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Faculty of the Honors College - Samuel Hanes

Adjunct Assistant Professor in Honors (Geography)

B.A. University of Texas at Austin
M.A. Rutgers University
Ph.D. Rutgers University

  • Why I teach in Honors:

I enjoy the challenge of teaching the history of ideas because the subject fascinates me; it has since I was able to start reading it. A major motivation for my Honors teaching is the opportunity to pursue of my curiosity. But I also think what we teach here is useful. Building up a picture of western intellectual history helps us understand our world because current debates are suffused with these ideas. We need to learn our history to develop a cultural memory. Otherwise we lack the depth of perspective to understand and act in our world in a purposeful way.

I also very much appreciate getting to work with motivated, inquisitive students in small classes.

  • My philosophy for teaching in Honors:

I think it is important for students to develop a sense of narrative, or how these readings and ideas cohere into a continuous story. I try to provide background and context so that students can begin to develop this, and I also ask students to look for connections between the readings, and between the readings and current issues, for the same reason.

My preceptorials focus on close reading of the texts. Much of what we read is difficult and this is the only way I know to approach complex, challenging writing. Close reading is a skill worth cultivating for students from all majors because it forces them to unravel and interpret detailed, sophisticated arguments. My writing assignments ask students to demonstrate close reading too. While we do spend much time on textual analysis, I prefer to balance this with wide-ranging classroom conversations, as these shed light on the life of the texts’ ideas today. I believe it is important that students examine the relationship between the readings and their own lives and the world around them.

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