Podcast #17

Historian and Dean of Yale College Jonathan Holloway joins us on this episode to talk about his highly acclaimed undergraduate lecture course on African-American history from emancipation to the present. We also discuss his role as dean of the college in shaping the quality of undergraduate education at Yale, and how his experience as dean has affected his own teaching.

You can hear more about Jonathan Holloway’s life and research in his terrific interview with Nicholas Forster on The Lower Frequencies.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:40 Welcome Jonathan!

1:47 Why be a dean and also teach?

4:32 Administering teaching and also walking the walk.

7:53 Understanding the African American experience is fundamental to understanding American history.

11:30 Obama’s unremarked use of references to the African American experience.

16:56 Confronting Dean Holloway with his student evaluations. The professor as master multimedia storyteller.

20:35 Instructor immediacy. Relaxed body posture? Not liking laptops but not banning them.

24:35 “Why are we reading this book (James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time?) It’s so angry….” Staging rage as a part of the course.

26:53 Can the material be “too basic” in a bread-and-butter course?

27:47 Dean Holloway re-segregates the classroom.

39:59 Technology naturalizes narratives of progress–and we must resist this.

42:16 A writing-intensive course in which students do weekly writing assignments.

43:24 The lectures do not address the readings. Crowd-sourcing the final exam.

46:00 90 minutes each week with the teaching fellows.

47:30 “This is an introductory course: we gotta make sure they have the basics.”

50:54 Deans have uncomfortable conversations with chairs and their curricula.

54:14 Once a class goes through an initial review, there’s not a lot of administrative oversight of what actually happens in the classroom.

55:44 Learning how not to lecture.