¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 The subject of my final project has morphed somewhat since I presented my Very Rough Sketch in class. As I thought more about where the interactivity of my “syllabus project” should be centered, I realized that I really wanted the space to be somewhere laypeople can visit for guidance and recommendations, and that it mattered to me more than I thought that the place have a clear social mission. So, I’ve scrapped the “tag as you browse” and “volunteer curators” parts of my design and am instead proposing a database assembled out of consultations with sociologists, historians, political scientists, and other professional smart people, which users can browse and build into a social reading agenda of sorts. There would be a forum space for discussion of the pieces, a way to nominate other content, and a simple process by which to share one’s creation on social media. The bulk of the work for the team would involve these consultations plus extensive metadata work so that the search and filter features function as helpfully as possible. A lot of web design and database management skills would be required. And it would involve the labor of very kind and generous academics willing to devote time, energy, and brain space to a thing that would neither compensate them financially nor give them individual credit for their suggestions!
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Furthermore, although I’ve written an NEH grant proposal, I am fairly certain that this is not the sort of project that would top the selection list under a Trump administration. Its working title is “radical reading room,” so proposing this may land me on a rather different sort of list were I to actually proceed with an application. But I think the many wonderful individual syllabi that have been created and shared widely in the last year are a testament to the need that exists outside of strictly academic spaces for vetted learning materials in the face of political and social upheaval, as well as the willingness of at least some academics to help build curated things for a public audience.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 What I would really like is to make a space that educates from a place of authority without sinking into the faux-objective explainery derided, rightly, in this Current Affairs piece on Vox Media. MOOCs seem to have achieved this balance fairly well—but that may be due to the content-agnosticism of the space. Trying to preserve authority while simultaneously decentering it, as I am proposing here, may prove to deliver the worst, not the best, of both. In any case, this is a tension that I am not going to be able to resolve anytime soon, if ever, so I have gone ahead and written something that proposes with confidence the development of a thing that may be riddled with irresolvable theoretical contradictions! Failing forward, ahoy!
¶ 6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 This is a community created, community shared and edited, living document. (It started as a Facebook post & comments.) If you have some time to spare, please begin to sort and assemble and add to this collection of authors and documents. This will be organized alphabetically by author’s last name.