Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Postmodernism and Bringing it All Home

This is the last week of classes and I felt like it was important to bring together all of the things we had been talking about all semester long into a context that hits them directly and leaves them with skills to tackle images in their own world! We started with talking about postmodernism and identity. They very quickly began to jump on the idea that interpreting art and visual images is really about building identity. Although it took us a little while to talk about identity in terms bigger than like and dislikes. This week we looked at images dealing with power from the Art 21 series by PBS. The slide show was done for me (bonus) and the images were great. The students had a chance to try out their interpretation skills and then we reflected on those interpretations and tried to locate places where their identity played a role. This was a good activity but as it turns out a little boring. So today we tried a number of photographs dealing with gas prices, immigration, and Iraq. ( I chose these as they represented the first three news stories I saw this morning) We then took a quote from Coco Fusco about the importance of photography in building American Identity and pulled it apart and in a large group discussion answered or reflected on the following questions:
1) Do you agree/disagree with Coco Fusco that photographs build identity?
2) How do we see or not see ourselves in images popular media creates?
3) Do you see yourself/generation/culture represented in the images given?
4) If images make, "cultural classifications visible, understandable, and useful" then what cultural classifications are visible.... in these images?

The response was good overall and students seemed to like discussing something they know alot about, themselves and popular culture. They were able to discuss without me the ways they are portrayed and what images are harmful helpful to that portrayal. They also made statements about not just believing the images they see but asking questions about them!!!!! I was worried that since this is the last class they would be distracted and antsy but I think by challenging them with a difficult quote to digest as well as issue that directly effect them, that they were willing to stay focused and almost spend an hour talking about these things.

I feel more confident now about not leading with critical pedagogy but easing into it. It has lead to wonderful discussion and allowed students in on the process of learning. I also feel like I need to make a bigger effort sooner to engage the students in more challenging reading and ideas. Today was the first day that I really handed them a challenging quote and they did well with it. I am still wary of work that is academically privledged with jargon and big confusing words. However, there are plenty of artists and theorists out there who have conversations about visual images that speak in understandble terms. I think the class would benefit from some of these harder to chew on quotes. There needs to be a mix of down to earth, everyday language as well as the academically challenging. Stricking that balance will make for a stronger class and I think a really interesting exchange of ideas.

1 comment:

Jenny! said...

You sound like such a great teacher...and so smart too! I would love to be in this class!