English Professor Tara Penry edited a forum of essays for the journal American Literary Realism, titled “Teaching 1860-1910,” inspired by teaching in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter activism.
In the forum, nine American literature scholars working in communities from New York to New Mexico explain how they addressed the unique demands of 2020-21 in their teaching of American literature from the period between the U.S. Civil War and the twentieth century.
In the first half of the forum, published in the Winter 2021 number of American Literary Realism, contributors address problems of race in the teaching of African-American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar and California novelist Maria Amparo Ruiz de Burton; offer ideas for drawing students into primary archives to study relationships between the nineteenth-century print industry, public health, and social justice; and point out racial bias in the very keywords and concepts used to teach the field. Additional essays will appear in the second half of the forum in the spring number of the journal.
Penry and some contributors to the forum will continue the conversation in a panel sponsored by the Research Society for American Periodicals at the American Literature Association in May.