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Discussing Difference in Young Adult Literature

By: Leah Milne One question I ask students on the first day of my Young Adult Literature course is to define the field itself. As we craft a broad definition of Young Adult (YA) literature, one of the characteristics that always inevitably comes up has to do with relatability or being able to see oneself … Continue reading Discussing Difference in Young Adult Literature

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Text and Context in Teaching Virginia Hamilton’s Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush

By: Karen Chandler In teaching Virginia Hamilton’s Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush in an introductory course for prospective English majors, I redress what I see as a limitation in the materials marketed for such courses: neglect of children’s texts. Youth literature is largely absent from anthologies like The Norton Introduction to Literature and Approaching Literature, except … Continue reading Text and Context in Teaching Virginia Hamilton’s Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush

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The Autoethnographic Essay as Contemplative Practice and Pedagogy

Donelle Dreese  I have been assigning the autoethnography essay in my inclusive literature courses for several years. Prior to this, I would occasionally struggle with the idea that class discussions in these courses examined social justice matters as if their expression and manifestation took place primarily outside the classroom. In general, my students always approached … Continue reading The Autoethnographic Essay as Contemplative Practice and Pedagogy

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Using Popular and Youth Culture to Tackle Constructions of Race

By: Sara Austin and Kaylee Jangula Mootz   During the Q&A after our panel "Teaching Multi-Ethnic Children's Literature" at the 2019 MELUS conference in Cincinnati, an audience member asked about teaching children's or young adult literature, which students may think that it doesn't qualify as "Literature." A fruitful conversation ensued, but even after the conference … Continue reading Using Popular and Youth Culture to Tackle Constructions of Race

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Teaching Three Times Over: Listening to Anti-Lynching Poems

Jennifer Ryan-Bryant Today I am reflecting on students’ responses to my second course on the literature of lynching, which concluded in May 2019. Now that I have taught both a graduate seminar and a capstone course for our undergraduate English majors on this topic, I feel slightly more confident about the texts I have chosen … Continue reading Teaching Three Times Over: Listening to Anti-Lynching Poems

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Reimagining Piri Thomas, or When the Archive Tells You to Throw out What You Think You Know

By Regina Marie Mills Texas A&M University What I love about the archive is that you almost always find something you weren’t looking for. In the fall of 2017, I spent 4 weeks at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York City, thanks to the generous support of the New … Continue reading Reimagining Piri Thomas, or When the Archive Tells You to Throw out What You Think You Know

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Circular Teaching: Using Models of Literature and Racial Healing Circles to Promote Meaningful Conversations in the Classroom

Kim Martin Long, The University of New Orleans Many years ago, I presented at the MELUS conference on my teaching strategic that I called “Circling Race, Bigotry, and Terror: Small Groups in the Multicultural Literature Classroom,” a strategy that involves beginning with commonalities among people of different backgrounds and working out to areas of difference. … Continue reading Circular Teaching: Using Models of Literature and Racial Healing Circles to Promote Meaningful Conversations in the Classroom

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Decolonizing Through Contracts

A few years ago, I made a switch from a standard grading system to a contract-based system in my writing classes, and based on my experiences, started bringing it into all my classes after that. I’ll admit, the impetus for my switch was borne out of frustration—I was experiencing some frustration with students not heeding … Continue reading Decolonizing Through Contracts

Teaching Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and Jones’s “Lost in the City”

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As an undergraduate English major, one of my most indelible memories is sitting in a classroom brightly lit while some of my classmates, prompted by our professor, shared their knowledge and personal experiences about the South as an introduction for our discussion of William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. Prior to that moment, I … Continue reading Teaching Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” and Jones’s “Lost in the City”

Teaching Junot Díaz, Now

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“Of what import are brief, nameless lives…to Galactus??” Junot Díaz’s decision to launch his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao with this quote from the Marvel comic book The Fantastic Four resonates like a livid thread throughout the novel, as all epigraphs should. Galactus is literally an all-powerful being that consumes whole planets, indifferent … Continue reading Teaching Junot Díaz, Now

“Can a Shaman Cure My Fear of Normalcy?” and Other Curveballs

By: Alexander Menrisky The decade of the 1960s—as a stylistic archetype or broad sensibility—has experienced something of a cultural comeback over the last few years, its influence felt in venues from popular music to clothing design. One of the challenges of teaching the decade’s literature and art at such a moment is the degree to … Continue reading “Can a Shaman Cure My Fear of Normalcy?” and Other Curveballs