Recently, I was a guest speaker in Joe Fracchia’s HC 431H: Bodies and Artifacts seminar at the Clark Honors College. The focus for the afternoon was, “What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer).
I was there with Lauren Deegan to read our poetry and talk about our writing processes as well as answer questions from the students.
It was an interesting experience to be back in a CHC classroom having just the day before taught in Lane’s honors seminar, Invitation to Inquiry. I couldn’t help comparing and contrasting the two classes and the general honors experiences at the CHC and at Lane.
I admired the rigor of Joe’s course. Here is the day’s reading from the syllabus:
“What’s in a Word”: The Interior Structure of Semiotic Artifacts: Those “agitated layers of air” (Marx) fashioned into the “mouthy little things we call words” (Suzanne Langer)
Read: Marshall Sahlins, Excerpt on the Arbitrariness of Linguistic Signs
Geoffrey Pullman, “The Great Eskimo Snow Hoax”, 159-167
Mary LeCron Foster, “Body Process in the Evolution of Language”, pp. 208-229
Lev Vygotsky, “Thought and Word” in Thought and Language, pp. 210-256
Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language” in Contact, pp. 22-38
Ferruccio Rossi-Landi, “Language as Work and Trade” in Language as Work and Trade, pp. 35- 64
HC 431H is an upper division class, so I did not expect Lane’s lower division seminar to do the same type of work. What struck me was simply the thoughtfulness and intelligence that students exhibit when they have an environment in which to push their thinking and their creativity. We see this in Lane’s honors seminars, as well, but I would like to see a wider range of seminar experiences available to Lane’s students.
Mara Fields, the Grants Coordinator at Lane, occasionally sends me information about grants for “great ideas” courses, and I’ve always hoped to be able to build such a course for the Honors Program. I think the students would gain as much from that type of seminar as they do from our two interdisciplinary research seminars.
The challenge is that a “great ideas” course, like our seminars, would count as an elective and the students have limited space for electives given the constraints of financial aid and the need to complete the courses required for their majors. Still, after participating in Joe’s HC 431H history class, I plan to think more about ways to create a similar experience for the honors students at Lane.