Intellectual History: The Pedagogy of a "Usable Past"
We are interested in receiving proposals for panel papers at the Third International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities, Cambridge University, August 2-5, 2005. (web address provided below).
Here is the issue we wish to discuss: Americans are notoriously ignorant of history, not only their own past but also of other cultures. The reasons for this crisis are many and its effect lies chiefly in empowering American political leaders to continue an aggressive and imperialist foreign policy. The organizers of this panel believe that one solution to the crisis in American historical education centers on the construction of a ‘usable past’ – but with careful concern for the question, ‘usable by whom?’ Our title is meant to invoke the Paolo Freire’s famous ‘The Pedagogy of the Oppressed,’ but the sense in which Americans are oppressed is in their education. We are exploring ways of transforming historical and humanities study in order to help students create usable pasts – that is, an education that makes them able to confront the propagandistic messages of power elites and to continue the project of progressive social transformation and liberation.
Please contact Robert Merrill at the following e-mail address. We are late in sending out this notice, so please let us know of your interest as soon as you can.
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