Prof. James E. Dobson

Course Description

Dartmouth College, as both a setting and object of analysis, has appeared in numerous cultural objects as alumni, students, and those looking in from the outside have reflected on the intellectual and social life of the College. In this writing-intensive course we will examine the range of representations of Dartmouth in a variety of prose sources including memoirs, novels, and essays. We will write our own analyses of these texts before conducting historical research in Rauner, Dartmouth’s special collections library. Along the way, well learn something about the history of our institution, differences between various student experiences, and debates over the past and future of Dartmouth College.

Why this Class?

For the past few years I have been teaching courses on the idea of the university and the ways in which the university has been represented in a variety of media (see example syllabus “Campus Life,” Fall 2014). After thinking through the national problems that characterize the present crisis in higher education (rising costs, student debt, violence on campus, vocationalization, corporatization, adjunctification, debates over curriculum, and many more), I wanted to create a course that would examine local manifestations of the contested visions of the university. My institution, Dartmouth College, has a rich history and archive of visual, textual, and filmic texts that offer examples of these contesting views. “Dartmouth College: in Fiction and in Fact” seeks to build upon what Jeffrey Williams and his students call “critical university studies” through an examination of our institution, our college. We look at both the “texts” that construct and critique the public imagination/representation of Dartmouth in addition to primary sources, objects within our special collections library.