On January 30, 2018 we had our first “Black Listed” class. It was phenomenal! We started out by welcoming each other to the classroom while munching on a few snacks (compliments of Prof. Davidson). Professors Cathy N. Davidson and Shelly Eversley, and Assistant Instructor Allison Guess, introduced themselves to the class. Following, the professors’ introduction, Allison Guess then began to help familiarize the students with the digital facet of the class. Allison directed the students to the course website and to the in-progress collaborative Google doc. Students were then given a note card where they could share (with either the professors or the entire class), their names/preferred names, email addresses, other contact information, pronouns, allergies or any other information that they thought might be beneficial to know. After this, a course syllabus was passed out along with another set of note cards in order for students to try their hand at participating in a “Think Pair Share.”
In order for the class to collectively get to know one another we moved onto our next activity. Using Prof. Davidson’s go to inventory method: the “Think Pair Share,” Davidson asked the students to respond to the following prompt; “This semester, I hope to learn _______ about the course topic and pedagogy. I know I will be able to contribute _____.” Students were given 90 seconds to think about this question and write down their response on their note card. The second phase of this activity, a 90 second “Pair” included students exchanging cards with one other and taking turns introducing themselves to each other. The idea was to first, have one person speak (while the other listens) and then switch. Finally, during “share” we went around the room and each student introduced the person they were “paired” with, using the note card as a guide. For the sharing portion of the activity we allotted about 10 minutes of collective listening/learning. Through the open section of “share,” we learned about all of the talent that students had already brought with them to the classroom. To our surprise, we found out that we have singers, artists, people interested in film and photography in our class. Many of our students are practitioners of these various crafts and it will be interesting to see how these skill sets might unfold in “Black Listed.”
Following this vibrant activity, Prof. Davidson went over the syllabus and Prof. Shelly Eversley gave the most fantastic overview of what the class would entail and how the idea for the course came into being. As this class is based on Prof. Eversley’s forthcoming book by the same name, “Black Listed: African American Writers and the Cold War Politics of Integration, Surveillance, Censorship, and Publication” Prof. Eversley was full of enthusiasm and had deep knowledge of the 1950s time period as it relates to African American Writers.
After introducing one another and getting acquainted with the syllabus and possible subject matters, Professors Cathy N. Davidson, Shelly Eversley and Assistant Instructor Allison Guess, left the classroom for 45 minutes–leaving the students to devise, run and organize their ideal class. Upon return, we (the professors and assistant instructor) were pleased to see that students had organized themselves into small groups and were passionately discussing their respective areas of research as it related to the overarching themes of the class. Below you can see some of the photos of how students organized their questions and themselves into small groups.
(Group 4 Global Blackness in Exile)
(Group 2 Black Feminism in 1950s)
(Group 1 Print Culture, Editing, Censorship, Rebellion & Incarceration)
All and all, this was a very successful first class. Student-led, active and equitable learning principles again prevailed. It will not be long before our class will begin to fill the course website with a lively set of blogs, reflections, photos and other forms of multimedia. The class is just beginning and I hope it proves to be inspiring for all who are directly involved or watching from our HASTAC group.