SIN/GIN: Dialogue with Alice Kang
Peace Adzo Medie: I met up with you at the African Studies Association’s Annual Meeting in November 2014 and I was very excited to hear you say that you use fiction to teach in your African Politics class. Can you tell me why and how you use fiction?
Alice Kang: Yes, I use a novel in my Intro to Africa class. I’ve thought about using fiction in my African Politics class but haven’t tried it yet, for reasons I’ll explain below.
Why do I use fiction or want to use fiction? When I first started teaching, most of the readings I assigned were scholarly articles and books. Students did not like them! In their evaluations, students said that the readings were “too boring”, “too long”, and had “too much jargon”. I talked with colleagues known for being great teachers and noticed that many of them use fiction and popular non-fiction in their courses, in addition to academic texts. Students do like to read; they just don’t like to read things that are poorly written. So assigning fiction can entice students to read for class, and to remind them that they like reading.