We're big on finding insights in unexpected places, so when Explore posted this the other day, I took note. Follow the link and you'll find a gem: David Foster Wallace's English 102 syllabus from Fall 1994, a course he taught at Illinois State University (more detail here). He sets up the class as a deep dive into literary analysis--deeper (and bolder!) than usual because he assigns a wholly different set of books than might be expected.
Rather than have his students go through the "usual" lit crit process with classically "literary" works, Wallace assigns fiction with more commercial appeal. Stephen King's Carrie, for example, and The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris. But in the syllabus, our dearly departed DFW warns students against taking his list of popular fiction as a sign that the course will be easy. As they would soon find out, by having them engage with an unorthodox set of texts, Wallace is asking them to stretch and refine and practice their normal modes of thinking. And in doing so, he sets his students up to mine new insights and hone their method.
Around here, it seems that when our way of work is put to the test under weird circumstances, we're often able to see its full potential that much more clearly. What are you doing to challenge your process on a regular basis?
Gwen McCarter, Strategist
The PARAGRAPH Project is a marketing research and strategy firm based in Durham, NC. We are, at times, a strange brew. But this is what works for us — and inevitably, it works for our clients. The types of people who work at PARAGRAPH are strategists, anthropologists, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs, negotiators, students and builders. Herein lies our value.We are able to look at problems from many different perspectives and apply this diverse point of view to solutions for our clients. After all, if we conduct the same research in the same ways as our competitors, what advantage do we gain? By using old research methodologies in new ways and inventing new methodologies unique to each client’s research objectives, we quickly explore more territory to find insights often overlooked. We believe creativity is the missing link between useful information and actionable inspiration.