from the fields of postcolonial studies, politics, history, development studies, and anthropology. This course counts as an ENAM elective. AAL, LIT, SOC
RELI 1020 Giving Meaning to Ordinary Time: Exploring the Jewish Sacred Calendar
Beginning with an overview of the history and evolution of Jewish culture and religion, we will examine the holy days and holidays of Judaism. We will study selected celebrations in terms of their development and practice, and their role in expressing a theology and system of values. We will explore themes such as the human condition and its challenges; forgiveness, repentance, and atonement; celebration; the tension between historical memory and spiritual reinterpretation; and the function of holidays in society. We will also examine contemporary issues of gender, emerging practices, and the portrayal of religious holidays in pop culture. This course counts as elective credit towards the Religion major. PHL
Ira Schiffer is the Associate Chaplain and Rabbi of Middlebury College. He holds an MA in the History of Religions from Brown University and did his rabbinic training at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.