Teaching Literature is an indispensable guidebook for all teachers of English and American literature in higher education. Drawing on 40 years of international teaching experience, author Elaine Showalter inspires instructors to make their classroom practice as intellectually exciting as their research.
Showalter’s wide-ranging reflections address practical, theoretical, and methodological issues. She starts out by describing the anxieties of teaching literature and by outlining the major theories and methods circulating in the field. She then goes on to look separately at teaching drama, fiction, poetry, and theory, and to explore ways to teach teaching. Finally, she investigates the moral issues involved in teaching, and the practical ethics of handling touchy subjects, from sexuality to suicide.
Examples from real classes and careers are cited throughout, generating an unusual degree of authenticity and immediacy.
Showalter's distillation of her half-century of teaching (along with the experience of scores of other teachers) in this jargon-free blend of manual and memoir will appeal to readers with a general interest in education as well as to professionals. Provocative, evocative, spirited in tone and lucid in structure, the volume offers everything readers might want to know about teaching undergraduates. Showalter, an English professor at Princeton University, opens with practical matters (e.g., the anxieties that can plague teachers, lack of training, isolation, performance, evaluation) and then moves to the theoretical, exploring subject-centered, teacher-centered and student-centered teaching theories. Throughout, she addresses nitty-gritty matters, from preparing syllabi and lectures and leading discussions to grading and "housekeeping." On teaching literature classes (including poetry, drama, fiction and theory), Showalter offers a cornucopia of approaches, peppered with brief reflections from teachers about actual practice. She addresses the teaching of teachers, the issues raised in "dangerous subjects" (freshly, not the usual race and gender, but suicide and explicit sexual language) and "teaching literature in dark times." Differences and disagreements flourish, and the chorus of voices Showalter shares with readers, along with her own expertise and knowledge, makes this book particularly appealing as well as useful. (Dec.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.