Literature and the First Year Experience

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2016
full name / name of organization: 
Anthony Dotterman/NeMLA Conference (March 23-26)
contact email: 

As more upper-division literature courses disappear from college catalogues and fewer students choose to major in the humanities, the general education curriculum—and the first-year experience even more specifically—remain one of the few opportunities for university professors to use literary texts to teach critical thinking and analysis, both in terms of an acquired academic skill and as a venue for social and political activism. Yet, the freshman year of college is also a time when our students have not yet refined the very skills that can help them meaningfully participate in these academic and social dialogues as their liberal arts professors intend. Indeed, between fighting a high school education model that stresses standardized tests over critical thinking and our student’s wish to find an economically viable “career” or “vocation” to justify the cost of college, the first-year experience feels as if it is a rapidly closing opportunity to get our students to appreciate and value the liberal arts.

The following roundtable, then, invites liberal arts and literary scholars teaching in first-year courses to share some of their best practices for teaching literary texts at NeMLA's 2017 Conference in Baltimore, Maryland. Presentations may focus on especially successful choices of texts, pedagogical approaches to teaching more challenging literary texts, or any interrelated activities or assignments that stress the value or usefulness of literary analysis in academia and beyond, especially to non-liberal arts majors.

Queries may be directed to  Abstracts should be submitted to NeMLA'a online submisison system no later than September 30, 2016.