Hidden Voices Course Examines American Literature through New Lens
Loyola's unique lineup of Ignatian Service Learning classes take the service experience into the classroom—enabling students to learn about social justice issues in academic courses across the curriculum, apply their new knowledge to real-life situations through community service and then engage in reflective exercises, discussions and projects to process the experience. Honors American Literature: Hidden Voices in American Literature is designed to examine American Literature through active participation in community-based organizations that allow for a deeper analysis of American society, both past and present, through the lens of "the other."
The class exposes students to diverse groups facing challenges in both the world and literature, while refining the skills of writing, vocabulary, close reading, literary analysis and literary criticism.
Current junior Jackson Amrol took this dynamic course during his sophomore year. "I really enjoyed reading American literature in the context of social justice and what it means to be an American," he reflects. "It was interesting to study how people have perceived and reacted to social justices issues in our country over time. The books we read were relevant and really tied in with each unit."
English Teacher Jenni Anderson ’97 outlines the goals of the course:
To foster dialogue among the students about current societal issues
To increase awareness of social issues in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs
To show literature as a voice for the "voiceless" through analysis of short stories, novels, poetry, nonfiction and drama
To create an action plan to allow students to advocate for the needs of community partners
To demonstrate the importance of diverse voices in literature, society and Loyola Academy
Students are expected to perform independent inquiry, participate in class and complete homework and assignments utilizing resourceful, critical and creative thinking. These skills for problem-solving and critical thinking are also applied in the context of community experiences.
As part of the course, students are required to participate in Arrupe service experiences outside of school hours. "We encourage students not just to ‘do work,’ but to engage in conversations with clients in order to get a better understanding of them as people and as members of the community," Anderson explains.
During these service visits, students are oriented to the core themes of the course: socioeconomic status, race, immigration, war and activism. The service experience then culminates in a capstone project that is beneficial to both the community partners and the Loyola Academy community.
"Ideally, students will take away from this course empathy for others and an understanding of the world around them," says Anderson. "Students will evolve past stereotypes to a clearer perception of root causes that may push someone into particular circumstances. Most of all, students will realize that all voices play an important role, including their own, and hopefully will be motivated to continue to make a change in society."
To learn more about the Ignatian Service Learning Program, click here.