Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Was reading snippets of the interesting Wayfaring Essays Pleasant and Unpleasant by Alan Jacobs via Amazon during which the name of Ann Blair came up in regards to coping with information overload during the 1550's through the 1700's. Lo and behold Ms. Blair is the Henry Charles Lea Professor of History at Harvard. Harvard has taken the kind steps of providing many of the articles that Harvard's scholars are writing/publishing in the plethora of available journals also available through its DASH program (Digital Access to Scholarship at Harvard).
Reading Strategies for Coping with Information Overload ca. 1550-1700 and Note Taking as an Art of Transmission are two really exemplary essays contributing to the scholarship, imho, of the history books. Also the former article does a really excellent job providing data demonstrating that humans have historically struggled with how to best navigate the sheer breadth of information that is made available to them in any particular epoch based upon how the medium of publishing/presentation has changed. In browsing around Ms. Blair's home page found this event Why Books? taking place on Oct. 29 exploring different aspects of book history as well discussions of the future of publishing. Robert Darnton will be speaking and it is free to the public which means that a road trip is being planned for late October.
Ann Blair has also kindly posted her History of the book and of reading exam field reading list. Please note that this is a 22 page list of sources. Awesome!
In doing reading for info literacy stuff also found and read Tara Brabazon's Thinking pop literacies and Robert Detmering's Exploring the Political Dimensions of Information Literacy through Popular Film. Both are quite good. Detmering offers insight into the highly politicized aspect of information with encouragement not to ignore this aspect when teaching information literacy courses. Brabazon while focusing more locally (Australia) does present ideas that extrapolate out really well. "Pop is a medium and method to manage classroom diversity and facilitate a critical interpretation of texts and contexts. There is a need to find a stregy to assist sudnets who are not prepared for higher-level writing, reading and research skills. The firs step is to transform consuming pop into thinking pop." (p. 300 Brabazon) Thus we will be trying out stuff from ImprovEverywhere, The Office and Laurie Anderson in class this fall.
This is a conversation I've been having with my colleagues in trying to figure out how to better reach/impact/ interact with students. What avenues are available that will help to spark the understanding for the need and desire to want to "pose significant questions" of the self and the surrounding world? If I can start/connect with the thinking/questioning process with familiar avenues then perhaps we can then apply that same process in unfamiliar avenues because we've seen it work for us. The connecting process not only of concepts but also of methods of questioning that will equip the students with a broad imagination and a verbose information literacy.

Also currently reading Gaddis's The Recognitions. My head is very full.

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