[Expanded] Public Pedagogy: Teaching Literature in the Corporate University

full name / name of organization: 
Thomas Spitzer-Hanks/ University of Texas at Austin
contact email: 

In an increasingly market-driven educational environment, aestheticist arguments for the study of literature appear more and more unconvincing as colleges and universities have begun to see themselves (and to be seen by students) as producing an education that molds future workers rather than augmented civic subjects. Additionally, the large, required survey course- the only impression of our discipline many undergraduates will carry through college into adulthood- remains the best financial resource for departments of English, often while using what is possibly the worst model of literature pedagogy, reliant on an objectivist methodology long since abandoned in scholarly practice and on economistic teaching methods that serve neither students nor texts. The fact that many English departments find themselves in this difficult position begs two closely related questions: should our teaching organize itself around the careerist demands of a defunded university or against them? And How?

We seek located responses to these questions that take a position on the current state of the profession and propose specific pedagogical responses to it; we also seek more theoretical contributions that work with concepts of public or critical pedagogy, either through a historiographical or an applied method, especially in the context of the various mediated pedagogies grouped under the term 'blended learning.' Are MOOCs, flipped classrooms, and distance-learning initiatives examples of third spaces that furnish opportunities for English literature pedagogy to find renewed relevance in a print culture driven by digital media and a university driven by funding pressures, or are the new 'hybrid' pedagogies actually just technologies of mimicry designed to produce docile consumers?

Abstracts should be less than 350 words, including title and four keywords. Abstracts should be sent to Thomas Spitzer-Hanks at penumbra7@hotmail.com by March 25th with 'MLA 2016 Abstract' in the subject line. Dependent on the quality and volume of submissions this CFP will become a special session at the 131st annual MLA convention, taking place 7-10 January 2016 in Austin, Texas. This is an expanded version of a CFP available through the MLA website and it should be noted that submissions can only be accepted from MLA members.