by Dawn Wiseman
The three or four years spent on undergraduate degrees are pretty much academically saturated. Providing an appropriate survey of English literature, a grounding in art history or the skills demands a lot of time, and often there is little left over for the more theoretical and esoteric side of academia.
Upon entering graduate school, where theory can be daunting to the uninitiated, some students feel a little overwhelmed. Five Concordia PhD candidates from the Humanities doctoral program are taking a novel approach to addressing this issue.
"Our motto," explained Mark Rozahegy, one of the PhD students, "is A Theoretical Education for the Academic World." A play on Concordia's well-known motto, to be sure, but Rozahegy and his colleagues -- Meredith Brown, Benet Davetian, Mark Lajoie and Terry Provost -- take their theory seriously.
This term they are offering a free, team-taught course called Late Twentieth Century Thought. The course aims to provide undergraduate students with an introduction to the work of such thinkers as Jacques Derrida, Louis Althusser, Antonio Gramsci, Homi Bhabha and Michel Foucault.
Although there are no assignments in the course, there is an extensive reading list from which the instructors will draw their lecture material.
The idea for the course came to Rozahegy as a means of trying to simultaneously address two concerns; the first quite common among the undergraduates he knows, and the second particular to Humanities doctoral students.
"I've talked to many undergraduates at Concordia who feel they would like the opportunity to expand their knowledge of theory in preparation for graduate school," he explained.
"Also, since the Humanities program is not affiliated with any undergraduate program, many of its students, including myself, never get a chance to teach in their field before graduation. I thought the free course would benefit both groups. The undergraduates get to develop their understanding of 20th-century thought; the graduates get valuable teaching experience."
While students taking the course do not receive credit, Rozahegy has suggested that with departmental permission, it would make an excellent independent study.
"The student could work with a professor from his or her own department and use the course lectures and readings as the basis for further explorations." In this way, the students could apply what they learn in the class to their own majors.
So far, the response to the course has been positive; there were 20 to 25 students in each of the first two classes. The Graduate Students Association and the Humanities program are also supporting it with funding for materials and expenses.
Rozahegy says that anyone who is interested in the subject matter is welcome to attend. The class is 13 weeks long and is held on Fridays from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room H-539-3.