I was pleased with the format Tuesday, with the students’ participation in constructing the narrative and thinking about the implications. But I couldn’t figure out how to provide enough background for their discussions. They were reading too broadly this week (what was I thinking?): a Nasser speech, Fanon on torture, the Eisenhower Doctrine, and two chapters from Nadje al-Ali’s wonderful book, Iraqi Women: Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present. Their journal was to be on whether these events really constituted revolutions. So I had to provide at least the background for the Algerian war, Iraq 1958, Nasser 1952, Mossadegh 1953, and the Suez Crisis. It seemed to me that they all fit together, but they were obviously too much for one lecture.
I wanted to focus on France and Algeria for the welcoming music, but since I couldn’t decide which Rai to play, I did two, beginning when only a few students had arrived.
I had decided that I would begin the lecture with a Poll Everywhere poll on the biggest issues of the era. I would take their responses, create a word cloud with wordle, and then talk about the issues raised by the biggest words (most frequently used in the students’ responses) in order. I had prepared the PowerPoint to be flexible. But the system was down! (Poll Everywhere was very apologetic, claimed this wouldn’t be repeated.)
Face to face with the problem of technology: sometimes it doesn’t work. It took me most of the hour to regain my footing. But what followed was not my finest hour as a teacher. I was flustered, and reverted to a standard lecture, in chronological order. Iran, oil and the cold war (Mossadegh 1953) followed by the Sinai Suez Crisis (Great Powers, Super Powers, Nasser and Israel), and the Algerian revolution. The only redeeming elements:
First, I love this BBC clip on the 1956 Sinai-Suez crisis, especially when thinking about 2002-3 and Iraq.
And second, I juxtaposed de Toqueville and a colon legislator on the effects of the French on Algerian society.
I scrambled to the end, trying to remind us all of the big picture concerns as I finally wound down and hoping that they would think about the bigger issues in discussion sections.