Today was the second-to-last day of my honors course, and the first day of presentations. We’re super slammed for time, and I came to class nervous about whether I’d have to shut down presentations for length etc. I got there early, as I always do, but this time I really wanted them to test out the presentation software before they got started to avoid problems. I had my own laptop with me, so that if anyone had technical problems with the software (one did) they could email it to me from their laptop and I would show the slide. That worked great. But, we couldn’t get into the classroom until about 1:57 (for a 2 – 2:50 pm class!) because someone from the Honors College had scheduled my classroom for a meeting. So we lingered in the lounge area, with me answering questions there; finally an Honors College person came and rousted the meeters out.
General trend of lounge conversation:
Students: So, uh, about the five-minute presentations. Do they have to be five minutes?
Me: Well, our time is really limited, so I need you to keep them within five minutes…
Students: Uh… what if we can’t fill the whole five minutes?
Me: Oh! Hey! Well! We’re short of time, so, as long as they’re not just 30 seconds, fine!
Half the class then proceeded to give presentations of great primary source materials. They only had to use one slide and to present one of the ten sources they’ll use for their final reflection paper (not due until December 10. I’d had to reassure them a couple of weeks ago that yes, December 10 was the deadline, NOT the presentation dates). Not all of the source materials were from the correct time period, which I nicely pointed out, but they were all really fun to look at.
Sources ranged from a Time article showing a parent-student panel on dating, from 1957, to a cheesy “true romance” comic book showing a double standard (OK for a boy to date a younger girl, but shocking! shocking! for her to date an “older man”), to a current, colorful, beautifully complicated chart on polyamory. That student also held up a published scholarly study of non-monogamous relationships from the 1970s, which gave me the opportunity to remind them that my parameters on what “counts” as a primary source for THIS class are super-simple: it has to be created between 1940 and 1990, so a scholarly source published in the 1970s was fair game. Another student showed a perfume commercial with a very young Susan Sarandon (STUDENT DID NOT KNOW WHO SHE WAS… I had a moment of, wait, is this a Rocky Horror-related spoof?) and compared it with a very sexy current perfume ad. Here’s young Sarandon:
Then we got off track because I wanted to show this student the famous Brooke Shields Calvin Klein jeans commercials from the 80s. And couldn’t figure out the sound (too many volume controls!) so her whistling in one of them was an ungodly loud nails-on-chalkboard sound. They did not know who Brooke Shields was. When they did recognize her, they said “Wow, she looked really different then!” That student had another video to show, which we didn’t have time for (asked him to save it for the end if we had time, which we didn’t). He was worried that he hadn’t used all of his speaking material, but, they are writing five-page papers on their sources (they are also worried that they won’t be able to fill five pages…), so, he has material now for that.
One student read off an eHarmony “article” about dating “lessons” from horror movies (her topic is dating as shown in horror moves. eHarmony is not within our time frame, but still, a clever approach and a great historical image in the eHarmony page).
The last student presented an article from the 1977 GSU Signal (school newspaper) about a policewoman’s presentation on “How To Say No to a Rapist,” which was all about using your mind to stop a rapist (??) and how treating someone attempting to rape you AS A HUMAN BEING would get him to stop. Another good opportunity to talk about how, while yes, this was hilarious, it’s also pretty awful and not actually all that different from how rape on campus is talked about now. We wrapped up class on that note. Students want to coordinate on how to get food to the last class on December 3… and I’ve got to find out from the Honors College how evaluations work and whether it’s a FERPA violation to give them each others’ emails so that we can coordinate food.
I am really going to miss these students! I am hoping to be able to teach this course again as a 3-credit 3000-level Honors Course, which would give me more time for discussion (which we reeeeeally needed—this is a VERY talky group of students). I’ve also really enjoyed having a smaller number of student to be responsible for (so much different from my 4-4 240 students a semester experience).
Because of course you want to see the 1977 Signal article on rape prevention, right? (Full article here—image below is cropped.)
And, a teaser of sorts for the next iteration of this course: thanks to Twitter for reminding me of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, a great resource for historical moving images, with images rooted in Texas but with all kinds of applicable ideas. I wrote a whole paper on postwar girls’ educational film (‘I Don’t Mean to Be Defiant or Anything…’: Instructional Films for Girls, 1945-1960) for TAMI’s founder, Caroline Frick, in library school, and did an independent study project there as well, so I’m embarrassed not to have thought of searching in their collections. And I’m glad I did, because here is this, apparently a new acquisition for them, just perfect for opening a discussion on race, school segregation, and prom:
(alas, can’t seem to get the embedding to work…)
This has been a bit of a “what would my life have looked like if I hadn’t mired down in 4-4 while finishing my dissertation?” couple of days.