Our News Section includes a combination of stories written by LAMP leadership, collaborators and affiliated faculty; articles regarding LAMP that appeared in the media; and stories of general interest to LAMP site viewers. You can also use the drop down category filter below to see "What We're Reading" – which highlights books and articles we think you may find valuable ; "Faculty Reflections" – articles by Bacca Fellows; as well as "Testimonials" from several participants regarding their experiences in our program.


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Eustace, a 3-year-old Coquerel’s sifaka lemur, was literally bouncing off the walls, or trees, to be accurate, on a clammy October 2020 morning at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham, North Carolina. As his long-suffering father, Marcus Aurelius, and ever-tolerant mother, Rodelinda, tried to rest after their mid-morning snack, their rambunctious son assailed them with head bops and tugs on their tails amidst his own backflips. Young primates are playful! This is both why monkey bars are called “monkey” bars and why our own… read more about Learning is winning: Bringing a neglected form of primate learning, play, into the classroom with board games! »

Making Space for Student Voices in Multilingual Public Policy Modules. Part of my work as a professor of French Studies is to help students think more clearly about Public Policy in other countries. Public Policy is what a governing body creates on behalf of its public, in response to a problem or issue that comes before it. Governments make policy about schools, schools make policy about education, and so on. France’s policies not only perplex students, but they downright confound them, whether we are talking about… read more about Developing Public Policy Courses in Five Different Languages, or How Do You Manage a Pedagogical Experiment? »

Improv games and long-form listening in a digital writing class. As LAMP Intern in Innovative Pedagogy, I’ve had the privilege of observing and participating in the Bacca Fellows’ learning community for the last two years. Here’s one takeaway I can share from Bacca experimentation in my teaching this semester: it’s ok, in fact, it can be great, to move away from a content-competency model and to focus instead on creative activities and relational bonding in the classroom. I’m teaching a digital literacy and… read more about Opening up to “Now” in a Multimedia Composition Class »

Getting closer to life in an existentialism lecture reworked as a double seminar. I applied for the Bacca Fellowship planning to teach a seminar on autofiction, focusing on recent writers such as Annie Ernaux, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Rachel Cusk, and Sheila Heti, who all, in different ways, try to get as close to life as possible. I had only taught this seminar once before, and I wanted to overhaul it. The Bacca Fellowship seemed the perfect opportunity to rethink the course. But the meaning of life appears to be back in… read more about The Meaning of Life Is Back in Fashion: Existentialist Oversubscription »

AI-responsive writing assignments transition from homework essays to writing by hand in the classroom. The 2022­–2023 Bacca Fellowship Program has given the three of us space to plan, collaborate, stumble, and forge ahead, in community with peers as we worked to phase in new writing assignments to our Spanish teaching. In lieu of composing essays on the computer, students in elementary and intermediate level Spanish classes now write by hand in class every other week, without access to any outside resources, for an… read more about From Pixels to Pens: Revamping Writing in a Spanish Language Curriculum »

Fostering a sense of home in language through Spanish-learners’ daily memory work When I tell someone I teach Spanish, I am usually met with one of two reactions: "I used to know Spanish, but I've forgotten after all these years" or a bewildered "¿Por qué?" I often think about what unifies my response to those two reactions, and I've found that it's memory. There is a sudden case of amnesia that overcomes Spanish language learners once they stop using the language, bespeaking a lack of connection to the target language.… read more about Where Does Spanish Go? Developing a Homing Device for Forgotten Language  »

Assigning Writing Studio Consultants readings about frustrated writers—by the authors Nam Le, Lucy Ives, Geoff Dyer, and Bernard Malamud—to complement trainings in peer learning methods.            “In the process of turning from [fiction], we’ve accused it of appropriation, colonization, delusion, vanity, naiveté, political and moral irresponsibility,” writes Zadie Smith in a 2019 essay. Where the “conflicted, the liars, the self-deceiving, the willfully blind, the abject, the unresolved,… read more about The Character(s) of Pedagogical Training »

In responding to works of literature or film, what responsibilities arise for readers, critics, students and teachers? For a few years I’ve been teaching a class in the English Department called Shakespeare Now and Then: Versions of The Winter’s Tale. The class begins with a slow read through Shakespeare’s late romance, act by act, scene by scene. Since it is a tragicomedy, we also explore the comic and tragic paths which it mixes and transforms within Shakespeare’s own canon. The rest of the class is taken up… read more about Shakespeare Now and Then: Versions of The Winter’s Tale »

I discovered through this research process was that the primary need of my students lay in how the pandemic and primarily online course delivery had impacted student attention and ability in their return to in-person class. I read in the summer of 2021, as I planned my “Writing 275S - Communications in a Digital Age” class, Don Norman’s The Design of Everyday Things. Norman’s 2013 book describes the philosophical and practical considerations that underlie (or at least ought to underlie) the objects that we… read more about Applying Human and User-Centred Experience Research to Course Design and Pedagogy »

The process fostered a new engagement with antiquity: ancient texts were reanimated through the use of technological tools, and the students, working from their homes and in libraries, in North Carolina and beyond, often separated by hours as well as miles, shared texts across a digital diaspora. The work of the textual scholar has always been, in my experience, one of solitude.  I assemble a pile of reference books, open browser tabs to various online tools, and sit with my material.  Whether I am analyzing a… read more about Creating Community in a Digital Diaspora »

Before starting their own individual research on online communities and tribes, I asked my students to work together in groups of 3-4 and to research an online bobo community in order to pinpoint what characterizes community as such:  What does community feel like? What keeps it working?  What happens when it’s not working? When does being part of something online become a mere performance, a way, in other words, to monetize by using “community” as a platform. My objective in teaching the seminar “Hashtags… read more about THE REEMERGING COLLECTIVE »

I was able to develop a simple strategy that allowed me to create an engaging learning environment in which students were encouraged to ask questions, actively participate, and contribute to class content--a solution was a stress-free and very low-tech.               In the first paragraph of my proposal for the Bacca Fellowship, I wrote: “I am very interested in the challenge of shifting from a seminar format to a larger lecture setting for one of my… read more about Scaling-up /Scaling-back »

“We do not learn from experience … we learn from reflecting on experience.”  John Dewey We have co-taught Spanish 310 (Translating English-Spanish, Spanish-English) for several years. Over time we have continued to define and refine many aspects of the course. Some fundamental challenges remain, however, and that’s why we applied for the Bacca Fellowship. 1. How can we process the critical reflections efficiently and provide students meaningful feedback?… read more about Mise en abyme: a reflection on reflections »

In Spring 2022, during my fifth year as a Ph.D. Candidate in the Romance Studies Department, I had the opportunity to design and teach a course in my major field, Spanish Cultural Studies. As a language learner myself, I often felt that songs and music videos were reduced to occasional listening for leisure or fill-in-the-blank exercises, without considering their potential for critical thinking while practicing a second language. Influenced by my engagement in Sound Studies, I wanted to place music, performance, and sound… read more about From Podcasts to Music Interviews, and Other Sonic Assignments »

Dr. Nan Mullenneaux (Former Duke Writing and History Professor, Acting Teacher, Director and Creativity Coach) has been working this past year with Duke faculty through the Language, Arts, and Media Program, applying improvisation, creative writing, art, movement and music to classrooms across the disciplines. Creative activities can communicate concepts, deepen intellectual inquiry, build connection and collaboration, assess understanding, frame feedback, encourage risk-taking and promote emotional resilience. Beginning in… read more about Creativity Coaching Comes to You  »

This year I decided to make a change in my pedagogy for Intermediate Hindi 203 and 204, in order to help my students become proficient in speaking through creating podcasts. In this blog, I will discuss why I chose the podcast format, the process of making a podcast, the challenges my students and I faced, the support I received from the LAMP group, and the areas I hope to improve.   Why the podcast format The problem with oral presentations is that there’s little room for correcting students’… read more about Is anybody listening to my podcast? »

The Spring 2020 was marked by a big cataclysmic change in French 101. No, I am not referring to COVID-19, but to a changing of textbooks! Many teachers know how profound and sometimes scary changing textbooks may be, but I will say that doing so for my course opened an incredible opportunity to creatively redesign it.  The switch in textbooks was motivated from a desire to update 1) the methodology of the course and 2) the content/layout of the materials. Our "old" textbook, Motifs, was heavily based on the… read more about Redesigning French 101 from the Core »

In an interview, author David McCullough stated, “Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it’s so hard.” In other words, we frequently don’t know what we are trying to say until we start writing down our ideas, weighing the arguments as we draft them, organizing loose thoughts into a coherent whole. This is a useful concept for the students in my Writing 101 class, who often believe that they need to know exactly what they are going to say before they start writing. This expectation can, in turn,… read more about Teaching is Thinking »

A confession; I am a performer not a writer. I am a musician to be exact, or more exactly, a trombone player. And as such, I enjoy developing ideas and expressing with others. Not that I’m the most talkative person in the room, it’s just that interacting or performing for people seems to put me in a state of mind more conducive to idea development.   However, like most of us, my job requires that I write a lot. This has been particularly true in the past six months. Normally, this would have been a huge chore,… read more about Improvisation as Process »

At the request of the Music, Dance, and Theater Studies departments, I designed the course “Writing about Performance,” which I taught this past semester for the third time. At each iteration, I’ve expected it to attract mostly students majoring in the arts, but in fact, they’ve come from a wide range of social sciences, humanities, and STEM disciplines. What the majority have in common, though, is a familiarity with the stage. Some are dancers; others are composers or choreographers; many have played a musical instrument… read more about Writing About Performance »

Somewhere around two-thirds of the way through the semester, I start falling behind. Even when I’ve taught courses many times, I finding it increasingly difficult to keep up with my teaching commitments than I did as a new faculty member. And since I see the same pattern across multiple classes, I have to cop to the possibility that the problem lies not with the students but rather with my own approach to teaching. My colleagues at LAMP helped me figure out why teaching seemed to be getting harder rather than easier. I… read more about Letting Go: Less Is More in Student Writing Assessment »

A feminist, a psychoanalyst, and a young conservative meet on a nineteenth-century Russian train. They carry steaming mugs of tea balanced between gloved hands, and chatter animatedly as the train lurches between stations in the remote countryside. The topic of conversation is a recent domestic homicide in the capital. The murderer unexpectedly boarded the train a few hours earlier and spoke at length about his case to another passenger. Having eavesdropped on the conversation, the three now debate the merits of the man’s… read more about The Tragedy of the Commons: Dramas of the In-Class Oral Presentation »

Each spring, I teach a course called Intensive Elementary French, which has become one of my favorite courses both for the students it allows me to interact with and the pedagogical puzzles it presents. The class attracts a group of students who are ready to devote a significant amount of time to learning French for personal, academic, or professional goals that are as lofty as they are varied. However, it also presents something of a perennial casse-tête. How do we best manage to fit a year’s worth of French… read more about Everyone's a Critic: Genre-based Writing for Beginning French Students »

How does technology change how we read and what stories we tell one another? And how does digital technology in particular influence narratives in contemporary culture? These two questions have guided my Writing 101 classes for three years to show how reading and writing have always been and continue to be mediated by technology (in the broadest sense of the word), in practice and theory. This year, I built on this notion to explore how narrative occurs in the most unlikely of places: in poetry and the archive. Digitally… read more about Building Rhetoric(s) of Narrative in the First-Year Writing Classroom »

It is fifteen minutes to showtime. My co-producer, Alex, and I look out on the audience and see a few handfuls of people scattered across a sea of empty chairs. We turn to each other and agree -- we need to step outside and get some air. This happens every time Hear at Duke puts on a live storytelling event. Last year, we launched the project with our first annual spring show in the Duke Gardens, in which audiences witnessed a live production of a podcast, with narrators on stage weaving a story with accompanying audio. In… read more about Hear at Duke »

When I arrived at Duke, my first semester of graduate school was plagued by doubt. Am I qualified for this? Is this what I want? And what’s the point of all this anyway? A major factor contributing to this lackluster feeling of uncertainty was the climate in one of the courses that I chose to take. The course was supposed to be a seminar, with zero lecturing and lots of discussion: students were expected to speak up and participate in the debate. This is what the instructors told us, at least. In practice, my experience was… read more about Not Everything Works for Everyone »

There are a host of reasons why grading can be grating: it is time consuming in a job that already demands more work than we like to acknowledge; the quality of student writing varies drastically and unpredictably; and the pressure to earn high marks means students who don’t will often approach instructors as though grades were a negotiation. Each of these issues informs my complaint, but they are not what I truly dread. For me, the worst part about grading is “being bored” by my students’ writing, and nothing is more… read more about Reading What Isn't There »

My biggest take-away from participating this past year in the LAMP program is that, while I’ve taught at Duke  35 years, I’m still grappling with the basics of good course design!  In my case, productive conversation with LAMP colleagues and leaders have led me to make two substantive changes to a new undergraduate capstone seminar in Political Science I’m developing for next year, PS430S, which will focus on how scholars in that discipline, and in History, study the origins of, and in one instance the avoidance… read more about Making Choices and Taking Risks in Designing a Seminar »