Wanta Be An Audience Member in My Fall Course?

"Dallas" from Kiyoshi Inoue
I recently asked on Facebook and Twitter if any grad students out there wanted to be an audience member in my Fall semester grad course, ENG 509, "Decolonizing Dominant U.S. Narratives." I thought I'd get a few people interested, but it was more like fifty or sixty people. So, I'm gonna explain how you can join my grad course this fall in this post as an audience member. You should know that there are students enrolled in the course, so they take my priority. I've talked to them already about this, and they were all excited to have an audience, and perhaps have the option to engage with grad students from across the country. I am too. 

What's the Course About?

The course supports the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts' M.A. in Narrative Studies degree at ASU. It's an ASU Sync course that is offered on our Polytechnic Campus, but because there are only a few students and all felt uneasy about coming to campus during a pandemic (as do I), we decided to conduct our weekly meetings by Zoom only. This made the audience option available for us. The course description from our syllabus states: 

Welcome to English 509, Decolonizing Dominant U.S. Narratives! This course will explore and practice ways that dominant and non-dominant narratives are written and represent various people in the U.S. from different social formations (e.g. gender, race, class, geographic location, etc.), focusing on how those narratives are structured, what they appeal to in various audiences, and what (or who) they leave out. We’ll look more closely at two instances of U.S. narratives, the narratives around the U.S. as a growing nation in the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries, and narratives around Black men in the U.S. Along the way, we’ll build and explore narratives of our own. All the work you do in this course will contribute to a culminating narrative that speaks to some aspect(s) of you that you are willing to share with the class. 

Our course learning goals are what I use to design the labors of the course. Here's how I've described them on the syllabus: 

Throughout this course, a successful student will:

    1. Gain an understanding of decolonial and related theory (e.g. counterstories, rhetoric, and writing as ontological practice) and apply it to U.S. narratives;
    2. Engage with and critique various narratives using the theories discussed in the course readings; 
    3. Draft their (the student’s) own narrative that engages with the theories of the course; 
    4. Reflect meaningfully on their (the student’s) own narrative and the semester-long process of drafting it. 

This should give you some sense of the ways we'll be reading the texts that we'll discuss in the audience-enhanced portions of the class. We will also use other media and texts in class discussions too, but I won't list those. And I'm not making available the entire class session that we have each week. So if you join as an audience member, please know that it is just a part of each 160-minute weekly class session. The timing of any given audience portion of classes may vary given the week and what we have going on, but typically, I imagine that I'll invite the audience for a 60-90 minute portion of each session that we open for audiences. 

Each class session is on every Tuesday from 4:30 - 7:15 pm (AZ time, which is currently synced with PST -- on Nov 01 that will change to MST, since AZ does not do daylight savings time). Likely, the portion of each class session that will be open to include audiences will be during the final 60-90 minutes. I'll send out a notification on that to those who sign up for each session (see below). 

What Are the Main Readings That Will Be Discussed?
The main readings that will be discussed during the semester are listed below. 
  • Berger, Maurice, White Lies: Race and the Myths of Whiteness (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 1999), ISBN: 978-0374527150. 
  • Cleaver, Eldridge, Soul on Ice (Delta, 1968/1999), ISBN: 978-0385333795. 
  • Dunbar-Ortiz, Roxanne, An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States (Beacon Press, 2014), ISBN: 978-0807057834.
  • King, Thomas, The Truth About Stories: A Native Narrative (U of Minnesota Press, 2003), ISBN: 978-0816646272. 
  • Martinez, Aja, Counterstory: The Rhetoric and Writing of Critical Race Theory (CCCC/NCTE, 2020), ISBN: 978-0814108789. 
  • Urschel, John, and Louisa Thomas, Mind and Matter: A Life in Math and Football (Penguin, 2019), ISBN: 978-0735224865. 
  • Yagelski, Robert. Writing as a Way of Being: Writing Instruction, Nonduality, and the Crisis of Sustainability (Hampton Press, 2011), ISBN: 978-1612890579. 
  • Several articles and book chapters I’ll provide electronically. 
All can be found on Amazon, if you are so inclined to buying any of them. No need to, though, if you just want to watch the discussion. You can also find a continually updated discussion schedule here (with names of guest scholars as they are added).  

How Do You RSVP? 
If you want to be "in the audience" for any particular class session, or all of them, you must sign up, and make a serious commitment to joining at the appropriate day and time. Of course, you have to be a grad student somewhere (some exceptions will apply -- contact me). I'll send a reminder email each Monday before the Tuesday class session to all who have signed up, and will include the zoom info. That email will tell you what time exactly to join the Zoom. It will be a precise time, as not all of each class session is available to audiences. 

Now, the reason I'm asking for a "serious commitment" (that is, if you sign up, please be sure to be there and be on time) is because I need to know who will show up and how many people on any given day will be in attendance. I also need to be able to admit audience members quickly and get into our work for the day. Knowing all this will allow me to perhaps use the audience in different ways, engage the audience with the students in the course, me, and the guest scholars I'm asking to join the class too. Yes, there will be a few guest scholars (to be announced). 

Since my students have agreed that we will place no limit on how many audience members we will have, you may join any or all of the course's class sessions that are available on the schedule. I will make one caveat to this. Depending on a number factors, I may cancel the audience option for any or all class sessions. This could happen because the students in the course decide that they no longer want an audience, or because a few audience members are being too disruptive, or because the students and I need to do other business that requires just us (no audience). 

This means, part of the serious commitment you make when you sign up to be an audience member is that you also agree to be kind, courteous, caring, and compassionate to everyone attending each class session. I hope we'll have spirited discussion, and deep engagement, but I also demand compassion and caring in how we each attend to one another in the class, even by audience members. In the first two weeks of the course, my students and I discuss and negotiate not only our labor-based grading contract but our charter for compassion, which I'll remind everyone about when audience members join. Audience members will be held to the same charter as the students and I will be. 

So to choose the sessions and join our class as an audience member, take this Google survey. Be sure to record which days you have signed up for as you do the survey. While I'll send out a reminder with the Zoom info each Monday before our Tuesday class sessions, I do want you to mark the times on your calendars. The survey will also send you an email with your responses in it immediately after you've done it. 

I appreciate you being conscientious and compassionate about being an audience member of our class. My students are being quite generous and open, and I hope you'll reward them for their kind hearts by making a serious commitment when you sign up. 

I'm excited about this course, and I look forward to each of you who can attend. 


  1. Replies
    1. This post was for my fall 2020 course. It's done. Thanks for the interest.


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