April 20, 2009
Source: Piedmont 2003

Murphy, Vincent
Theatre Emory


Project Summary

Piedmont Discoveries

1.That there is a network of concerned faculty willing to share their expertise and ignorance in bringing a much-needed ecological perspective to the curriculum.

2.The conundrum of academics taking on important contemporary issues put in cold relief for use in experiencing the difference between the specialist presentations and the small group discussions. The immediacy and passion of the presentations versus the nitpicking in the group discussions is in reality a reminder of how formidable it can be to implement new ideas.

3.My epiphany happened while John Sitter discussed his previous experience in the Piedmont Project. In his attempt to connect the teaching of naturalist poetry to his graduate students, he considered taking them outside to read some of the poetry. He balked. Would it appear trite, pushing for relevance? Although he is a gifted reader of poetry, for me the risk of putting the students in a real context to hear what the birds sound like, what color the sky is, how tall the canopy, would connect them in multiple ways to the literature.

4.The reminder from our walks in the woods that the laboratory of nature is all around us was very useful.

5.The pedagogical threshold is to dissect the material being investigated and, when appropriate, let the surroundings compliment and reinforce the issues.

6.In the syllabus for my directing course this has led to applying the reality of the clear-cutting of the forests in turn-of-the-century Russia in the plays of Chekhov, to our immediate environment. Trees are no longer only symbols and metaphors to be studied and compared but THOSE TALL THINGS DISAPPEARING OUTSIDE THE WINDOW.

7.As we learn the context for changes in Russia at the turn of the last century we can learn the context for change in our Piedmont, effectively analyzing the literature and its socio-environmental context while staging some of the material inside a classroom and in the trees that exist on campus.

Course Syllabus attached.

Download: Murphy_2003.pdf (90.7 KB)

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