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Alien Encounters: Writing about the "Other"


Time: Approximately 90 minutes, divided over two meetings.

Materials and Prerequisites: Student Directions and computers with Internet access and word processing capabilities. Students will also need to have prepared readings from their text. Suggested readings include "Creation of the Whites" and excerpts from The Relation of Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, New English Canaan and Of Plymouth Plantation. They will need their texts at hand to complete the RWLO.

Implementation: This RWLO should be used after students have already read texts describing the first encounters between Europeans and Natives in the New World. Although it would be most time-efficient to have students complete the RWLO as homework, it could also be begun in the classroom to allow for instructor facilitation at the beginning of the task.


Day 1:

  1. Provide access to the Students Directions.

  2. Review the instructions with students or, if the course is being taught on-line, provide a forum for questions. If in a computer lab, introduce Part 1, including the web sites, demonstrating the sorts of articles that will be most relevant to the assignment.

  3. Have students read the Wikpedia definition of "Ethnocentrism." If in a lab, possibly take the time here to discuss that definition.

  4. Before Day 2, students should locate at least one account describing aliens or an encounter with aliens.

  5. They should also conduct a comparative analysis of the article and the readings from the text using the guidelines in Part 2 of the Student Directions.

  6. Once they've prepared their analysis, students should prepare a written summary of their conclusions as outlined in Student Directions Part 3.

Day 2:

On Day 2 have students share the results of their investigation, then turn to " on the UFO discussion board at the UFO News Blog to find additional examples of the sorts of characterizations of the "other" that they encountered on their own. These boards will offer students the opportunity to examine this kind of myth making in action, rather than through the fossils of written accounts.