Teaching library 2: Books

Teaching library

Compared to teaching English in schools, there is a paucity of material about teaching English at tertiary level. However, Ellie Chambers (Open University) and Marshall Gregory Teaching and Learning English Literature was published by Sage in 2006 (ISBN 0761941711). It is supported by its own website, and promises to be an invaluable addition to the repertoire, covering, as it does, a wide range of teaching and assessment approaches.

Although it contains fewer practical suggestions, it’s well worth reading or dipping into Elaine Showalter’s Teaching Literature (Blackwell 2003).

While it is obliquely-positioned in relation to the UK context, there are some items worth looking at in (eds.) Tanya Agathocleous and Ann C. Dean, Teaching Literature: a Companion (Palgrave 2003).

General books about teaching in HE are of course a whole other field, and English lecturers should not rule out the kind of insights to be gained from broader discussions of pedagogy of the kind to be found in Paul Ramsden’s classic Learning to Teach in Higher Education (2nd edition, Routledge, 2003). And to take another example, there is some very suggestive material in Brookfield, Stephen D., and Stephen Preskill. Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for University Teachers. Buckingham: SRHE and Open University Press. 1999.

Don’t automatically shy away from US publications (see note on College English, below). US universities are in many ways a different world from the UK variety, but there is – partly due to the tradition of composition studies – a thriving genre of writing about pedagogy. For example, there are a number of thought-provoking volumes in the National Council for the Teaching of Teachers of English series. See for example (ed.) David B. Downing, Changing Classroom Practices: Resources for Literary and Cultural Studies (Urbana, ILL 1994), or Shari J. Stenberg, Professing and Pedagogy: Learning the Teaching of English (Urbana ILL 2005)

Although the research was carried out in the early 1990s, Colin Evans’ study English People: The Experience of Learning and Teaching English in British Universities (Open University 1993) is still an important read, and the copious quotations from Evans’ respondents are valuable in themselves.

The processes of gendering of teaching and learning in English Studies are discussed in Ben Knights (ed.), Masculinities in Text and Teaching (Basingstoke: Palgrave 2007). The book was itself the subject of a forum (edited by Michael Coventry) in Arts and Humanities in Higher Education (2011) 10.1: 19 – 45. ‘Towards a pedagogy of uncertainty: Transatlantic perspectives on Masculinities in Text and Teaching’, and the articles by Wallace, Pinto, and Knights which follow.

Colin Evans also edited a book which describes the work of the DUET (Developing University English Teaching) project –Developing University English Teaching (Edwin Mellen 1995).

Theoretical and practical dimensions of creative-critical crossover are explored in Chris Thurgar-Dawson and Ben Knights, Active Reading: Transformative Writing in Literary Studies. London: Continuum, 2006.
Several recent books address the teaching of Creative Writing. We might here mention Michelene Wandor’s The Author is Not Dead: Merely Somewhere Else (Palgrave 2008), and Rebecca O’Rourke’s Creative Writing: Culture, Education, and Community (NIACE 2005).

If you haven’t already done so, it is also worth looking at some of the new generation of books aimed at helping undergraduates and sixth formers into English Studies. Examples would include Robert Eaglestone’s Doing English (2nd ed. Routledge, 2002), David Amigoni and Julie Sanders, Get Set for English Literature, and Christine Robinson, Get Set for English Language (both Edinburgh UP). Pedagogic ideas may also be stimulated by some of the larger items in the genre, for example (eds.) Jeremy Hawthorn et al., Studying Literature: the Essential Companion (Longman 2001), Chris Hopkins’ Thinking About Texts (Palgrave 2001, second edition 2009), or Rob Pope’s The English Studies Book (Routledge 1998).

Two undergraduate texts published by Palgrave in 2009 have major pedagogic implications. Andrew Green’s Starting an English Degree, co-published with the English Subject Centre offers key guidance on how to bridge the gap between A-level and degree level Literature studies, and the second edition of Chris Hopkins’ Thinking About Texts.

The MLA Series ‘Approaches to teaching world literature’ contains 82 volumes each focusing on a particular author or work. An additional resource from the MLA, requires membership in the organization: the Series ‘Options for teaching’ has ten volumes on topics such as children’s literature and the holocaust.

Shari Stenberg’s Professing and Pedagogy (NCTE) was reviewed in the October 2009 WordPlay.

Subject Centre Publications

In addition to the website and the Newsletter (now WordPlay), the English Subject Centre produces a series of reports and good practice guides.(see the publications area of this site)

We are also involved with Palgrave Macmillan in a major book series ‘Teaching the New English’. Thirteen volumes have now been published with others at an advanced stage of preparation