Monday, May 24, 2010

Back from California

I apologize for not really keeping up with comments for the past week or two — between the frenzy of final grading, my prospectus defense, and a week-long trip to California for my brother-in-law's graduation, I have not been tending to this blog as I should. The auto-posting seems to have worked well, though, so I have no complaints.

This summer, I will be working for two professors, doing course development on two new Gen Ed courses.

The first, to be offered in the Spring 2011 semester, is called Tangible Things: Harvard Collections and World History. It is meant to be an introduction to Harvard's many material object collections as well as an exploration of the birth of academic disciplines and the porous boundaries that separate them. This course has been in development for a year and is in the nitty-gritty stage of planning actual assignments, hammering out a syllabus, and honing readings. It is a tricky course to plan because so much of it involves traveling to museums and archives, but Harvard does not have preregistration (and this is a new course), so we have no idea whether we will have 25 students or 250.

The second, to be offered in the Fall 2011 semester is called Dead or Alive. It is an historical approach to many contemporary issues of life and death, including abortion, medical research, eugenics, reproductive technology, end-of-life care, disposal of the dead, etc. This course will use the case study method to introduce students to these issues and their histories. Another grad student and I have been researching and writing cases this semester and are meeting later today to determine which cases will make the cut. We also designed several assignments for possible use — my favorite involves asking students to design an environmentally sustainable cemetery that will serve the material and spiritual needs of Cambridge residents for the next 200 years.

I will also be starting serious work on that tiny project called my dissertation. At the moment, it is just a daunting pit and I can hardly stand to tiptoe to the edge. I think my first step is to make a To Do list that breaks it down into manageable parts so I can start somewhere.

And, of course, I will be going out with my camera to photograph gravestones. The weather is beautiful today, but I have meetings and email to catch up on. If the weather holds, I'll go out tomorrow.

Looking forward to a great summer!

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