Caroline Bynum describes the rationale behind a second set of case studies or “ethnographies” of the humanities classroom, which complements a first set that appeared in Common Knowledge in the spring of 2017. The first set aroused interest because it took the innovative approach of describing particular pedagogical experiences rather than simply making general arguments about the value of the humanities, as a number of recent publications have done. The second set continues the approach of describing in detail the excitement and discovery that can occur in a particular humanities class but also expands upon the first to include the voices of graduate students and an undergraduate and to delineate the process by which one teacher put together an online course. Several essays articulate the doubts that professors sometimes feel about their task—doubts that may lead to moving connections with students, who also feel doubt. The introduction suggests that descriptions of specific classroom experiences and of the careful planning and passionate commitment of teachers may help us all to cling to the moral values both professors and their students seem to need and want in these troubled times.
Introduction: Ethnographies of the Classroom
Caroline Walker Bynum, Jeffrey F. Hamburger, William P. Caferro, Linda Safran, Adam S. Cohen, Kathryn Kremnitzer, Siddhartha V. Shah, Wenrui Zhao, Lynn Hunt, Elizabeth Heineman, William J. Simpson, Youval Rotman; Introduction: Ethnographies of the Classroom. Common Knowledge 1 August 2018; 24 (3): 353–355. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0961754X-6939731
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