English 6800, Advanced Methods of Teaching Literature
Summer I, 2009

Discipline and Authority
in the Teaching of Literature

The core of rebellion, as you have seen by this and read of other rebellions, are the universities; which nevertheless are not to be cast away but to be better disciplined, that is to say, that the politics there taught be made to be, as true politics should be, such as are fit to make men know that it is their duty to obey all laws whatsoever that shall by the authority of the king be enacted.

Thomas Hobbes, Behemoth, 1668

I ask the pardon of those teachers who, in dreadful conditions, attempt to turn the few weapons they can find in the history and learning they ‘teach’ against the ideology, the system and the practices in which they are trapped. They are a kind of hero. But they are rare and how many (the majority) do not even begin to suspect the ‘work’ the system (which is bigger than they are and crushes them) forces them to do, or worse, put all their heart and ingenuity into performing it with the most advanced awareness (the famous new methods!).

Louis Althusser, Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, 1970

Dramatically increasing state control over education, curricular standardization, uniform assessment, standardized testing, accountability, and accreditation at the same time as expanding canons, new conceptions of text, critical pedagogy, multicultural and perspectival teaching, and empowering technologies. All this in a rapidly globalizing world in the midst of major capitalist crisis. The context in which we live and teach literature today will guide and frame this section of English 6800.

Considering the teaching of literature at secondary and university levels, this seminar aims to foster teacher intellectuals and professional leaders. We will examine the historical development of our discipline, issues in textual and interpretive authority, canon formation, educational standardization, cultural studies and multicultural materials and perspectives, literary theory and teaching, textual intervention and alternative knowledges, and the democratizing possibilities of emerging Internet tools and resources.

The class will be taught in a wireless laptop classroom and will experiment with a variety of new technologies including remote hosted websites, collaborative writing forums, threaded discussion, social networking, blogs, Nings, etc. Our on-line syllabus that will also serve as an electronic, hyperlinked text book, and an open class blog discussion maintained at English Companion Ning.

The final project will be the development of a thematic curriculum for literature teaching that in some measure explores questions of disciplinary boundaries and authority and formulated through interactive Internet resources.

Students are expected to join the National Council of the Teachers of English, Michigan Council of the Teachers of English, and/or the Modern Language Association and write a proposal to present at a professional conference, such as the MCTE Fall Conference, Friday, October 30.

Class participation is vital in 6800, missing classes may lower the grade and missing more than 3 classes may lead to failing. This class will follow WMU academic honesty policies. If at any point in the semester if you feel stress, English 6800 offers free on-line therapy from Eliza! (One of the early products of artificial intelligence research.)


Required Reading:

Appleman, Deborah. Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory to Adolescents. (NCTE, 2000)

Carey-Webb, Allen. Literature and Lives: A Response-Based, Cultural Studies Approach to Teaching Literature (NCTE, 2001).

Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (Vintage, 1979)

Rosenblatt, Louise. Literature as Exploration. Fourth Edition. (MLA, 1983).

Rozema, Robert and Allen Webb. Literature and the Web: Reading and Responding with New Technologies (Heinemann, 2008).

Packets including theoretical, historical, and pedagogical essays. 

Extensive study of websites and on-line resources.

Selections from:

Althusser, Louis. Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses.

Applebee, Arthur. Tradition and Reform in the Teaching of English.

Christenbury, Leila. Making the Journey: Being and Becoming a Teacher of English Language Arts.

Good, Thomas and Jere Brophy. Looking in Classrooms.

Kohl, Herbert. I Won't Learn From You.

Michigan English Language Arts Standards and Content Expectations.

Pope, Rob. Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies.

Viswanathan, Gauri. Masks of Conquest: Literary Study and British Rule in India.

wa Thiongo, Ngugi. Decolonizing the Mind.

Weinsten, Carol. Middle and Secondary Classroom Management.


Class Blog (15%) (2 comments / week)

Canon Presentation 5/21 (5%)

Discussion Analysis 5/28 (10%)

Conference Proposal 6/16 (5%)

Curriculum Project 6/23 (60%)

Self-Evaluation 6/23 (5%)



May 5, Tuesday
Introductions / Literature Teaching Today / New Technologies

In class:

1) Introductions

2) Discuss factors effecting literature teaching today.

3) Introduction to Internet tools: teacher websites (Google Sites), on-line syllabi, student created websites, student created wiki, class blog and blog roll (Word Press, Blogger), threaded discussion (Nicenet), Nings Teacher Research, Literary Worlds, YouTube...

4) Join English Companion Ning and comment on our blog Discipline and Authority in the Teaching of English.

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May 7, Thursday
Inclusive Discussion

Before class:

1) Read carefully through the on-line syllabus, including all assignments. Bring questions to class.

2). Read: Handout: From Looking in Classrooms (3rd ed.) by Good and Brophy "Chapter 1" "Questioning" 346-357, Form 10.3, 10.4, 10.6, Methods of Classroom Observation Appendix A, B & C, pages 63-73 (6th ed.). "Questioning Behaviors" (from Making the Journey by Leila Christenbury, 1994, "Managing Recitation and Discussion" (chapter 10) from Secondary Classroom Management (McGraw Hill 1996).

3. Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

May 12, Tuesday
Discipline and Punish

1. Read: Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison by Michel Foucault. Focus on pages 3-16, 23-24, 27-31, 58-69, 112-116, 123-126, 135-194, 200-209.

2. Optional: Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses, by Louis Althusser and/or The Body Literate: Discourse and Inscription in Early Literacy Training by Allan Luke (use library login for full text).

3. Comment on the related English Companion blog post.


May 14, Thursday
Standards and Content Expectations

1) Study state language arts standards and consider ways that the standards establish authority and discipline, as well as opportunities for alternatives. Consider the Michigan English Language Arts Content Standards, and the Michigan K-8 standards for English Language Arts. Also: NCTE/IRA Standards for the English Language Arts, Examine the controversy at MiEnglishStandards.

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.


May 19, Tuesday
Archeology of the Literature Curriculum

1) Read: Macaulay's "Minute" on Indian Education, Viswanathan "Currying Favor," Hawkes "Swisser-Swatter," Applebee "The Birth of a Subject," and Ngugi "Literature in Schools." from Masks of Conquest

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.


May 21, Thursday
Discipling the Curriculum: Canons, Textbooks, Syllabi

1) Canon Presentation: Undertake research on a selected literature course or period with the goal to a) analyze the presentation of the canon of literature from that period (look at textbooks, anthologies, guides to literary study, special teaching editions of canonical works, on-line syllabi, and/or Michigan Merit Curriculum Models) and consider b) What kinds of cultural studies resources might you look for to compliment the teaching of literature from this period?
Present findings to the class.

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

May 26, Tuesday
Authority and Interpretation

1) Literature as Exploration, Louise Rosenblatt

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

May 28, Thursday
Student Resistance

1) Read: "I Won't Learn From You" by Herbert Kohl

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

3). Discussion Analysis: Videotape a classroom discussion of at least 30 minutes, preferably one that you lead. Use at least two instruments from Good and Brophy or of your own creation, suggestions and samples. (minimum 5 pages)

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June 2, Tuesday
Cultural Studies and Literature Instruction

1) Read Literature and Lives by Allen Carey-Webb

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.


June 4, Thursday
Creating Alternatives

1) Bring a one-page summary of the course you plan to create for the final project.

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

June 9, Tuesday
New Technologies / New Democracies?

1) Read: Literature and the Web by Rob Rozema and Allen Webb

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

3) Conference Proposal: Write a rough draft conference proposal for MCTE.

June 11, Thursday
Internet Tools and Resources

1) Examine several on-line literary archives, starting point LitArchives.com Some of these archives are actually collections of archives--explore to find an archive you might work with.

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June, 16, Tuesday
Teaching Critical Theory

1) Read: Critical Encounters in High School English by Deborah Appleman

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

June 18, Thursday
Textual Intervention

1) Textual Intervention: Critical and Creative Strategies for Literary Studies by Rob Pope, Chapter 1, and 2.

2) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

3) Comment on the related English Companion blog post.

June 23, Tuesday
Share Curriculum Projects

Self-Evaluation: Write a 4-page self-evaluation of your work English 6800 and propose a course grade.

Upcoming Events

July 15-16: Michigan Reading Association Summer Conference, Ann Arbor

July 31: Proposals for the MCTE Fall Conference Due

October 30: MCTE Fall Conference

November 19-22, NCTE Conference, Philadelphia

December 27-30, MLA Conference, Philadelphia

March 17-20 CCCC Conference, Louisville (Proposals due May 8)


Additional Relevant Websites

6800 student websites created in past courses

Examine English methods course syllabi at English Methods.com

created by: allen.webb@wmich.edu
updated: 4/09
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