Faculty Reading/Discussion Groups 2013-2014

The Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching hosts faculty reading groups each spring by providing meeting space, books, and light refreshments. If you are interested in participating in any of these proposed reading groups, please contact one of the listed faculty conveners.

"REMAKING COLLEGE: INNOVATION IN THE LIBERAL ARTS COLLEGE" Convened by Adrienne Christiansen, Political Science and Director of the Serie Center
This reading group will meet approximately six times during the Spring semester on alternate Wednesday afternoons, 3:30-4:30 in the Serie Center, starting on Wednesday, February 5th. REMAKING COLLEGE is written by more than a dozen current liberal arts college presidents, including President Brian Rosenberg, and other leaders at educational foundations. According to the description on Amazon.com, the book "brings together a distinguished group of higher education leaders to define the American liberal arts model, to describe the challenges these institutions face, and to propose sustainable solutions. These essays elucidate the shifting economic and financial models for liberal arts colleges and consider the opportunities afforded by technology, globalism, and intercollegiate cooperative models. By exploring new ideas, offering bold proposals, and identifying emerging lessons, the authors consider the unique position these schools can play in their communities and in the larger world." We will ask President Rosenberg to join us on the week when we discuss his chapter. We currently have copies of the book and can deliver one to you before winter break

"MORAL TRIBES: EMOTION, REASON, AND THE GAP BETWEEN US AND THEM" Convened by Jaine Strauss (Psychology) and Geoffrey Gorham (Philosophy)
This reading group will meet approximately four times during the Spring semester to discuss Joshua Greene's new book, "Moral Tribes" (Penguin, 2013). Greene (John and Ruth Hazel Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University) is a leading scholar in the burgeoning field of moral neuroscience. He draws on his deep knowledge of social science, brain science, and philosophy in an attempt to understand the causes of conflicts – both big and small – between "us" and "them." Steven Pinker describes "Moral Tribes" as "a landmark in our understanding of morality and the moral sense," and Dan Gilbert calls it "a masterpiece…brimming with originality and insight that also happens to be wickedly fun to read." The Boston Globe offers perhaps the most enticing accolade: "suitable to both airplane reading and PhD seminars." Faculty members interested in joining the group are invited to attend an organizational meeting on Tuesday, February 4 at 4:30 pm in the Serie Center. Subsequent meetings will also be held on Tuesdays at 4:30 pm.

"HOW CHILDREN SUCCEED: GRIT, CURIOSITY, AND THE HIDDEN POWER OF CHARACTER" Convened by Lesley Lavery (Political Science)
Parents, education researchers, and policymakers assume through their actions that intelligence predicts academic success. And we reward, encourage and recognize those who score high on tests starting in preschool. But in How Children Succeed, Paul Tough argues that character has much more to do with ultimate success. Skills like perseverance, curiosity, optimism and self-control help children thrive in the K-12 system but can also bridge the gap between K-12 achievement and college and adult goal attainment. Many of our students arrive on campus with high test scores, convinced that they'll succeed here by relying on their smarts. Yet some of our students slip through the cracks for reasons that may have nothing to do with "academic ability." This book suggests areas we as an institution might focus on to help our students through and beyond their college years. The group will meet for a total of three times on the third Tuesday of the month, 3:30-4:30, starting on February 18. Location to be announced later.

"ISSUES AND CONCERNS OF LONG TERM ADJUNCT AND VISITING FACULTY AT MACALESTER" Convened by Marianne Milligan (Linguistics) and Britt Abel (German and Russian Studies)
What are the challenges and benefits of being a long-term adjunct/visiting professor at Macalester? How could we begin a discussion about the particularities of our work situation? How might we advocate to make our voices heard around campus? Britt Abel and Marianne Milligan invite you to join a faculty reading and discussion group around these types of questions. We will read the forthcoming book by Keith Hoeller, "Equality for Contingent Faculty: Overcoming the Two-Tier System" (Vanderbilt UP, 2014) and discuss if and how it relates to our specific situation(s) here at Mac. The group will meet monthly at noon on the 4th Tuesday of the month, starting February 25th.

"FICTION OF DEVELOPMENT" Convened by Roopali Phadke (Environmental Studies)
A 2008 Journal of Development Studies article titled "The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge" hypothesized that we can learn as much about the impacts of international development from reading novels as we can from institutional reports and academic work. This reading group will meet twice next semester to read and discuss two highly acclaimed short novels that address development dilemmas: Damon Galgut's The Good Doctor (2004) set in South Africa and Mohsin Hamid's just-published How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia set in a unnamed city much like Lahore, Pakistan. The reading group will meet from 4:30-6pm on two Wednesdays: February 5 and March 5.

"WHY ARE ALL THE BLACK KIDS SITTING TOGETHER IN THE CAFETERIA? AND OTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT RACE" Convened by Chris Macdonald-Dennis (Dean of Multicultural Life) and Theresa Krier (English)
Beverly Daniel Tatum, who works on the psychology of racism, asserts that we do not know how to talk about our racial differences: Whites are afraid of using the wrong words and being perceived as "racist" while parents of color are afraid of exposing their children to painful racial realities too soon. Tatum argues that straight talk about our racial identities is essential if we are serious about facilitating communication across racial and ethnic divides. At Macalester, the demographics of the students who fill our classrooms have changed rapidly in the last 10 years. Ethnicities, classes, religious cultures are more varied than they have ever been. Today, 15% of our students are first-generation college students. And those students may well understand their own positionalities and intersectionalities, by their pronoun of choice, by keen awareness of privilege and status . . . developments that may well outrun the concepts of some of us, their teachers, and our own understandings of identity. How do Macalester teachers imagine who our students are? How do we address them in the classroom, with awareness of our own positions on the moving maps of ethnicity, education, class, gender? How do we learn to refine our modes of address, speak out, and speak without harm? This group will begin on Monday, February 3, meeting every other Monday for four times, 3:30-4:30 in the Serie Center.

"ART, COLLECTIVE MEMORY AND TRAUMA" Convened by Vicky Karaiskou (Art History)
This reading group will focus on how collective memories shape social identities, how those identities are expressed visually, and the ways they influence everyday life. Particular attention will be paid to the distinction between 'historical' and 'structural' traumas and on the ways they are cemented through official reiterations. The reading group will meet five or six times during the spring semester to discuss collective memory and trauma, and the ways they are produced and reproduced in art and in other cultural tools. Participants will read selections from two books, Paul Connerton's How Societies Remember and John Gillis' Commemorations, as well as Dominick LaCapra's article "Trauma, Absence, and Loss." The first meeting of the group will be held Thursday, February 20 at 4:30 pm in the Serie Center. Subsequent meetings will be held every other Thursday at 4:30 pm and will last an hour each.

READING MACALESTER FACULTY. Participants will read and discuss selected works from Macalester faculty’s non-fiction writing during fall 2013 and Macalester faculty’s fiction writing during spring 2014. This group is not a “speaker’s series” but rather a “reader’s series.” We will meet once a month during the fall and meet twice a month during the spring 2014 term. The Serie Center will provide copies of the books and refreshments to participants who RSVP in advance.

You may participate in just one, a few, or the entire series of discussions. Please let us know right away whether you will be coming to any of the fall semester discussions by clicking on the following link so that we can provide you with reading materials in a timely way. The titles of the books printed below are linked to reviews of the book or to additional information about the author. We will send out another sign-up email prior to the spring semester round of discussions. RSVP FOR READING MACALESTER FACULTY

All discussions will take place in the Jan Serie Center for Scholarship and Teaching (Suite 338 DeWitt Wallace Library). We hope you can join us for what promises to be compelling reading and lively conversations about our colleagues’ works.  Questions?  Contact Adrienne Christiansen.

Schedule for Spring 2014 Reading Macalester Faculty

Date Time Author Book Pages
Thursday, February 6 3:30-4:30 Peter Bognanni The House of Tomorrow 1st half of novel
Thursday, February 20 3:30-4:30 Peter Bognanni The House of Tomorrow 2nd half of novel
Thursday, March 6 3:30-4:30 Nick Dybeck  When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man 1st half of novel
Thursday, March 13 3:30-4:30 Nick Dybeck  When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man 2nd half of novel
Thursday, April 3 3:30-4:30 Marlon James Book of Night Women 1st half of novel
Thursday, April 17 3:30-4:30 Marlon James Book of Night Women 2nd half of novel
Thursday, May 1 3:30-4:30 Megan Atwood The Haunting of Apartment 101 All


It's not too late to propose another reading group for the spring semester. Please contact Adrienne Christiansen with your ideas.