Resources for Instructors
- Keywords for American Cultural Studies has two goals in mind: First, to map some of the important problematics that have shaped the fields of American studies and cultural studies, and second, to provoke critical reflection on how those problematics and fields ought to be reshaped in the future.
- This website facilitates an active engagement among researchers, students, and the wider public with questions about how knowledge is and ought to be made at the intersections of American studies, cultural studies, and a wide range of disciplinary research conversations and archives.
- Some users of this site will begin from the entries that appear in the book, Keywords for American Cultural Studies, while others will combine terms contained there (sex-nation-race), mix those terms with others that do not appear there (community-participation-ethnography), or work on new terms (labor) and clusters of terms (labor-technology).
Using Keywords in the Classroom
ePacket of Resources
Consult our ePacket of resources for instructors and working group leads. It includes ideas for course planning, sample assignments, a tutorial for using a wiki, and tips for online writing.
Nine tips for conceptualizing a keyword project
The following suggestions will help integrate a Keyword Collaboratory into a classroom or working group.
- Write a new keyword. Click on the link to see how the editors of Keywords for American Cultural Studies proposed writing a keyword essay to their contributors. Editors' Note
- The audience. What are the organizing topics or problematics central to your course and relevant to your audience? A keyword's main audience is the classroom or working group. An additional one is the public audience that offers feedback to and dialogues with the work generated by your course or working group.
- The collaboratory is public. Your syllabus should state that the collaboratory is a public-oriented assignment that makes student work available to an online audience that far exceeds the classroom, peers, and the instructor.
- Use the wiki to track students' progress. Wikis can track changes in student work over an extended period of time, from a week to a semester or beyond the term, as new students in your successive course offerings build on and develop previous work. Have students keep a reading log over the term or have them engage in concept mapping as the course keywords change and develop over the term. Assign staged tasks so students submit their work to the collaboratory in week three, for example, and then return to it in weeks five and eight.
- Less is more. One pedagogical goal is in tracking a keyword's genealogy. A course that adopts this method may require students to become intimate with only a few interrelated keywords. If your course is designed to be more generative of student work, rather than survey-oriented, consider focusing on one keyword or a small cluster of keywords.
- Write through published keywords, rather than starting from scratch. Students can revise or challenge a particular keyword essay published in the book, Keywords for American Cultural Studies. Other sources for keywords include Raymond Williams’s Keywords: A Vocabulary for Culture and Society or Tony Bennett, Lawrence Grossberg, and Meaghan Morris’s 2005 collection, New Keywords.
- Consider the OED. A keyword's entry in the Oxford English Dictionary is also a good launch pad for creating course assignments. Just as the OED tracks changes in the usage of words across history, students can trace changes in a keyword throughout the course reading.
- The wiki learning curve. Offer in-class and out-of-class activities to make students familiar with the wiki's editing functions.
- Expand the final product. How might the wiki be used to host nontext based work, such as audio and visual materials, and links?
Sample Syllabi and Assignments
What works for you
Please let us know how you've used Keywords or the Keywords Collaboratory in the classroom. What are your success stories, pedagogical insights, strategies, syllabi, and assingments? Some of your stories and resources may be posted here on this website. Contact us or click on the "Discussion" tab on this page to talk about teaching Keywords in the classroom.