As I was looking through some back issues of Teaching Sociology (the ASA journal dedicated to instruction and pedagogy), I was struck by an article published last summer about the use of ‘non-traditional texts’ for undergraduate sociology classes. The piece was especially interesting to me as I was drawn to the discipline through an intro course organized around novels and short stories.
The article, by Ursula Castellano, Joseph Deangelis, and Marisol Clark-Ibáñez, entitled ‘Cultivating a Sociological Perspective using Nontraditional Texts’ was published in Teaching Sociology, Vol. 36, 2008 (July: 240-253).
The authors argue that “novels, mysteries and nonfiction books can provide undergraduate students with an accessible and exciting place to explore sociological concepts. Using storytelling as a pedagogical tool, we teach students key theoretical ideas by analyzing the books in their specific socio-cultural contexts.”
Castellano and co-authors provide concrete strategies for using these types of readings in undergraduate sociology courses to reach a number of student learning goals, including “increasing engagement, enhancing conceptual understanding and improving analytic ability.”
The article even provides sample assignments and exam questions!