Course

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Nota bene: this project was featured as part of the National Humanities Alliance’s Humanities for All series, which you can read about in “Making the Covert Public” (15 June 2021).

Overview

Elizabeth E. Tavares, editor

In the spring of 2021, the US continued to be impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic. Protecting students and instructors alike necessitated a synchronous online environment. In order to embrace the opportunities such a learning environment could afford, this course attempted to lean-in to the scenario of online learning to facilitate online writing, bringing literary research to public humanities audiences. It also happened to be the 350th anniversary of the first performance of a play by Aphra Behn.

The course that evolved was taught under the auspices of a three-credit college course designed for upper-division undergraduates, “EN 334: Seventeenth Century Literature.” Research and analytical skills were developed with the final deliverable being a podcast episode rather than a research paper. Podcasts are well-suited to help students develop a suite of curatorial skills, including selecting, arranging, and synthesizing specialized archives and knowledge for non-specialized auditors. As Kimbro et al. (2019) contend, podcasting “is a vibrant poetic medium” in the Greek sense of poeisis, “to make,” due to its capacity to facilitate the analytical muscles of curation.

Informed by Bullock and Sator’s (2015) “maker pedagogy,” in the course students explored Restoration womens’ writing while troubling the assumptions about literary biography that can derive from a Shakespeare-centered curriculum. Students worked in teams to create a podcast series, taking as their occasion the performance anniversary and the gap in the market of public-facing podcasts that tend to frame Behn in terms of speculative biography rather than surviving work.

One pedagogical potential of student-produced podcasts is the ability to facilitate the curatorial skills necessary for public-facing humanities work, including research, storytelling, how to frame a scalable question, as well as considering the limitations digital dissemination poses to accessibility. As Greenberg (2021) argues of podcast pedagogy, “the choice of activities, like the amplification of diverse voices, works to authorize students’ as co-creators of knowledge.”

Alongside the final deliverable of the limited series, I make available here the course materials so that they may offer a framework for others considering employing the podcast as a tool for active learning in and beyond the Shakespeare classroom. Like all the elements developed as part of this podcast series, these teaching materials are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, which means you can share and adapt for non-commercial purposes as long as credit is provided.

Syllabus

Assignments

References