Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on the Future of the Book

The Dancer's Gift: A Sociology Novel

Dr. Meredith Kennedy DVM, Dr Marty Zusman, Dr David Knox.

Teaching sociology and psychology at the introductory level involves learning a lot of new terms for undergraduate students. 'The Dancer's Gift' is a teaching novel which incorporates the required terms and concepts into the structure of a story, providing explanations and relevance to students' lives. The story, about an interracial relationship between two college students, is divided into thematic chapters, with lists of terms, explanations and contextual settings, with study questions and sample exams. The students are able to enjoy an engaging storyline about two college students, while learning and understanding the basic concepts they need to know for the study of sociology. The story itself deals with issues relevant to many college students: making life decisions, marriage and divorce, families in transition, career choices, and romantic relationships. Questionnaires based on students and teachers who have used 'The Dancer's Gift' show that students enjoy reading the novel, understand the terms better, and score higher on exams than those who have not read it. Concepts from the story are used in classroom settings as a venue for discussion, and scenes from the book have been acted out in class as well, to create a dynamic learning atmosphere and keep the students engaged. A similar novel has been produced and published for introductory psychology.


Dr. Meredith Kennedy DVM  (United States)

Myself and three co-authors have written two 'teaching novels' for undergraduate sociology and psychology. I have experience teaching undergraduate students on college semester abroad programs, as well as experience writing fiction and nonfiction.

Dr Marty Zusman  (United States)

Marty E. Zusman, Ph.D. is Professor of Sociology at Indiana University Northwest. He has published over forty articles and presented numerous papers at professional meetings since entering the university profession in 1971. During those years, Dr. Zusman has served as Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology for fifteen years and worked in numerous multi-disciplinary contexts. The Dancer's Gift represents one multi-disciplinary attempt to bridge the gap between academia and fiction, presenting to college students a new approach to learning basic concepts. Along with his co-author, Meredith Kennedy, an established novelist, as well as other co-authors, Dr. Zusman has lent his expertise in Sociology to the idea of creating a new form of "text" book for high school and college students.

Dr David Knox  (United States)

Department of Sociology
East Carolina University

David Knox, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology at East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina (USA) where he teaches courses in Courtship and Marriage, Marriage and the Family, and Sociology of Human Sexuality. He is a marriage and family therapist and the author or coauthor of ten books and sixty professional articles. In addition to using the "novel idea" to create an introduction to sociology mainstream text with the Kennedy/Zusman team, a marriage text is being planned.

  • Sociology
  • Teaching
  • Undergraduate

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)