Teacher in Amsterdam, Netherlands
How can one help students read between the lines when they are used to reading for information? According to Viktor Shklovsky, literature exists to make the familiar strange. But as a teacher of literature and cultural history, how can one make the strange familiar? How can one harness the potential of digital technology so that students can not only read and write, but "make" history?
Pushing students out of their comfort zone, challenging them to ask original questions, and stimulating them to connect the dots are the main objectives in my class regardless of the subject.
As a scholar, I am interested in the ways culture and history have been used, remediated, and recycled for the instrumentalization of nationalism. As a tenured assistant professor in the department of European Studies at the Universiteit van Amsterdam, I have taught a variety of courses including nationalism studies, (post)colonialism, cultural history, opera, music, and literature. My department has a strong interdisciplinary orientation, so I need to devise courses that will appeal to students with a wide array of interests, ranging from political sciences to economics and law, but who have little experience or curiosity when it comes to literature or history. How then can one bring to life a big nineteenth-century novel to students who would otherwise never consider reading (canonical) fiction? Or invite them for a virtual historical tour of the various opera houses and concert halls in Europe to give them an idea of how contemporary audiences rocked the political foundations of their own time?
The courses are designed to emphasize the importance of historical perspectives for our deeper understanding of current issues, and to invite students to discover the relevance of culture in studying contemporary political or social developments.
This blog is meant to stimulate reflection on teaching practices that have the potential to "rewire" history for students of the 21st century. My hope is that by combining classical methods with modern digital technology, students will enjoy (de)constructing and exploring the narratives about the past that still determine the way we understand our present.