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Example two: This was an upper-level seminar entitled “Disability Studies” that had two primary goals: to develop a broad understanding of the label “disabled” and how it functions in our society, and to spend some time doing hands-on service learning in the Disabled community. I came to this topic because (as the course descriptions below will demonstrate), my pedagogy has often focused on knowledge and embodiment. As you can imagine, the students enrolled were self-selecting, many already had considerable community service credentials. So this seminar did not, by itself, produce a cadre of people working with the disabled, but a few of their stories are instructive. One who recently graduated is working with her uncle to start a disabilities soccer program in Loganville, GA. Another credits her work with the disabled as having led her to studying the use of technology in education and who now is starting her career in the Teach For America program (two members of this class were selected for this highly competitive program). A third has just become the volunteer coordinator for Children's Healthcare of Atlanta (Egleston Campus). And another’s work with at-risk children in the course led to a study of gender and homelessness in Atlanta (her undergraduate thesis which I directed). This led to an offer of an Americorps position in Atlanta working with the homeless.

Part 2: Short Descriptions of Recent Seminars

These course descriptions should give some idea about the trajectory of my upper-level teaching in recent years, showing an intellectual and pedagogical continuity, even as I have approached different perspectives on questions concerning knowledge, skill, embodiment, dwelling, and material practices.

Honors LCC 2823 HP Fall 2009: The Thoreau House Project—Hugh Crawford, LCC: to build a full-scale version of Thoreau’s hut with the materials, tools and the practices he could or would have used. The Course: an upper-level Honors seminar with approximately 12-15 students, each of whom will bring different skills, and, of course, each of whom will acquire new ones. Goals:

  • 1)

    To develop a critical, technical, and historical understanding of the task Thoreau set himself—to build by hand his own home.

  • 2)

    To develop an understanding of the 19th century discourse surrounding country architecture, gardening, etc. in relation to the construction of a “rural retreat.”

  • 3)

    To develop an understanding of and skill in the use of the tools necessary for such a practice.

  • 4)

    To examine various concepts of hands-on learning: to explore in detail the relationship between tools, hands, mind, and understanding as articulated by Thoreau and related texts.


  • 1)

    A full-scale, historically accurate timber framed Thoreau House.

  • 2)

    Detailed video documentaries of the Hut Build, from felling the trees to raising the frame, with an eye toward entering in a number of film festivals.

  • 3)

    A collection of digitally based web resources detailing the material and technological practices of 19th century building as they relate to constructing Thoreau’s hut.

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