Friday, September 30, 2005

Meant To Read That

I teach a popular education graduate class at the Faculty of Environmental Studies of York University in Toronto. This summer as i was considering which texts to base the course on i was, as usual, uncertain which of Paulo Freire i should use. Last year i assigned Pedagogy of Hope - a 20-years-on reflection on Pedagogy of the Oppressed. But this year i remembered my own encounter with Pedagogy of the Oppressed over 25 years ago. I use the word "encounter" because "reading" just doesn't come close to doing justice to that period of time when i wrestled with word and world. A world that was swimming into the ever clearer focus of my young adult eyes. Pedagogy of the Oppressed hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. As did a few other books.

So, i've been thinking about that book and a number of others that i would argue are part of a 20th Century canon of anti-colonial literature. Or perhaps "post-colonial" or "emancipatory" literature would be a better naming. I've read many of these books and have yet to read as many more. And i know that there are many of you out there who have thought, like me, "wouldn't it be nice to read some of those classics?"

So, i've got this idea about a community-based popular education course in which participants would read some of this dissident canon. Matt, with whom i work at Catalyst, as usual had a great name for this course right away: "Meant To Read That." I gotta think about what the criteria would be. I think they should be "classics" which is to say they must have continued to be relevant to subsequent generations. Or, perhaps, have survived the death of their author. I'm thinking that they should be mostly so-called non-fiction works, but i do want to include at least some fiction such as Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart. At any rate, i would like to create a good criteria that has a bit of flexibility.

Here's an initial brainstorm list. Feel free to send a suggestion or two.
  • Wretched of the Earth - Franz Fanon
  • Borderlands/La Frontera - Gloria Anzaldua
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed - Paulo Freire
  • Talking Back - bell hooks
  • The Educated Imagination - Northrop Frye
  • Orientalism - Edward Said
  • Open Veins of Latin America - Eduardo Galeano
  • Things Fall Apart - Chinua Achebe
  • What Is to Be Done - Lenin
  • The Second Sex - Simone de Beauvoir
  • The Dialogic Imagination - Four Essays - Mikhail Bakhtin
  • A Fate Worse Than Debt – Susan George
  • A Peoples History of the United States – Howard Zinn
  • Rules for Radicals – Saul Alinsky
  • In the Spirit of Crazy Horse – Peter Mathiesson
  • The Communist Manifesto – Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
  • God is Red – Vine Deloria
  • The Port Huron Statement - SDS
  • On the Poverty of Student Life – The Situationists

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