Freshman year jitters (as a professor)! (by Dr. Melody Rod-ari)

This is my first year teaching as a full-time faculty member at a university, and like my students I am a combination of anxious, excited and ready to start the new academic year. Prior to teaching I was a curator at a museum and often found myself using or referring docents and educators to Smarthistory for content. Now as a professor I want to make sure my students are also exposed to the resources available at Smarthistory through the Khan Academy. This will be the first in a series of blog posts chronicling how I use the resources in my classroom and how successful—or not—such assignments are for my students and for myself.

My courses for the fall include an introductory course on the Arts of Asia and an upper division course on the topic of the Arts of Japan. For both courses I have assigned essays and videos from Smarthistory/Khan Academy. For example, I have assigned Nancy Damerdash’s essay on Orientalism, which will coincide with a lecture on the theme of Orientalism and the display of Asian art in American museums. While I contemplated assigning portions of Edward Said’s seminal text Orientalism, I chose to assign Damerdash’s essay because it presented the topic more generally, and the format of around 1000 words will likely make it seem less daunting when coupled with their textbook readings for the mostly freshman students. I am eager to see if I should have assigned Said’s text… I also assigned a video on the conservation of a Japanese handscroll at the British Museum, which coincides with a series of lectures on Japanese painting traditions. My hope is that these resources will expand upon the brief content on each subject that is presented in their textbooks. And, from the vantage point of the professor, I am curious to know how many of my students will actually do their assignments!

Melody is Contributing Editor for Southeast Asian art and author of the essay on Angkor Wat.

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