Unessays in the Time of Corona

Spring semester has come to an end here at the College and in many respects it ended with a bit of a whimper. Classes closed via Zoom with a “Whelp. Guess that’s it.” Content was delivered, grades submitted, commencement postponed, and now what’s left of the “summer” has begun in fits and starts.

Before I leave last semester behind, I want to share some of the beautiful brilliance my Honors students produced. The original ending for Black Religion and Black Nationalism (HONS 381.06) was a scaffolded unessay assignment. But when campus closed and we all went home, we decided this would be too much. Instead, we’d end by offering our own reflections on where we’d been and what we’d learned together. I still wanted to have some fun with it, though (read: I was bored), so I wrote a sort of sci-fi short as a framing device. It seemed fitting for this sci-fi novel of a life we’re living these days.

Screen Shot 2020-05-04 at 2.40.03 PM

The result was what I hoped and knew it would be. These beloved students deeply

Mazzy Unessay Painting

Mazzy Weiland, “Stop Killing Them”

moved me with their incisive, creative “somethings.” Mazzy Weiland painted. Jay Scott (re)wrote and soulfully sang Strange Fruit – 1820 or 2020? Zainab Dossaji crafted her freedom dreams into a Letter to the Graduating Class of 2220. Katya Caleca mapped out a Real History of Charleston Tour to counter all the horse-drawn myth-makers. Reagan Kilpatrick drafted a Policy Memo for instituting reparations at the College. Morgan Walker-Brown made a movie-trailer for our class. Vernon Kennedy created a minor in Social Justice and Equity and made an official website! Ayana DeVaull composed poetry. And others also wrote poetry, made photo collages and crafted essays.* 

This class was truly a gift and so, as my last word on this weird semester, I wanted to share their gifts with the world. To bring that time capsule to life, in a small way.  

“What did Malcolm do today?”

by Ayana DeVaull

Malcolm or Malik

Rose and fought for everyone.

Searching for himself,

* I asked permission from each of them before sharing, of course. For any of my wonderful students checking this out and wondering where yours is, it isn’t here because either A) I didn’t get your consent to post it and/or B) I haven’t paid for the upgrade that allows me to embed audio/video files. 🙂