CLASS: My Canon: Reflections on Formative Influence

| December 6, 2010

My Canon: Reflections on Formative Influence
(A&HH4199 – Spring 2011, Tuesdays, 7:20-9:00 p.m.)

On the place of Reflection in the world of Research

Spring 2011, Robbie McClintock will complete his active service on the Teachers College faculty trying to sum up what he has learned during 50 years as a student and a professor here.

Contentions about The Canon do not interest me. Each person, I believe, has a life- long engagement with an emerging canon, uniquely his own – other persons, cultural works, places and institutions, challenging problems – matters that appear imbued with a charismatic, compelling authority towards which a person reaches out with aspiration and hope. And for me as an academic, my canon has consisted largely of major texts, which over the years I have felt I must engage, struggle with, and try to appropriate into my understanding of my work and of the circumstances impinging upon its pursuit.

My canon is not a reading list; it indicates cumulative concerns over a prolonged career, which began forming in the late 1950s and will continue beyond this day.

My canon does not list, as a résumé might, the topics of my expertise. Formative influence arises as we strive towards something, often ill-defined and incompletely mastered, not as we become specialists in it, versed in its every niche and nuance.

My canon is not only the texts comprising it, but more, the context surrounding engagement with them. Reflection and formative influence occurs through persons immersed in complex circumstances – the cultural, political, professional situations of a specific time and place. Hence,

My canon is one window, out of innumerable possibilities, for viewing historical experience over the past half century, both within the house of intellect and from it out onto the world at large.

In addition to weekly meetings, My canon will have a website which will provide background resources for classes, a discussion board, and diverse contextual materials. (

If you participate registered for academic credit, you should take the occasion to study a work of substance you want to add to Your canon and post your reflections to the course website about why, in your cultural, historical, and professional context, you include it in Your canon
and how it helps you form your sense of self and your circumstances. And of course, auditors may do so as well.