Thursday, August 27, 2009

'Demystifying The Academic Game' At Washington College

CHESTERTOWN – Gerald Graff, one of America’s most influential commentators on education, will present  “Demystifying the Academic Game: How Schools and Colleges Can Demystify Academic Intellectual Culture for All Students,” at Washington College’s Litrenta Lecture Hall on Friday, September 4, at 3:30 p.m.

Co-presenting the lecture will be Dr. Graff’s wife, the noted author/educator Cathy Birkenstein-Graff.

Prior to the public lecture at 3:30, the pair will present “The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing,” a student workshop and discussion in the College’s Writing Center at 10:30 a.m.; and “They Say/I Say,” a faculty workshop in the Rose O’Neill Literary House from noon to 1:30 p.m.

Professor of English and Education at the University of Chicago, Gerald Graff has gained renown not only as a historian and theorist, but also through his impact on the classroom practice of teachers.  His 1987 book Professing Literature: An Institutional History is widely regarded as a definitive work.

Graff coined the term “teach the controversy” in his college courses in the 1980s and later set the idea in print in his 1993 book Beyond The Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. Graff’s thesis was that college instructors should teach the conflicts around academic issues so that students may understand how knowledge becomes established and eventually accepted.

Since the publication of Clueless in Academe in 2003, Graff’s work has focused particularly on “How Schooling Obscures the Life of the Mind” (the book’s subtitle), and how schools and colleges can demystify academic intellectual culture for all students, not just the high-achieving few.

This book helped inspire a basic writing textbook, “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing (2006), co-written by Graff and Cathy Birkenstein-Graff. The book has set records for sales in colleges and high schools.

The Graffs have given lectures and workshops at many schools and colleges, and Graff’s work has been the topic of three special sessions at Modern Language Association (MLA) conferences.  In 2008, Graff was elected President of the MLA.

Sponsored by the Sophie Kerr Committee and the Dean of the College, “Demystifying the Academic Game” will be followed by a reception (presented by Phi Beta Kappa) in the McLain Atrium at 4:30 p.m. Litrenta Lecture Hall and the McLain Atrium are located in the John S. Toll Science Center. Admission is free and  open to the public.

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