About this blog
The title of this site has little directly to do with the wonderful poetry of Emily Dickinson. The “chamber” is not a coffin, nor made of polished stone, but a figurative room/space in which to share my reflections about Arts One texts and teaching, and extend discussion of the many issues and ideas that arise in lectures, seminars, and tutorials. Much of the information on this site is intended to be of use and/or interest to past and present Arts One students. But this is not strictly a course site. You are welcome to contribute comments on my posts, or any of the course readings, seminar discussions, lecture material, and whatever course-relevant concern is on your mind. Oh yeah, and the Alabaster? That’s my real last name. It’s a long story and one that I hope to blog about some day.
Anyone can participate in Arts One virtually, through our Arts One Open site, where we have video recordings of lectures, podcasts, blogs posts written by students and sometimes instructors, and more!
About Arts One
The program has been around since 1967 and just celebrated its 50th anniversary next year. Despite its longevity (relative to many other first year programs) Arts One is today what it was in the 1960s: a highly innovate, dynamic program based in interactive, peer-to-peer small group discussion of a wide and ever-changing array of classic and new texts arranged around constantly evolving themes. While often described as an inter-disciplinary program, my own view is that Arts One is better described and approached as a pre-disciplinary approach to texts that, in years to come, students will be encouraged to treat as works of political theory, philosophy, classical studies, english, history, sociology, and the many other disciplines that our program cuts across. For the time being students are encouraged to approach these works on their own terms, free from preconceived notions of their alleged purpose, their place in a particular canon, and the intellectual straightjackets of standard interpretations. It can be daunting for first year students to be asked constantly to tell their instructors and peers what they think is going on in a text as opposed to what others may have told them in the past, or may try to tell them in the future. But grappling with the meaning of works by Shakespeare, Sophocles, Hobbes, Sappho, Plato, Angela Carter, Judith Butler, Freud, Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Toni Morrison, to name a very few of the works recently studied in Arts One, on the basis of lectures and seminars designed to situate rather than authoritatively explain these works will only empower students brave enough to resist the allure of Wikipedia and Sparknotes, and give them a head start on what every student will (hopefully) eventually learn: to think for themselves.
I am a former Arts One student, class of 1979-80, and the theme “The Quest for Certainty.”
Robert Crawford, Political Science and Arts One
Office hours for Term 1 & 2
My official Arts One office hour is from 1 to 2 pm Wednesdays, but I am also available at the following times:
Tuesdays 1-2 (IBLC 374); Thursdays 1-2 (IBLC 374)
These times, however, are for my Political Science courses, but you are most welcome to drop by but please understand that I have to give priority to students enrolled in those courses.
You can also meet me by appointment.