Rachel Sagner Buurma (Swarthmore College) and Laura Heffernan (University of North Florida) are the authors of a new book, The Teaching Archive (University of Chicago Press, 2020), which proposes a methodological rethinking of the historiography of literary studies as a discipline.
Their groundbreaking approach, which takes us inside the classrooms of major literary critics via notes and archives, reveals how collaborations between teachers and students helped shape foundational works of literary criticism and how English courses at community colleges and HBCUs pioneered the reading methods and expanded canons that came only belatedly to elite institutions.
Professors Buurma and Heffernan joined Yale’s Caleb Smith and Whitney Humanities Center director Alice Kaplan on Monday, April 5, for a lively roundtable discussion about the classroom experience as a prime incubator of critical thought. The authors’ presentation was followed by Professor Smith’s thoughtful response. Questions from the Zoom audience covered a broad range of relevant issues, from the relationship between reading and writing (teaching literature versus teaching composition), to how teaching practices inspire literary production, to the implications of online and asynchronous teaching. The event is available for viewing here.