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 – as well as read Testimonials from several participants regarding their experiences in our program.


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’ mistakes.… 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 communicative… 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, but I have… 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 »

Announcing the Graduate Symposium on Innovative Pedagogy This spring, the Language Arts and Media Program will be hosting its first Graduate Symposium on Innovative Pedagogy, a day of workshops and practical hands-on training designed by graduate students, for graduate students.  The Symposium will take place on Thursday March 6, 2020 from 9-5 PM.  25 Graduate students will be selected to attend.  Apply by Dec. 31, 2019.  C read more about Apply now for the Graduate Symposium on Innovative Pedagogy »

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 »

Program Coordinator Position for Advanced Graduate Student The Language, Arts and Media Program ("LAMP") seeks an advanced graduate student (6th year or beyond) to serve as a Program Coordinator during the 2019-20 academic year. Duties include assisting with strategic outreach in support of LAMP goals and helping faculty fellows develop/adapt their course materials as well as overseeing events and program website edits. Experience with web content management required. Compensation will be $6000 per… read more about Program Coordinator Position for Advanced Graduate Student »

LAMP gave us the push we needed to take on our project and supported us every step of the way. Without their encouragement to dream big and see the value in our vision, Hear at Duke would not have blossomed into an organization that reaches out to students and the community through audio, live events, video stories, and in-person workshops. read more about Maria Luisa Frasson-Nori, Hear at Duke  »

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 of, major… read more about Making Choices and Taking Risks in Designing a Seminar »

A few years ago, a Colombian professor of literature revealed the mystery of the signature of Manuel Quintín Lame. Leading an indigenous insurrection and advocating for an intercultural model of education, Quintín Lame was arguably the most influential indigenous leader of the twentieth century in Colombia. His signature had always been a bit of a puzzle for researchers and commentators. Next to his name, which could be easily identified, he signed with what many people considered to be a curious and shapeless doodle. It… read more about Language and Knowledge Go Together: Building an Experimental Website on Linguistic Rights »

In Fall 2017 and in collaboration with colleague Matthew Kenney, I offered a new course entitled Physical Computing, a critical media studies approach to the emerging ecosystem of internet-connected devices known as the Internet of Things, or IoT. When paired with Wi-Fi circuitry and augmented with sensors, virtually any object – a toothbrush, a lightbulb, a refrigerator, even a John Deere tractor – can become a “smart” thing that senses, collects data about, and responds to the world around it.  The discourse surrounding… read more about From Paper to PCBs: Printed Circuit Boards as New Media Writing »

When I was five, Dad ran down the driveway holding onto my wobbling bike. He let go, shouting words of encouragement even as I crashed onto the pavement. My elbow and knee were bleeding, but what hurt worse was my pride. “I can’t ride a bike without training wheels,” I cried through tears. After only two unsuccessful attempts, I concluded that I did not have biking skills. I stormed inside to do something else I already could do well. Forty years later, I still have that stubborn desire to excel at everything and that… read more about Getting Back on the Bike »

What happens when you’re teaching a course on student protest narratives, and a protest emerges just a few yards from your classroom? In spring 2016, I taught “Student activism, storytelling and community change,” an undergraduate Education seminar at Duke University. The course goals included: understanding narrative conventions and their role in student activism; composing and sharing student stories across media; and developing a sense of the ethical dimensions of narrative. Students participated in team-based case… read more about Teach the Moment »

One of the best aspects of being a Bacca Fellow was to step outside my normal day in the office and classroom and share with faculty from other departments ideas for teaching strategies. In our small group and one-on-one conversations I was able to drill down and focus on very specific aspects of my syllabi, classroom exercises, and assignments with the cohort, yielding very practical improvements. I was also impressed with how the program encouraged me to re-examine and further improve teaching strategies that I thought… read more about Christopher Sims, Bacca Fellow »

The Bacca Fellowship afforded me the opportunity to meet on a regular basis with experienced mentors and an engaged cohort, to dedicate time and energy to one of the topics I am most passionate about: what can we learn from traditional scholarly writing? What elements can be readily discarded, and what rhetorical strategies still serve us well? Which media best support communication when we take into account the theme, the presentational mode, and our interlocutors? What works, and what doesn’t, when we try to communicate… read more about Melissa Simmermeyer »

As a Bacca Fellow, I learned to think more deeply about my teaching relationship with students. We often overlook how much we can learn even in our specialized fields, especially given the increasingly diverse backgrounds and experiences of our students. read more about Robin Kirk, Bacca Fellow »

The LAMP program was essential for the civic engagement project I developed for a Spanish course with undergraduates. It provided the necessary funds to purchase the cameras and other equipment, as well as it paid for events associated with the overall project, such as photography printing. However, the LAMP program most importantly offered the academic support of group discussions and suggestions, and the mentoring from experienced leaders, which proved invaluable for me professionally and for this project. read more about Graciela Vidal, Bacca Fellow »

The discussions I've had with LAMP leaders and LAMP co-participants have enabled me to think more deeply about the goals and missions I wish to pursue in my class, and about what it means to be an educator in current times. I strongly recommend that Duke faculty, especially at an early stage in their teaching career, take part in LAMP programs. read more about Joseph Grieco, Bacca Fellow »

Confidential Teaching Consultations for Assistant Professors and Assistant Professors of the Practice The Duke Language, Arts & Media Program (LAMP) is offering guidance and assistance to junior faculty during the spring 2018 semester.  who want to incorporate media into their classrooms. The programs seeks to provide faculty a "safe space" to discuss challenges with and concerns about teaching, particularly assignment design, integrating and experimenting with written work, oral presentations and critical use of media… read more about New Teaching Support for Junior Faculty »

As a writer, I approached my first syllabus many years ago as more “to-do” list than work of imagination or meaning. My goal was to divide up the fourteen weeks of the semester into rational, discrete chunks. Once I did that, I soothed myself, it was only a matter of managing weeks, not wrestling an entire hairy, unruly, terrifying school term. Why did I choose this approach? I thought there is enough unpredictability to go around in any given semester. There are the known unknowns, as one US Defense Secretary once said,… read more about Putting Students Into the Driver’s Seat »

Background and Goals of Redeveloping PS321 International Law and Institutions (PS321) introduces Duke undergraduates to the domain of international law. In this course, I focus on the political conditions that affect the formation, content, and efficacy of international law, the latter defined as the capacity of international law to shape and constrain the behavior of states. Since I began teaching this class in 2009, I’ve also emphasized research and writing as a core element—the class receives both an R and a W. LAMP… read more about Redevelopment Effort for PS321: Experiences and Lessons »

As a Bacca Fellow, I offered an undergraduate course “Web Design and Narrative” in 2016–2017. The course was based at the Center for Documentary Studies (CDS) at Duke University and drew a fairly broad cross-section of students, the majority of whom were either majoring in Computer Science or Visual Media Studies. Some students came into the course with a clear idea of what the content focus would be of their semester-long website projects, where others did not yet have a project focus in mind. As I saw the course ahead of… read more about Balancing Technology and Content in Teaching “Web Design and Narrative” »

I had a lofty goal: to get a group of our undergraduate students to set long-term civic engagement objectives for themselves. My proposal was a new Spanish course, named Engaging with the Latino Community Through Photography, with the purpose of adding applied social context to our curricula and helping our students in their own and personal path towards civic engagement. This course had as its final goal the creation of a Digital Archive of the local Latino Community, which is to remain as an online resource… read more about Images to Inspire Undergraduates Civic Engagement »