The group was asked to read Walter Benjamin’s influential “The Work of Art in the Age of its Mechanical Reproducibility” this week. In order to help guide us through this work, I decided to give a brief lecture on some key concepts in ideology, discourses and cultural institutions. It’s always interesting to attempt to “explain Marx” in less than an hour, given that I am nothing like an expert. However, I think I was able to share some useful terms and ideas. I also did this “Collaborative Lecture” exercise as a way to help a group of students work their way through a tricky text. The basic idea is that I choose 4-5 key terms or quotes from the text, split the room into groups to explore the different ideas by looking closely at the text, and then report out on findings to the room. Those findings get discussed and shared. In the past I’ve done this sort of lecture using PowerPoint, but since I’m asking students to learn Prezi this quarter, I decided to use it myself for this presentation. I think I did ok, though I haven’t fully explored the possibilities of the tool. So far what I like best about it is that you can organize slides/ideas in any visual way that makes sense to you, rather than just in a linear fashion.
I think that the lecture went well. I gained some new insights into the essay with the help of students, and I think everyone came away with an understanding of the key points of the essay why it is important. I hope that my clumsy treatment of Marx was at least somewhat useful as well.