April 11, 2017


Professor teaches Twitter course on St Augustine's 'City of God'  (Kelly Seegers, 10 Apr 2017, Catholic Herald)
Students in professor Chad Pecknold's newest class come from Canada, Uruguay, France, Germany, England, Scotland, Australia, New Zealand, and all across the United States, but two things unite them all - a printed copy of St Augustine's "City of God" and their Twitter accounts.

Pecknold teaches a doctoral seminar on what is one of the saint's greatest theological works at The Catholic University of America in Washington. On a whim, he decided at the beginning of this semester to post the seminar reading schedule on his personal Twitter account, and invite people to read along and have an occasional discussion.

Expecting about a dozen people to respond, Pecknold was shocked to find thousands of people showed interest in doing this online study of Augustine.

About 120,000 people viewed his invitation shortly after he posted it; more than 2,000 committed to buying the book and reading along. Pecknold had to quickly figure out how to accommodate such a large volume of people, and decided to dedicate a two-hour period on Thursday evenings to the study of "City of God."

During his first class on January 12, Pecknold sat down with several different translations of the book, which had all of his handwritten marginal notes from about a decade of teaching the text. He tweeted out his commentary on book one through the Twitter app on his iPhone, and since Book 1 is 33 chapters, he wrote about 150 tweets in two hours. [...]

Following the surprising number of responses that he received for the course, Pecknold said he started to wonder, "Why this? Why now? Why the response?"

"My sense is it benefits from coming off of a bruising election in which people feel the political order is shaky, however you think that shakiness manifests itself," Pecknold said. "And when people feel that the structures are shaky, they intuitively want to go down to the foundations to see what is there."

Posted by at April 11, 2017 6:14 AM