UPDATE: [American] Schools and Schoolteachers in American Literature

full name / name of organization: 
Natasha Kohl
contact email: 

A Panel for the Annual Conference of the
American Literature Association
Boston, May 21-24, 2009

Schools and Schoolteachers in American Literature

John Adams referred to the school as one of the cornerstones of the new
republic; thus, since America’s inception, the school and subsequently the
schoolteacher have occupied a central role in national as well as
individual identity formation. This is clearly illustrated by the nation’s
literature in which schools, schoolteachers and school systems have
maintained a consistent presence. From Irving’s ineffectual schoolmaster,
Ichabod Crane, in “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” to Morrison’s violent
slave-master “Schoolteacher” in Beloved, literary representations of
teachers and the schools which they represent have permeated the fabric of
America literature, revealing a deeply embedded implication that these
figures and institutions have a significant hand in shaping the cultural
meanings of American life. Despite the pervasive presence of teachers and
schools in American literature, there has been little comprehensive
scholarship engaging this critical trope. This panel responds to this
absence by creating a scholarly discourse on the meanings of American
literature’s preoccupation with schools and teachers.
The panel welcomes papers which consider the variant locations of the
schoolteacher, the school and the school system in American literature as
well as those dealing with education more broadly conceived.

Please send a 250-500 word abstract and brief biographical sketch including
institutional affiliation, contact information, and AV requirements by
January 6, 2009 to:


Tasha Kohl, Fordham University

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Received on Sat Dec 06 2008 - 10:41:52 EST