I’m happy to announce a scholarly article on teaching early American literature has been published by Teaching American Literature: A Journal of Theory and Practice. My goal with this piece was to share my experience teaching early American lit using critical theories in an effort to emphasize previously and currently marginalized voices within the master narrative. In my experience, the American lit classroom that makes room for diverse voices beyond the problem of canonical inclusion in the period provides students with a much broader understanding of the value of literature as cultural artifacts as well as helps them connect seemingly archaic themes to contemporary issues.
You can download the pdf from the journal here.
The abstract from the journal is as follows: Early American Literature, as a survey course for undergraduate students, is challenging both pedagogically and philosophically. With the proliferation of literary theories in the mid-to-late 20th century that aim to describe the experiences and oppressions of marginalized peoples, Early American Literature’s perceived value is problematized as a stalwart of a hegemonic master narrative. It is difficult to promote the value of analyzing and criticizing the literature to contemporary students when much of it is exclusive: patriarchal, colonial, Euro-centric, and hierarchal. Applying the literary theories of the mid-to-late 20th century to undergraduate survey courses and analyzing minority voices in early American literature reestablishes a working value between the texts and contemporary students, who are invested perhaps more in these issues than what seems to them archaic literature. This is even more viable to community college students, who are apt to identify with marginalized voices and can see the relevance of situating Early American Literature in contemporary frameworks with an effort to promote social, democratic citizenship.