Fold/Unfold Close Reading Activity

This post is a modified version of "Unfolding Fanny Fern's Ruth Hall and Nathaniel Hawthorne's 'The Birthmark'," a paper I presented at the American Literature Association conference in Boston, Massachusetts, on May 23, 2019. To unfold something is to open or unwrap, attempt to undo its folds. However, a fold can’t really be undone: when … Continue reading Fold/Unfold Close Reading Activity

Tactile Learning in the College Classroom

I've learned a great deal from Kahdeidra Monét Martin, a Graduate Center and Humanities Alliance Fellow I've had the pleasure of meeting at Futures Initiative events and a recent Hunter College ACERT luncheon. Kahdeidra reminded me, on our recent panel together, that just because we grow older doesn't mean that the learning methods we associate … Continue reading Tactile Learning in the College Classroom

A Lesson Plan for Democratic Co-Creation: Forging a Syllabus by Students, for Students

Earlier in the semester, I wrote a post about Structuring Equality in my early American Lit classroom. On the first day of class, I asked my students (individually and then in pairs, using Think-Pair-Share) to determine their goals and priorities for the year. Then, in larger groups, students revised and added to parts of the … Continue reading A Lesson Plan for Democratic Co-Creation: Forging a Syllabus by Students, for Students

Structuring Equality in my American Literature Survey Course

It's syllabus-writing season! After some time away from teaching, time for reflection and growth as an educator, I am thrilled to be teaching "American Literature: Origins to the Civil War" again this fall. I've taught this course twice, so I feel confident enough to hand my syllabus over to my students to plan all the … Continue reading Structuring Equality in my American Literature Survey Course

“A remaking of the mind itself”: Margaret Fuller’s Pedagogy & Mine

Teaching Margaret Fuller’s Woman in the Nineteenth Century is instructive in its challenge. The text contains numerous references that take students to task with additional research to understand the import of its anecdotes. The text’s oscillation between essentialism and radical gender fluidity can also perplex the student who expects a linear argument one would find … Continue reading “A remaking of the mind itself”: Margaret Fuller’s Pedagogy & Mine

Reading American Romanticism with Students after the Election

"What is wanted is men, not of policy, but of probity--who recognize a higher law than the Constitution, or the decision of the majority. The fate of the country does not depend on how you vote at the polls--the worst man is as strong as the best at that game; it does not depend on … Continue reading Reading American Romanticism with Students after the Election

American Lit: Collaborative Writing & Group Work

This semester as I prepared my syllabus for the American Literature: Origins to the Civil War course, I wanted to get my students more engaged in collaborative multi-modal projects. One of these was to write a blog post comparing the American Puritans to one religious group from the HBO series The Game of Thrones. While students cringed … Continue reading American Lit: Collaborative Writing & Group Work

Hiking Like a Woman

Twenty-five percent of thru-hikers on the Appalachian Trail are women, and, let me tell you, these are hardcore women who take after the Mary Rowlandsons and Hannah Dustans of America. Before I reached the 100-mile mark, however, I had already heard several hikers use the phrase, "I'm going to take this mountain like a man," … Continue reading Hiking Like a Woman

“Leave No Trace”: When American Transcendentalism Leads to Wilderness Preservation

Having hiked over 500 miles of the Appalachian Trail this summer, dutifully carrying a copy of Thoreau's writings with me, there are certain habits I've cultivated with a now-ingrained daily routine that I'll take with me off the trail. The "Leave No Trace" policy of American hiker culture is what keeps the Appalachian Trail special for everyone … Continue reading “Leave No Trace”: When American Transcendentalism Leads to Wilderness Preservation

Addressing Despair in the Classroom: An Ecocritical Approach to Non-Canonical American Writers

Pedagogy and American Literary Studies (PALS) invited me last month to write a guest post on teaching the American Literature Survey Course. While collaborating and making edits, the wonderful team at PALS gave me an opportunity to write a second post about something else that happened in the course. Take a look:

Welcome to Pedagogy & American Literary Studies

PALS Note: This is the second post from Christina Katopodis about her novel approaches to the American literature survey. Read below for her ideas on combatting despair in face of the many injustices and tragedies in American literary history. And find her first post here

In my last post, I talked about building community in the classroom, something I value as a teacher because it means simultaneously establishing a safe and flexible learning environment. The community-building began with the nature walk and class blog, in shared experiential learning. The ecocritical framework to the course, from the walk to the readings, bolstered a sense of solidarity in the classroom that we discovered we needed later in the semester. One additional goal I had for “American Literature: Origins to the Civil War” was to center America’s origins around her founding mothers and people of color in addition to the “city on…

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