Annotated Bibliography on Literature Pedagogy

Compiled by Dr. Laura L. Runge

Last updated June 27, 2012

This bibliography contains annotations of texts and other resources for teaching literature, reviewed for Practice in Teaching Literature (LAE6389), starting in 2004. Individual entries are authored by members of the classes, indicated by the initials following each entry. This page is updated periodically.

The bibliography is divided into four sections. The main section contains works on pedagogy, mostly scholarly books and articles. The three smaller sections cover: texts to be used in the classroom, such as anthologies and critical editions of literary works; websites on teaching; and journals and other periodicals that deal with issues relevant to English teachers.

Return to TopWorks on PedagogyClassroom Texts | Websites | Journals

Works on Pedagogy 

This main section of the bibliography contains works on pedagogy,
mostly scholarly books and articles.

Agathocleous, Tanya and Ann C. Dean. Teaching Literature: A Companion. Palgrave-Macmillan: New York, 2003.

This eclectic text identifies topics that are currently hot in literature, suggesting ways to link trends in scholarship to classroom instruction. Also, as a whole, the text invests in interdisciplinary approaches to teaching literature. Some of the topics explored in the part one of the text include: queering Chaucer, notions of authorship and publishing culture among Grub Street writers of the 18th century, transforming student knowledge of the canon or "desegregating the syllabus," and teaching poetry in a prose culture. Highlights of part two of Teaching Literature include chapter 8, which suggests alternatives to traditional writing assignments, and chapter 12, which addresses the benefits and obstacles of teaching literature online. In sum, this text is a useful tool for new professors of literature and professors of literature who teach survey courses and are interested in current approaches to an array of literary periods. [NS]

Alderman. M. Kay. Motivation for Achievement: Possibilities for Teaching and Learning. Chap 8. Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Assoc., 2004

Chapter 8 focused on enhancing student motivation using a variety of techniques including "high engagement", promoting ownership and higher levels of thinking. It helped reinforce my own learning preferences, but challenged me to more fully consider how such purposeful student behavior can be evaluated, while ensuring that they also thoroughly understood how the instructor would intimately evaluate their essays. [RG 06]

Arens, Katherine. "When Comparative Literature Becomes Cultural Studies: Teaching Cultures through Genre." The Comparatist 29 (2005): 123-147. Print.

In this article, Arens sets out to find a "rapprochement in the classroom between the traditional elements of comparative literary study and the political and methodological imperatives posed by the turn to cultural studies" (123). She argues that emphasis on postcolonial studies in comparative literature has put it at the forefront of a shift in scholarly writing from the formalism dominant in the first half of the twentieth century to cultural studies, but that classroom practices have not followed suit. She perceives a disconnect between the emphasis on formalism in the undergraduate classroom and the poststructuralist concerns of graduate programs with no discernible bridge.

She proposes a conception of genre as standards of communication within user groups, and a three stage process that charts levels of competence as students learn to read and evaluate texts as conforming to or working against genre forms. Arens effectively makes genre a representation of a particular material context. She describes the initial stage as one in which the instructor introduces the "principal organizing elements within a genre" (134). This involves the student learning the basic vocabulary to identify elements within and differences between different genres of literature, and applying it when reading longer texts by organizing literary features into distinct groups (142). The second stage involves students evaluating texts according to the standards of their particular genre, and observing how a work translates (literally between languages, but also between audiences) when taken out of its native historical or cultural context (143). Finally, Ahrens suggests that students enter the third stage when they become familiar with the metadiscourse: "the cultural stereotypes about how cultural forms are used, what they reveal about the status of their users, what cultural purpose they serve" (ibid).

In her conclusion, Arens states that her intention is to distinguish the field of comparative literature from cultural studies or "national literary studies" (145). [JF 09]

Aristodemou, Maria. Law and Literature: Journeys from Her to Eternity. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.

This is not an anthology because it is all by one author but it has the effect of one in that it demonstrates how it is possible to teach a variety of different texts from the legal angle. It is incredible that this one woman has covered so many texts and legal concepts. The articles are arranged in sections by legal concepts and then chapter by chapter by texts. Each article also contains what I would call an aspect of critical theory as well. There are no actual literary texts in this work, but an overwhelming number of analyses of them will guide anyone who wants to tackle such a project. It is not a "how to" as much as it is an explication of the legal aspects of the texts. The instructor would have to decide how to use this material on her/his own. Interdisciplinary Work: [LZ]

Bauer, Dale M. "Another F Word: Failure in the Classroom." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 158-170.

Bauer’s commentary examines the idea of failure in the classroom and "what that failure reveals about our hopes for our teaching lives" (159). She begins by detailing her experiences with feminist pedagogy in the classroom and how these failures led her to the idea of failure as pedagogy. Bauer includes several examples of instructors that design their courses to allow students to embrace ideas beyond them rather than dismiss them as impossible. One of the more beneficial examples she cites is taken from Mariolina Rizzi Salvatori and Patricia Donahue’s The Elements (and Pleasures) of Difficulty (2005) in which they advocate an assignment that requires students to write about what "confuses, surprises and mystifies them then exploring those things they know and do not know" (162). Bauer uses these examples to develop her argument for utilizing potential failure as a pedagogical tool. She also highlights her own efforts to combat plagiarism in the classroom through specifically designed assignments. While Bauer’s commentary at times suffers from too much emphasis on insignificant events, her arguments are thought provoking. She particularly strikes a chord when she discusses the topic of student gratitude in the classroom. Overall, Bauer’s acceptance of the inevitability of failure provides for instructors the option to adopt these failures as pedagogical strategy in order to incorporate "the individual will" (170) into the classroom community. [SB 07]

Berman, Jeffrey. "Syllabuses of Risk." Chronicle of Higher Education. 48.23 (2002): B7-B9.

In his article "Syllabuses of Risk," Jeffrey Berman argues that teachers of literature must be cognizant of their students’ emotional and mental states when teaching novels dealing with suicide, rape, murder, and other disturbing subjects. Berman delineates testimonials from three of his former female students who suffer from adverse physical, emotional, and psychological reactions to novels about suicide and the other aforementioned topics. He encourages the girls to write reader responses regarding the effects of the novels, and then (with proper permission) uses excerpts from the essays to emphasize the severity of teaching at-risk students. For example, Berman discusses one depressed female who attempts suicide a year prior to taking his course. The student recovers from her suicide attempt, but then feels her depression return after reading The Bell Jar in Berman’s class. Additionally, Berman cites statistics and other factual information given by medical professionals who claim that suicide amongst young people has increased significantly over the years.

Berman’s advice for teachers of "risky" syllabi seems plausible and practical. He contends that teachers must not only be aware that novels can negatively affect students who are emotionally vulnerable, but must also alert students to these possibilities before assigning the texts. Furthermore, teachers should listen to their students’ concerns over problematic or emotionally offensive novels and possibly allow these students to complete an alternative assignment, such as writing an essay that describes their reactions. Berman also posits that teachers can discuss and assign memoirs by authors who suffered from mental illnesses but ultimately recovered; this activity may provide a balance when assigning works of those authors who committed suicide. Overall, the article is convincing and Berman gives sound advice for teaching potentially damaging subjects; however, he might have also discussed the proper procedures or suggested methods for talking with at-risk students, such as referring students to counseling centers on campus, the steps to take after identifying a depressed student, etc. [LS 09]

Berube, Michael. "Teaching to the Six." Pedagogy 2.1 (Winter 2001): 3-15.

Berube discusses the current state of affairs at large public universities and explains how certain conditions, including limited funding and heavy teaching responsibilities for humanities departments, inform his classroom pedagogy. Because students from all disciplines are required to take humanities courses, Berube claims that he has many non-English degree seeking students in his classes who are disengaged from the material and classroom discussion. Berube introduces his remedy of "teaching to the six," a concept that suggests accepting that many students do not need the skills of literary study in their future careers. When times are tough in the classroom, Berube finds comfort in teaching to the handful of students that are interested in pursuing literary study. Although this idea provides the main thrust of "Teaching to the Six," Berube comments on a number of related topics. Among other observations, Berube notes the importance of engaging student work through comments, as well as the positive effect that revising and editing one's own work has on engaging student writing. [PM 08]

Blackmore, Tim. "Play Your Cards Right: A Narrative of First-Year Students’ Reader-Responses." The Journal of General Education 51.1 (2002): 43-67.

Blackmore’s article details his practice of collecting discussion questions from his students, written on index cards. These questions offer more than just discussion fodder on a Friday. Blackmore notes, "If the students generate their own topics based on texts of their choosing, if I can give the topics a few moments of time, if the students write out their thoughts about those topics in a limited (ideally focused) way, if I can assess those thoughts in a few hours each week, and if I can then discuss some of the cards with the class as a whole, then I am at least making some start at offering assessment" (46). The use of the cards also allows Blackmore to interact easily with students in a 150 - 300 student classroom. Having students write their questions also enables them to discover their authentic voice as opposed to an informal, academic tone. [CRJ 06]

Bousquet, Marc. "The Figure of Writing and the Future of English Studies." Pedagogy 10.1 (Winter 2010):117-129.

Bousquet argues that one of the major tensions in university Departments of English is the distinction made between teaching literature and teaching writing. Noting the trend towards practical uses of English, Bousquet explains that literature is experiencing a decline in tenure track positions, while rhetoric and composition has experienced an increase in faculty. He states that while rhet-comp faculty tend to outnumber literature faculty, literature faculty often hold more positions with administrative control, creating an imbalance in English departments. He also notes, ironically, that rhet-comp faculty tend to be in charge of "on-the-job training to holders of literature degrees who have been trained to have contempt for rhetoric and composition" (120). Bousquet suggests that English departments need to "invest heavily in the figure of writing" beyond the typical first-year composition courses, especially as hypermedia creates more possibilities for the creation and distribution of written texts. He expresses that "Everybody in my department, whether they are on research-intensive or teaching-intensive appointment, is interested in writers and writing" (122). Ultimately, Bousquet argues that equalizing the fields of literature and rhet-comp, expanding the definition of literature, allowing literature faculty to partner with other disciplines, and embracing all forms of writing (including journalism, technical and creative writing) will allow English departments to make themselves indispensable parts of today’s university community. [JS 10]

Cahalan, James M. "Teaching Hometown Literature: A Pedagogy of Place." College English 70.3 (Jan 2008): 249-274.

The author of this article makes a strong case for regionalism, bioregionalism, ecocriticism, and place studies in the teaching of literature. Cahalan describes his own classroom pedagogy; he sees the teaching of hometown literature as far more than simply learning the background of authors. Cahalan focuses the entire course on making "hometowns the focus of understanding authors' writings," and the final class objective is a project on authors from the students' hometowns(250). He believes that this approach aids students in the understanding of the connection between social context and "production of literature"(250). The author expands what has traditionally been included in regional study to include international home towns. Home town literature, he states, "should go global, or 'glocal,' reminding us that every place on the globe is also local"(251). He recognizes that the concept of home town may be complicated for a number of reasons: some students may not have had a place to call home, while others have been oppressed in personal/systematic ways which creates a negative image of home. He also recognizes that a sense of home doesn't necessarily reflect where the student was born. The author claims that there is no dearth of famous authors to be found in remote places and small towns, supporting this with examples, and he also has discovered that notions of hometown are very strong in other countries. Cahalan devotes a subsection of his article to the definition of terms, definitions that might be more helpful by being more thorough and by being introduced earlier in the work. The abundance of footnotes,and the titles of more basic texts in the works cited is useful to the reader who finds this piece interesting but needs more information on these four inter-connected but abstract terms. [ADT 08]

Cardozo, Karen M. "At the Museum of Natural Theory: The Experiential Syllabus (or, What Happens When Students Act Like Professors)." Pedagogy 6.3 (2006): 405-33.

Building from the work of Gerald Graff, Cardozo argues that professors of literature should engage students as active participants of the subject instead of as mere spectators. She concurs that "the curriculum (and not only within English) provides little integrative space where students can make intellectual connections" (406). In her article, Cardozo explains how she sketched out an integrative space in her classroom by assigning her students to work in groups and compose syllabi for the course, Introduction to Literature. The objective of her syllabus project was to invite students to explore firsthand what professors do, which will demystify the profession for her students and allow her to re-envision her own practices. In theorizing the discipline together, Cardozo and her students moved away from seeing the syllabus as a "transparent window onto the discipline" (415). Cardozo cites Toni Morrison as saying, "It is as if I had been looking at [the fish]…and suddenly I saw the bowl" (415). Cardozo’s experiment allowed her students to see the bowl. The article is valuable for new professors and experienced professors of literature who are interesting in rethinking and (re)articulating what those in literature departments actually do and how the "syllabus itself constructs the discipline" (415). The article raises questions about teaching theory, the "canon wars," and the "hidden curriculum." [CG 07]

Cavanaugh, Sheila T. "Bringing Our Brains to the Humanities: Increasing the Value of Our Classes While Supporting Our Futures." Pedagogy 10.1 (2010): 131-142.

Sheila T. Cavanaugh adresses Problem Based Learning (PBL) and its applicability to teaching the Humanities, a venue in which PBL is seldom used, identifying this scarcity in terms of a teacher-generated resistance to change. Asserting that a new approach to what students learn in humanities classes, especially in today’s economic environment, is necessary not only for students’ later success but for our own survival as teachers, she stresses the importance of implementing PBL in college and university humanities classrooms. Cavanaugh makes the point that even the MLA advises current tenure rules to be reconsidered, with a stronger emphasis placed on collaborative models and teachers’ implementations of technology in the classroom; she maintains that we can embrace these strategies without abandoning our desire for students to really "engage with literature" (134)—we can, she affirms, have the best of both worlds by incorporating PBL strategies in our classrooms. Cavanaugh’s article includes an example of PBL in action in a literature classroom, as well as suggestions for other active learning models, including service learning and technology-based strategies. Ultimately, however, she concludes that the reforms she advocates are unlikely to occur without further research illustrating the necessity for change. [DD 12]

Christensen, C. Roland. The Art of Discussion Leading: A Class with Chris Christensen. Derek Bok Center Series on College Teaching, 4. Cambridge, MA: Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard University, 2007. Jossey-Bass. DVD.

The video gives thirty minutes inside a discussion class led by Chris Christensen, a famous teacher at Harvard. With some narration, the video shows clips of the classroom interspersed with interviews with some of the students from the class, with a former student, and with Christensen himself. Overall, the production feels like a teaser because of its "sound-byte" quality. A trailer which serves well as a sample it can be seen online at: Some of the "principles" that can be gleaned about this approach to discussion leading are as follows. Chris Christensen: (1) prepares in advance; (2) is welcoming to everyone; (3) keeps in mind the many things happening at the same time during a discussion, particularly paying attention to cues and clues from students; (4) uses body language that is open, anticipant, and active; (5) asks different kinds of questions in an intentional progression (information, analysis, operational); (6) makes connections between the different things different people say; (7) pushes people along, sometimes by simply asking them go further with their comment; (8) mixes discussion of subject with meta-reflection on the discussion; (9) waits in silence sometimes; (10) reframes students comments as needed in order to connect them to something said previously or to push the conversation along; (11) wraps up the discussion with a mini-lecture of his own; and (12) has an overall attitude and philosophy of teaching and life that says that teaching has to do with connecting the momentary with the eternal and with making something happen in students. [PTC 09]

Cooks, Bridget R. "Confronting Terrorism: Teaching the History of Lynching through Photography." Pedagogy 8.1 (2007): 135-45.

Bridget Cooks explains how she uses lynching photography as part of her pedagogy in teaching about race relations in America. She first provides the students with a narrative about her first encountering the photographs in an exhibit entitled "Without Sanctuary." She then shows students just two photographs, usually unexpected images such as a well dressed woman hanging from a bridge, instead of photographs students may have already seen, such as a man hanging from a tree. She then asks students to write in silence for ten minutes, encouraging them to articulate any questions or reactions they might have. Most importantly, she re-contextualizes the photographs in four categories: crowd, crowd with lynching victim(s), lynching victim(s), and souvenirs. This way, she can approach the emotionally volatile artifacts analytically instead of emotionally. [JB 08]

Daly, Brenda. "Taking Whiteness Personally: Learning to Teach Testimonial Reading and Writing in the College Literature Classroom." Pedagogy 5.2 (2005): 213-246. 

Daly argues it is important for white teachers to confront their own racial privilege in order to teach multicultural literature (in her case, African American literature) effectively. She contends "empathy" is not enough and students must be taught to assume responsibility for social change by going beyond feeling guilty. Daly suggests, in order to achieve such a politically and socially motivated reading, students must be taught to read texts testimonially, a process in which white students don’t passively consume the emotional experience of what African American characters suffer, as expressed in the literature, but that they identify with victimized characters and assume responsibility for their ancestors’ actions in order to re-evaluate the privilege they have implicitly inherited. The first step begins with her own learning to read and write testimonially in order to re-examine her white privilege as an established academician. However, this article addresses only white teachers and white students. She does not address how effective testimonial reading and writing can be, if at all, for African American or Native American teachers and students. [MR 08]

Damrosch, David. "The Mirror and the Window: Reflections on Anthology Construction." Pedagogy 1.1 (Winter 2001): 207-214. 

David Damrosch addresses the methods used to create literary anthologies for undergraduate English classes, and he argues that editors create anthologies based on a variety of criteria, such as student desires, classroom schedules, and ideological perspectives. Damrosch begins by disabusing his readers of any misconceptions they might have about the creation of anthologies. Anthologies are not assembled to scrupulously match the current research of professors or the current conception of the literary canon; to even attempt to correlate the two would be almost impossible because the canon’s evolution is so contested. Instead, Damrosch poses questions and introduces observations that show the futility of easily creating an anthology. For instance, he writes that "British, American, and world literature anthologies have crept up from around four thousand pages to their present heft of six thousand" (207). However, what is even more striking is "the extraordinary uniformity of the page boundary across all these fields" (207). He argues that editors must negotiate between the practical concerns of teachers, publishers, and students, while keeping in mind the overall objective of the editors. The article reinforces the point with such summations as, "Such institutional constraints mean that an anthology can never be a pure representation of its editors’ canonical (or anti-canonical) beliefs" (208) but then shifts to describe the historical evolution of the Longman and Norton anthologies. Generally, both anthologies are presented as slowly becoming more multi-cultural, non-linear, and democratic in their organization. The Longman’s changes are seen as much more dramatic and favorable. It should be noted that Damrosch, himself, is a co-editor of the Longman Anthology. Finally, the author theorizes on how editors and professors might work together to create coherent yet non-canonical literary collections that allow both for individual customization and professional collaboration. This text would be generally helpful to any instructor of an undergraduate literature class, but it would be especially beneficial to someone who needed to order books for an entire literary program. For instance, a departmental administrator at a junior college might benefit especially from this article’s discussion of anthologies. [QV 07]

Duffelmeyer, Barbara B. "Critical Work in First-Year Composition: Computers, Pedagogy, and Research." Pedagogy 2.3 (2002): 357-374.

This article deals with the role of technology in First Year Composition programs. Duffelmeyer argues that proper use of technology, not just as a tool, but as a cultural artifact, can lead to critical literacy in composition students. "Thus, while we adopt more nuanced and complicated stances toward technology as scholars and practitioners, we must as teachers help our students achieve this balanced perspective as well" (357-358). Duffelmeyer suggests a pedagogy that requires students to look critically at the roles technology plays in their lives, society as a whole and the classroom setting. She also asks them to explore "ways that they might develop some agency within the parameters of that relationship" (358). Students in Duffelmeyer’s courses are asked to question all assumptions about technology in order to think critically about what weight those assumptions hold. The student’s position in relation to technology is also scrutinized in the writing assignments.

Duffelmeyer goes on to explain her entire course plan in detail. She argues for a research component in every essay by writing, "students . . .stand to gain considerably increased agency from the results of their inquiry" (360). She also sought to focus the students on "looking at rather than unproblematically through technology" (363, emphasis Duffelmeyer’s). She then has the students look critically at how their own ideas have grown and changed over the semester. In doing this, Duffelmeyer, in essence, provides her students with "proof" that they have advanced intellectually. More importantly, that "proof" comes from the students themselves. [JN 06]

Eggers, Walter. "Teaching Drama: A Manifesto." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 271-274.

Eggers begins his article by commenting on the current state of drama studies in the university system. He argues that drama is often underprivileged and understudied in literature courses and even when dramatic texts are taught, it is usually in chronological order. Eggers also contends for qa broader definition of drama to include more popular forms of media, like movies and television. Thus, he offers several precepts for change, such as including a variety of texts, teaching plays thematically rather than chronologically, viewing performance as interpretation, and stressing the popular nature of drama. Based on these premises, Eggers predicts a shift in the current trends of drama studies, one whose changes will increase the popularity of teaching drama. [CHL 08]

Ellery, Karen. "Undergraduate Plagiarism: A Pedagogical Perspective." Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education. 33.5 (2008): 507-516. Web.

Ellery discusses her study she conducted in University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The purpose of her study is to investigate why students plagiarize, to identify whether there is a link between the incidence of plagiarism and belonging to different gender, language or ethnic groups, and to educate students about plagiarism.

Based on the interviews with the students who plagiarize, Ellery finds that most students plagiarize unintentionally because the students do not realize that they plagiarize. They do not know how to paraphrase. Therefore, Ellery considers that the intervention in academic writing is important to help students develop the skill of paraphrasing. Most students think that if they write the source text in their own words, they will change the meaning. According to Ellery, this is the sign of lack of self confidence and inability to express ideas in their own words. However, Ellery sees this struggle to paraphrase as part of the students’ learning process. Students whose first language is not English tend to plagiarize more because of the inadequacy of expressing ideas in English. Besides language, Ellery finds that male students tend to plagiarize more than female students since female students tend to be more obedient than the male students.

Another significant finding is time constraints as a major factor that contributes to the plagiarized assignments. This phenomenon shows that students consider writing as a final product rather than a process. What Ellery wants to achieve through her study here is to make students understand that writing is an ongoing process. Most students do not realize the idea of writing as an ongoing process because as soon as they pass the writing class they forget about what they have learned from the class and do not use the skills they practiced in the writing class to write assigned papers for other classes. [ZR 10]

Estrem, Heidi. "The Portfolio’s Shifting Self: Possibilities for Assessing Student Learning." Pedadogy 4.1 (2004) 125-7.

Estrem acknowledges the widespread acceptance of the portfolio as an effective tool for both "learning and assessment in many U.S. colleges" (125). She goes further, however, by urging students to see the effective use of portfolios as a technique to encourage students to "portray their writing selves" (127), urging them to carry on the higher-level self-evaluation to other classes that are more consciously objective. This article helped to convince me of the importance of transparent evaluation that is most successful when student and teacher know each other sufficiently well enough to make the specific evaluation criteria more apparent. [RG 06]

Farber, Jerry. "Teaching and Presence." Pedagogy 8.2 (2008): 215-225.

In his accessible 2008 article, "Teaching and Presence," Jerry Farber argues that teachers who indulge in the present moment while with their real and very-much living students prove more effective than those who simply go through the motions during face-to-face sessions in the classroom. He compares the latter to tour-guides whose routines are analogous to the mere playing of a video-taped recording. The author's lifetime of expert experiences in education, both as professor in his own classes and as an observer of others', divides instructors into two obvious modes of performers: teachers aware of their surroundings who incorporate an absolute presence into their actions, and those who conduct class without the immediacy and interaction which, as Farber posits, students so desperately need in the facilitation of their learning. Pupils must participate in their lessons and become more than passive spectators. Instructors, Farber concedes, cannot ensure presence will always grace their meetings; however, they can certainly guarantee it will not, namely by adhering to ancient and un-updated lecture notes, re-teaching identical syllabi again and again, or subscribing to predetermined lesson plans without ever welcoming spontaneity or allowing tangential discussions. Farber admits that "to be present is to be vulnerable," but encourages faculty to embrace the discomfort of uncertainty as a sacred tenet of the learning process, insisting that "the act of teaching is nothing we can lock up, nothing we can hold on to, nothing we can simply pull off the shelf and run. The very next time I walk into class, I will be, once again, somewhere I've never been" (223). By resisting the opportunity to engage students with a fully-present presenter, teachers inhibit their capacity for fostering learning in the unique venue with which we are blessed. [CA 08]

Felman, Jyl Lynn. Never a Dull Moment: Teaching and the Art of Performance. New York: Routledge, 2001.

Felman discusses performance teaching, specifically in the feminist classroom. Her guiding pedagogical philosophy is "teaching is performing and performing is teaching" (xvi). Performance teaching, similar to good theatre, engages students’ emotions and intellect. With this said, Felman’s classes are "up close and personal" (6-7). Her pedagogical approach differs significantly from traditional lecture-based approaches. In this text, Felman explores the reactions to her teaching style by both male and female students; included in each chapter are student comments regarding her teaching methods. The chapters focus on a wide range of issues such as professional dress and appearance, voice and projection, academic politics and the visiting professor, female eating disorders, as well as the isolation and marginalization of Women’s Studies departments across academia. [PMS 07]

Fletcher, Anne C., and Stephen T. Russell. "Incorporating Issues of Sexual Orientation in the Classroom: Challenges and Solutions." Family Relations 50.1 (2002): 34-30.

This useful article provides practical solutions to instructors unsure of how to incorporate lgbt materials and teach lgbt issues in the classroom. The authors contend that instructors generally have limited exposure (both in a personal and academic sense) to the lgbt community. Similarly, many students’ understanding of lgbt identity is confined to family discussions and distorted media representations. In addition to the problem posed by lack of exposure, the article delineates six challenges faced by instructors who seek to include lgbt resources in their curriculum. The article offers helpful suggestions on how instructors can respond constructively to student homophobia. Furthermore, the authors discuss the vital necessity of making lgbt concerns relevant to non-lgbt students; the authors recommend role-playing exercises for this purpose. By stepping outside of their comfort zones and role-playing scenarios involving lgbt people, students gain a broader understanding of the difficulties faced by sexual minorities in a society that privileges heterosexuality. In sum, this article offers concrete solutions to the challenges posed by the incorporation of lgbt issues into a classroom environment. The authors effectively contribute to the ongoing struggle to make academia truly inclusive. [JG 08]

Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. 30th Anniversary Edition. Trnsl. Myra B. Ramos. New York: Continuum, 2006. $17.95

Keywords: pedagogy, oppressed, banking concept, problem-posing concept, dialogics, generative themes, (de)humanization, conscientizacao, revolution, necrophily, praxis

Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed is a hand book for people who are interested in linking education with social change. Complete with revolutionary theory and personal narratives, Freire defines the roles of the oppressor and the oppressed in an attempt to humanize the world. According to Freire, in order for the oppressed to receive absolute freedom, they must design their own pedagogy whereby they present their social experiences as themes for critical analysis. Freire asserts that the current banking concept of education wherein information is deposited into students does nothing to help them think for themselves; instead, the banking concept forces oppressed students to adopt the oppressors’ ideals, and therefore, the problem-posing concept of education should be incorporated into the classroom as an instrument for liberation. Freire also claims that dialogics is the essence of education as the practice of freedom. "Without dialogue," says Freire, "there is no communication, and without communication there can be no true education" (92-93). [KB 08]

Foertsch, Jacqueline. "Books as Broccoli? Images as Ice Cream? Providing a Healthy Menu in the College English Classroom." Pedagogy 6.2 (Spring 2006): 209-30.

Foertsch's article is a polemic against contemporary pedagogical stances that welcome visual media - movies and internet resources, in particular - into the literary classroom as instructional aids or texts to be read and analyzed. It argues that technology and film are forcing printed text from the literary education, and gives a litany of reasons why this usurpation is occurring. From the idea that the internet reinforces poor writing skills to the claim that teachers simply cave to the whims of their visually-obsessed students, Foertsch attempts to describe a discipline in decline. She concludes that film and internet resources should be relegated to a place of "dessert," a reward for reading print text, or, barring the ability of a teacher to utilize such resources as an "unhealthy" treat, dismissed from the literature classroom entirely. There is no position of compromise within the article: in teaching undergraduates, the internet and film can never be used as more than a meaningless "snack"; no allowances for any possible positive utilization are granted.

While the majority of the argument tends to be myopic, unsubstantiated, and poorly supported, it does raise questions about the value of technology and film in a profession that has, traditionally, been centered upon print material. Are English teachers at the collegiate level too obsessed with utilizing new technologies in the classroom? Are literature teachers using the internet and film in ways which will benefit the project of producing critical readers? Why can contemporary undergraduate students connect so easily with visual media, and what does that mean? These are all pertinent, engaging questions whichFoertsch could have explored but did not. Her article is, therefore, not particularly useful as a pedagogical prescription, but as a springboard into more reasonable, more focused, and more pressing educational concerns. [Kurt F. 09]

Fox, Catherine. "The Race to Truth: Disarticulating Critical Thinking from Whiteliness." Pedagogy 2.2 (2002): 197-212.

Fox argues that the attempt to teach critical thinking often functions as a form of revolution rather than transformation where one dominant ideology is replaced with another. "Critical thinking," Fox writes is "too often conflated with feminist, and critical ideologies; seductively entrenched in whitely judgementalism, righteousness, and Truth; and therefore is complicitious with systems of power, privilege, and knowledge" (198). The tendency to champion critical thinking as "undoubtedly good" without questioning HOW critical thinking enables educators to enact transformation allows us to lose sight of our primary goal (198). To further articulate her concerns, Fox looks to the metaphor of whiteliness as described by Minnie Bruce Pratt and Marilynn Frye. Pratt explains that her white identity taught her to judge in accordance to her ethical system, to be a martyr by taking all responsibility for change, to be a peacemaker by negotiating between opposing sides, and to be a preacher by pointing out what others ought to do (qtd in Fox 200). Frye expands on these characteristics to discuss her own lessons from whiteliness and concludes that it is "based on integrity, dignity, and respectability, which whitely women use as levers to raise themselves to the levers of whitely men" (203). Looking to the thoughts of Frye and Pratt, Fox reasons that when we teach students how to analyze, "we often assume that we are being principled, ethical, and morally appropriate because we are following the rules of reason as they have been established during the long history of Western intellectualism" (203). Because educators tend to define critical thinking as reaching a particular point of arrival, Fox worries that we are ultimately urging students to race to the truths that we have discovered; and, in doing so, "we manifest and reproduce whitely ways of being in the world" (203). Therefore, Fox urges educators to consider critical thinking as a pragmatic exercise rather than presupposing that critical thinking simply means for reaching the "right answer." This pragmatic approach depends upon an examination of the consequences of our choices or beliefs. Fox explains that "if we could question the consequences of our actions … we might see new ways of being that move past revolution, past replacing old truths with feminist or critical ideological truths, and into moments of transformation" (205). This examination of consequence requires the inclusion of many perspectives, which is crucial to the kind of critical thinking that Fox advocates. [JM 08]

Gallagher, Susan Van Zanten. "Contingencies and Intersections: The Formations of Pedagogical Canons. Pedagogy 1.1 (2001) 53-67.

Susan Van Zanten Gallagher argues that the focus of the academic debate should not be the imaginary canon (works "scholars and critics have argued are ‘great’), but should be the pedagogical canon (the list of works of the syllabus – those read and taught in the class) (53). Therefore, as the pedagogical canon changes so too does the imaginary canon, which is an ongoing construction.

How then are pedagogical canons formed? There is no one precise way a text makes its way into the pedagogical canon. It is a matter of who publishes the manuscript, when it is published, and how that text is brought to the instructor’s attention. Then, if that text is teachable because of its "ideology and aesthetics or thematic usefulness," it is implemented into the curriculum (56). After its adoption by numerous instructors, that work may find itself included into the imaginary canon.

Gallagher then illustrates a work’s inclusion through the case study of Zimbabwean Tsitsi Dangarembga’s novel Nervous Conditions. This African novel was not published through regular channels, the Heinemann African Writer’s series: rather, it was published by a feminist publishing house in London, the Women’s Press. Additionally Dangarembga dropped into the publishing company’s office to see if they had read the manuscript. That visit along with the fact that the director was looking for works by African women writers brought about its publication. Seal Press then acquired the American rights to the novel. The novel was recommended to instructors through word-of-mouth, conferences, journal articles, book exhibits, and lectures. Its publication coincided with the rise of multicultural studies. Its "universal themes" and "aesthetic excellence" also contributed to its "rise in the pedagogical canon (62). [KB 06]

Gellis, Mark. "Grading with an Attitude". Pedadogy 2.3 (2002) 416-9.

A short but relatively thoughtful article focused on the anxiety of grading student papers. Based on his research, Gellis concludes that student get more value from one-on-one conferences versus detailed instructor notes. Rather than hoping that students show up to personal conferences, Gellis requires them to sign up and attend the sessions. He also encourages "just in time grading" (418), scoring papers as close to the student conference as possible, thereby enhancing his ability to recall the details of the paper in order to provide effective feedback. Gellis claims that he has saved a great deal of time "responding to papers, identifying their major strengths and weaknesses, and determining the letter grades" in favor of "productive discussions with my students in conferences" (419). This article was helpful in that it reinforced my own preference for mandatory student conferences, but provided little help in determining how to best ensure that students were sufficiently aware of how they would be evaluated. [RB 06]

Graff, Gerald. "Hidden Meaning or Disliking Books."  Beyond the Culture Wars: How teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education. NewYork: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1992. 64-85. Print.

In his book, Beyond the Culture Wars: How teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education, Graff believes that the educational institution is the perfect place to explore a battleground of conflicting ideas. The problem, according to Graff, is that the students are not getting all they should from these discussions. He contributes this disconnect to  "communicative disorders [within] a society that is becoming so shell-shocked by cultural conflict and disagreement that it would rather escape from the battle than confront it and try to work things out" (viii).

My  focus was on the chapter "Hidden Meaning or Disliking Books." In it, Graff reflects upon the intellectual divide between the English professor and the English student. He blames part of this disparity on the emphasis that teachers place on criticism without allowing for the differences in students’ literary knowledge. He claims that teachers "have been seduced by professionalism, drawn away from a healthy absorption in literature to the sickly fascination with analysis and theory and to the selfish advancement of their careers" But for Graff the inclusion of criticism was crucial to his literary experience. He claims, "Getting into immediate contact with the text was…a curiously triangular business; I could not do it directly but needed a conversation of other readers to give me the issues and terms that made it possible to respond’ (70). The most important moral he got from this revelation was the importance of discussion. Talking about the work is as important as reading it. He adds, however, that students need help and guidance and endorses Rorty’s contention that teachers as interpreters are necessary. The emphasis needs to be on the right mix of theory and textual analysis. He states, "Today’s battle lines are drawn not only between competing kinds of texts but between the crucial vocabularies in which the texts are taught" (78). He points out that the point of the debate is to invite rather than alienate. He thinks that the use of "ideologically loaded jargon" serves as an academic barrier to newer readers and may result in them turning away from the study. He gives a good example when he states, "As much as traditional humanists and theorists may dislike each other, to a person who is not sure what the words "humanist and "theorist" mean, these antagonists will look like two peas in a pod" (79. He ends by pointing out that we need to be aware of the intellectual nature of our audiences and claims "much of the inaccessibility for which current literary theorists are blamed is really a general feature of intellectual discourse. His solution to this is to engage and help students to find these meanings. It is in a teacher’s best interest to take this approach and points out that once the student is able to work a text on the message hunting level, for Graff, criticism is the obvious next level in intellectual development. [KL 09]

Graff, Gerald. "Why Assessment?" Pedagogy 10.1 (2010): 153-165.

In this article, Graff argues that outcomes assessment can combat the problem of "courseocentrism" in higher education (157). Graff defines courseocentrism as the "ignorance of what goes on outside our own classrooms" (157), and he claims it reinforces the notion that teaching is a private activity instead of one that takes place within a community. Though this line of thought is prevalent in higher education, Graff argues it has a negative effect on students, who often receive competing information and advice within each privatized classroom, but are without the resources to "make coherent sense of our diverse perspectives" (158). Students compartmentalize their experiences in each course and learn to give each teacher "whatever he or she seems to want" (158), which ultimately results in students failing to "become socialized into our intellectual community" (158). While Graff admits some "high achievers" do "see through the curricular mixed messages to the underlying common practices of reading, analysis, and argument," they are the minority (159). Graff claims outcomes assessment can help college teachers discover what their students are actually learning, determine what those students really need to learn, and then create a curriculum that addresses those needs (160-161). Graff concedes that bad assessment practices, such as No Child Left Behind, do exist, and admits that no assessment is better than bad assessment (161). However, he also encourages teachers not to reject assessment merely because bad models exist, and recommends ways to improve assessment practices, such as limiting the number of assessment criteria and making them less discipline specific (163). 

Graff makes a valid point about the importance of creating community and connection in higher education, but both his exploration of the problem of "courseocentrism" and his subsequent argument that outcomes assessment is the answer rely largely on anecdotal evidence. He only briefly mentions a few research studies on student apathy and student failure to apply learned material (160), which may fail to convince a skeptical audience to embrace outcomes assessment. While Graff acknowledges that the critiques of bad assessment practices are valid, he also dismisses them too easily and does not engage in answering any specific concerns about outcomes assessment. [JC 10]

Graff, Gerald and James Phelan. "Why Study Critical Controversies?" Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain: A Case Study in Critical Controversy. 2nd ed. By Graff and Phelan. Boston: Bedford/St Martin's, 2004. 1-15.

Gerald Graff and James Phelan address students directly in "Why Study Critical Controversies?" pointing out the frequent discomfort many experience when called upon to discuss literary texts without prior familiarity with the "language" that other students, critics and professors seem to know inherently (1-2). Although professors may be concerned with the potential for overwhelming students with conflicting viewpoints, Graff and Phelan believe that "teaching through controversy" can in fact help students to read and think critically as they "gain control over initially mysterious conventions (2; 12-13). Moreover, when students encounter a variety of possible interpretations, they realize they are not alone in their struggle to grasp "the meaning of the novel," and by responding to what others have written, learn to engage with the text in ways that reading the story for pleasure or by itself cannot offer (6-9; 11). While some scholars have argued that critics can "problematize" discussion of Huckleberry Finn by deviating from what the text actually suggests--what Huck himself would call "‘stretchers,’" Graff and Phelan argue that even "far-fetched" interpretations are valuable, for learning through controversy is "not the opposite of reaching resolution but a precondition of doing so" (qtd. in Graff and Phelan 4-5; 12). I strongly recommend "Why Study Critical Controversies?" not only as a valuable springboard for discussion, but as an inviting entry point to the careful selection of diverse critical responses that follow in Graff and Phelan’s Case Study. Not only do the authors provide essential historical and social realities about the reception, and subsequent banning, of an important literary work, but also an inviting opportunity for students to actively participate in an ongoing critical debate. [AS 08]

Green, Andrew. "A Desk and a Pile of Books: Considering Independent Study." Pedagogy 7.3 (2007): 427-52.

Green’s article discusses the importance of teaching college students how to study on their own outside of the classroom. Although his information is modeled on the school system in the United Kingdom, it is easily applied to American high school students attending college for the first time. Green emphasizes that new university-level students have a number of fears and concerns regarding the amount of learning they are required to accomplish on their own. Teachers need to assuage those concerns by demonstrating the process and benefits of independent study. It is not enough to expect students to learn for themselves how to maximize their independent study time; teachers must actively model study techniques in the classroom. Classroom activities such as study questions, online discussion groups, short written responses to texts—techniques Green refers to as DARTS (Directed Activities Related to Texts)—provide students with useful examples of how they can construct their independent study time. Green advocates helping students set up study schedules that not only block off periods of time for study, but that also specifically state what will be covered during that time. He encourages the use of existing or instructor created module handbooks; he is also a big proponent of teaching students how to reflect on the content of lectures and how to make the most of their class notes. Green also favors the use of paired and group study, techniques that can be developed in the classroom. This article—once you get past the UK terminology and the discussion of pedagogical theory—is very useful for teaching students how to make the most of their time outside of class, which in turn should result in their being more successful in the course. [PQ 08]

Gregory, Marshall. "Curriculum, Pedagogy, and Teacherly Ethos." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 69-89.

Gregory’s article aims to address the discrepancy between curriculum and instruction in university classrooms. He is insightful in his argument that many professors spend hours developing curriculum yet teach like "barnstormers, flying by the seat of their pants." He argues that many professors rely on "method" and rules of pedagogical technique and forget the importance of passing on their passion for the subject; this passion, Gregory claims, is what truly educates students. He focuses on developing classroom persona and creating relationships with students, both of which are intended to facilitate the transmission of passion for the subject matter and instigate students’ engagement with the material. While this is inspiring and helpful for considering (or reconsidering) one’s overall goals for a particular course, what it lacks is practical advice on how to integrate these concepts into the classroom itself. [AC 06]

hooks, bell. "Eros, Eroticism, and the Pedagogical Process." Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, 1994. 191-201.

hooks begins with a contemplative approach and acknowledges that there is not a split between the mind and body. hooks says, when we erase the body and give ourselves over to the mind our classrooms lack passion. Teaching passionately requires that we give fully of ourselves and go beyond the mere transmission of information in lectures. There is a description of the ways in which eros and the erotic can be used to bring passion into the classroom and improve or enhance the relationships we have with our students. hooks says that the erotic "enables both professors and students to use such energy . . . [to] invigorate discussion and excite the critical imagination" which are essential components in the learning process. She acknowledges that there is a sexual component to eros and the erotic and she even gives examples to illustrate this idea, but the majority of the article focuses on recognizing and cultivating the non-sexual erotic relationships we have with our students. She shows how this type of pedagogy helps students to reach self-actualization. In sum, this article is useful because it illustrates the importance of passionate classrooms, shows how we can build passionate classroom environments, and demonstrates how these environments have a positive influence on instructors and students. [TS 12]

Hunter, J. Paul. "The Future of the Past: Teaching Older Texts in a Postmodern World." South Atlantic Review 59.2 (1994): 1-10.

In this article, J. Paul Hunter engages in a conversation about "the future" and particularly what the future means for teachers and scholars of "older literature" (Hunter uses this generic term to apply to a whole host of periods ranging from ancient and medieval to 18th century literature, his own area of expertise). Hunter explores the "presentist" tendencies of our postmodern age, broadly, and the same tendencies in young students, specifically. Noting the relevance of "the past" for contemporary students, Hunter asserts that the past affords an opportunity to engage in a critical and probing gaze, not merely blind admiration for older periods and outmoded social and political paradigms. All who love knowledge, according to Hunter, will eventually look to older literature, and that analysis will be more profitable if we might understand the relevance of older texts for the twentieth and twentieth-first century. Once we have enticed students to study the past (a difficult prospect in its own right), we as teachers need to express both the similarity and the difference of past traditions. Hunter argues, quite persuasively, that scholars of older literature can borrow the critical methodologies of those engaged in contemporary cultural studies. Students can thus approach the "strangeness" of older literature and the past in the same way that they might engage with contemporary works written by "others" from different racial, ethnic, national, sexual or religious backgrounds. The key, in both instances, is interesting students in the lives of individuals whose experiences may be vastly different from their own. Practically speaking, Hunter argues that we can use the familiar aspects of older texts (while carefully avoiding convenient essentialism) to move backwards to the more unfamiliar features of the periods and texts. [RE 08]

Jones, Ed. "The Rules of the Game in an Introductory Literature Class." Teaching English in the Two Year College (35:3) [Mar 2008], p.282-291.

In this article Jones confronts the age-old problem sparse classroom interaction. His solution: get the students to play. Jones offers what he calls "the interpretation game" where students work as a team to score points as a class through discussion. The rules of the game are as follows: 1. One Point for Each Question Asked 2. One Point for Each Reference to Specific Words in the Text 3. One Point for Building on What Someone Else Said 4. Five Points for Each of the Responses Made by the Person Who Spoke Least Frequently 5. Two Points for Challenging an Interpretation and Providing Evidence or Reasoning for the Challenge 6. Two Points for Explaining One's Thinking by Referring to an Element of Poetry, Fiction, or Drama (Like Persona, Narrator, Climax, Minor Character) 7. Ten Points for a Satisfying Interpretation (Judged by the instructor) Jones claims that by encouraging the students to see participation as a game, the anxiety disappears. Another important aspect of this game is that it almost entirely removes the teacher from the discussion changing the dynamic from traditional initial response evaluation, where the teacher affirms or rejects the students’ contributions, to a more egalitarian discussion based model. Jones goal in this activity seems to be creating an environment where everyone is encouraged to participate and where students use evidentiary reasoning to develop arguments for discussion. Jones’ game, however, is not without problems. One might wonder if this activity merely replaces one dominating classroom force with another i.e. another way of asserting authority in the classroom. Also, the article seems to assume that we, the teacher and students, "need to use highly structured ‘rules’ to generate relatively unstructured student conversation" (Neal). Lastly, Jones himself admits that he becomes bogged down in the accountant work of the game that requires constant scoring. This presents a problem in listening. If the teacher is too busy scoring to listen and participate in the discussion, what is the point of being there? Ultimately, Jones’ game offers a way into active learning and a way to introduce fun and delight back into the classroom and should, therefore, not be discarded out of hand. Some strategies one might take away from his article are: 

  • Position classroom discussion as a game – make it fun 
  • Encourage Collaboration: Get students to interact with each other and their peers’ comments 
  • Ask students to look to their classmates as sources of information 
  • Shake things up – shift the power dynamic in the class sometimes [JT09]

Jones, Virginia Pompei. "Teaching Elements of Literature through Art: Romanticism, Realism, and Culture." Pedagogy 7.2 (Spring 2007): 264-70.

Addressing instructors of literature at the university level, Jones advocates a pedagogical approach that uses paintings to illustrate elements of a genre common to both the visual and written art forms. She argues that incorporating visual art speaks to the "the importance of diversification and multiple intelligences in arousing students’ interest and in enhancing the learning process" (270). The article focuses on realism and includes examples of realistic paintings and fiction. While her basic idea is a good one and the article might be considered a starting place, she could develop her ideas further. Teachers could show students how one form of art influenced another and, in addition to painting, incorporate music, architecture, or film into their literature courses as well. [DM 08]

Joseph, Nancy. "Metacognition in the Classroom: Examining Theory and Practice." Pedadogy 3.1 (2003) 109-13.

Joseph presents an effective argument for metacognition, "the mental process of analyzing our own thinking, to advance intellectually and personally" (109). Her experience has caused her to conclude that many students do not use metacognitive knowledge, illustrated by assignments infused with "shortsighted thinking and an inability to move beyond literal comprehension to the more challenging elements of interpretation and application" (110). She also provides specific suggestions to promote more critical thinking by encouraging students to allow sufficient time to reflect on their work, and displays her personal rewriting and editing decisions. She also promotes prewriting as essential towards promoting essays that demonstrated more critical thinking and reflection. [RG 06]

Kazan, Tina S. "Dancing Bodies in the Classroom: Moving toward an Embodied Pedagogy." Pedagogy 5.3 (2005): 379-408.

Kazan’s essay focuses on the recognizing the physical bodies of teachers and students and their role within the classroom. Relying on Bahktin’s notion of genres, Kazan notes that teacher and student are both genres which are "read" and "interpreted." Kazan illustrates this point using two anecdotes, one where she does not announce herself as a teacher during her first year as an instructor and one where she and a female friend confuse a ballroom dance instructor who struggles to read their relationship. The role of power is essential to understand. She notes, "If students misread the teacher or the situation, they may sacrifice individual attention from the teacher, opportunities for learning, or even their academic standing" (381). On a depressing note, Kazan argues that the "body"/"genre" of the teacher is traditionally male, and female instructors represent a "disruption of the genre" (382). This unconscious sexism places an additional burden on instructors to not only correctly read students, but to be conscious that students may be reading teachers incorrectly as well. [CRJ 06]

King, Mark. "Voluntary Conscription: Enlisting the Children of Lake Wobegone in the Battle Against Grade Inflation." College Literature 32.1 (2005): 127-45.

Mark King examines numerous sources discussing grade inflation, focusing on the language about grade inflation. King establishes an historical context, exploring the manner in which blame gets passed on, reducing the argument to economics, and states sources' tactic of employing combative language. King does an excellent job of historicizing the problem and points out how the conversation keeps displacing the blame without offering solutions. The second half of King’s essay discusses his method of teaching students self-evaluation by using their own taste as a model; a process outlined in detail at the end of the article. This piece might be useful in teaching students how to evaluate and in getting them to realize the rigors of college grading by forcing them to examine and compare each other’s work, which can lead to more honest grading and the beginning of more honest grading without the fear of low teacher evaluations. [JA 12]

Kochar-Lindgren, Gray. "Beginner’s Mind: Opening the Open in the Classroom." Pedagogy 1.2 (2001): 410-416. Project Muse. Web. 18 Sep. 2009.

Kochar-Lindgren’s "opening of the opening" – a fuzzy phrase that eventually becomes identified with the opening of students’ minds towards the fostering of learning – adopts a frame of nothingness to explain itself. This nothingness problematically informs every aspect of the Kochar-Lindgren’s pursuit of a "pedagogical poetics" (415), and ultimately leaving the reader unsure, unbalanced, and tantalizingly frustrated – a frustration which I would argue is purposeful. After invoking a plethora of possible philosophical, theoretical, and theological frames for nothingness, Kochar-Lindgren directs the reader away from those frames, proclaiming "these other paths will be reserved for another time, with the recognition that they are always just off the stage" (410). This idea of a glut of confusing ideologies lying in wait, stage right or stage left, contradictorily informs Kochar-Lindgren’s pursuit of the beginner’s mind, as complex competing concepts (from Freud’s uncanny to a never acknowledged Zen Buddhist influence) are introduced only through allusion and then left, all in pursuit of "nothing." Tracing the evolvement of nothingness in teaching – or non-teaching – from Socrates, on to Heidegger, and culminating in Derrida, who is described as "that trickster, that most assiduous of readers" (411), Kochar-Lindgren argues that only by fostering an environment in the classroom that supports nothingness, only by doing this can the teacher clear space within our binary seeking minds for learning and the creation of new knowledge to occur. Most relevantly, Kochar-Lindgren posits that our function as teachers lies not in giving knowledge to our students, but instead in "provid[ing] a space for learning to occur" and then allowing each student individually to "take the ultimate step" (412). With beautiful, flowing prose, an earnestness that inspires, and a willful simultaneous deployment and dismissal of a postmodern cacophony of competing schools of thought, Kochar-Lindgren strives to discuss the un-discussable nature of what it means to teach our students the ability to learn. Purposefully short on direct and adoptable methodologies, Kochar-Lindgren instead offers us a way to start thinking about "nothing." [AP 09]

Kohn, Alfie. "Speaking My Mind: The Trouble with Rubrics." The English Journal 95.4 (2006): 12-15.

In this article, Alfie Kohn bemoans the use of the rubric. He claims that rubrics, like all forms of grading, cause students to "think less deeply, avoid taking risks, and lose interest in the learning itself" (12)—quite a condemnation. Kohn goes on to explain that rubrics promote a kind of standardization in individual classrooms (rather than state-wide) by reducing the "messy process" of writing an essay to four or five measurable categories. He notes that proponents of rubrics praise their objectivity, their consistent accuracy, but Kohn challenges this notion on two levels: One, the application of a rubric is actually the application of someone else’s narrow ideas (what about if a professor writes her own?) and two, even if this application is consistent, it is an objectionable "attempt to deny the subjectivity of human judgment" (13). Here, Kohn makes a point that resonates with me—there is no sure-fire way to make all essay grading one-hundred percent consistent. Ultimately, Kohn asserts that rubrics shift students’ attention away from what they are learning to how they are performing. He supports this view by referring to interviews where students profess to have a rubric’s language constantly in mind when completing a written task, to a few other studies whose conclusions support his, and to the like-minded the comments of colleagues. 

This essay prompted me to think about the potential misuse of rubrics; it put forth some good food for thought, but it did not change my mind about an intentional, occasional and meaningful use of rubrics. Alfie doesn’t concede that rubrics can sometimes be helpful. He sees them always as tools to label and categorize students or to ease a teacher’s grading load. I do not think Alfie figures the teacher into his equation---how a rubric is introduced, worded, and applied surely make a big difference in how the students benefit from its use. [AD 10]

Levine, George. "The Two Nations." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 7-19.

In "The Two Nations" George Levine examines the great divide in university English departments across the country between teaching, the job that faculty are hired to do, and literary scholarship, the work that is the primary focus of faculty attention and professional incentives. A result of the basic devaluation of teaching at the university level, this divide only succeeds in perpetuating the problem since English faculty often become unaccustomed to (and often even averse to) teaching lower-level courses. The unfortunate results of this divide, for Levine, are an ever-increasing graduate population competing for ever- decreasing job opportunities to teach upper-level literature courses. Though Levine’s hope for any substantive change in the current system is limited to reveling in "utopian" dreams, his very acknowledgment of the division between literary study and pedagogy and his explanation of its origins does perhaps offer a direction for change and a possible path to compromise and integration. [ST 07]

Linkin, Harriet Kramer. "Performing Discussion: The Dream of a Common Language in the Literature Classroom." Pedagogy 10:1 (2009): 167-174.

In her opinion piece written for Pedagogy, Harriet Kramer Linkin reflects upon her thirty year quest to create a common language in the English literature classroom. This desire to "build a discursive community of shared meanings" is perceived by Linkin to be more difficult as she ages and worries that she does not possess the same social assumptions with her electronically savvy young scholars who routinely register their approval or disapproval on social networking sites simply by selecting icons (168). Linkin illustrates her challenges by describing two anecdotes involving class interpretations of poems. Her post-operative reflection of her handling of these tense teaching moments is readily understood by readers who lead discussions about literature, and Linkin’s angst is apparent when she reads reviews of her courses where some students ask for more and not less authority from her. As Linkin acknowledges, teachers balance between students’ enthusiastic poetic interpretation which may be void of evidentiary support and professorial, authoritarian, "expert" interpretation which may turn active learners into passive listeners. Linkin’s solution is on target as she opts for encouraging lively discussion while insisting that students support their claims. In her search for the common language in the literature classroom, Linkin cautions that the level of sophistication of readers is a consideration, for more experienced students, with a pen in hand, may be inculcated to extract meaning from text (in this case poetry) without pausing to engage in metacognition or thinking about their encounter with the text. It appears that the less sophisticated reader is more likely to approach the text with less of the teacher’s expectations, but then may deviate from meaning to pursue pathways of interpretation that are derived from background knowledge. This intriguing difference is worthy of further discussion, but at this point in her piece, Linkin is content to open the dialogue and then to become a listener, as she encourages others to think about communicating ideas about literature to a generation of students who have created their own technologically based language. [LS 10]

Linkon, Sherry. "The Reader’s Apprentice: Making Critical Cultural Reading Visible." Pedagogy 5.2 (2005): 247-273. 

In this article, Linkon argues that "if we want our students to develop the ability to read, research, and analyze cultural texts, we need to employ more strategic, deliberate methods of teaching" (248). She describes the theory, methodology, and practice of a course designed to accomplish this goal. Linkon utilizes the cultural studies approach to reading theory which Kathleen McCormick calls "critical cultural reading" to interrogate the source of student difficulties in attaining a higher level of critical engagement with texts, as well as to develop pedagogical practices that she believes might alleviate these difficulties and facilitate learning. Her focus is on recursive reading, reading and developing inquiry slowly and over a long period, modeling and coaching, and opportunities for students to practice. She emphasizes the need that these activities need to be built into the curriculum in an active and interactive manner, rather than merely discussed. [KW 07]

McGann, Jerome. "Reading Fiction/ Teaching Fiction: A Pedagogical Experiment." Pedagogy 1.1 (2001): 143-65.

In his article "Reading Fiction/Teaching Fiction: A Pedagogical Experiment," Jerome McGann describes an experiment in teaching fiction conducted at the University of Virginia in 1997. In the experiment, graduate students and faculty members designed an undergraduate course meant to eradicate the simplistic manner of interpreting fiction used by many students. In general, according to McGann, undergraduates ignore the essence of the crafting of fiction, oversimplifying the art and thus, underestimating its worth. McGann explains that "‘Reading Fiction/Teaching Fiction’ was undertaken to address those kinds of questions. It was to be an experiment in pedagogy as much for the benefit of the undergraduates who took the class as for the graduate students (and myself) who undertook it" (145). While assisting undergraduates in their understanding of fiction, the course attempted to provide teaching experience for graduate students at the same time. While both courses exhibited their successes and failures,McGann states that the doors of perception opened with regard to the learning process. Despite the failures of the project, McGann observes that departments need to incorporate the "Learner" mentality more frequently when designing and implementing courses for undergraduates. He poses the question "Have our departments stopped learning about learning?" (165). In other words, the emphasis on the teacher perspective seemingly produces students that cannot properly interpret literature because they are, in a sense, isolated. Through the model McGann describes in his experiment, students and teachers may enhance their learning skills through specific pedagogical technique and responsibility. [SL 07]

McMahon, Robert. Thinking About Literature: New Ideas for High School Teachers. Portsmouth: Heinemann, 2002.

Although Thinking About Literature primarily focuses on teaching high school students, the basic concept of this text is applicable to first and second-year college students as well. The author states, "Literary works, especially stories and plays, are a laboratory for understanding the thoughts and feelings, characters, and acts of human beings"(1). As a result, the author’s ideas are also useful at the college level. McMahon’s approach to teaching literature centers on stimulating students by using evaluative questioning and imaginative exercises that foster motivation and promote creativity. His methods allow students to explore language, characters, and plot. By using their knowledge and experience, students are able to form opinions and create judgments. In short, McMahon’s methods are designed to get students to think. The organization of the text begins with a Summary of Basic Questions designed to explore motives for human behavior. McMahon suggests analyzing motive by dividing a human act into five components, as follows: "In a given context (Situation), a person (Agent) does or says something (Act) in a certain manner (Attitude) in order to achieve some end (Purpose) (1). These related components generate powerful questions that allow the reader to reflect on the work, providing a view of character behavior. McMahon states that skilled readers automatically question and answer while reading, proving to be very useful for "teaching less experienced readers how to read more intelligently"(3). Also included in the Summary are questions that may be applied to any work for the purpose of Association, Conflict, Sequence, or Transformation. This section ends with a group of evaluative questions designed to identify moral character, and consider the agent’s intentions and consequences of an act. The book’s five chapters are comprised of 18 different Provocations, or imaginative exercises, designed to help students connect with the relationships in a story, heighten imagination, and understand the style of the writer. Some example assignments given by the author include having students transpose setting to a different time period, or transpose point of view from one character to another. In Chapter 4, McMahon demonstrates methods for teaching character and motives within a novel, using The Great Gatsby as an example of how Summary questions are applied to the work. McMahon feels that both English teachers and college professors alike do not fully assist students with understanding plot structure (112). One solution the author provides requires noting specific events, for the purpose of identifying progression and sequence, making it easier for students to reflect, analyze, and discuss the text (112-113).

Thinking About Literature may be viewed as a valuable practical resource for educators to consult, especially used in combination with other sources specifically designed for the college instructor. The interpretive assignments and questions in the text are easily adapted for individual preference, and aim at creating a deeper, more meaningful understanding of literature, by providing the foundation for engaging students and teaching them to understand, reflect, and apply literature to their own lives. [RP 06]

Mills, Dan. "Mind the Gap: Teaching Othello through Creative Responses." Pedagogy 8 (2008): 154-159.

Playing off of the directions in the London underground to "mind the gap" (between the train and the platform), Mills challenges students to read critically and to identify the gaps in literature. Mills notes that in Othello character relationships have formed before the starting action of the play. Accordingly, he asks students to write and present in class specific scenes of missing "back story." Students use the "hints" given in the play to formulate their ideas on past relationships (Othello and Desdemona’s courtship, the Cassio - Desdemona link, Iago’s motivations and hatreds, etc.) and on the basis of the play’s jealousy, infidelity, racism and misogyny. Mills also asks for speculative scenes with reversed racial roles. This approach forces students to be active and creative and thus facilitates discussion rather than lecture. Mill’s asks students to write in the style of Shakespeare which in itself is an provocative task. By indirectly making a game out of hunting for clues in the text, Mill’s approach encourages close reading and hopefully puts students in a position to decide what is important instead of depending on their instructor. [GS 08]

Moreno, Jonathan D. "Teaching without Borders." University of Pennsylvania Almanac 55.18 (2009): 8.

In "Teaching without Borders," part of the University of Pennsylvania’s series of essays entitled Talk about Teaching, Jonathan Moreno offers fellow educators of any discipline an advisement to teach across many disciplines. In this short essay, he notes the advantages of being completely subject-focused and driven as "it tends to be grounded in a history and embodied in a literature…[and] at least gives us a sense of what we are supposed to know…" (Par. 4), but the disadvantages begin to play a significant role when a student asks a "smart question" related to the subject at hand but far outside the professor’s realm of acquired knowledge. Dr. Moreno’s antidote for such an occurrence is to fortify one’s self via "interdisciplinary teaching," a mode of preparedness for any reasonable left-field question that may be thrown a professor’s way in the classroom. [LH 09]

Orr, John C. "Instant Assessment: Using One-Minute Papers in Lower-Level Classes." Pedagogy 5.1 (Winter 2005): 108-111.

Orr writes about a semester long experiment with "one minute papers," which he learned about in Richard Light's 2001 book Making the Most of College: Students Speak Their Minds. A one minute paper consists of two questions that the students answer anonymously during the last few minutes of class. The two questions are: 1) What is the big point, the main idea that you learned in class today? and 2) What is the main unanswered question you leave class with today? What is the muddiest point? The goal of this assessment tool was to "gain a better sense of what [his] students were taking from [his] classes" (108). Orr employed the assessment tool in two of his courses: an upper-level American literature class and a lower level Intro to Lit class. One minute papers failed to deliver any insight into Orr's upper level class as the answers merely reiterated class discussion. In the Intro to Lit class, however, Orr discovered that the one minute papers provided a safe place for reticent students to voice their confusion. A large proportion of the students' confusion stemmed from discussion of new material, such as literary terms or concepts. Orr discovered that he needed to slow down when presenting new material. This slowing down to clarify new material resulted in greater gains in learning for the students, but negatively impacted Orr's ability to stay on schedule. One of the larger lessons for Orr was that his syllabus contained too much material to adequately cover in the course of the semester. [MON 12]

Palmer, Parker J. The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher's Life. 10th anniversary ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2007. Print.

An important, even seminal, text in the contemplative pedagogy movement, Palmer’s Courage to Teach responds to the pervasive disconnect and alienation in education with questions of integrating the work of teaching with the self of the teacher. "Good teachers," Palmer says, "join self and subject and student in the fabric of life." Throughout the book, Palmer offers practical classroom models, structures, and questions—but only by way of example. Steering far clear of offering techniques to be applied universally, Palmer aims to ask deep questions (questions which are sometimes "touchy feely" and even "spiritual") to encourage readers to find humane ways of teaching, ways that honor the complexity of everyone and everything in the classroom. Readers will not "take away" much from this book unless they are willing to work at actualizing the concepts through self-reflection and through dialogue with others who are also interested in integrated teaching. Chapter 1 asks teachers to work towards recovering their own identity and integrity through remembering the mentors, subjects, and aspects of themselves that drew them to teaching. Chapter 2 offers an analysis of and alternatives to the deep rooted fears that plague education. Chapter 3 lays out a series of paradoxes integral to integrated teaching. Chapter 4 offers an epistemological model of "reality [as] a web of communal relationships, and we can know reality only by being in community with it." Chapter 5 suggests that the objects of study should be put at the center of such a web in classroom (in order to avoid the objectivism of the teacher-centered classroom and the subjectivism of the student-centered classroom). Chapter 6 urges teachers to engage in serious dialogue with their colleagues and offers guidelines for doing so. And Chapter 7 outlines a model for a social movement for education reform, suggesting that such a movement is possible and, indeed, is already underway. The 10th Anniversary Edition includes a new forward and afterward which contextual the book within the movement and includes a CD with an interview with Parker Palmer. [PTC 09]

Potash, Brett. "We Live in a Wikiworld: Should our Students?" Independent School 69.3 (Spring 2010): 98-105.

This article is a very concise and summary discussion of the role Wikipedia should/not play as an academic source.  I read it early in my search and concluded that it was too short and informal. Further, it is published in a professional magazine rather than a scholarly journal. More importantly, it opposed the claim that I hoped to support (that Wikipedia should not be used as an academic source). Consequently, I read numerous other options.  All agreed with the findings of this piece, only they did so with far more words and numbers.  This process changed my stance on the issue and convinced me to return to this summary article as a viable option.  And so what were initially weaknesses (informality and brevity), became strengths. While the audience is the readers of Independent Schools, this article is suitable for academic and popular consumption. The purpose it serves is to consider the question of the creation of knowledge, to help resistant teachers and students accept the role of Wikipedia in academia, and to address potential opportunities to teach students the im/proper uses of Wikipedia and how critical thinking can aid in deciphering. I would rate it
7/10. [AT 10]

Ritter, Kelly. "Professional Writers/Writing Professionals: Revamping Teacher Training in Creative Writing Ph. D. Programs." College English 64.2 (2001): 205-227.

In this article writer pleads with the colleges that offer a Ph. D. in Creative Writing to adopt a pedagogical strategy that includes teacher training akin to that of composition programs throughout America. Ritter carefully researched all the schools that offer the Ph.D. in creative writing. She is transparent about what questions she asked of each department and prints a chart with all the responses on the last page of the article (227). Ritter argues that, with the rising demand for undergraduate creative writing courses, it is essential to properly train new instructors to teach those courses. She believes that the attention given to teaching composition needs to be shown to teaching creative writing doctoral candidates their trade as educators. She argues that the separation of creative writing and scholarly work is merely a social separation, not an academic one. Pedagogical theory for the creative writing classroom does exist, so Duffelmeyer wonders why it is not taught with any consistency. She believes that if students are forced to look at their field in the same critical light that compositionists do, as both fields share many of the same goals, a new, more informed class of creative writing professors will emerge. This new movement will help to solidify the pedagogical discourse of the field, hence opening the way for productive critical arguments about teaching practices. The arguments will lead to a better and more deeply examined curriculum for the doctoral degree in creative writing and increase the quality and scholarly awareness of professors-to-be. [JN 06]

Rosenberg, Roberta. "The Importance of Storytelling: Students and Teachers Respond to September 11." Pedagogy 8.1 (2008): 145-154.

Rosenberg posits that the use of creative storytelling in a classroom setting can help to work through levels of high emotional trauma. In using the 9-11 attacks as the frame of her article, Rosenberg cites specific evidence that her students were able to perform acts of creative storytelling, then would juxtapose their own work with published material of similar subject matter in order to better objectify their emotional responses to national tragedy. Rosenberg suggests that these forms of exercises may act as a type of educational therapy which allows instructors to broach heavily emotional issues in the context of the classroom. Rosenberg offers a severely empathetic view of the terrorist attacks with a strong meditation on the nostalgia that is incorporated in a retrospective examination of the morning of the attacks. [JR 08]

Scholes, Robert E. The Crafty Reader. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001. Print.

Robert Scholes’s starting point in The Crafty Reader is that reading well is a "craft" that can be learned (xiii). Throughout the book, he emphasizes practical, careful steps in reading, and he is ever interested in how readers might make connections between texts and life. One of his main points is that "a major feature of that craft is the understanding of what kind of text one is reading" (11). Following through on this point, Scholes spends most of the chapters identifying and analyzing particular genres that "are now largely outside the boundaries of literary study" (xiv); chapters are dedicated to detective fiction, science fantasy, Norman Rockwell paintings, and very long autobiographical texts from the mid-twentieth century. The purpose for such inquiries, he tells us, is this: "by inventing a new generic notion, we can in fact read certain texts with greater comprehension and appreciation" (107). Dismissing whole types of texts because they do not meet narrowly (and politically!) defined quality criteria, Scholes argues, is poor reading. The two chapters worth spending the most time with are the ones that open and close the book: one on reading poetry (contra New Criticism) and one countering the selective literalism of (religious) fundamentalism. These chapters focus more than the others on reading processes and other pedagogical concerns. In both, he argues for an expansive reading approach, an approach wherein the human and dialogical natures of texts are engaged by human readers reading dialogically. [PTC 09]

Schuster, Edgar H. Breaking the Rules: Liberating Writers through Innovative Grammar Instruction. Heinemann: Portsmouth, NJ, 2003.

As its title makes explicit, this book expounds non-traditional approaches to teaching grammar, punctuation, and writing. Schuster foregrounds the difficulties and contradictions that come with conveying, learning and applying these skills. He provides a variety of samples of published writing, from literary to journalistic, to illuminate gaps between writing rules in the abstract and writing rules in practice. The student exercises interspersed throughout Breaking the Rules are helpful for teaching high school or first year college students. In all, this text is a useful tool for both teachers and students. Schuster’s language is simple, but not simplistic, and his examples of "writing myths" may lead one to reconsider the validity of his or her most staunch writing pet-peeves. [NS]

Showalter, Elaine. Teaching Literature. Blackwell Publishing: Malden, MA, 2003.

This reader friendly text covers a range of topics that confront professors of literature. It is judged here, however, for its comments on grading student work. Showalter titles this portion of the book "The Business of Teaching:" "grading" and "housekeeping." She defends the frequency with which A’s are given on today’s college campuses, urging that this be seen as a sign of effective teaching, rather than easiness or leniency. Showalter prefers the modish term "evaluating" over grading, arguing that the latter term is a "peculiarly academic hang-up." She also recommends a text on this topic which she found personally useful: Assessing Student Learning in Higher Education by George Brown with Joanna Bull and Malcolm Pendlebury (Routledge 1997). [NS]

Smith Foster, Frances. "African American Literary Study, Now and Then and Again." Special Millennium Issue of PMLA 115.7 (December 2000): 1965+. 

Frances Smith Foster endeavors to write a short narrative on the history of African American literary study for the millennial issue of the MLA journal, PMLA. Smith Foster suggests that the study of African American literature has not changed very much as it relates to the global academic community. She writes that even in the year 2000, many African American scholars still, "search our mothers' and fathers' literary gardens for "furious flowers" (1965), or rather those works scholars can use to identify the African American literary tradition. Because of the lack of contemporary information she finds when looking to cover the history of African American literature in the academy, she concludes, "the classroom is not the most popular or productive place for most people to study African American literature" (1966). She insists that scholars take their study of African American literature outside of the classroom because most universities, association panels, and course offerings will only provide space for a, "token African American for the program" (1966), whether that token be a student, a professor, or a class.

When searching the syllabi of her colleagues, Smith-Foster finds that when professors teach African American literature, the same, mostly male, authors are added to the curriculum for the most part ignoring the contribution of African American female scholarship to classroom discussion and then the conversation about the texts is limited to conversations about content instead of adherence to particular literary conventions. She writes, "What is being assigned is still generally taught as separate from and a little less aesthetically respectable than "mainstream" American literature" (1967), which works to undermine the contributions of African American writers to the American literary canon.Smith Foster ultimately concludes, "The classroom should stimulate, cultivate, and disseminate literary studies" (1967), but as it relates to African American literature, the classroom must not be the primary location for discovering African American texts and contexts because the academy has not yet yielded the space for that. [RDM 12]

Sommers, Nancy. "Responding to Student Writing." CCC 33.2 (1982): 148-56

Instructors are her audience, but she links the instructors wants with the student when she states, "[a]s writers we need and want thoughtful commentary to show us when we have communicated our ideas and when not, raising questions from a reader’s point of view that may not have occurred to us as writers" (148). She then correlates this with the pedagogical perspective of helping students realize their audience "to gain control of their writing"; since this is what she feels is most difficult for students (148). This idea about comments led Sommers and two of her colleagues, Lil Brannon and Cyril Knoblach, to conduct a study to see which comments are most helpful to students by comparing the comments to actual revisions made by students at New York University and the University of Oklahoma. They also interviewed the teachers, students and "graded" three separate student essays through a program called "Writer’s Workbench" (149). Sommers concluded that instructor’s comments confused students more than helped them revise their papers. This led her to a conclusion that comments given during the rough draft stage of composing a paper should be more focused toward general concepts of the paper and less on grammar to produce a better quality paper from the student. [MH 07]

Srikanth, Rajini. "Overwhelmed by the World: Teaching Literature and the Difference of Nations." Pedagogy 7:1 (2007): 192-206.

The goal of Srikanth’s piece is to "infuse pedagogy with politics" and introduce both students and future teachers to the differences and connections across nations and cultures. She writes that there is a great deal of ignorance and narcissism in the university today, and she wants to question the preconceptions and judgments that the students make and have (how they were acquired? how they are supported?). In immersing and introducing students to unfamiliar cultures, Srikanth aims to "release students from their paralysis." Srikanth also addresses the instructor’s possible paralysis in questioning their authority to teach a subject and presents some "difficulties associated with speaking and writing of the other who is distant from oneself – racially, culturally, nationally." To Srikanth, the distance that she has culturally from the material she is teaching allows her to illustrate to her students "how one goes about responsibly acquiring knowledge of places, peoples, and histories that one is not likely to experience in depth and firsthand" (203). She raises the issue of being an "outsider" and teaching literature of a culture other than the one you grew up in: "feeling guilty of trying to interpret attitude and experiences that are not mine and that perhaps I cannot represent authentically." As advice to self-conscious teachers, she rejects the binary of ignorance and omniscience when it comes to instruction. Instead, the key is to "make transparent one’s labor of journeying along the continuum between the polarities" (204). Srikanth also questions the source of knowledge about a culture (especially when it comes from an authority) and suggests not to pay attention to the interpretations and experiences of a single group within that culture. The metaphor Srikanth uses is that the professor needs "to hunt with the hounds and run with the hare." To her, it is imperative that we identify the players and equip ourselves with the arguments of those both with and without power so that we might assess how we wish to use the material. [PM 07]

Totten, Samuel, Ed. Teaching Holocaust Literature. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2001.

This is a guide to teaching Holocaust through literature at all levels as an alternative to teaching the Holocaust some other way, that is, purely historically or politically. It is not a book for students to use in the classroom but rather a handbook for teachers to use for specific texts. These texts, except for a poem or two, are not included, and there is a special section on not teaching The Diary of Anne Frank by itself. This anthology contains many resources and suggests many texts, some of which are other media such as film, along with suggestions about how to teach the history of the Holocaust itself. It is amazing how little is known about this catastrophe and the editor and contributors are anxious to provide context to students. I was amazed at the amount of Holocaust literature and wish I could teach it, but I don't embody the discourse. I mention this because the issue came up in the classroom. Students were dumbfounded that a gentile found the Holocaust at all interesting. Interdisciplinary Work [LZ]

Ulmer, Gregory L. Heuretics: The Logic of Invention. Baltimore & London: Johns Hopkins UP, 1994.

Ulmer’s Heuretics is both a progression and examination of critical theory in regard to writing as well as technology. Heuretics is organized into two parts: Part One discusses the history of the heureticmethod, beginning at the incorporation of classical rhetoric and progressing to postmodernism (with particular interest paid to poststructuralism), and Part Two illustrates Ulmer’s apparatus and applies the critical theories previously discussed with the goal of inventing a rhetoric for technological literacy and writing. Heuretics would best be suited for scholars, devotees of Composition theory, or those interested with the inclusion of technology in education. Ulmer succinctly addresses the incorporation of different kinds of technology and media (their applications, possibilities, and ramifications) and combines them with an examination of the "writerly" and generative process.

The text offers highly detailed presentation and analysis as well as a creative application of many of the theoretical concepts. Much of the philosophy behind the book involves generation, the act of creating a new work rather than re-inscribing knowledge through time-tested methods, and this philosophy can be quite liberating (for the instructor and the student). However, Ulmer proceeds on his creative reworking of established theories with the assumption that the reader is already familiar with them. An above-average grasp of poststructuralist theory is certainly required to make sense of much of what the book is attempting to accomplish. The text also develops a specific vocabulary to relate to its new exercises and procedures and is sometimes prone to lapsing into jargon-filled explanations.

On the whole, Heuretics is a very useful book in principle, taking the best of Composition theory and reworking it into generative exercises that can be applied into any field of study (especially in writing about literature). [WT]

Vernooy-Epp, Dawn M. "Teaching Mary Darby Robinson's Reading List: Romanticism, Recovery Work, and Reconsidering Anthologies." Pedagogy 9:1 (2009): 14-34.

Dawn Vernooy-Epp's article addresses questions of canon formation, recovery of marginalized voices, and the unintended consequences of anthologies in the classroom. Vernooy-Epp points out that one of the dilemmas that the recovery of overlooked, and forgotten figures poses to the instructor of literature has to do with the unification of literary subject matter across courses, departments, and institutions. This theoretical problem becomes wholly practical when students face such external measures of knowledge as the GRE and the Praxis. What pedagogical relationship should today's instructors (and anthologists for that matter) have towards the various versions of the canon? This dilemma leads her to a pedagogical model wherein she tries to emphasize metacognition (to borrow our course's watchword) in order to "make students aware of the various models of canonization, and the ways in which we can learn how to question the value of the canon--old or new" (15). Vernooy-Epp's project relies not on an anthology, but rather on a historically placed document, Mary Robinson's Letter to the Women of England. She views this work as "one that reconfigures the criteria for membership [in the canon] but still participates in the canon-making tradition" (15). Robinson's Letter itself is a worthwhile piece for discussion of canon-formation, in particular for making students aware of alternative models and pointing to the presupposition that underlie these judgments.The second part of Vernooy-Epp's project turns it into an active assignment wherein students become "experts" (26) on a particular author from the letter, enacting the work of recovery themselves. [JW 09]

Weimer, Maryellen.  Learner-Centered Teaching:  5 Key Changes to Practice.  San Francisco:  Jossey-Bass, 2002.

Weimer’s book as a whole is an introduction to learner-centered pedagogy, its justification and its advantages.  It also gives an initial overview of the 5 conceptual areas in which Weimer wants to see practical change implemented.  They are:  The Balance of Power, The Function of Content, The Role of the Teacher, The Responsibility for Learning, and Evaluation, Purpose and Processes.  Weimer sees her five key recommendations as the strongest emergent themes running through a vast quantity of data on how students learn. 

She begins with an explication of the status quo, moves to a broad discussion of the change she has in mind and its theoretical underpinnings, proceeds from there to a consideration of its advantages and disadvantages and of any empirical or anecdotal evidence of the results when specific changes are made towards those ends, and concludes with questions for further consideration. The last three chapters are related more specifically to issues of implementation.  They deal specifically and concretely with the barriers instructors may face when trying to do learner-centered teaching, and they characterize that implementation as itself very much a learning process. [JS 09]

Wingert, Deborah A. and Molitor, Tom. "But, We Didn't Mean To Teach Porn": The Power of Play in Teaching and Learning." National Teaching and Learning Forum Newsletter. Vol. 17, Number 4. (May 2008). 27 Sept. 2008 <>.

Deborah Wingert and Tom Molitor’s "But, We Didn’t Mean to Teach Porn’;" The Power of Play in Teaching and Learning" narrates their use of play and games in the classroom. Wingert and Molitor focus on the use of play as a means to develop cognitive and active learning. The focus is not on using play as a means to distract or to merely entertain; instead, play for Wingert and Molitor involves a melding of pursuits and goals. In addition, Wingert and Molitor address issues that may arise in the act of play in the classroom. The article provides a basic introduction into the use of pedagogical play in higher education. Wingert and Molitor teach at the graduate-level, and most of the students that they are teaching are themselves teachers. Wingert and Molitor urge the use of a variety of games as a means to engage alternative forms of learning and knowledge in the collegiate classroom. Wingert and Molitor suggest a few games that could be used in the classroom to engage the multiple means of knowledge acquisition and learning styles.


Linguistic (e.g., reading, discussions)-What types of games could you play that would involve situations that involve actions like summary, arrangement, definition, duplication, labeling, listing, memorizing, naming, ordering, recognizing, relating, recalling, and/or repeating. (Knowledge)

Logical-mathematical (e.g., charts, thinking games) –What type of games could be created that involve skills like the ability to classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, translate (Comprehension)

Kinesthetic (e.g., doing, demonstrations) What type of games could be created that involve skills like the ability to apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, write. (Application)

Interpersonal (e.g., small group activities)What type of games could be created that involve skills like the ability to appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, evaluate. (Analysis)

Intrapersonal (e.g., journal writing, reflecting) What type of games could be created that involve skills like the ability to analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, test. (Analysis).

Naturalist (e.g., outdoor activity, treasure hunts)What type of games could be created that involve skills like the ability to arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, write. (Synthesis)

Zimmet, Nancy. "Engaging the Disaffected: Collaborative Writing across the Curriculum Projects." English Journal 90.1 (2000): 102-106.

Zimmet’s article deals with a "writing across the curriculum" project that had some unique aspects. First, the teachers that implemented the plan conferred with university professors in their respective fields to become more acquainted with current scholarship and to secure an array of interesting guest speakers for the program. Second, the teachers made collaborative lesson plans so that they mimicked each other’s goals to the students. This focus on collaboration was also passed on to the students, "Integral to our assignments was teaching our students how they could help one another to learn and improve their writing" (102). Zimmet states that one of the key principles of the program was that, "We adapted composition and learning theories that stress noncompetitive learning to encourage our students to work with one another" (103).

Another important concept that Zimmet’s group embraced was that of free writing, "We use informal assignments to help students focus on lectures, learn how to take notes, participate in class discussions, and understand readings" (103). She explains how students were asked to prepare questions for guest lectures three days ahead of time. Then, at the mid-lecture break, they were asked to prepare another set (103). According to Zimmet, this preparation helped shy students to get involved because they had prewritten the questions. Therefore, there was no pressure to articulate a question "out of thin air" (104).

One of Zimmet’s significant observations was that the teaching conglomerate found it more useful to plan mini-units than entire courses. This type of short-term planning allowed for speedy adjustments to student needs (105). The article exhibits the fact that collaborative course planning of this sort can have positive effects on both student and subject. [JN 06]

Return to TopWorks on PedagogyClassroom Texts | Websites | Journals

Classroom Texts

This section of the bibliography contains annotations of literary
anthologies and primary texts for the classroom.

Birenbaum, Harvey. The Happy Critic: A Serious but Not Solemn Guide to Thinking and Writing About Literature. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 1997.

This is the only book I could find that directly deals with teaching critical thinking and writing about literature at the undergraduate level. Birenbaum uses humor to draw the reader in. He introduces academic terms, but always defines them. Though he deals with some concepts that I would have thought were too elementary for college students, I think they probably aren’t, but regardless of how elementary a term is, Birenbaum is never condescending. It is highly unfortunate that this book is out of print. [LC]

Bronte, Emily. Wuthering Heights, A Norton Critical Edition, 3/e. Ed. William Sale Jr. and Richard Dunn. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1990.

This is one of the Wuthering Heights editions I brought to class during our textual criticism discussion. The edition has the pencil drawing of a bleak fir tree by Emily Bronte on the cover, which captures the haunting landscape of the Yorkshire Moors rendered all the more foreboding by the blue ink coloring. (A lighter, more festive drawing by Emily of a ring "ouzel" appears on the backside.) The text begins with a "Preface to the Third Edition," explaining the various editorial and other changes that have occurred, and the original "Preface to the First Edition." Following the standard format of the Norton series, the text is presented next, followed by textual commentary written by the editors. The "Backgrounds" section appears next, which contextualizes the work with "Poems from the 1850 Wuthering Heights" edition written by Charlotte and Emily Bronte, and selections from Emily’s diary.

"The Contemporary Reception" follows as usual, which is less critical and represents the positive and negative reviews of the work at or around the original date of publication. These are generally limited and narrow-minded, specific to the nation in which the work appeared, and instructive for gauging a sense of the patently biased literary sensibility of the time. (It is interesting to note, however, that the Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick presents both American and British reviews in the "Contemporary Reception" section. Surely Wuthering Heights was read and reviewed in America as well?) Concluding the edition is what can be referred to as "the critical heart of the matter:" mostly contemporary (mid-to-late 20th Century) criticism, not reviews, of the work. The edition also contains a fairly comprehensive "Bibliography" of the work.

So far, nothing new or unexpected. And this is precisely why this is the right text of Wuthering Heights to use in the classroom; it is, after all, the most trusted "authoritative text" of the original. The Norton editions bear the stamp not only of tradition but of impeccable scholarship and devotion to all aspects of teaching and learning the text. For example, the selections of criticism can be useful not only to the teacher and researcher but to the undergraduate student looking to attain a deeper or more advanced understanding of the text. The other samples of Emily’s writing, her poetry and diary, serve not only to contextualize Wuthering Heights, but also to provide a diverse and fairly well rounded perspective of the writer.

And, of course, to follow on the heels of our class discussion, the textual commentary is invaluable. We understand from this source the substantive and other editorial changes that have been made to the text and the rationale for choosing the text in this edition. The editorial choices appear to be intelligent and informed. In brief, what more can one ask of a relatively inexpensive paperbound edition of the text? The only thing lacking is a "visual essay" of family portraits and other photographs, such as we reviewed in the anomalous Washington Square Press edition of the text I passed around in class. (Again, the Norton Critical Edition of Moby-Dick has one, so why not Wuthering Heights?) [KC]

The iDeal Reader. Prentice Hall, 2004. CD and web,

This CD and website allow teachers to construct custom readers for their classes. Though the CD is a composition and literature oriented disk, the website includes selections from other fields as well. This tool would allow teachers building a cross-curricular course to create a text that works within the specific framework of the course they are designing. In addition, because the course can then use a single text, students would save money (besides which the books themselves, are relatively inexpensive). Unfortunately, the questions available for the texts are, well, inane. This is likely to be part of a trend which will allow teachers to shop their custom reader to different publishers—let’s hope it does. [LC]

Lawall, Sarah and Maynard Mack. The Norton Anthology of World Literature, 2nd Edition, volumes D-F. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 2002.

Organization: Chronological by literary movement

Emphasis: 1650 to today; strong focus on Western Canon

Approach: Literary trends; history of globalization

Features: Maps, Timelines, pronunciation guides, foot notes, and Norton’s usual high-quality introductions; full-texts of numerous longer works.

Comments: Norton’s wisest move with this massive anthology was to first select the most important literary movements before picking out specific texts. This ensured that, even with a global scope, the most important ideas would be covered even when all the most important authors could not be. But because of this emphasis on literary movements, the first five volumes deal largely with canonical works. A truly global feel is not achieved until the final volume, which is arranged homogeneously without subdivisions. The size of the anthology is both a weakness and a strength. All six volumes weigh in at 3,100+ pages, making the anthology an small library on its own, but presenting far too much material to serve as the text for any one course. [GH]

Lothe, Jakob. Narrative in Fiction and Film: An Introduction. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2000.

Lothe’s Narrative is a text that examines, illustrates, and tests the theories of narrative theory and its tenets in literature and film. The text is divided into two parts – Part One discusses concepts associated with narrative theory and its application within literature and films (with separate subject headings for each term and/or examination), and Part Two demonstrates the potential of analysis through narrative theory with four essays combining works of literature and film. The text would be most appropriate for advanced undergraduates, given its focus on synthesis of literature and film and the presentation and examination of a specific critical theory.

The text provides an excellent and comprehensive breakdown and analysis of the concepts of narrative theory. Lothe also explicitly illustrates these concepts at work in both text and cinema. The essays included in Part Two illustrate some interesting choices of film while still operating within the "canon" of writers familiar to Literature departments (Conrad, Joyce, Woolf). However, the focus on the critical analysis by Barthes and Propp may dominate the methods and analysis performed by the students (not a bad thing in itself considering the critics, but their authority on the subject presented in the text may be overwhelming for the student). Further, the strict focus on narrative theory may limit the inclusion of any alternate analytical possibilities. This is, of course, less a fault of the book (due to its obvious stated focus), but it is a concern for the instructor in regard to the progression and focus of the course to incorporate the text.

On the whole, Narrative is a useful text, but its specific focus on narrative theory defines its level of use for the literature course. To use it in a basic literature course with no film component would prove unsatisfying from the attention to film, and the same applies for any film studies class. The synthesis of literature and film is ably presented, but the level of that synthesis prevents use of the text in classes with a single focus. [WT]

Lim, Shirley Geok-lin and Norman A. Spencer. One World of Literature. Boston: Houghton Milton Company, 1993.

Organization: Geographic Region (alphabetical by continent & country) plus thematic table of contents

Emphasis: Twentieth century works (largely) written in English by world authors.

Approach: Socio-cultural

Features: Geographical essays summarize history and literary contributions of each major continent; brief guide to analyzing literature at the end.

Comments: Lim and Spencer were striving for contemporary, not canonical. The texts selected here may be viewed as a cultural survey, not necessarily of native cultures, but of global settings impacted by the dynamism of Western Civilization and, particularly, Americanism. The fact that many of the included authors write in English attests to that. Yet the editors were not blind to the fact that this book’s audience would be American college students, so their approach serves as an excellent starting point for contextualizing cultures and allowing students to navigate the global intellectual landscape without severing their tethers with the familiar altogether. Allowing students to survey global cultures in context, juxtaposed over Western influences, is particularly useful for encouraging thinking about worldviews other than one’s own, creating contrasts that can move readers out of comfort zones and into a better understanding of their role in a global society. [GH]

Maasik, Sonia and Jack Solomon, eds. Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular Culture for Writers, 4/e. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2003.

I first used this textbook for Composition II. courses (English 200 rather) at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, for the spring semester 2003. (I even got to select and order the textbook, which was an added bonus). The final grade for this course was heavily weighted towards the completion of one 12-15 scholarly research paper on a text in Popular Culture. We utilized Signs of Life as a reader for the entire semester, both to orient and enhance class discussion and to facilitate the writing of the research paper.

The second time I used the textbook was here at USF this semester. I pulled excerpts from this textbook, obtained copyright clearances, and collated the excerpts in a course packet. We used the course packet for the same basic purpose: to orient and enhance class discussion, and to develop a topic for the students’ third writing project ("Writing about a Cultural Text"). However, we utilized Signs of Life in this second instance for supplementary readings, not as the primary textbook; and we used it for less than half the semester rather than for the entire semester. This made sense because for my Composition II. course at USF, writing about a cultural "text" was only one writing assignment out of four instead of being the exclusive writing assignment.

I thought you might find my personal background and use of the textbook relevant to understanding why I chose this textbook to annotate. Simply put, I have taught it (or parts of it) for two semesters, and it comes highly recommended. The textbook is designed for any introductory media/cultural studies, film, Popular Culture, or even Sociology course that foregrounds discussions of gender, ethnicity and race. The Fourth Edition is greatly improved from a rather shabby forebear.

The reader (meaning textbook) begins with a standard Preface, this time addressed to instructors instead of students, and then proceeds with the Contents. Besides photographs, including a depressing retrospective of 9/11 photos, a colorful portfolio of recent advertisements, and a cartoon, the textbook presents academic essays or articles on Popular Culture. Some of the essays are more academic (and I mean really academic, to such an extent that even I, the instructor, had a difficult time following the argument), and others less so, appealing generally to an audience of students between 18-35-years- old. The Contents are annotated: the thesis or main claim of the article appears under the author’s name, title of the article, and corresponding page numbers, which is excellent if a student wants to recall quickly what is the article’s central position or argument.

The general Introduction by the editors appears first, which includes a salutary section on "Writing About Popular Culture" for those new to this experience (probably just about everyone, including the instructor), and a sample student paper written on a Pop Culture text (in this particular instance, the television show "Star Trek"). I like the Introduction in the book because it lucidly explains the Semiotics approach to writing about Popular Culture (reading the "signs" or messages in Popular Culture "texts" such as: advertisements, games, toys, clothing, television, popular music, musical videos, popular cinema, architectural design of buildings, sports, gender and racial codes, etc.). The Introduction also includes a Semiotics reading of a familiar "sign" that many students can relate to, the Volkswagen beetle. The Introduction traces the historical origin, development, and cultural significance of the Volkswagen Beetle, placing the car within a particular sign system by means of association (comparison and differentiation).

The reader’s chapters are arranged in two parts according to the following content areas. Part One: Cultural Productions: "Chapter 1: Consuming Passions: The Culture of American Consumption," "Chapter 2: Brought to You B{u}y: The Signs of Advertising," "Chapter 3: Video Dreams: Television, Music and Cultural Forms," "Chapter Four: The Hollywood Sign: The Culture of American Film." Part Two: Cultural Constructions: "Chapter 5: Popular Spaces: Interpreting the Built Environment," "Chapter 6: We’ve Come a Long Way, Maybe: Gender Codes in American Culture," "Chapter 7: "Constructing Race: Readings in Multicultural Semiotics," "Chapter 8: It’s Not Just a Game: Sports and American Culture," "Chapter 9: American Icons: The Mythic Characters of Popular Culture."

Each chapter has "Reading the Signs" discussion or writing topic questions at the end in addition to "Reading the Text" comprehension questions. Finally, the "Instructor’s Edition" contains "Editor’s Notes" at the end that helps the instructor develop discussion and classroom activities, as well as to design the semester around particular themes. As you can see, these chapters cover major social (and political) issues or concerns in American popular culture; the diversity, range, and depth of coverage of the issues is startling. Moreover, the chapters are interrelated and linked; for example, it’s possible to read an article in Chapter 6 on gender codes that has a lot to do with analyzing and interpreting American television in Chapter 3. Or, it’s possible to carry over your class discussion from Chapter 4 on popular cinema to Chapter 7, which deals with constructing race.

The chapter titles are sometimes humorous or ambivalent. Each chapter has an excellent introduction written by the editors that not only introduces the chapter but is a thoughtful, thought-provoking essay in its own right. No matter what your pedagogical method, associated theoretical or critical school, gender, race, or class background, it would be difficult to find nothing in these chapters and this textbook that captures your interest. I mean, of course, your academic interest as an active participant, member, and consumer-producer of American Popular Culture, not merely as a Composition or Literature instructor.

I have found in using this textbook that I become very interested in the class discussion, so much so that some of the possible writing topics I would enjoy tackling myself (hmmm…dissertation ideas?). The textbook is careful not to offend. In the event a discussion becomes too animated or heated, there are useful tips for "detouring" the discussion or deflating emotion. But the textbook is not interested in stirring up emotions; it approaches the study of Popular Culture in a critical way. Judgments about whether a student "likes" or "dislikes" a text are immaterial; what is emphasized is reading the messages of texts (intentional or otherwise) using our critical thinking faculties. Rather than attempting to change one’s values and beliefs, which would after all be deleterious and damning for a textbook, this book does what an ideal textbook should: it encourages everyone, both students and instructor, in an intelligent and insightful way, to think deeply about their values and beliefs, about the ideology, "signs" and messages of American Popular Culture.

I’ll end this annotation with an excerpted paragraph from the Introduction to the textbook, which pretty much sums up the value, objective, and significance of this innovative reader. I hope you will consider using or at least consulting this textbook in your future courses.

"A cultural mythology or value system, then, is a kind of lens that governs the way we view our world. Think of it this way: Say you were born with rose-tinted lenses permanently attached over your eyes, but you didn’t know they were there. Because the world would look rose-colored to you, you would presume that it is rose-colored. You wouldn’t wonder whether the world might look otherwise through different lenses. But in the world there are other kinds of lenses, and reality does look different to those who wear them. Those lenses are cultural mythologies, and no culture can claim to have the one set of lenses that sees things as they really are" (15). [KC]

Stanford, Judith A. Responding to Literature: Stories Poems, Plays, and Essays. 4th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003.

Responding to Literature first asks why we read literature. The editorial and canonical position of the text is established right away by the use of Frost’s "The Road Not Taken" as a sample for student responses in "Why Read Literature?". The choice is telling: Frost is considered a great American poet and this, his best-known poem. Yet he is a popular mid-twentieth century poet and hardly considered canonical by traditionalists. Indeed, the exemplary authors for the next several chapters all fall into the questionably canonical category, among them Patricia Grace, Langston Hughes, Wendy Wasserstein, E.B. White, Margaret Atwood, and Dylan Thomas. After a lengthy (4 chapters; 160 pages) introduction to literature, more canonical authors are included (Joyce, Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Donne, Marlowe, Sappho, Hemingway, Chopin and Dickenson, for example), but they are given equal weight to less traditionally included authors such as Elizabeth Kübler-Ross, Harvey Fierstein, Kyoshi, Sylvia Plath and Paula Gunn Allen, representing diverse viewpoints and disciplinary backgrounds. The chapters, are divided by topics: "Innocence and Experience;" "Crime and Punishment;" "Roots, Identity and Culture;" "Men and Women;" "Families;" "Nature;" "War and Power;" and "Death." Each includes Fiction, Poetry, Drama and Essays, every exemplary piece followed by "Considerations" and every chapter closing with paper suggestions connecting thematic content within the themed chapters, between themes, and ideas for collaborative projects. Most useful in this collection, however, are the introductory four chapters, the first of which I have already described. Chapter 2, "Joining the Conversation: Ways of Talking About Literature" provides a basic vocabulary for analysing and discussing literature and its devices, grouped usefully under the subheadings of Actions and Events; People; Places and Times; Words, Images, Sounds and Patterns; and Ideas. Notably, this proceeds without the fancy new terms or nonsensical presentations that have become popular in a number of recent writing texts. This text provides students with the standard terminology—the tools—that will help them communicate with other readers of literature. Chapter 3, "Continuing the Conversation: Considering Genre and Listening to Other Voices" introduces the four genres to be addressed throughout the text, short fiction, poetry, drama, and non-fiction. These are in turn subdivided into the genres that will be represented in the chapters to follow. This chapter alone offers more than the briefest historical contextualisation, differentiating between historical generic forms and more recent genres. Also included in this chapter is an introduction to five critical modes, Formalist, Reader-Response, Sociological, Psychoanalytic, and New Historicist. Chapter 4 is called "Writing About Literature," and introduces (to my great pleasure) the concepts of understanding the assignment and considering the assignment before undertaking the paper. The rest of this chapter offers strategies subdivided by the rhetorical modes of comparison, analysis, explication, evaluation and research. The chapter concludes with some notes on writing such as audience and revision. All in all, this is an excellent undergraduate teaching text for an introduction to literature. Because the work presented spans centuries and numerous genres, it might not be appropriate for upper level surveys, but it seems ideal for not only an 1102-style course, but also for certain exit requirements which for all intents and purposes may be seen as extensions or continuations of 1102. Certainly under a heading of World Literature this would be a serviceable text, and the first four chapters would be a useful addition to any literature class for undergraduates. [SN]

Ulmer, Gregory L. Internet Invention: From Literacy to Electracy. New York: Longman, 2003.

II is a self-described "next generation textbook," incorporating traditional writing, critical theory, and online/technological design and methods. The text is an extension of Heuretics, Ulmer’s previous theoretical work, and class experimentation and applications in his subsequent instruction of classes (undergraduate and graduate) with these methods.

II is organized into five parts, with two chapters each. Each part progresses through significant portions of Ulmer’s theory, while the chapters illustrate, guide, and instruct the student through each concept and methods used within the concept. II can be considered a primary text for Composition courses with its focus on writing and generation, but many of the chapters and methods can also apply to literature courses. The text can be very helpful but primarily in the task of writing on literature, rather than a presentation of literature analysis.

II would best fit advanced undergraduate students or perhaps even an introductory level graduate course, considering the amount of concepts and applications at work within the text. The text operates as both a reader and a workbook, allowing for exercises that immediately and concisely illustrate Ulmer’s concepts. Many of the exercises are generative ones, so that students may become more immediately and personally involved in the process. However, many of the concepts and practices in the text are highly technical and specialized. Because of the experimental and fluid nature of the work described in the text, Ulmer creates a specialized vocabulary to describe the functions and concepts. Further, the text literally abounds with jargon, mostly in terms of the theoretical concepts described. The methods of writing (and creating) endorsed by the book may not mesh well with an established department pedagogy (traditional or firmly enforced, at least).

On the whole, II is indeed useful but only if the instructor is intensely familiar with the material presented in Heuretics. Many of the book’s exercises and strategies came from Heuretics, and they complement each other as expected. For the literature class, the writing methods and projects described may be quite useful, but a definite "reconfiguration" of the course content and methods would be required to incorporate this text. [WT]

Wellington, Jan. "Learning to Transgress: Embedded Pedagogies of the Gothic." Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition, and Culture 8.1. (2008): 170-76.

Wellington provides readers with a narrative of her Gothic literature course taught at Utah Valley State College. Applying the theory of embedded pedagogy (i.e. the concept that within the texts we are drawn to study and teach are pedagogies that influence how and why we teach them) Wellington seeks to explain why the course was so successful. She claims that many components common within Gothic literature (e.g. shifting subjectivity, confrontation with authority, ambivalence, confusion, and fear) manifested within the proceedings of her course, allowing her to draw parallels between the course’s reality and the texts’ illusions. Drawing from the reading journals/logs of her students, Wellington articulates how students expressed the same concerns that many characters of Gothic literature experience. Moreover, her students began to "transgress" the traditional roles of a student by altering the course’s content, expanding the requirements of presentations, and actively leading discussions—all of which Wellington attributes to the students’ adoption of a Gothic sensibility that encourages both the breaking of conventional rules and the valuing of an outsider status. On the whole, this article can serve as a model for teachers of literature who wish to pay close attention to the proceedings of their courses, looking for opportunities to teach genre through the principles of embedded pedagogy. [CL 12]

Westling, Louise, et al. The World of Literature. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1999.

Organization: Chronological by major divisions (Ancient, Middle, & Modern) roughly 750 pages each. Subdivided by region.

Emphasis: World Classics & Religious Scriptures beginning 3000 BC.

Approach: Religious/Historical.

Features: Reaches back to the very beginning of written language, strongly emphasizing Asian & Middle Eastern sacred texts. Surveys of original languages & challenges of translating them (namely Cuneiform & Greek).

Comments: The World of Literature would be equally appropriate as a companion text for a Western Civilization course, a World Religions study, or a World Literature class. Rather than selecting passages on grounds of literary criteria, the editors chose to focus on classics of world thought: works that have literally shaped all of human society. The result is an amazing assortment of hugely influential texts across the Humanities: literature, philosophy, religion, and history. While its sections are symmetrically balanced and the wisdom of its selections are difficult to debate (who could argue the propriety of the Old Testament, The Iliad, or The Qu’ran?), the book nearly suffocates under its own weight (literally and ideologically). It is an ambitious work, hugely broad in chronology, crossing multiple curricular boundaries. Yet the emphasis on ancient Asian texts, its broad definition of Modern (beginning 1650), and its de-emphasis of contemporary texts are not in fashion. The book went out of print after the first edition. [GH]

Williams, Tara. "Multimedia Learning Gets Medieval." Pedagogy 9.1 (2009):  77-95. 

In this article, Williams argues for the relevance of multimedia technology in the medieval literature classroom. She begins by demonstrating the benefits of using multimedia resources, giving examples of showing students manuscripts of original texts or pictures of key places in stories in order to help them better understand what they are reading. Williams draws out the parallels between the Middle Ages and the postmodern time period: Middle English texts were often linked to each other in the way that web pages are and Middle English texts were often shared or performed in groups just as postmodern society looks at the same web page at the same time. According to Williams, "a Web site does not so much appear on a computer screen as perform on it" (90). Williams concludes her article with examples of how to apply multimedia in the medieval classroom. The majority of the article explains the pedagogical relevance of multimedia rather than explaining how to apply it, so this article serves better as theoretical support than an example of application. While she is speaking specifically of medieval literature, other literature instructors might also benefit from the theories she describes. [KM 10]

Wood, Nancy. Perspectives on Argument. New York: Prentice Hall, 2003

Though this book is designed and would be perfect for a year-long course in composition at the freshman level, it does include a section on reading, thinking and writing about literature. In concert with the rest of the book—a primer on critical thinking and rhetoric, the book would be useful in learning to write about literature. This, however, is not a luxury literature teachers have, nor is it a responsibility they should have to have. The book can be useful in parts to the literature teacher both because of the literature section and because of its in depth treatment of research and how to write an annotated bibliography. [LC]

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This section of the bibliography contains URLs and annotations for websites
that might be useful for teaching literature.

Information on Play in the Classroom Great site about using affective and active learning strategies in a classroom.
"Poststructuralism as Theory and Practice in the English Classroom" Harold K. Bush, Jr., ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading, English, and Communication Digest #104

"A Pedagogy of Play: Integrating Computer Games into the Writing Classroom." Rebekah Shultz Colby  and Richard Colby  

Traditional distinctions between work/play and classroom/gamespace create barriers to computer games’ integration into academic settings and the writing classroom in particular. For a writing class, the work/play distinction often relegates games to an object of analysis in which students critique the games but have little invested in the gameplay itself. After examining briefly how historical changes in education created these distinctions, we offer an alternative position that places play and gamespace within the realm of the classroom. In so doing, we open up a gap for computer game theory to inform the pedagogy that can be practiced in a writing classroom. We show one such example of game theory informing writing pedagogy—the theory of emergent gaming. We then offer an example of an enacted emergent pedagogy in which students play the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft throughout the term, composing self-determined, rhetorically focused writing projects informed by play and written for other game players.  Great web site for generating word clouds from text-based documents. 

Darling, Charles. "Guide to Grammar and Writing." Capital Community College Foundation. Hartford. 27 May 2007. <>.

Capital Community College Foundation’s "Guide to Grammar and Writing" is a helpful supplemental tool designed for composition classes and can be of great assistance in any writing intensive course. Many times the brightest, most eager, or well-read students are unfamiliar with grammatical rules. Although grammar should not be our primary concern as literature teachers, the ugly truth is that it is an area in which our students are often weak. Dr. Charles Darling originally maintained the easily navigated site, but after his untimely death last year, his colleagues have taken up the task. It is free and available to the public. The site is organized into six main categories, including "Word and Sentence Level," Paragraph Level," "Essay and Research Paper Level," "Ask Grammar, Quizzes, Search Devices," "Peripherals andPowerPoints," and "GrammarPoll, Guestbook, Awards." Each category has a pull down menu with topics ranging from 170 grammar quizzes to how to overcome writer’s block. The sheer abundance of material available on the site is quite impressive. When students make repeated grammatical, structural, or organizational errors in their work, refer them to the specific area of concern (e.g. comma splices, tense consistency, concrete language). Ideally, the student would read the applicable section and take a quiz over/demonstrate written practice and understanding of the problem area. [KVT 07]

Felluga, Dino. Introductory Guide to Critical Theory. 28 November 2003. Purdue U. 7 June 2007. <>.

Although he calls it an introduction, Felluga designed his web site to be an aid to instructors of undergraduate and high school courses. The site has six subsections: Gender and Sex, Marxism, Narratology, New Historicism, Postmodernism, and Psychoanalysis. Using a tree structure as an organizing system, Felluga then divides each of these schools of theory into six subsections: a general introduction, terms and concepts, sample applications, lesson plans, modules, and links. The sample essays apply six theoretical models to two of Spenser’s sonnets and to a visual image from Sebastian Brant's Narrenschiff (1494), while the lesson plans employ tools from other parts of the site—the modules, essays, and terms. Felluga’s project offers useful ideas for integrating theory into the literature classroom and gives the instructors many of the tools she or he would need to do so. The sample essays would be especially helpful if one happens to be teaching Spenser, but could be applied in a poetry class or other introductory class. His application of literary theory to the image from Narrenschiff would be useful for illustrating the idea that many things can be read as a text. Unfortunately, the site has not been updated since 2003. There are broken links and incomplete pages. The terms and concepts pages, for example, often say "coming soon" after naming the relevant term. Still, the list of terms that pertain to a school of theory can be useful even without the definitions. Fellluga says he wrote his site for instructors, but advanced undergraduate students could benefit from it as well, and the author includes citation information as an aid to students. [AB 07]

The Poetry Archive. Ed. Esther Morgan, Andrew Bailey, and Helen Ivory. 2005. The Poetry Archive. 19 June 2006. <>.

The Poetry Archive is an invaluable resource which celebrates poetry as an oral (and aural) art form. Including hundreds of recordings, the Archive’s goal is to create a catalog of major poets reading their own work, including historical recordings of poets who are dead in addition to creating new recordings of living poets. The archive can be searched by poet, poem, region, poetic form, theme, and recordings that include an introduction to the poem by the poet. The sections titled "Tips for Listening" and "We’ve Listened, Now What?" (ideas for classroom activities) are intended for grades K-12 but do contain ideas that can be adapted for the college classroom. [AC 07]

PoetrySoup: The FREE International Poetry Community. Poetry Soup, Marietta Georgia. 01 June 2006 <>.

Poetry Soup is a website that promotes the art and craft of poetry, both professional and amateur. Anyone may join the online community and post their work for comment by other members and visitors to the site. There are currently 8062 members on the site, and a total of 59,494 individual poems. There is a quarterly poetry contest that recognizes outstanding previously unpublished poetry, as well as a weekly list of featured poems. For teaching purposes, there is an extensive list of well-known poets throughout history with biographical information and photos, a section of poems by these authors, a list of poetry terminology, and a rhyming dictionary. There is also a section that describes many forms of poetry, which might be helpful for introducing literature students to the conventions of traditional verse. Many members participate in an online forum, which often raises relevant issues and questions about poetry, both as readers and writers. There are also articles about the craft of poetry, and an active blogging community. Although this is not intended to be an academic website, there are many features that might be used effectively in an introductory poetry class. It is also a low-pressure, low-stakes way for aspiring student poets to get their work read and receive constructive feedback. [GW 07]

Virtual Seminars for Teaching Literature. Ed. Paul Groves and Stuart Lee. 11 September 2007. JTAP Virtual Seminars Project. 12 June 2008.  <>.

Although titled "Virtual Seminars for Teaching Literature," Groves and Lee designed this website as a resource for teaching World War I Poetry. JISC’s Technology Applications Programme provided funding for the Oxford University based website. Groves and Lee suggest that the current seminar, a teaching resource central to Humanities, is financially constrained and limited by the classroom. Thus, they designed the website to be a cost-effective substitute that self-organizes discussion for a large group of scholars and students. Editors claim the website successfully proves how academia can use modern technology to deliver educational resources in a cost-effective manner. The site contains for major sub-sections: The Seminars, The Wilfred Owen Multimedia Digital Archive, Publications of War, and the "The Ghost May Laugh." It also shares links to other, quality WWI poetry sites and boasts the First World War Poetry Discussion Board for interested students and scholars. Subsections are organized fairly simply, but not as intuitively as other teaching resources. The Seminar subsection contains five tutorials with one link down for repairs and access to the discussion board. Navigational tools are embedded in the tutorials. The Archive contains Wilfred’s poems, publications, and a general WWI archive. War Publications offers samples of published journalism and headline or cartoon snapshots. "The Ghost May Laugh" contains the 2007 script to Lee’s play and guided critical thinking questions. First time Seminar users are instructed to visit the Seminar Introduction which offers detailed explanations on WWI Poetry and access to the work of five poets, trench poetry, and women’s WWI poetry. With so many explanatory examples, the site offers an incredible amount of accessible information. Access to the archives and discussion board could generate an active class dialogue about WWI poetry. The multimedia website could potentially be a source for lecture notes, biographical information, or detailed notes about the genre. [TM 08]

"Text and Community." George Mason U. (Department of English), 2009. Web. 22 June 2012. <>.

The excellent website "Text and Community" from 2009 features Zimbabwean writer/filmmaker Tsitsi Dangarembga’s acclaimed novel, Nervous Conditions (1988). Developed by the English Department at George Mason University, this site accompanied a semester-long project across the disciplines that aimed to foster multi-disciplinary study of Nervous Conditions. Although the site has not been updated since 2009, it still contains resources that are relevant to the study of Dangarembga’s oeuvre. Of most value for teachers is the part of the site titled 'Resources." Within the "Resources," the annotated bibliography contains many relevant essays and articles on Dangarembga as well as interviews she has given, most of which are briefly summarized. Sources may be found by searching alphabetically by the author’s last name or, alternatively, by subject. Some of the sources, such as essays found in collections and some of the interviews, are accessible as PDF files if the viewer clicks on the hyperlinked title of the source. Additionally, the site offers teaching resources, including a text/image/synthesis project and a word-finding exercise that culminates in a paper. These engaging projects could work for almost any text, thus making the site useful beyond its immediate function of encouraging discussions of Dangarembga’s work. The site also contextualizes Dangarembga’s work by providing links to Zimbabwean history. Anyone interested in postcolonial research, Dangarembga scholarship, or engaging teaching assignments more generally could find this resource quite a valuable departure point. [DR 12]

K-12 cross-curricular work

Though mostly intended for K-12 cross-curricular work, thes resources can be "tweaked" for college level  learning. (Compiled by Leah Cassorla.)

Return to TopWorks on PedagogyClassroom Texts | Websites | Journals


This section of the bibliography lists journals and other periodical which publish resources for English teachers. (Originally compiled by Greg Hartley.)

The CEA Forum. Youngstown, OH: Youngstown State University, 2003.

The Forum is the official newsletter of the College English Association. Issues, available online <> provide industry updates for English teachers as well as a few articles on classroom practice and book reviews.

Classroom Notes Plus: A Quarterly of Teaching Ideas. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

A slim periodical of methods ideas authored solely by teachers in high school and middle school classrooms. While some methods are often content-specific, the creative flow of ideas is inspiring. Many ideas often include reproducible handouts. Each issue includes a special section on writing.

College English: Journal of the College Section of the National Council of Teachers of English. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

NCTE’s college journal aimed at English, Composition, and Literature instructors at the four-year college level. Articles are usually highly specific blends of pedagogy and/or criticism. Less for the practitioner than the researcher. Full text available through ProjectMUSE.

English Journal: The Journal of the Secondary Section of the National Council of Teachers of English. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

The high school counterpart to College English. The Journal is based more towards practitioners seeking current trends in the field. Articles in issues are often themed around a relevant topic, and various features provide book reviews, opinions, and methods ideas. Lots of classroom storytelling.

Ideas Plus: Practical Classroom Ideas by Teachers for Teachers. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

An annual compilation of teaching ideas from Classroom Notes Plus. Volume is divided into Prewriting and Writing, Literature, and Explorations.

The Journal of Higher Education. Columbus, OH: Ohio State University Press.

A journal of academic life at the higher education level. Provides in-depth examinations of general classroom and administrative issue for the college faculty. Especially good source of dialogue for important issues such as faculty shortages, tenure issues, and classroom environments. Full text available through ProjectMUSE.

Pedagogy. Durham, NC: The Duke University Press.

A journal dedicated to pedagogical practices within the higher education English content area (including graduate studies). Articles discuss the rigors of academic life, literary theory, and classroom methodology. A Roundtable feature allows individual ideas to be examined by numerous authors. Full text available through ProjectMUSE.

Profession. New York: Modern Language Association.

Selected articles from the Bulletins of the Association of Departments of English and the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages

Thought and Action. National Education Association Higher Education Publications: Washington, DC.

Thought & Action maintains the highest circulation of any refereed journal in higher education, with a readership of nearly 100,000. The title of the National Education Association's journal, Thought & Action, clearly communicates its purpose and scope. That is, Thought & Action seeks to provide its readership with theoretical and practical information on issues in higher education that are important to faculty and staff. Submissions are blind-reviewed by eight NEA members in higher education, appointed to a Review Panel for three-year terms. Contents of some current and past issues are available in PDF from their website: . [Added by LR.]