The Marginal Syllabus convenes conversations with educators about issues of equity in teaching, learning, and education. Throughout the 2016-17 academic school year, The Marginal Syllabus will foster a participatory and open experiment in professional development for educators in elementary, secondary, and higher education to join critical conversations about education in/equity.

Why marginal?

First, our conversations will engage authors and their texts, topics, and perspectives that may be considered marginal to dominant conventions of schooling and education. In this respect, The Marginal Syllabus is inspired by bell hooks and her comments about marginality in Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1990). hooks writes:

marginality [is] much more than a site of deprivation; in fact I was saying just the opposite, that it is also the site of radical possibility, a space of resistance . It was this marginality that I was naming as a central location for the production of a counter-hegemonic discourse that is not just found in words but in habits of being and the way one lives. As such, I was not speaking of a marginality one wishes to lose – to give up or surrender as part of moving into the center – but rather of a site one stays in, clings to even, because it nourishes one’s capacity to resist. It offers to one the possibility of radical perspective from which to see and create, to imagine alternatives, new worlds. (p. 149-150)

How might educators – across disciplines, grade levels, and pedagogical commitments, and through open and participatory conversation – imagine and create more equitable education worlds?

Second, conversations associated with The Marginal Syllabus will occur in the margins of online texts through practices of open web annotation. In a curatorial statement about annotation for the MLA Commons Digital Pedagogy in the Humanities project, Paul Schacht writes:

The participatory ethos of social annotation aligns it with the promise of radical democracy: free expression, common ownership, mutual commitment; liberty, equality, fraternity. The promise stands in marked opposition to those aspects of higher education pedagogy and scholarship that remain, even in democratic societies, hierarchical, exclusive, proprietary, and competitive.

The expression and exchange of ideas facilitated by The Marginal Syllabus will occur via Hypothesis, a web annotation platform for shared, collaborative discussion layered over all knowledge.

The Marginal Syllabus is collaborative and emergent attempt to create a new sociotechnical genre of educator professional development in which authors and readers, the practices of amplified marginalia, and learning technologies begin (re)marking on equity and education.