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Trigger Warnings

posted by June 22, 2015

Trigger warnings was the topic addressed on a panel—organized by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), the Modern Language Association (MLA), and CAA—that took place at the one hundredth anniversary conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) in Washington, DC, on Friday, June 12, 2015. Joan Bertin, executive director of NCAC, led a group of speakers that included Shaden Tageldin, professor of cultural studies at the University of Minnesota and chair of the MLA’s Women’s Committee, Anita Levy of AAUP, and DeWitt Godfrey, professor of art and art history at Colgate University and CAA president.

Faculty at several universities, including Wellesley College and the University of California, Santa Barbara, have adopted procedures to warn students, on syllabi, of disturbing topics that could trigger posttraumatic stress disorder or other strong reactions to subjects that will be presented in class. Students who may be affected are allowed to miss the class in which the identified work is discussed.

CAA and MLA prepared an informal survey in preparation for this panel and sent it to all members. Bertin summarized the results in her introduction. The survey found that less than 1 percent of the respondents’ institutions have adopted a policy on trigger warnings. However, 23 percent of faculty report that they have voluntarily provided warnings several times or regularly. Student-initiated efforts have instituted trigger warnings represent 7.5 percent. Fifteen percent of faculty indicated that students in their classes have requested warnings in the course they teach. Roughly 12 percent of respondents report that students have complained, either to the instructor or to administrators, about the failure to provide warnings. And 45 percent of respondents who have had first-hand experience with trigger warnings see it as a real threat to academic freedom. Many respondents added comments to the survey regarding their approaches, policies, concerns, and questions about trigger warnings. The panel will be reviewing them and preparing a document that summarizes them to assist other faculty in approaching this issue with their students and administrators.

Godfrey believes that trigger warnings are a form of self-censorship that induces doubt, fear, and intimidation in students as well as faculty. He called on faculty to reassert the humanities as a space of speculation and imagination at the center of human experience and to help students confront the unfamiliar in order to change it. “Art is where cultures and communities work things out,” Godfrey said, “where we come to terms with the unfamiliar and reexamine the familiar.” He sees a shift from the “politically correct” to “individual correctness,” where any one person’s trauma is, by definition, the greatest trauma. The individual now is asserting a right never to be offended or challenged intellectually. This shuts the door on exploration and discussion. There is also a chilling effect on faculty who are increasingly subject to administrative, student, and parental criticism and evaluation. Trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women on campus, but the result is that they find themselves in a place that can be identified as that of the political right. (CAA has published the text of Godfrey’s presentation.)

Tagilden indicated that trigger warnings grew out of the feminist concern for the status of women related to the trauma of rape, and that there should be a clear differentiation between mediated reality and reality in the classroom, so that students can move beyond their own limitations and find outlets and language to deal with traumas instead of normalizing victim appropriation. If students opt out of classes with difficult material, it automatically places the personal on a political plane.

What is the cause of this interest in protecting students from topics that may be difficult or traumatizing to address? Some in the audience saw it as coddling students for fear of criticism being levied on faculty. Some saw it as a question of race and class privilege. Students who have lived protected lives determine the need for treatment of all students. Others see it as a new generation of students isolated and unable to handle personal interaction as described in Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together.

The panel will be reviewing all the comments from respondents to the CAA/MLA survey to cull the most useful approaches that were recommended from the field to address the issue of trigger warnings. These recommendations will be posted by NCAC, CAA, and MLA in the near future.

Filed under: Education, Students, Teaching

Do you have a great thematic lesson plan you want to take some time to codify and share? Funded by a Samuel H. Kress Foundation grant for digital resources, Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-populated platform for instructors and a collectively authored online repository of art-history teaching content, seeks contributors for specific thematic subject areas in the art-history survey. This is the third and final call for participation (the first two went out in 2014).

AHTR is particularly interested thematic content, for publication in fall 2015. The following areas are suggestions—ideas for other thematic lesson plans are welcomed and you can see examples of existing lesson plans that engage thematically with, for example, “Race and Identity” and “Globalism and Transnationalism.” Please propose a thematic plan germane to the survey-level class.

Possible themes include but are in no way limited to: Art and Labor, “High” vs. “Low,” Violence, Nature, Manufacture and Industrialization, Queer Art, Globalization, Beyond Europe, Death, Power, Materials, Age, Art Markets, Sex, the Gaze

For each content area, AHTR seeks lecture and lesson plans similar to those developed for its thematic section on Feminism and Art. Full template guidelines will be given for the sections to be included in each plan; writers will be expected to review and amend their plan (if necessary), once edited by AHTR. These plans, which will be posted to the AHTR website in fall 2015, are supported by $250 writing grants made possible by the Kress award.

AHTR is looking for contributors who:

  • Have strong experience teaching the art-history survey and strong interest in developing thoughtful, clear, and detailed lesson plans in particular thematic areas
  • Are committed to delivering lecture content (plan, PowerPoint, resources, activities) for one to two (a maximum of two) thematic content areas in a timely manner. Each content area will be supported by a $250 Kress writing grant
  • Are able to make a September deadline for submission and an early October deadline for any edits
  • Want to engage with a community of peers in conversations about issues in teaching the art-history survey

AHTR’s intention is to offer monetary support for the often-unrewarded task of developing thoughtful lesson plans, to make this work freely accessible (and thus scalable), and to encourage feedback on them so that the website’s content can constantly evolve in tandem with the innovations and best practices in the field. In this way, AHTR wants to encourage new collaborators to the site—both emerging and experienced instructors in art history—who will enhance and expand teaching content. The website also wishes to honor the production of pedagogical content at the university level by offering modest fellowships to support digital means of collaboration among art historians.

Please submit a short, teaching-centered CV and a brief statement of interest that describes which thematic subject area(s) you wish to tackle to teachingarthistorysurvey@gmail.com by April 15, 2015. These initial texts should be delivered to AHTR in June or July 2015.

Filed under: Online Resources, Teaching

Join CAA in Supporting Part-Time Faculty

posted by February 20, 2015

On the occasion of the National Adjunct Walkout Day planned for February 25th CAA asks visual arts tenured faculty and faculty administrators to review, discuss with your colleagues, and implement the CAA Guidelines for Part-Time Professional Employment. These guidelines provide the consensus on best practices in the visual arts in hiring, contracting, providing resources, working space, information, professional development, equitable salaries, and opportunities to participate in institutional government. We particularly encourage full-time tenured faculty and administrators to revisit these guidelines and discuss them toward full implementation at your institution.

The CAA Strategic Plan, 2015–2020 has placed part-time faculty issues as a priority. At the February 15th Board of Directors meeting, a task force on advocacy has been formed to address part-time faculty issues along with diversity in the field, and the public face of art and art history. As part of this effort, we will be surveying visual-arts departments to determine where we stand on these issues and how best to move forward.

DeWitt Godfrey, CAA President
Professor of Art and Art History
Colgate University

Linda Downs
Executive Director and CEO

Filed under: Advocacy, Teaching, Workforce — Tags: ,

CAA has signed on to this Petition to the US Copyright Office for Proposed Exemption Under 17 U.S.C. 1201 to the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) for the use of audiovisual media by college and university students or faculty in an educational setting. The DMCA prevents users from unlocking digital media or software. Congress has allowed review of the DMCA every three years to determine whether the law is affecting legitimate use of audiovisual material. In compliance to this three-year review the US Copyright Office has requested that examples be gathered of evidence where students or faculty were stopped from including a video clip in their teaching materials because of no access to decryption codes.

Student lawyers at American University are working on gathering examples and would appreciate hearing from those CAA members who have attempted to use audiovisual material from DVDs or off the web and were prevented from doing so. Please refer to the Google Form created to gather evidence and provide an easy forum for individuals to share their stories. This information will then be sent to the US Copyright Office to demonstrate the need for an exemption for students and faculty use of locked audiovisual materials. Deadline: December 30, 2014.

We would also like to share a piece for Forbes, written by Peter Decherney, which is an interesting read about some of the technology policy issues raised by the DMCA rulemaking.

Thank you for participating in this important petition.

Teaching Evaluation Survey

posted by November 13, 2014

The following message came from Craig Vasey, chair of the Committee on Teaching, Research, and Publications for the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

Teaching Evaluation Survey

The Committee on Teaching, Research, and Publications is interested in determining to what degree there is consistency nationally in attitudes toward faculty teaching evaluations, in methods used for it, and in institutional practices surrounding it. We have developed a survey, and urge you to provide us information about your institution and your experience.

The survey can be taken at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/teaching-evaluation.

Without your input, we cannot effectively bring these issues into the national conversation on the quality and the future of higher education. This is not intended to be a survey only of AAUP members, but of as many faculty in higher education in the USA as we can reach. Please share this with colleagues and encourage them to participate.

Filed under: Surveys, Teaching

Do you have a great lesson plan you want to take some time to codify and share? Funded by a Samuel H. Kress Foundation grant for digital resources, Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-populated platform for instructors and a collectively authored online repository of art-history teaching content, seeks contributors for specific subject areas in the art-history survey. This is the second call for participation (the first went out in early 2014).

AHTR is particularly interested the following sections in art and architecture for publication in early fall 2014:

  • Jewish and Early Christian Art and Architecture
  • Byzantine Art and Architecture
  • Islamic Art and Architecture
  • Chinese Art and Architecture (early/pre-1279)
  • Chinese Art and Architecture (after 1279)
  • Japanese Art and Architecture (early)
  • Japanese Art and Architecture (modern)
  • Korean Art (early)
  • Korean Art and Architecture (modern)
  • Art and Architecture of Africa
  • Early Medieval Art in Europe
  • Romanesque Art and Architecture
  • Gothic Art and Architecture
  • Art of Pacific Cultures
  • Eighteenth- and Early-Nineteenth-Century Art in Europe and North America
  • Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century Sculpture
  • Twentieth-Century Sculpture

AHTR is also interested in receiving proposals for thematic art-history survey lesson plans. The editors have already received plans that engage with, for example, “Race and Identity” and “Transnationalism and Citizenship.” Please propose a thematic plan germane to the survey-level class.

For each content area, AHTR seeks lecture and lesson plans similar to those developed for its sections on the Americas (pre-1300) and Feminist Art. (Please see a great example here.) Full template guidelines will be given for the sections to be included in each plan; writers will be expected to review and amend their plan (if necessary), once edited by AHTR. These plans, which will be posted to the AHTR website in fall 2014, are supported by $250 writing grants made possible by the Kress award.

AHTR is looking for contributors who:

  • Have strong experience teaching the art-history survey and strong interest in developing thoughtful, clear, and detailed lesson plans in particular subject areas
  • Are committed to delivering lecture content (plan, PowerPoint, resources, activities) for one to two (a maximum of two) content areas in a timely manner. Each content area will be supported by a $250 Kress writing grant.
  • Are able to make a September deadline for submission and an early October deadline for any edits.
  • Want to engage with a community of peers in conversations about issues in teaching the art-history survey

AHTR’s intention is to offer monetary support for the often-unrewarded task of developing thoughtful lesson plans, to make this work freely accessible (and thus scalable), and to encourage feedback on them so that the website’s content can constantly evolve in tandem with the innovations and best practices in the field. In this way, AHTR wants to encourage new collaborators to the site—both emerging and experienced instructors in art history—who will enhance and expand teaching content. It also wishes to honor the production of pedagogical content at the university level by offering modest fellowships to support digital means of collaboration among art historians.

Please submit a short, teaching-centered CV and a brief statement of interest that describes which subject area(s) you wish to tackle to teachingarthistorysurvey@gmail.com. These initial texts should be delivered to AHTR in September 2014. Collaboration on content for further subject areas will be solicited throughout 2014.

Do you have a great lesson plan you want to take some time to codify and share? Following a recently awarded Kress grant for digital resources, Art History Teaching Resources (AHTR), a peer-populated platform for instructors that is home to a constantly evolving, collectively authored online repository of art-history teaching content, seeks contributors for specific subject areas in the art-history survey.

AHTR is particularly interested the following sections in art and architecture for publication in early spring 2014:

  • Ancient Egyptian
  • Ancient Aegean
  • Ancient Greek
  • Ancient Etruscan and Roman
  • Proto-Renaissance and Fourteenth Century Italian Renaissance
  • Fifteenth-Century Italian Renaissance
  • Fifteenth-Century Northern Renaissance

For each content area, AHTR seeks lecture and lesson plans similar to those developed for its sections on Prehistory and Prehistoric Art in Europe and Art of the Ancient Near East. These plans, which will be posted to the AHTR website in early 2014, are supported by $250 writing grants made possible by the Kress award.

All parts in the art-history survey, however, will eventually need to be populated. If your area of interest is not listed above, AHTR is still interested in hearing from you. Let us know which area(s) you’d like to cover: a full list can be found under Survey 1: Prehistory to Gothic and Survey 2: Renaissance to Modern and Contemporary. In addition, we welcome suggestions on how to fill the gaps in these chronologies.

AHTR is looking for contributors who:

  • Have strong experience teaching the art-history survey and strong interest in developing thoughtful, clear, and detailed lesson plans in particular subject areas
  • Are committed to delivering lecture content (plan, PowerPoint, resources, activities) for one to two (a maximum of two) content areas in a timely manner. Each content area will be supported by a $250 Kress writing grant
  • Want to engage with a community of peers in conversations about issues in teaching the art-history survey

AHTR’s intention is to offer monetary support for the often-unrewarded task of developing thoughtful lesson plans, to make this work freely accessible (and thus scalable), and to encourage feedback on them so that the website’s content can constantly evolve in tandem with the innovations and best practices in the field. In this way, AHTR wants to encourage new collaborators to the site—both emerging and experienced instructors in art history—who will enhance and expand teaching content. It also wishes to honor the production of pedagogical content at the university level by offering modest fellowships to support digital means of collaboration among art historians.

Please submit a short, teaching-centered CV and a brief statement of interest that describes which subject area(s) you wish to tackle to teachingarthistorysurvey@gmail.com. These initial texts should be delivered to AHTR in February 2014. Collaboration on content for further subject areas will be solicited throughout 2014.