I’ve been thinking about winter term classes and decided to use the present political turmoil as a teaching moment. For example, in my Women in the Middle Ages class, I plan to include assignments on the rhetoric of misogyny and sexual innuendo & political scandal in the royal court. And in the historical theory class, extra doses of feminist, race, class, post-colonial theory with the Spanish Inquisition as the historical problem for analysis. It’s deliciously ironic, but I have used Lu Ann Homza’s edited collection of primary sources for this class before and it was terrific. Now it couldn’t be more pertinent.

I can’t be alone in wanting to build assignments that allow students to examine the deep roots of the present mess. What are all of you who teach planning to do?

But it would be very effective, I think,  if we could gather all this stuff together in this blog site for easy reference.

When I posted a query for this on Facebook, here are some of the replies (anonymous for the moment):

  • “My spring class is supposed to be from 1492 to the present. But I’m very tempted to narrow it down to two key moments – the shift from diversity to unity under Ferdinand & Isabella and through the 16th century, and then jumping to the 20th century, the shift from unity under Franco (with lots of rhetorical gestures towards F&I) to diversity with the transition to democracy. (super oversimplified, I know, but that’s a semester in one sentence – would focus on the roles of society, church, government, and various kinds of minorities, to see the reasons for those shifts and who benefits in what kinds of ways from them.). Is that nuts?”
  •  “I have organized my early medieval history survey *and* my medieval Spain class around these ideas this semester.”
  • “Some semesters I’ve made a point of reading a famous saying (like Roman ones in Rome class) or explaining a grammar point at the beginning of class, just as a thing to do. This makes me wonder if maybe I should read a sentence or two from the Constitution or the amendments. I don’t teach American history, so this might not be appropriate, but still … Today I’m doing the French Wars of Religion from the 16th c, and I already had planned to make a point emphasizing that this kind of history in Europe is why we have separation of church and state (since I had a student in that class ask what ever had happened to the ‘age old’ separation of church and state notion, which he knew had started way earlier than the 16th c). Now maybe I’ll put the first amendment on a PowerPoint slide as added illustration.”

I hope you join the conversation!