Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Practicing the Self: Reflections on a Learning Community at Denison University

Ronald Abram, Karl Sandin.

Denison's Learning Community structure permits two courses in different disciplines (Drawing I, Arts of the Western World I) to enroll the same students, permitting the instructors to construct interdisciplinary perspectives, readings, and projects. Our goal is to investigate somatic, visual, and spatial modes of self-representation within spatial institutions, focusing on cross-cultural study of the house/home. Both share theoretical readings (Goffman, Foucault, Tuan, Spain, Turner, etc.), and both explore contemporary North American culture and classical Greek culture in this light. While Drawing I emphasizes visual practices of drawing to explore self, body, performance and space, and Arts of the Western World I emphasizes text- and object-based analysis, each course experiments with practices characteristic of the other. Students use large-format sketchbooks as sites for work, permitting visual culture students to explore diagrams, maps and sketches as alternatives to writing, and drawing students to document and expand their artistic practice with text, notes for performance, and collage. Complementary projects on Homer's Odyssey and a capstone on-site installation in an abandoned, historic house in neighboring Newark, Ohio further unite the courses. We will reflect on the synergies and problems of the differing knowledges and skilled practices used in this community; the development of critical attitudes to the theoretical tools employed; the increased awareness of socio-economic, gendered, and racial inflections of spatial institutions; and the challenging of barriers between disciplines and the college and community as students engage in community-based projects as part of this Learning Community.


Ronald Abram  (United States)

Denison University

Karl Sandin  (United States)
Associate Professor
Department of Art
Denison University

  • Drawing
  • Visual Culture
  • Daily Practice
  • Body
  • Space
  • Spatial Institutions
  • Experiential Learning
  • Installation Art
  • Cross-Cultural Analysis
  • Multiple Knowledges
  • Classroom and Community
  • Service-Learning
  • Classical Greece
  • Ritual Behavior
  • Material Culture

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)