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BOOKPACKERS AT U.S.C.

In 2016, Andrew and executive producer Marion Dole brought BOOKPACKERS to the University of Southern California, where it has been adopted as a new cross-humanities venture for undergraduate education.

In 2017, Andrew was was brought ‘on faculty’ in the USC Department of English, and in 2018 he was appointed an adjunct Professor of the Practice.

Three different BOOKPACKERS classes are now offered on the USC Schedule of Classes. Each class enables students to explore American history and culture through great novels - but the respective classes focus on different geographic regions, and offer a different balance of on-campus classes and immersive travel. All three are 4-unit classes accredited for General Education.  Click on the links to find out more.

Bookpackers USA

BOOKPACKERS USA is a 15-week ‘on campus’ class exploring the varied regional cultures of America through the portal of classic and contemporary fiction.

The course encourages empathy.  Fiction offers us landscapes peopled with characters who think differently to us;  reading novels region by region, we come to understand the different mindsets that make up the American whole.  In a time of profound division, this emphasis on empathy has never been more relevant or important.

The class meets for a total of 45 hours over the course of the Fall Semester.

BOOKPACKING THE BIG EASY

In May / June, immediately following commencement, USC offers students a series of classes ‘off campus’, set abroad and in cities across the USA.  These ‘special session’ programs are called ‘Maymesters’. 

BOOKPACKING THE BIG EASY is a 25-day Maymester set in New Orleans and Southern Louisiana, a unique region of America formed of a fusion of cultural strands: Creole, Cajun, African-American and White Protestant. 

Andrew leads 12 student bookpackers on a road trip through this fascinating cultural landscape, exploring places and people through the portal of eight classic and contemporary novels, which we read as we travel.  We use the novels as guidebooks, adopting a holistic approach to the humanities whereby literature, history, geography, politics and social studies combine into a unified course of study.

The students blog the experience, uploading their blogs to the BOOKPACKERS site.  For Andrew's overview of the 2018 experience, see here.  For a complete archive of students' blog from 2017 and 2018, see here.

Tuition costs for the New Orleans Maymester are covered within student fees for the Spring Semester.  Students pay an additional charge - roughly $1600 - for flights and accommodation. 

Andrew is enormously grateful to Marion Dole for her logistical support in planning this four-week program.

The Los Angeles course is in development and is scheduled to launch in academic year 2019 / 2020.

The class will offer students a unique opportunity to dive deep into USC’s vibrant and extraordinary home city.

It will be an immersive class - meaning that we’ll travel beyond the classroom. Every Saturday for 10 weeks, we’ll meet for a seminar in the morning, and then, in the afternoon, we’ll head out in a minivan and ‘bookpack’ a different facet of Los Angeles.

Over the semester, we’ll read a variety of classic and contemporary L.A. novels - from Raymond Chandler to Joan Didion - and we’ll explore these fictional worlds both conceptually and on the ground. We’ll walk the same streets as the characters in the stories, we’ll dig into context and history - and we’ll reflect on the intersection between literary landscapes, and the contemporary culture of L.A..