Click to view slideshow.
Every fall, all first-year students at Yale-NUS College participate in a one-week mini-course outside the classroom, as part of the Learning Across Boundaries (LAB) program. In 2016, Christopher Asplund and I co-taught a Week 7 course in Singapore on “Stories of Ourselves,” which focused on the construction and destruction of memory and identity, at the individual and collective levels. The link between memory and identity, of course, is narrative: the stories we tell about ourselves. In both the individual and collective cases, however, there are often alternative or competing narratives. We thus explored topics such as building and challenging national identity, the science of memory and dementia, narratives after death, the aftermath of sexual violence and trauma, the preservation and loss of cultural heritage and history through film, creative writing and drawing, and site visits to Singaporean neighbourhoods and organisations.
Readings and Itinerary:
Wednesday, 21 September
Reading #1: Lily Kong & Brenda S.A. Yeoh, The meanings and making of place: Exploring history, community, and identity
Reading #2: Charles Mills, “White Ignorance” (pp. 17-19, 28-34)
Thursday, 22 September
Reading #1: John Demos, The Unredeemed Captive, “Beginnings”
Reading #2: Julie Beck, “Life’s Stories”
Friday, 23 September
Reading #1: Susan Brison, Aftermath: Violence and the Remaking of A Self (Chs. 1 and 6).
Reading #2: Nina Strohminger and Shaun Nichols, “Your Brain, Your Disease, Your Self”
Saturday, 24 September
Reading #1: Terence Chong and Chua Ai Lin, The Multiple Spaces of Bukit Brown (pp. 27-39)
Reading #2: Martha Nussbaum, “The Damage of Death” (pp. 27-30, 33-35)
Sunday, 25 September
Reading: Robin Henig, “The Last Day of Her Life”
For their final symposium project, the students created a presentation, video, and visual display. The visual display had flip-cards with an “official story” on top and an “alternative narrative” inside.
Seeing the students’ final projects – how they achieved everything we hoped for, through media more thoughtful, creative, and compelling than anything I had previously imagined – was an incredibly rewarding teaching and learning experience. I am very, very grateful all the students, staff, and facilitators that made it all possible.