English Department to Offer Hip New Elective
From the Woolly Mammoth
Taking a page from experimental urban classrooms, U-32’s English department plans to use a new course to engage students in old books. The new approach, called “dublit” in Brooklyn and “litstep” in Los Angeles, uses a barrage of sound, light, and heavy editing to give classic works of literature new life.
Chris Blackburn plans to pioneer the new course, “American Dub”, at U-32 next year. “Some of our works have been taught for a long time and have trouble resonating with today’s teens. I’m excited about a dub blend for The Scarlet Letter , for example, by M.C. Dimmesdale, which chops up the book, with heavy bass, mostly riffing on the word ‘shame’….”
Blackburn also showed our reporter an article describing “Wildin’,” the dublit version of Thoreau’s Walden , based on the imagery and soundtrack from the hit fantasy show “Game of Thrones”. The piece has gone beyond the classroom to become a hit on the Los Angeles club scene. “This is the ‘relevance’ all of us are looking for as teachers,” Blackburn said.
While the new course is already causing a stir around school, some in the English department have concerns, mostly surrounding the “immersive” quality of the course, which schedules students one night every two weeks for a “listening seminar” that lasts anywhere between six and ten hours. Department Head Denise Dalmasse, while open to trying the course, worries about the extreme classroom experience. “The Steinbeck remix runs to almost 670 minutes — it could be more than some students can endure. I think we need to have a discussion about how this course could affect students’ achievement in other areas.”
For their part, students are reacting positively. Junior Ellie Stroh plans to take the course next year because “…it fits into my schedule. I’ll just stay here at school on nights we have class and crash in my car. That way I can take all the math and science I need, participate in sports and clubs, apply for college, and still get my English credit.”