“Teaching Difficult Topics in the Humanities Classroom and Beyond” Lecture Set Sept. 8

September, 2, 2016

In an era when “trigger warnings” – indications of potentially disturbing course content – are becoming routine on syllabi, how can teachers rigorously and thoughtfully address sensitive topics such as sexual violence, grief, or racial discrimination in their classrooms?

            To consider this question, Idaho State University will host a public talk, “Teaching Difficult Topics in the Humanities Classroom and Beyond.” The talk is aimed at university as well as high school teachers in English, Theatre, social studies, and other relevant fields. The event will be Thursday, September 8, 6:30pm in the College of Education Auditorium (ED 243), and it begins with a catered reception at 6pm.

            In this talk, Professor Nancy Rabinowitz (Hamilton College, NY) will discuss the conception of her award winning book, “From Abortion to Pederasty: Addressing Difficult Topics in the Classics Classroom” (Ohio State University Press, 2014).

            The edited volume was inspired by a situation surrounding the numerous instances of rape in Ovid’s "Metamorphoses" at Columbia University, but the essays range well beyond that topic. How do current issues, such as race and sexuality, require different strategies for our classroom conversations? Students are often quiet for fear of saying the wrong thing, or teachers are fearful of unduly upsetting students because of the subjects that come up when we teach. Teachers also are challenged to justify taking a subject up at all.

            This talk addresses these issues, using Aeschylus’ "Suppliants" (c. 470 BCE), a play about forced marriage and sexual violence.

            In addition to the talk, Professor Rabinowitz will also lead an English graduate seminar the evening of Wednesday, September 7, at 7pm. The seminar will focus on four chapters from “Addressing Difficult Topics.” This class is open to auditors who have read in advance. For readings, please contact Lydia Wilkes, Assistant Professor of English, wilklyd2@isu.edu.

            Professor Rabinowitz's lecture is funded by the Idaho Humanities Council, and Departments and offices at Idaho State University: The Department of English and Philosophy, the College of Education, ISU Diversity Resource Center, the ISU Cultural Events Committee, and the English Graduate Students Association.

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