When historians privilege writing to and for one another over all other kinds of writing—especially in a period when the humanities in particular are under siege at public universities around the country—do we run the risk of making ourselves irrelevant to anyone but ourselves? This article explores the stakes involved when historians shift the focus of their scholarly work toward alternate, non-academic audiences. In this case, I will focus my attention on writing for university and secondary student audiences through textbooks and reference works. On the one hand, I argue that writing for students has its pitfalls, because it is devalued in the historical discipline relative to monographs and articles based on archival research. As such, investment in such writing can prove detrimental to achieving tenure and promotion. On the other hand, I argue that writing for students allows us to reach a much larger audience than our peers. In addition, writing for student audiences forces us to think carefully about the accessibility of our writing as well as the link between research, telling stories in writing, and teaching. As such, I argue that writing for students may allow historians greater visibility and relevance in the public at a critical time, given recent cuts in higher education budgets.
Pitfalls and Possibilities
The South African university system has experienced intense student-led protests since early 2015. One of the stakes in the conflict is democratic legitimacy. The legitimacy conflicts roiling universities are, to be sure, not mainly about
The Degenerate Medical Students of Edward Berdoe's St. Bernard's
This article reveals how Edward Berdoe's St. Bernard's: The Romance of a Medical Student (1887) critiques the evolution of medical science at the fin de siècle. Berdoe deploys the discourse of degeneracy to challenge the culture of medical education that produces monstrous medical students. St. Bernard's reflects not only the ambiguity towards scientific materialism and knowledge, which entails learning how to prolong life by encountering death, but also critiques the foundations of late Victorian medical education by articulating how the middle class was complicit in the horrors that the novel would expose, ultimately suggesting that middle-class health was built on the bodies of the poor. The text's ethical imperative to reform the medical establishment, however, derives its rhetorical power from provoking anxieties of corrupting middle-class health with working-class and pauper bodies. This reveals the novel's problematic use of degeneracy, as St. Bernard's reinscribes some of the very tenets about class that it aims to critique.
Student-Prisoner Reading Groups and the Object(s) of Literary Study
Taking stock of ten years of a service learning project that brings together small groups of college students and prisoners in jailhouse classrooms to discuss literary representations of crime and punishment, this essay finds in project participants' reading journals some remarkable trends. Complex dynamics of authenticity and authority emerge in the groups' weekly meetings, as participants negotiate their own and their groups' identities and commitments with respect to each other and to the literary texts, in the absence of professors, corrections officers, or other guardians of discipline. These dynamics are investigated in light of participants' discussions of a range of works, before looking in greater detail at responses to Sherman Alexie's 1996 novel Indian Killer, which are found to complicate stable notions of pedagogical authority and the object(s) of literary study.
American College Students in Mytilene, Greece.
Over the last several years I have been lecturing to American students visiting the north-eastern Aegean island of Lesvos, where their study abroad programme is based – in the town of Mytilene – via its association with the University of the Aegean, where I teach. Having had the opportunity to know closely several of these students and to be the recipient of their reactions to their self-experiences, it became evident that their crossing into another cultural context provided occasions for reflexivity. In line with the argument that a heightened awareness is a feature of ‘incomerness’ and of the meeting of ‘others’ (Kohn 1994: 19), the students’ relative linguistic incompetence, combined with their anxiety to conduct themselves in culturally ‘appropriate’ ways – not only for the purpose of handling practical matters, but also in order not to stand out awkwardly nor to offend those ‘others’ close to them – placed them in a liminal situation, one that prompted reflexivity (Babcock 1980). It appears that they struggled with the anxiety-ridden task of what Bourdieu calls ‘practical mastery’ (1977) in order to achieve some basic engagedness. Interestingly, the students would often label this socialisation process as ‘work’, wishing perhaps, through the metaphoric usage of the term, to emphasise the stressful and exhausting effect on the body and mind of this constant trial-and-error effort. I approach the students’ endeavour as a potential ‘journey of self-discovery’, focusing my analysis on their efforts to grapple with the problem of difference and strangeness, especially for the types of selfimages they reveal.
Perpetrator Witness and the Intergenerational Transmission of Guilt
Katharina von Kellenbach
Based on the archived correspondence between Artur Wilke, a convicted member of Sonderkommando 1005, and Hermann Schlingensiepen, a former professor of theology who acted as spiritual advisor to imprisoned Nazi perpetrators, this article examines the moral and political lessons that Nazi perpetrators communicated to their children. In a seventy-seven-page letter written to his son in 1966, Artur Wilke tried to preserve his paternal authority and moral integrity by denying personal wrongdoing. Instead, he portrayed himself as a victim of his teachers, of politicians, and of religious and legal authorities. He counseled his son to distrust the state and the law, and to submit only to divine authority. His political lessons and deep disillusionment with the German state resonated with the radical politics of the student rebellion of 1968.
While Terence Hawkes is best known as a witty practitioner of post-structural literary theory, his earliest scholarly efforts, such as the edited collection Coleridge on Shakespeare and the student text Structuralism and Semiotics, reveal some of his enduring intellectual traits, which range from a rigorous scholarly method and clear argumentative logic to intellectual generosity.
Melissa Dearey, Bethanie Petty, Brett Thompson, Clinton R. Lear, Stephanie Gadsby, and Donna Gibbs
The main aim of this essay is to explore prisoner life writing within the specific, richly and multiply dependent context of teaching and learning undergraduate criminology at an English university, from the authorial viewpoint of a teacher and her students as budding criminologists and coauthors. This article seeks to redress a continuing resistance to life history approaches in criminology, despite the discipline being formally devoted to the understanding of the meaning and experience of imprisonment in all its forms and consequences. What follows is a reflection on what students had to say on the fascinating subject of prisoner auto/biography and its place in popular and expert discourses on crime, criminality, and punishment, contextualised within the academic discipline of criminology.
Cognitive and Affective Learning in an Inclusive Shakespearean Curriculum
Sheila T. Cavanagh and Steve Rowland
Sheila T. Cavanagh and Steve Rowland link Shakespeare classrooms in distinctive venues: Cavanagh is a professor at Emory University in Atlanta, whose students are enrolled in undergraduate degree programmes; Rowland teaches at Monroe Correctional Facility in Washington State, under the auspices of University Beyond Bars. This article describes some of the practical and theoretical challenges emerging through this collaboration, many of which result from the instructors’ desires to construct their classes with pedagogic goals and assignments drawn from both cognitive and affective learning principles. Geography precludes the students meeting in person and they are not currently able to employ videoconferencing in this endeavour, but regular exchanges of essays and responses to each other’s writing allows these disparate groups of Shakespeareans to expand their knowledge of the drama while sharpening their critical and writing skills and learning to develop their affective understandings of the subject.
Reading and Writing in Prison
The aims of this special issue on ‘Reading and Writing in Prison’ are twofold: to insist on the cultural significance of paying serious critical attention to the genre of prison writing beyond canonical authors (such as Oscar Wilde) and to showcase reading and writing in prison as a space for radical pedagogy and social transformation – potential transformation not only for those ‘inside’ but also those going into prisons as facilitators, be they creative practitioners, academics, or university students.