English, Theatre & Foreign Languages lecturer Autumn Lauzon, Ph.D., wanted to transform her experiences of students enrolled in ENG 2060: World Literature after 1660.
As they solved whodunits, grappled with the impact of HIV/AIDS, and explored hidden histories and perspectives, students in her class traveled the globe—and shared their learning with the campus community.
“This semester, I wanted to completely revamp the final project for my World Literature After 1660 class that could go beyond the page and beyond me as the primary audience,” Lauzon said. “Instead of writing a traditional paper, students worked on individual projects that still require them to meet the course objectives of a 2000-level literature course, but give them more autonomy in what they’re learning and interested in and ask that they share their information with a much wider audience – our college campus and community.”
The activity asked students to choose a contemporary text from a country they were interested in, excluding the United States, England, and/or their country of birth. During the month of April, students read their chosen texts, described them to their peers, and shared with their classmates the findings of their research and analysis. Their chosen texts spanned the globe, from Australia to Ireland to South Africa to Yemen.
“Watching students work through this assignment was inspiring,” said Scott Hicks, professor of English, Theatre & Foreign Languages and director of the Teaching & Learning Center, who visited Lauzon’s class April 9. “I was thrilled to hear several say, ‘it was a really good book- I enjoyed it!’”
As they described their books to their peers, they practiced skills of summary and analysis, using key literary terms and concepts to do so, Hicks said. “I was excited to see how interested they were in researching their texts and contextualizing them in social, cultural, and political domains.”
Their enthusiasm continued into their public presentation of their work as part of a World Literature Book Fair hosted by Mary Livermore Library on April 22. Students created posters that showcased their chosen text and its significance and reception. Many posters featured props; one—a murder mystery—used invisible ink revealed by a black light to create suspense. During the fair they introduced others to their books.
Lauzon’s creative assignment not only reinforced students’ skills of analysis and love of reading and writing; it contributed as well to the University’s mission of cultivating students’ international perspective and preparing them for engagement in a global society.
“It was great to see the great work that Dr. Lauzon’s students are doing as part of their truly world literature course,” said Alexander Brandt, M.A., study abroad coordinator in the Office of Global Engagement. “As we work toward globalizing our university, it’s faculty like Dr. Lauzon that help make our global goals possible.”