Thoughts about the Overall Scheme

To quote myself:
It seems that one could begin almost anywhere, on almost any shelf in the library, and follow trails of references and felicitous serendipities. The thing is to begin, and to build an edifice out of interest and engagement.
The 'anywhere' includes documents like this one, which can be "read" for their implications, and treated as stories:
Perhaps the best known images of the Johnstown Flood are of the John Shultz house. Pierced by a tree, the house became an instant icon of the Flood and was a curiosity to many who traveled to Johnstown to see the devastation of the flood first hand. Many posed sitting or standing on the trunk of the tree. The Schultz family all survived the flood.


I want to inspire a degree of personal engagement that seems all too rare, to get students to pay attention to their own process of learning, and furthermore to inspire them to pride in their work. Along the way I want them to think about matters of materials and technologies that seem to me applicable to (and seem to draw upon) all sorts of disciplines. The skills developed (including information-finding and presentation skills) are relevant to just about everything anybody might do subsequently.

I also want to develop an example of multimedia teaching that other professors would find interesting, suggestive, inspirational even --making use of a range of tools not commonly employed.

Ruth Schwartz Cowan's A Social History of American Technology (Oxford, 1997) still seems the most likely text (see chapter titles and subheadings for the overall structure), though I don't want to be confined by her definition of subjects or order of presentation. I'd like each class to center on something specific and fraught with implications --an image, a person, a situation, a location, a material, an invention, a process, etc., such that we begin with that something and end with it as well, and in between visit all sorts of connections.