Razing the roof and tearing down monuments: Controversies in public memory
New first year foundations course in the American Studies Program AMS199H1F
WHY STUDENTS SHOULD TAKE MY CLASS!
Standing outside on a warm September day looking at statues
WHAT’S THE TEACHING STYLE OF THIS COURSE? WHAT ACTIVITIES WOULD STUDENTS PARTAKE IN?
We’ll be learning together in AMS 199: some lecture, lots of discussion, and plenty of time outside, looking at monuments. We’ll visit local memorials to help us dig into what all those statues, pillars and plaques are doing, up close and personal. So bring your curiosity – and maybe some sunscreen.
WHAT CAN STUDENTS EXPECT FROM AMS199?
An engaging, interactive, experiential introduction to the very big fights these piles of brick and stone (aka monuments) inspire.
WHAT ARE SOME TAKEAWAYS STUDENTS WILL HAVE FROM TAKING THIS COURSE?
The most important thing is that monuments are not neutral. These things we walk by every day are doing something, right here and right now, not just passively recording some incredibly distant or irrelevant past. And one more thing: As a society, we get to decide what, who and how we remember. If you’re not a fan of the guy your elementary school was named after, or the hero-on-a-horse statue in your local park, studying monuments is an on-ramp to changing that history – and to joining the conversation about what comes next.
WHAT ARE SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF STUDENTS WHO ARE SUCCESSFUL IN YOUR COURSES AND IN THIS PROGRAM?
It’s actually surprisingly simple: successful students are engaged, both in the classroom and in their own heads. They think about the course ideas, put up their hands, throw out a question or comment – even if it feels a little risky. Pitching in on a conversation is a surefire way to learn. And one more thing: successful students listen to their classmates. Every great classroom has lots of teachers, not just one.
LEARN MORE ABOUT PROFESSOR RAHR
WHAT ARE YOUR INTERESTS IN AMERICAN STUDIES?
Well, I’m a catastrophist, so I spend my time thinking about so-called ‘natural’ disasters- droughts and floods, fires and storms – and how America has written, thought and made art about those cataclysms over the last 250 years.
WHAT’S YOUR TEACHING PHILOSOPHY?
Learning should be interactive, thought-provoking and fun. At its best, great teaching helps us see something we thought we totally understood thru fresh eyes – and reveals things that never even occurred to us, for the very first time.
WHAT ARE TWO THINGS YOU WOULD LIKE UPCOMING STUDENTS TO KNOW ABOUT AMERICAN STUDIES?
It’s interdisciplinary: which just means that AS looks at the republic from the POV of history, politics, art, geography, critical race studies, public policy, literature – pretty much any and all topics you can think of. And AS scholars believe that this wide-open approach helps us understand the long and complex history of the USA more deeply than any single POV can.
WHAT IS A COOL FACT ABOUT YOUR FIELD OF STUDY?
There’s actually not much natural about ‘natural’ disasters.
THE LAST GREAT MOVIE I SAW WAS:
What Happened, Miss Simone?
MY ‘ACTUAL’ FAVOURITE MOVIE:
Wind In The Willows
THE SONG I HAVE ON REPEAT RIGHT NOW:
Mavis Staples And Taj Mahal, Will The Circle Be Unbroken
A Whole Pan Of Squares (That’s Bars If You’re From Ontario)
Every Yard Sale Ever
I AM SURPRISINGLY VERY GOOD AT:
Large Jigsaw Puzzles
A FUN FACT ABOUT MYSELF:
I Am A Truly Awful Gardener. Very, Very Bad.
MY FAVOURITE THING ABOUT TEACHING:
Watching Someone’s Brain Expand Right In Front Of You.