Dr. Constance Bailey, Assistant Professor of English/African American Studies, gave a talk on her experiences with developing her course “Beyoncé and Black Feminism” for the Department of English’s Pedagogy Lunch Series. During this talk Dr. Bailey discussed her syllabus, course goals, course concept, and pedagogical methods. She discussed how to develop a course using contemporary cultural influences that attract the interests of students and make the content new and relevant for students. At the time Dr. Bailey developed the course, Beyoncé had just released her influential album “Lemonade” and it served as a platform to not only attract students but relate the course information in a way that was interesting and engaging.
Dr. Bailey provided several methodological and pedagogical tips throughout her presentation.
- Do not be afraid to use texts from outside of your discipline.
- Understand and craft your course goals and learning objectives. These can be broad, such as “hone academic writing skills”, or specific such as “be able to connect the concepts of Black Feminism and Womanism to larger social issues that people and women of color face.”
- Do not be afraid to use a wide variety of texts and tie them to the overarching course theme, but be sure to tie them together.
- Use different teaching methods, assignments, or content for those students who have different interests. Need some ideas?
- Provide something applicable and active that brings the class out into real life. For instance, in this class Dr. Bailey provided an optional zumba class that used a Beyonce playlist. In another course they had an African meal since they were discussing Africa.
- Do not be afraid to invite guest lecturers. You can use skype or collaborate ultra to video conference them in if they cannot be there in person.
- Use different media to tie in course material. Do not be afraid to show movies, video clips, play songs, read novels, bring in contemporary news stories, or images to discuss.
- Present course questions. It is not always necessary to give answers. Have students explore concepts. Dr. Bailey notes that “Sometimes the search for questions are just as important as finding answers.”
- Allow opportunities for “professionalization.” Have students present on material or lead discussions.
- Set up a blog or journal assignment for students to informally explore their thoughts of the readings and materials. Allow for free form writing and do not make it overly academic. Allow them to work it out; make it conversational.
Dr. Bailey’s syllabus can be downloaded as a PDF here: Constance Bailey -Beyonce and Black Feminism Syllabus