Students as Readers and Communicators
Two major learning goals for the course were to train students both as readers and communicators, thus introducing them to major tools of humanistic inquiry. The statement below is how we explained these roles to the students, and it also introduces the main pedagogical principles that guided our work in this course.
As a reader, you will grapple with texts and objects, seeking to understand and to interpret them. For the purposes of this course, being a researcher belongs in the category of reader, because it is aimed at increasing your understanding of a work of art. Many humanities courses focus exclusively on reading in this broad sense of the word. Such courses deepen your expertise, and your professors expect that in this course you will learn more about western art and about masculinity. When you write as a reader, you are using writing to think.
However, in this course, you will take on another role as well, that of communicator. As a communicator, you will design a virtual exhibition that tells a story about masculinity. As a communicator, you will produce a series of research products on works of art whose goal is to share the knowledge and insights you have gained with different audiences. As a communicator, you will think about various media available to you and chose the ones that work best for a specific object and a specific audience. When you work and write as a communicator, you think about communicating in ways that are accurate, correct, effective, and engaging.
Your professors have structured the course around these roles. The first third of the course focuses on reading; the rest of the course focuses on communicating. Of course, in practice, the roles of reader and communicator are in constant, productive dialogue with one another. Much of your reading and research will be done with design goals in mind. The process of working as a communicator in designing a section of the virtual exhibition, or of writing a wall caption for an object, for example, will raise new questions that only a new round of reading and researching can answer.