CFP (SEA 19): Teaching early American lit to teachers & in high schools

deadline for submissions: 
August 1, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Patrick M. Erben/Society of Early Americanists
contact email: 

Call for Papers: Society of Early Americanists 2019 Biennial Conference

February 27-March 3, 2019 in Eugene, Oregon

Panel 1) Teaching Teachers How to Teach Early American Literature


Panel 2) Teaching Early American Literature in High Schools

One of the highest compliments college instructors of early American literature receive on their student evaluations goes something akin to this: “I thought the materials would be terribly boring, but Professor X made them come to life.” Early Americanist faculty may (unjustifiably) blame such anticipatory dread among their students on high schools limiting exposure to early American lit to frightening readings of Jonathan Edwards’ “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Though faculty do their best to include a panoply of previously marginalized texts and authors, they often do little (or do not know how) to train teachers in the innovative pedagogies, modes of reading, and assignments that could make early America a vital part of the American literature curriculum in high schools.

In turn, high school teachers probably reduce their early American offerings to a minimum because they have not been trained in effective strategies and fear student disengagement from materials and subjects deemed difficult, inaccessible, and irrelevant. This panel, therefore, seeks to foster a goal that Deborah Appleman articulated in Critical Encounters in High School English: Teaching Literary Theory go Adolescents (New York, 2009): “I argue that contemporary literary theory in secondary English classes will better prepare adolescent readers to respond reflectively and analytically to literary texts, both ‘canonical’ and multicultural” (11). Teaching early American literature and theory to high school teachers and students may thus help to instill critical methods of understanding American history, identity formation, and ideologies.

I seek paper proposals for a two-part panel on approaches to 1) teaching teachers (and teacher candidates) how to teach early American literature, and 2) teaching early American literature in high schools. Ideally, the two parts of this panel will be scheduled back to back, encouraging conversations between college and high school instructors to learn from each other, share teaching successes and failures, and learn about effective teaching strategies. Thus, I specifically invite submissions from college faculty engaged in teacher training (at the undergraduate and/or graduate level) and high school teachers who have developed effective units for teaching early American literature in their classrooms.

Possible topics for each panel include, but are not limited to, the following:

Panel 1) Teaching Teachers How to Teach Early American Literature

  • Innovative pedagogies, such as inquiry based learning, for teaching EAL to teachers and teacher candidates
  • Literary pairings and bridgings
  • Using literary theory and criticism (such as post-colonial or feminist theory) for teaching EAL in high schools
  • Model assignments and teaching unites for high school and/or early college
  • Approaches and strategies for using EAL to teach critical understandings of American history, identity formation, ideologies, and politics

Panel 2) Teaching Early American Literature in High School

  • Effective strategies and approaches, specifically successful classroom activities and assignments
  • Text pairings and critical questions
  • Curriculum maps and EAL
  • Resources for teaching EAL in high schools
  • EAL as a tool to confront and discuss issues of racism, diversity, and equity in the secondary classroom
  • Obstacles for teaching EAL in high schools (and how to overcome them)

Please email a circa 250-word proposal along with a 1-2 page CV to Patrick M. Erben ( by August 1, 2018.  In your proposal, please indicate if you are submitting for panel 1 or panel 2. My acceptances to the panelists will be sent out by August 8. I will submit the completed panels to the SEA program committee by August 15.