Suzanne Seriff

Senior LecturerPh.D., University of Texas at Austin

Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology; Independent Museum Curator and Consultant
Suzanne Seriff



Anthropology of Museum Representation; Representation of Jews in American Public Culture (museums, world's fairs, cartoons, theatre, literature); American Jewish Visual and Folk Culture; Texas Jews; The Galveston Movement.


In addition to teaching, I also curate major traveling exhibition projects, including, recently, 'Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island," and am currently Director of the Gallery of Conscience at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


J S 365 • Rep Of Jews Amer Pub Sphere

39315 • Fall 2015
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)

This course explores an aspect of Jewish cultural studies that analyses how Jews and Jewishness are represented in the American public sphere through words, stories, images, exhibits, performances, and events—--even such unlikely places as public health and immigration documents. Special attention will be paid to a number of performative genres and display practices of American public culture including cartoons, museum exhibits, photographic displays, film, fiction, tv shows, and screenplays.   We will focus especially on the historical context of these displays, and the ways in which these broader national contexts are both reflective and constitutive of the particular image of the “Jew” in American public culture at particular times. We pay particular attention to specific moments in American and international public history when these “agencies of display” were used in the service of nation-building to forward distinct—and often competing—notions of Jews in American life as either “curiosities, freaks or racial specimens” on the one hand, or enthusiastic representations of the American assimilationist dream, on the other. Students will have the opportunity to participate directly in analyzing this process of cultural production—either through original field research, planning and designing a specific mode of display, or providing a critical analysis of an historic example of this production. 

J S 365 • Amer Jewish Material Cul

39450 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 112
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)

This course introduces students to a burgeoning field of American Jewish cultural studies that deals with what cultural theorist Arjun Appadurai calls, “the social value of things.” Focusing on the interplay between material culture and Jewish identity, thought, and practice in contemporary America, the course explores how Jews think about, work with, use, wear, display and “perform’ objects in the course of their everyday lives. This is not a course just on the production of fine art by or about Jews, so much as it is about the everyday arts of adornment, celebration, liturgy, spirituality, memorialization and identity and the ways in which these various meanings are negotiated within distinct domains of prayer, performance, entertainment and display. Borrowing from the central concern of cultural commentator, Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, we will pose the question, "What does it mean to show?"—or in this case, “to show, Jewishly?” -- and explore the agency of display in a variety of American Jewish settings: in the home, on the street, in houses of worship, on the body, in celebration and in public displays such as museum exhibits, world’s fairs, festivals, and other touristic attractions. We will look at how the everyday artifacts of American Jewish life are made to "perform" their meanings for us by the very fact of being consumed, collected, arranged, worn, addressed, touched, kissed, and carried, and about the powerful messages conveyed not only by the objects themselves but by the specific ways in which these objects are addressed and interacted with. In examining the meaning and value of things in the context of religious practice or cultural display students will have a chance to explore broader theoretical topics about what it means to be Jewish in a multi-cultural, multinational, multi-denominational democracy such as the United States, as seen through an exploration of issues of memory, sense of place, identity, performativity, belief, and spirituality. Drawing from the fields of folklore, Jewish studies, cultural studies, religious studies, literature, museum studies, film, and photography, the course introduces students to the vibrancy and meanings of Jewish material culture in American Jewish life and thought. The course will emphasize the development of critical thinking skills and cultural analysis. The class format will entail active, participatory, and empowering ways of learning based on class discussion, class field trips, and original oral historical and field-based research. The course is intentionally designed to be student-centered. Students will be discussing and presenting material during class sessions and interacting with one another and the instructor on a regular basis. Students will also have the opportunity to participate directly in the curatorial process of cultural representation, either through the planning and/or implementation of their own exhibit, or a critical analysis of a particular display of objects owned, made, collected, worn, displayed, used, venerated, and symbolized in American Jewish culture.

J S 365 • American Jewish Material Cul

40090 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SAC 4.118
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)

This course introduces students to a burgeoning field of  American Jewish cultural studies that deals with what one theorist calls, “the social value of things” (Arjun Appadurai). Focusing on the interplay between material culture and Jewish identity and thought in contemporary America, the course explores how Jews think about, work with, display and “perform’ objects in the course of their everyday lives. This is not a course on the production of fine art by or about Jews, so much as it is about the everyday arts of adornment, celebration, memorialization and identity negotiation through the material cultures of our everyday lives.

J S 365 • Repres Jew In Amer Publ Sphere

40030 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 930am-1100am SAC 4.174
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)

This course will critically examine  how Jews have been  represented and constituted in American public culture—as race, religion, and/or nation-- through distinct institutions and display practices such as world’s fairs, museum exhibits, photographic displays, immigration stations, and public/private spaces of home, leisure and work.   We will focus especially on the ways in which distinct events and exhibitions constitute a particular image of the “Jew” in American diasporic life by way of an exhibitionary logic that dictates the way objects or subjects are classified, their arrangement in space, their status as art or artifact, their contextualization, their animation and mode of display. We also pay attention to specific moments in American public history when  these “agencies of display” were used in the service of nation-building to forward distinct—and often competing—notions of Jews in American life as both “curiosities, freaks or archeological specimens” on the one hand, or enthusiastic embracers of the American assimilationist dream, on the other. Students will have the opportunity to participate directly in creating and/or critiquing this process of cultural  production—either through original field research of a local exhibitionary site; planning and designing a specific mode of display; or providing a critical analysis of an historic example of this production. The class includes two museum field trips to  explore exhibits in which Jews are represented in very different “exhibitionary complexes”:  San Antonio’s UT Institute of Texan Cultures where Jews are represented as one of the 20 original “ethnic groups” who settled Texas; and The Texas State History Museum’s temporary exhibit, “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to American Through Galveston Island”, where Jews are represented and constituted through a set of restrictive immigration practices, as weak chested “public charges”; ladies of the night; contaminated bodies; racial polluters; or disruptive “anarchists.’

J S 365 • American Jewish Material Cul

40000 • Fall 2010
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm PAR 103
(also listed as ANT 325L, R S 346)

This course introduces students to a burgeoning field of  American Jewish cultural studies that deals with what one theorist calls, “the social value of things” (Arjun Appadurai). Focusing on the interplay between material culture and Jewish identity and thought in contemporary America, the course explores how Jews think about, work with, display and “perform’ objects in the course of their everyday lives. This is not a course on the production of fine art by or about Jews, so much as it is about the everyday arts of adornment, celebration, memorialization and identity negotiation through the material cultures of our everyday lives. 

Koltun-Fromm, Ken, 2010. Material Culture and Jewish Thought in America. Indiana University Press

 Joselit, Jenna Weissman 1994.  The Wonders of America: Reinventing Jewish Culture, 1880-1950 Henry Holt and Company. 

 Ferris, Marcie Cohen,  2005.  Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. University of North Carolina Press.

 Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara and Jonathan Karp, eds. 2006. The Art of Being Jewish in Modern Times. Philadelphia: 

University of Pennsylvania Press. 2008.

Mirzoeff, Nicholas, ed. 2000. Diaspora and visual culture: representing Africans and Jews. London/New York: Routledge. 

 Joselit, Jenna & Karen Mittelman, A Worthy Use of Summer:  Jewish 

Summer  Camping  in America. National Museum of  American  Jewish History, 1993)

UGS 303 • Diff Dialog: Immig/Cul Plurlsm

64894 • Fall 2009
Meets T 200pm-500pm FAC 4

Difficult Dialogues: Immigration and Cultural Pluralism

UGS 303 Unique No. 64894


Fall 2009

Tuesdays 2-5 FAC 4


Instructor: Dr. Suzanne Seriff        

Office: EPS 2.112C

Office Hours: T 10-1, or by appointment

Phone: 2-1560




From Benjamin Franklin’s tirades against German immigrants in the mid-18th century, to the Chinese Exclusion Act in the 19th and the National Quota Act in the 20th, our nation has demonstrated a consistent history of tension over whom we collectively regard as “real Americans” and whom we allow into this country. This course is designed to engage students in meaningful dialogue about contemporary issues of immigration in the United States, through the historical lens of trans-oceanic immigration to Texas over a century ago. The primary “text” for this course will be a nationally traveling museum exhibit on Galveston as an immigrant port in the 19th and 20th centuries which is curated by Dr. Seriff and is currently premiering at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum until October of 2009. Students will have a unique opportunity to use the exhibit as both the site and the stimulus for issue-based dialogue with a number of different “stakeholders” on the topic of immigration, including contemporary immigrants, immigration lawyers, community advocates, immigrant workers and employers, and immigrant descendants. Students will engage each other and contemporary stakeholders in the community in an active dialogue about enduring questions facing our country as a “nation of immigrants” including “Who should be an American?” and “Who gets to decide?”


The course will be interdisciplinary in scope. Drawing on Dr. Seriff’s expertise in cultural studies and folklore, we will pay particular attention to how various cultural forms such as film, performance, literature, oral history, and popular media such as cartoons, newspaper classifieds and magazine covers can create forums for dialogue on the topic of immigration. We will aim to become better readers of texts (and of other people) through both the readings and the writing assignments.


Difficult Dialogues: A Ford Foundation Program (

This course is one of a handful of “Difficult Dialogues” courses that have been created over the past three years to help promote open scholarly inquiry, academic freedom and respect for different cultures and beliefs on the campus of the University of Texas at Austin. The development of this course has been partially funded through a grant from the Ford Foundation to the University of Texas at Austin.


The Difficult Dialogues initiative of the Ford Foundation was created in the spring of 2005 “in response to reports of growing intolerance and efforts to curb academic freedom on U.S. campuses” (O’Neil, Robert M. 2006, “The Difficult Dialogues Initiative.” Academe (July-August) pgs. 29-30). The University of Texas at Austin was one of 27 institutions of higher learning that were granted funding (out of 700 initial applications ) from the Ford Foundation. As a pilot program for this initiative, students will consider why “dialogue” as a method of scholarly and civic exchange represents a different approach to issues most often at the center of charged historical and contemporary “debate.”  They will also explore the historical and contemporary importance of academic freedom for professors and students on university campuses in promoting and sustaining the free exchange of ideas through sometimes difficult dialogues. Through a variety of small group exercises throughout the semester that focus on students’ identities and personal experiences, we will explore dialogue as a collective form of learning that connects our personal issues to the larger community in which we take part. The goal of dialogue (as opposed to debate) is to create understanding (rather than right or wrong sides) and new ways of negotiating conflict.




The two texts will be available at The University Co-op on Guadalupe Street and a required course packet (CP in the syllabus) will be available from IT Copy at 512 W MLK Blvd. Phone 512-476-6662. Be prepared with the course title (Difficult Dialogues: Immigration and Cultural Pluralism) or my name to request the packet. These readings will only be available in the course packet (not on Blackboard) so please budget to buy the packet, itself. You are responsible for completing your readings by class time each week.



Chavez, Leo R. Covering Immigration: Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation. University of California Press, 2001


Daniels, Roger and Otis L Graham.         Debating American Immigration, 1882-Present. Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2001


Course Packet:

Seriff, Suzanne.         Difficult Dialogues: Immigration and Cultural Pluralism.

 IT Copy at 512 W MLK Blvd.







 Theme I. Who Belongs?


Week One, Sept 1:  Introduction to Course        

·      Introduce ourselves and each other

·      Explore issues related to belonging and dialogue about that experience

·      Understand the elements of effective dialogue

·      Overview of class syllabus and requirements

·      Synthesis and closure


         Guest Speaker: Dr. Juli Fellows, Dialogue Facilitation Trainer


Assignment for next week:

Class Reflections:

 Post your impressions of this week’s exercises on Blackboard (due Monday, Sept. 7th by 9am) (1 page-@250 words):  Answer the questions: Why did I sign up for this class? What excites/interests me about this class? What concerns do I have about this class, if any?


Week Two, Sept. 8: Representing Immigration in a Museum Context

·      Class experience of the exhibit: facilitated dialogue tour

·      Sharing Personal Experiences from the exhibit

·      Exploring perspectives beyond our own: Treasure Hunt in Pairs: How do motivations for migrating affect the experience of belonging?

·      Synthesis and next steps


Note: Class for this week (Sept 8) will meet at 2pm at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 Congress Avenue—corner of Congress and MLK) in the rotunda on the first floor.


Reading for this week:

·      Ron Chew, “ Seeing the World Through the Eyes of Immigrants,”  In Museums and Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse. Vol.3 no. 2 pgs. 161-166 (Fall 2008). (CP)

·      Suzanne Seriff “ Immigrant Voices from America’s Forgotten Gateway” In Museums and Social Issues: A Journal of Reflective Discourse. Vol.3 no. 2 pgs.211-226 (Fall 2008) (CP)

·      Ruth Abrams,  “Kitchen Conversations: Democracy in Action at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, ” In The Public Historian. Vol 29, no.1 pgs. 59-76 (Winter 2007) (CP)


Assignment for next week (Sept. 15: Due on BB by 9am Monday, Sept 14)  

Personal Narrative:

Find out what you can of your family’s story of migrating to this country. (If you yourself immigrated to this country, you will write the narrative in the first person). You may want to pick one side of the family, or one ancestor in particular to write about: Where did they come from? Why did they leave their country of origin? When did they come to the United States? Where did they first settle? Where did they first arrive? Did they/you come back and forth? How old were they? Did they come alone or with other family members? What issue or issues did they face on the journey or upon arrival?

Write a one page personal narrative for your portfolio describing your family’s story. Do not make up a story. If you do not know and cannot ask a relative, write everything you do know, and then finish the essay by writing about what it feels like to not know this information, and why you think you may not know these stories in your family.


Extracurricular Activity: Galveston Movement Symposium, Sept  11th.   Texas State History Museum, classroom. 9-4.

Details to be discussed in class on Sept. 1st. The Symposium is free to UT students, but you must register to attend by calling the Museum at 936-4649, and you must bring your UT ID in order to get in free.

Extra-credit Assignment: Write a one page portfolio entry about one presentation you saw at the conference and what you learned about the issue of immigration) (This entry will count as a ‘free pass” for another time in the semester when you need/choose to skip a reflection entry. You may not use it as a pass to skip the personal narrative entry or either of the short papers.)


Theme II. History of Immigration 101


Week Three, Sept. 15: Who Belongs in America?


         Introduction: Our Names; Our Stories

         Where does my family fit on the immigration timeline?

What key issues intersect with immigration: labor, race, world events, human rights


Reading for this week and next: Debating Immigration: Roger Daniels and Otis Graham


Assignment for next week:

1.   Post Discussion Question for Prof. Freeman about the history of immigration in the US, or Prof Rabban on the topic of academic freedom as depicted in the 1915 Declaration of Principles and what that has to do with this course.

2. One page written paper on your own personal goals for this class, to be turned in to me during class, Sept. 22nd, and also included in your writing portfolio upon its return.


Week Four Sept. 22: Academic Freedom and the Topic of Immigration


2-3:30  Guest Speaker: Dr. David Rabban, UT Law School

  Academic Freedom


Reading: American Association of University Professors. 1915 “Declaration of  Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure.” AAUP Bulletin, Volume I, Part I (December): 17-39. (Blackboard)


3:45-5:00 Guest Speaker:  Dr. Gary Freeman, Chair and Professor, Department of Government. Patterns of Immigration in America


Reading: Debating Immigration: Debating Immigration, finish


Assignment for next week: Short Paper #1 (500 words-2-3 pages): Personal Narrative in Historic Context

Due Date: Beginning of class period, Tuesday,  Sept. 29th . Paper Details to be announced. Paper should be turned in during class on Sept. 29th. No emailed papers accepted.)



Theme III. Immigration as Big Business


Week Five Sept. 29: Texas Wants You! Stakeholders in the Business of Immigration in Late 19th Century


Exercise: How to read Primary Documents


Guest Speakers: Fred McGhee, Texas Archeologist, and Joe Lung, Chinese Railroad worker, descendant (or Irwin Tang, author, The Chinese Experiment)


Readings for this week:

·      Irwin Tang, “The Chinese Experiment” excerpt from Asian Texans: Our Histories and Our Lives 2008 (Blackboard)

·      Barbara Rozek, ch. 1 “Words of Enticement” and ch. 10:”Texas: The Immigrant State” In Come to Texas: Enticing Immigrants, 1865-1915, pgs. 3-20 and 191-197 (Texas A&M University Press 2003) (CP)

·      Bill Ong Hing, Chs. 1 and 2 in Defining America Through Immigration Policy, Temple University Press 2004, pgs. 11-50 (CP)


          Video Guest Artists: “Living Newspaper” Project Teens


Assignment for this week: Discussion Question Based on next week’s Readings


Note: Class will meet at Museum for this Week


Week Six Oct. 6:  Texas Wants You! Stakeholders in the Business of immigration Today



·      Joseph Nevins, “ch. 5: “The Ideological Roots of the “Illegal”: The “Other” as Threat and the Rise of the Boundary as the Symbol of Protection,”  In Operation Gatekeeper: The Rise of the “Illegal Alien” and the Making of the US-Mexico Boundary. Routledge Press, 2002 (CP) pgs. 95-122

·      Thomas Kessner and Betty Boyd Caroli, eds. “ Don’t Have my Papers Yet: Undocumented Aliens,” In Today’s Immigrants: Their Stories. Oxford University Press. 1982 pgs. 71-104

·      Mae M. Ngai, “Braceros, “Wetbacks” and the National Boundaries of Class,” In Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America. Princeton University Press 2004. Pgs.127-166.


Film: Los Trabajadores, by Heather Courtney


Guest Speakers:

                  Day laborers from Casa Marianela, contractor, police officer


Assignment for next week: Blackboard Posting: One Page Reflection Piece on Dialogue Generated from Film and/or Guest Speakers from Oct. 6th.



Theme IV:  Changing Attitudes Toward Immigrants: Who Can Be an American and Who gets to Decide?


Week Seven, Oct 13: Nativist Expressions in the  Popular Culture of the Progressive Era—1920s America



·      Leo Chavez, Covering Immigration; Popular Images and the Politics of the Nation , chs. 1 -4.

·      Bill Ong Hing, “”The Xenophobic 1920s” in Defining America Through Immigration Policy, Temple University Press 2004, pgs. 62-70 (CP)

·      Eric L. Goldstein, “The Unstable Other: Locating Jews in Progressive Era American Racial Discourse, In The Price of Whiteness: Jews, Race and American Identity. Princeton University Press 2006, pgs. 35-50 (CP)


Guest Speaker: TBD


Assignment for next week:

1.   Primary Document Analysis: Immigration Cartoons from the Progressive Era or Before: Post a cartoon from the 19th or early 20th century and write a one page analysis based on Chavez’ framework for reading visual culture.

2.   Personal Assessment of goals and your status in the course in relation to those goals. To be turned in to me during your midterm evaluation session.


All week: Individual conferences with me for Mid Term Evaluations and Writing Portfolio check



Week Eight Oct 20: Representations of Immigrants in the 21st century ; Who Can be an American Post 9/11?



·      Leo Chavez, “Covering Immigration, chs. 5-9

·      Michael Barone, “New Americans After September 11” In Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What it Means to be an American, ed. Tamar Jacoby. Pgs. 261-269 (2004)

·      Tram Nguyen, “Separated by Deportation: Minneapolis,” In We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11. Beacon Press 2005 pgs. 20-44.


Mandatory Extracurricular Assignment:

October 22: 7:30-9:00pm         UT-Austin Public Forum on Immigration and Higher Education


Optional: October 22: 3:00-5:00pm

Panel Discussion on Academic Freedom


Assignment for next week: Post one page summary and reflection piece on Public Forum Lecture

OR Select a contemporary cartoon or magazine cover on immigration and write a one page analysis using Chavez’ framework for reading visual culture.


Theme V. Immigration and Public Action


Week Nine Oct 27: The impact of public opinion on immigration law: The Case of the T. Don Hutto Detention Center


Reading:          (On Blackboard) Articles: T. Don Hutto Detention Center


Guest Speakers: Kate Lincoln-Goldfinch, Attorney for American Gateways;                  Representative  from Texans United for Families


Film: “The Least of These: Family Detention in America: A Documentary” Film by Clark Lyda and Jesse Lyda


Assignment for next week: Second Paper on Topic of Your Choice. Details to be Announced. Due in class on November 10th



Week Ten Nov. 3  Migration During an Era of Restriction


Special week: Instead of class on Tuesday, students will be required to go to at least one session of the conference of the same name which runs from Nov. 5-7. Details to be announced. For more information on the conference and schedule, go to


Assignment: One page summary and commentary on one paper from conference which relates to a theme discussed in class.


Theme VI. Finding Common Ground


Week Eleven, Nov. 10: Conflict Over Who Belongs: Fight or Flight?


Readings: The Case of the Vidauri Land Grant (or another Hispanic land grant legal case from the 19th century


Guest Speaker: Dr. Frank de la Teja, Texas State Historian (pending)


Assignment: Discussion Question Posting


Week Twelve, Nov. 17 Conflict over Who Belongs: Today’s Changing Demographics



Alejandro Portes “For the Second Generation, One Step at a Time,” In Reinventing the Melting Pot: The New Immigrants and What it Means to be American, ed. Tamar Jacoby. Pgs. 155-166


Guest Speaker: T.A. Vasquez, Allen Weeks and/or-St. Johns Neighborhood community members, Austin (pending)


Film Excerpt: The New Americans series: “Building Bridges: Deepening Understanding Between Long Term Residents and New Immigrants”


Assignment for next week; Reflection on Wk 12 Dialogue based on guest speakers and film excerpt


Week Thirteen Nov. 24 Open Topic

         Reflections on preceding weeks; group work on final projects


Week Fourteen Dec. 1: Group Presentations from Students


Assignment: Individual end of semester conference assessing class goals and accomplishments. Written assessment of class accomplishments and status. (Details to be covered in class)


Final Exam Period: TBD: Group Presentations from Students






Your grade for the course will be based on the following:


·      Writing portfolio with Discussion Questions, Blackboard Assignments and Short Papers………35%

·      Final Project: group presentation and final paper………         35%

·      Attendance and class participation, including on-time Blackboard posts…….. 30%


Attendance and Participation


As the title, “Difficult Dialogues,” suggests, discussion is central to this class and will be a significant part of your grade. You will have a chance to develop many different dialogue skills in the class—listening carefully and actively to others; articulating your own thoughts and feelings; summarizing your writing or your small group discussions for the larger group; formulating questions for visiting community speakers; responding to what others have said; finding respectful ways to offer feedback and negotiate conflict.


Attendance and class participation will be worth 30% of your total grade. 15% of that total will be for attendance calculated as follows: 0 unexcused absences = A; 1 absence = B; 2 absences = C; 3 absences = D. 2 latenesses = 1 absence. Leaving class early also counts as an absence. Please note that since the class meets only once a week, each absence is very significant. Present any reasons for excused absences in writing, along with a letter from your doctor, parent, or guardian, as appropriate. If you feel that additional absences should be excused, please talk to me.


The other 15% of your grade will be based on your participation in class, which includes your timeliness with Blackboard posts, which are a significant form of participation, and your contributions to discussion both in small groups and large. The class is small enough that I will be able to get a sense of your personality as a speaker and can evaluate your class participation in a way that is individual to you. As long as you are present and committed, you will likely receive at least a B for your participation. In addition, each student will set up an individual meeting with me both at midterm and at the end of the semester to discuss his or her goals, writing portfolios, and evaluation in class. Scheduling, preparing for, and being fully present and engaged at these meetings will count toward 5% of this participation portion of your grade. The class participation grade will also be used to determine your final grade if it is on the borderline—if your participation is good you are more likely to receive the higher of the two grades.


Writing Portfolio:

All the writing you do for the course will become a part of a portfolio. Your portfolio will be evaluated not only for the quality of the individual assignments but for your cumulative efforts over the course of the semester. Your portfolio should include hard copies of all of your Blackboard assignments, discussions questions, and short papers. You will hand it in at the midterm (10-7-09) and at the end of the semester and I will also have individual conferences with you at the mid-term in order to discuss your progress.


The portfolio will also include an initial statement of your goals for the semester (due date: October 20th) your own mid-term progress report (to be handed in with the portfolio during individual conference session with me) and your final assessment (handed in with the portfolio the last day of class).


The goal of the writing portfolio and grading is for you to think about your work as an ongoing learning process rather than a set of products. Your progress in the class will be significantly defined by your own goals and thinking. Grading your work as a cumulative portfolio complements the course’s focus on collaboration and community in the classroom.


The portfolio is work 35% of your grade.


Discussion Questions:


Several times throughout the semester, your assignment will be to post to Blackboard by Monday at 9pm a question or two about the readings and/or guest speakers or other  materials for that week and that topic. These can be brief (1-3 sentences) but the more focused (including specific references to the reading) the better. The deadline is important since it will allow us (me and your fellow group members) to read your questions in advance of the class. You should be prepared to summarize your post briefly in class.


The goal of the posts is for you to do some thinking about the readings and the topic on your own thus I will not be assigning topics. You should think of the discussion questions as both an individual and collective responsibility. Writing them will help you prepare for class discussion and for longer papers and develop your skills as a writer. They also provide an opportunity for you to communicate your thinking to me and to the rest of the class and to take the initiative in generating class discussion.


Blackboard Assignments:


During the weeks when you do not have a discussion question or short paper due, you will be required to complete brief (250-400 word) assignments for the class Blackboard site. You will receive more detailed instructions as the semester proceeds. Generally, Blackboard posts will be due Monday at 9am. (you do not need to turn in a hard copy of your posts each week but you will need to  make a copy to include in your writing portfolio).


Your contributions to the Blackboard site will be evaluated as a part of your portfolio grade. If you do not complete the assignments on time, your attendance grade will be affected.


Short Papers:


There will be two short papers that will become part of your writing portfolio: a two-page (500 words) paper on the historic context of your personal narrative (due in class on Tuesday, September 29th) and a 3-4 page (1000 words) paper on one of the six principal themes of the course as exemplified either through an historic example or contemporary example and related to the readings, lectures, and/or outside research (due in class on Tuesday, November 10th). These paper topics will be described more fully in writing when they are assigned and discussed in class in the week of the assignment.


Papers should be typed, double spaced, with at least a one inch margin so that I have room for comments. Please include page numbers and a title and make sure your name is on every page. Papers must be turned in—in person—in class on the due date. No emailed papers will be accepted!


Group Presentations and Final Paper:


Towards the end of the semester, you will begin work on a group presentation based on one of the six core themes addressed in this class. The goal will be to work as a group on a topic (to be developed by the group) and to lead a discussion that uses the dialogue skills you have developed over the semester. Although you will probably want to present some material on your topic, the format should be discussion-based and involve interaction of the group. You are welcome to use power point, film, p

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