Suggestions Needed: Teaching Culture in China
Next semester Christie (my wife) and I will be teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Each of us will be teaching a course called “American Culture.” The course content is entirely up to us, and we’ve been slowly engaged in the task of putting together the material we will eventually be covering (individually, the courses aren’t team-taught, but we’ll teach the same syllabus). We really need help accumulating suggestions from people regarding what to cover, and how to cover it. Click below the fold and give us a hand! All suggestions welcome — especially from students!
The folks at Tsinghua would like it if the course covered standard cultural stuff (politics, religion, race, etc) but also a fair amount of “pop” culture as well. In addition, they seem to like the idea of using movies and other artistic media to get out lessons across or our discussions going.
This means that we have a lot of things to consider. First, there’s the question of “what to cover?” Second, there’s the question of “how to cover what we cover.” In the first section, we’re looking for subjects to cover. So — when you think of “American culture” what subjects seem to you to be no-brainers? In the second part, we’d be happy to hear suggestions for (a) movies that could be shown that highlight those themes, (b) artwork, (c) music, (d) literature, etc. In both sections, it’s pretty much open. So feel free to add what you can! We need every idea we can get!
Section One: What to Cover?
So far, we’re thinking of the following “units” (not in order):
1. The Autonomous Self
2. The American Dream (Economics, Class)
4. Gender and Sex
6. The (Wild) West
7. The South
10. Culture Wars
What else? I have no doubt there are lots of themes we haven’t thought of. Please feel free to add more!
Section Two: How to Cover What We Cover
This is totally open ended. We have lots of readings and some films in mind, but I won’t list them. Instead I’d rather just leave it open: what would you do? What readings would you use? Films? Literature? Cool and fun class exercises? Really anything here — the sky is the limit.
Really — feel free to suggest anything here. For instance, in unit 13 (Consumerism) I’m thinking seriously of showing “Dawn of the Dead” (I know Alexus would be happy), which has an interesting way to present a critique of American consumerism.
We’d appreciate any suggestions you might have. The more the better!