Liberal Studies Program > First-Year Program > About FYP > Spotlight > Modernist Movement in Chicago
By Rebecca Cameron, Associate Professor, English Department /
April 12, 2019 /
Posted in: Chicago Quarter Spotlight /
However, it was not until I became Associate Chair and Scheduler for the English Department that I became motivated to create my own Discover Chicago class. From that vantage point, I realized that there was a real need for experienced faculty to teach Discover Chicago classes in my department. In addition to pressuring other faculty to take on this challenge, I decided I should step up myself. I asked myself what Chicago-based course I would be in a good position to teach as a Canadian whose research area is primarily British literature and drama, and I realized that ever since I had come to Chicago, I had been informally teaching a particular subject to friends, family, visitors, and students. I'm fascinated with early-twentieth-century modernism, and my informal excursions with both students and guests almost always centered on art and and events associated with modernism, an artistic movement that is exceptionally well represented in Chicago (consider the Chicago Picasso, the Chagall windows, Mies van der Rohe's architecture, or
Poetry Magazine). So I set about preparing a proposal to teach a Discover course on the "Modernist Movement in Chicago." By coincidence, just as I was working on the proposal, I learned that the Newberry Library would be hosting a seminar for faculty and graduate students funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities on the topic of "Modernism in Chicago" led by Liesl Olson, the Director of Chicago Studies at the Newberry Library and author of
Chicago Renaissance, Literature and Art in the Midwest Metropolis (Yale UP, 2017). I couldn't believe my luck.
I completed the intensive, four-week seminar at the Newberry just six weeks before my first Discover Chicago course was set to begin. Not only did the seminar introduce me to many new works and ideas that proved useful in planning my class, but it also included excursions, several of which I was able to incorporate in my Discover class (such as the South Side Community Arts Center and the Arts Club of Chicago). Perhaps more importantly, I experienced first-hand the value of experiential learning and the benefit of incorporating site visits, archival documents, and guest experts alongside more traditional modes of classroom teaching. My fellow seminar attendees, all professors and graduate students, agreed that the excursions added significantly to our appreciation and understanding of the subjects we were studying. The Discover Chicago experience was clearly beneficial beyond freshman year.
As those of you who teach Discover Chicago well know, Immersion Week can be