CFP: [Professional] Reports from Beyond: Teaching English in a Foreign Language

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Myles Chilton
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ACLA 2009 Convention: March 26-29, 2009
Harvard University, Cambridge, MA

Reports from Beyond: Teaching English in a Foreign Language

Cross-cultural interpretation of literary content and form is well-
analyzed theoretical terrain; cross-cultural teaching of literature has
received much less attention. For those who teach literatures in foreign
languages — say English in non-English speaking countries, or Spanish
literature in non-Spanish-speaking countries — there are two interrelated
sets of problems. One is the difficulty in relating the pedagogical goals
of language instruction with literary education. How do we negotiate our
students’ desires to improve their foreign-language skills with the
difficulties and sometimes competing requirements of literary analysis?
Can we bring together language and literature teaching? How can we
overturn the language/literature hierarchy that consigns teachers of the
former to a lower status in the academy?

This last question points to the other set of problems: those concerning
the cultural politics of teaching a foreign literature to foreigners.
Does teaching a literature in a global language like English or Spanish
equal complicity in the hegemonic spread of both language and culture? Or
does it empower students to negotiate between their local
language/culture and a global language/culture? How do we enact a
critical pedagogy, wherein educators’ reflexivity is crucial to
disclosing the networks of power and oppression that reify themselves as
social and institutional norms? Or does teaching literature provide
access to a kind of humanism that has the purpose of, in Said’s words,
making “things more available to critical scrutiny as the product of
human labor, human energies for emancipation and enlightenment, and, just
as importantly, human misreadings and misinterpretations of the
collective past and present.”

This panel hopes to draw papers from teachers of literatures in foreign
languages based either in the U.S. or in other countries. We will also
not be restricted to non-English literatures — there certainly could be
compelling insights from someone teaching American literature in English
at an institution in the Middle East or Southeast Asia. These pedagogical
questions represent an untapped problematic; as such this panel could
serve as the basis for future collaboration.

Abstract Deadline: November 3, 2008
*Note: All paper proposals must be submitted through the ACLA conference
Just select the "Reports from Beyond" seminar from the menu, and your
abstract will go directly to the organizer.

If you have any questions about the seminar, please feel free to contact
me at

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Received on Wed Oct 08 2008 - 19:19:58 EDT

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