Other courses I’ve taught have varied greatly, depending on subject matter and situation. Some — such as the independent studies and undergraduate course assistants I’ve supervised, or my UCSC course on “Research for College and Beyond” — consist largely of mentorship and professionalizing, and require students to create their own research projects. Most, however, fall under the umbrella of Humanities.
I typically design Humanities courses as interdisciplinary explorations of an idea or historical moment, in which we consider the course subject as a dialog between (sometimes-competing) narratives — cultural, historical, political, theoretical, and aesthetic. These classes are driven by lectures, group discussions, student presentations, and multi-media expositions, and feature both creative and analytical writing. By nature, these courses are also pedagogically flexible; some (such as “A History of Cool”) could, with minimal adjustments, shape-shift from a topics course in a Humanities department to an American Studies class, to (as I frequently teach at UCSC) a research-based rhetoric and composition class offered through the College Writing Program. Others of this type that I’ve taught or assisted with over the years include a quarter-long interrogation of the Divine Comedy, a gender-reading of the Book of Genesis, and a cross-discipline study of the year 1968. Regardless of the topic, these classes balance academic rigor, personal investment, and imaginative thought; they are among my favorite courses to teach.