29 abr. 2011

Cultural Knowledge

What should everyone know? This is an impossible question to answer. I'm trying to come up with some ideas for a course on "cultural literacy" for the University Honors program. I guess the course would have two aspects to it, the "meta" question is how to even decide on criteria in the first place, and to study the history of the idea of defining a map of knowledge. The other part of the course could work to actually impart some knowledge to the students, since I don't believe in contentless critical thinking skills detached from knowledge. The course could look at things like the University of Chicago Great Books idea, Bourdieu's "cultural capital," E.D. Hirsch's cultural literacy...

Hirsch's ideas are deeply flawed, but constituted a significant cultural intervention during the culture wars of recent decades.

4 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

One thing that just crossed my mind is that it would probably be useful and interesting to get a sense of what cultural knowledge they already have, both individually as a group. What things are common knowledge to all of them? What things do each of them should be common knowledge to all of them?

Jonathan dijo...

That's a good suggestion. It could be an interesting game to play.

Vance Maverick dijo...

Are you still thinking of this? Seems to me that a "sparse" approach to setting forth your canon would be usefully less aggressive than bringing down the full set of tablets from the mountain. (Even "wisdom literature" can be notoriously fragmentary, self-contradictory, proverbial.)

Jonathan dijo...

I was thinking of that, as a matter of fact. I don't want to bring in my canon, so much as reflect upon the notion of cultural capital generally. I oppose the idea of a contentless "critical thinking." It does matter what you know, even if what you know is not what I know.