Instructor: Laura Nelson
Meeting time: Tuesday, 3:00-5:00 pm
In this seminar, we will think together about education as a site of radical imagination, turning to learning spaces from the 20th century to the present where people have envisioned and attempted to bring about different worlds. Major topics of the course will include: education and social change, critical pedagogy, the imagination, abolition, and worldbuilding. Beginning in the 1920s, we will look at Black Mountain College, Highlander Folk School, and the Modern Schools alongside thinkers like W.E.B. Du Bois and Ella Baker who connected education to the practice of freedom. We will then turn to educational experiments in the 1950s to 1970s—Freedom Schools, the Black Panthers’ schools, and free universities—that were part of the Civil Rights movement, the Black Power movement, and movements for liberation. The last part of the course will consider more contemporary thinkers on education, abolition, and radical imagination, turning to Angela Davis, Robin D.G. Kelley, bell hooks, and more. Throughout the course, we will look at course catalogues, manifestos, memoirs, newspapers, and other primary sources as well as theory and secondary scholarship in social movement history, critical pedagogy, literary studies, Black Studies, and women & gender studies. Together, we will ask some of the following questions: In what ways is education part of larger struggles for freedom and liberation? How do each of these educational projects seek to radically imagine and bring about other worlds? What kinds of learning spaces do we want to build today?