Category Archives: Teaching Reflections

Golden, “Digital Landscapes: Mapping Global Modernist Women Writers”

Course Websites

Golden’s course, “Global Digital Modernisms,” at the New York Institute of Technology

Link here

Golden’s course, “Global Literature and Digital Media,” at the New York Institute of Technology

Link here

Further Reading/Project Examples

Golden on mapping Jacob’s Room for TECHStyle, a forum for sharing multimodal pedagogy at Georgia Tech, November 12, 2013

Link here

Soweto Historical GIS Project at Digital Humanities Initiative at Hamilton College

Link here

Brian Croxall, mapping Mrs. Dalloway, Introduction to Digital Humanities at Emory University

Link here

Additional previous posts and resources by Golden here on “Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English”:

“Navigating Modernism’s Visual History”

“Digital Woolf”

Related Reading: Gordon and Southworth, Foster

Cheney, “How to Write and Gertrude Stein and How to Read”

Gertrude Stein:  Resources
compiled by Matthew Cheney

By Gertrude Stein



About Gertrude Stein



Pedagogies and Practices

Must-See Picasso Exhibit in Philly—and the Benefits of a Field Trip

If you live and/or work anywhere near Philadelphia, I strongly recommend visiting The Barnes Foundation for their current exhibitionPicasso:  The Great War, Experimentation, and Change.  The exhibit explores the tensions in Picasso’s work around Cubism and realism, and situates that dynamic as a response to the conflagration of 1914-1918.  One highlight:  extensive consideration of the 1916 ballet Parade, along with details of Picasso’s collaboration with Satie, Cocteau, and the Ballets Russes.

While modernists with a variety of specific interests might be keen to check out Picasso, they might also be asking why I’m sharing my recommendation in this space.  I’m very lucky to teach at an institution only 15 minutes outside of Philadelphia, and to live in the city itself; I and my colleagues do the best we can to take advantage of the cultural resources available to supplement our teaching, engage our students, and enrich their experience.  This semester, inspired by one of the #teachingmodwomen contributors, I decided to theme my Methods of Literary Study course (a gateway-to-the-English-major type requirement) around literature of the Great War.  Our main texts were Rebecca West’s The Return of the Soldier, Robert Graves’s Goodbye to All That, and Vera Brittain’s Testament of Youth, along with poetry.  Part of my planning from the beginning, too, included taking advantage of the opportunity to visit the Barnes for the Picasso exhibit, announced last year.  I’ve taken students to the Barnes before as part of our study of modernist literature and culture, but this special chance could not be passed up.

I encouraged the students to self-direct throughout the exhibit, asking only that they text me their thoughts as they viewed the works.  I would catch up with them occasionally to share reflections, or text them if I saw something they would like based on the comments texted to me.  Afterwards over lunch, we had a conversation about how we might place Picasso’s work in the context of our understanding of the Great War up to this point.  Getting students out on an excursion like this can be logistically complicated, especially when their schedules are as packed as ours, but it’s more than worth it.

We would love to hear from readers about how they use similar kinds of excursions in their teaching:  benefits, challenges, suggestions, and good stories!

Navigating Modernism’s Visual History 

This is a guest post by Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English hopeful contributor Amanda Golden.  Amanda Golden is an Assistant Professor of English at the New York Institute of Technology. She previously held the Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Poetics at Emory University’s Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry and a Marion L. Brittain Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is the author of Annotating Modernism: Marginalia and Pedagogy from Virginia Woolf to the Confessional Poets (Routledge, forthcoming) and editor of This Business of Words: Reassessing Anne Sexton (UP of Florida, 2016). She has published in Modernism/modernityWoolf Studies Annual, and The Ted Hughes Society Journal and her essays on digital pedagogy can be found in TECHStyle and Postcolonial Digital Humanities.

My “Writing New York” course this term at the New York Institute of Technology invites students to develop greater facility with visual and digital tools as they construct arguments analyzing the role of New York in poetry, prose, and fiction from predominately the first half of the twentieth century.

The students began navigating modernism’s visual history early in the term. While reading Elizabeth Losh, et al.’s Understanding Rhetoric: A Graphic Guide to Writing, the students practiced constructing visual arguments while exploring the relationship between the design of a little magazine published in New York and its contents in our “Visual Literacy and the Modernist Journals Project” assignment.  (The digital tasks described here took place during the second half of an eighty-minute class period.)  When we read Edith Wharton’s “New Year’s Day” from Old New York (1924), the students interpreted the role of the city in the characters’ interactions in an assigned section of the reading, investigating the significance of their locations using Google Maps. In “Locating Old New York,” the students had unexpected observations, including the number of fires that the novella’s Fifth Avenue Hotel experienced in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This assignment also enabled the students to gain greater familiarity with “New Year’s Day” in preparation for their essays analyzing the role of humanity amidst the machinery of the city in E. B. White’s “Here is New York” (1949), Wharton’s story, or in both texts.

As we turned to the Harlem Renaissance, our class assignments began to include more written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal components.*  We held a thesis contest in which students presented arguments addressing Langston Hughes’s poetry and prose. Students then combined text, images, and videos in their interpretations of the role of New York in at least one poem during our “Snapchat with Claude McKay.” When we read a chapter of Nella Larsen’s Passing, the students used Google Tour Builder to depict its events, including the contents of the conversations and their significance. The task of mapping Passing presented an opportunity for students to explore the text and the software in preparation for their group map assignments. In this project, the students have the option to use Google Maps, Google Tour Builder, or a combination of elements in a Prezi, Power Point, or Word Document, to create a visual argument analyzing at least one text by one of the writers we have read. Each group will also compose a rationale addressing the arguments that their map makes.

The linear format of Google Tour Builder provides a legible structure in which students can insert annotations interpreting passages from the text. After I learned of this program from Gabriel Hankins, I asked students in my Global Digital Modernisms course this term to construct tours of Paris in Jean Rhys’s Good Morning, Midnight (1938). Google Maps, which my previous classes have used in projects, such as creating annotated maps of Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room, allows for a visual interpretation in which the lines on the map need not address one route, but could indicate various connections with different colors.

Figure 1

Figure 1

When I last taught my Global Digital Modernisms course, the students used Prezi when mapping Good Morning, Midnight to combine annotations and current Google Street views with backgrounds, such as historical maps (Figure 1). Prezi also allows for more complicated maps of texts, such as one group’s depiction of the protagonist’s memories (Figure 2). A current issue with Prezi is that their free educational subscription no longer allows students to keep materials private. I prefer that students keep their work offline, sharing it with their professor. If students choose to do so, they can make their work public when it is finished.

Figure 2

Figure 2

The final project in my Writing New York course will combine research and digital media as students compose a script that they will record or film as a podcast or video. This assignment includes students’ research using primary and secondary sources and builds on the digital and visual literacy skills they acquired in previous assignments. Complementing our reading during the second half of the course, we will look to The History Chicks’s Dorothy Parker podcast and Patti Smith’s interview with Paul Holdengräber at the New York Public Library video as examples for synthesizing elements of conversation, research, and close reading.  When I assigned a similar project in my African American Literature from the Harlem Renaissance to the Digital Present course, the students found our critiques of sample interviews particularly helpful in developing their own projects.  Their assignment, “Mock Interviews with Contemporary African American Writers,” grew out of one that Anne Sexton proposed to her “Anne on Anne” students at Colgate University in 1972.

In their script and podcast or video assignments, my Writing New York students will demonstrate the ability to analyze quotations, acknowledge sources, and develop arguments. Creating podcasts or videos, using such tools as Audacity, Soundcloud, and VoiceThread, the students can use phones, tablets, and computers to record and edit their projects, working in new ways with devices with which they may already be familiar. Blending creativity and research, this assignment invites students to combine language, sound, and media to create digital interpretations of modernist texts.


*In the Writing and Communication Program at the Georgia Institute of Technology, this is called WOVEN Communication and the ways these elements overlap comprise an artifact’s “multimodal synergy.” See WOVENText. Version 2.2. Bedford/St. Martin’s Press. Accessed 21 March, 2016.

Musings on teaching (modernist) women’s literature broadly: what has worked for me

This post has been authored by one of our hopeful contributors, Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick.  Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Office of Student Research at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC). Her research and teaching interests include twentieth-century American literature, transatlantic modernism, women and literature, American ethnic literature, women’s studies and identity politics, and trauma studies. She is the author of Modernist Women Writers and War: Trauma and the Female Body in Djuna Barnes, H.D. and Gertrude Stein (Louisiana State UP, 2011). Since 2012, she has published five peer-reviewed articles and one peer-reviewed book chapter about teaching and teaching-related concerns in Syllabus, The Journal of Journal of Literature and Trauma Studies, College Literature, Teaching American Literature, The CEA Critic, and Teaching Hemingway and Modernism. Three additional book chapters are going through the MLA review process for the following volumes: Approaches to Teaching Gertrude Stein; Approaches to Teaching Flannery O’Connor, and Teaching Modernist Women Writers in English. She is the recipient of the 2014 Indiana University Trustees Teaching Award, which is a prestigious teaching award IU offers at the system-wide level. In 2014, she was inducted into the Indiana University Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching.  You can read a previous post by Julie here.


Teaching women writers doesn’t mean one has to teach from a feminist perspective or that one’s pedagogy must be informed by feminist theory, feminist pedagogical praxis, or women’s studies concerns. However, we are indebted to feminist scholar-teachers for uncovering or recovering significant women writers—and for proving their importance and establishing places for them in the canon (or on the periphery, as it turns out, for many women writers). We owe these feminist scholar-teachers to a great extent; for some of us, we owe them our livelihood, if we were hired as women and literature teacher-scholars. This is a debt that we can repay by teaching and writing about these same canonical/on-the-fringe-of-canonicity/newly recovered women writers to honor the legacy of the feminists in our profession who came before us. (My proposed chapter in Teaching Modernist Women Writers in English will address this scenario to some degree and will present examples of feminist pedagogical theory in practice.)

I’ve been thinking about this legacy of late and how it manifests in my own classroom and scholarship. My institutional contexts (with a nod to Paul Guillory) are as follows: I was hired as a literature professor with a specialization in gender studies; my teaching and research interests are in transatlantic modernism, women’s literature, and women’s studies specifically, and we offer a Women’s Studies minor on our campus. What may strike you as unusual is that I am the only tenured literature professor at Indiana University-Purdue University Columbus (IUPUC), and most of what I teach counts as diversity courses; my courses are taken by English majors, English minors, Women’s Studies minors, Education majors, Liberal Arts students who need a course outside of their major area, and non-Liberal Arts students. One of the big boons in my situation is that I teach two courses in women and literature and feminist theory at the 200-level and at the 300-level, in addition to the fact that all of my courses but two currently are coded as literature and women’s studies courses that count toward the Women’s Studies minor. Another big advantage is that these two women and literature courses count for general education credit, and so those classes are typically full and populated by students who would not have elected to enroll in a women and literature course if it did not count for a gen ed requirement. The majority of the students in the women and lit courses are not (yet) English majors or minors. This situation as a whole has led me to analyze what I do and why: what is it that a women and modernism/contemporary literature course should offer in the twenty-first century to students who are not majoring in literature and who are not as invested as you and I were when we were undergraduate students? And, just as importantly from my perspective (which may be unique in terms of institutional structures but is likely not unique in terms of our profession and its values) is this question: how am I teaching the material that I am invested in and passionate about to students who are neither of these things? And more to the point, how do I avoid what some, such as Audre Lorde or Elizabeth Bishop, see as the ghettoization, and subsequent stigmatization, of women’s literature in a course dedicated to women writers solely? (My proposed chapter for Teaching Modernist Women Writers in English focuses on a different course I teach in modernism.)

Of course, I do not have the answers to all of these questions for you or even for myself, regardless of institutional differences. But these are useful questions to consider for all of us, I think, who teach literature by women because we will invariably have to explain or justify why we do what we do. For my part, I take the position that it is a privilege to dedicate an entire course to women writers (a privilege because women writers are just as important as their male counterparts), but it is a necessity also (i.e., where else will the students encounter these writers?). I take my mostly first-generation college students through an ambitious reading schedule, but I have learned how to make that work through research in feminist theory and pedagogy: in other words, how I teach, I realize, is as important as what I am teaching. (Note: If anyone is interested, my syllabus for a transatlantic twentieth-century literature by women and feminist theory course, as well as an explanation of it, can be located in the journal Syllabus 1.2 [2012] online here).  

What I’ll do now is offer a few of the highlights—some of the gems—I’ve incorporated successfully in my own classroom. (For what it’s worth, I’m putting together a promotion dossier now and had to tabulate the global scores on my student course evaluations for every course I’ve taught: my average is 4.93/5.0 of all items. From this, I see that my students believe they are benefitting from my instructional practices. As for my peers, they presented the IU Trustees Teaching Award to me in 2014.) What success I’ve experienced in teaching at my institution isn’t because of what I’m teaching (I teach a considerable amount of material, especially theory, that my students consider “dry”): instead, it’s a result of how I’ve learned to approach the content of my courses. My approach is indebted to feminist thinkers and pedagogical theorists. I’ll list just a few of them and provide a cursory take of their positions here—a different set (more grounded in women’s studies and literary studies) will be presented (more artfully) in my proposed Teaching Modernist Women Writers in English chapter, which will offer examples of how one can incorporate theory into practice in teaching modernist women writers.

For the sake of space, here’s a short list of the pedagogical thinkers who, to my mind, tend to endorse feminist positions and whose scholarship has been extraordinarily useful in allowing me to figure out how I can teach modernist and contemporary women writers effectively:

*Elaine Showalter’s Teaching Literature (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003) reminds us that there is not one right way to teach. But she offers important pointers: the first day is critical to set the tone and expectations of a course, for instance. Lecture can be used to remarkable effects, and it can be combined with more student-centered practices: Showalter dubs this the eclectic approach. Full of helpful advice and suggestions, this book allowed me to reflect deeply on my own teaching: what was working and what wasn’t.

*Paulo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed (trans. Myra Bergman Ramos, 30th anniversary ed. New York: Continuum, 2003) and bell hooks’s Talking Back: Thinking Feminist, Thinking Black (Boston: South End P, 1989) shaped my thinking about the importance of discussion and student ownership of learning. These two espouse a feminist pedagogical ideology. Freire emphasizes the importance of education and insists on the significance of students as subjects in the classroom. He rejects what he calls the banking model of education: students should not be treated as objects or repositories for information dumps. hooks endorses a participatory model of education, one in which every student is expected to take part. Students in her classroom are expected to participate when called upon, even if it means reading a paragraph. Both Freire and hooks advocate the empowerment of students (a feminist goal!), and their work on pedagogy provides conceptual frameworks to reach this goal.

*Gerald Graff’s Beyond the Culture Wars: How Teaching the Conflicts Can Revitalize American Education (New York: Norton, 1992) explores how discussions can be used as a springboard for conversations among students and professors. Graff proposes teaching the conflicts, forwarding opposing points of view to what has been presented in the classroom. A balanced discussion can be achieved in this way. It appears to me that discussions provide a space for students to try on and examine their ideas and those of their peers, and discussions promote active learning.

*Jay R. Howard’s Discussion in the College Classroom: Getting Your Students Engaged and Participating in Person and Online (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2015) encourages us to approach discussion in the classroom as an important, even critical, learning tool for students. Discussion can allow everyone a stake in the conversation. In this impressively researched book, Howard provides insight into the mechanics and dynamics of discussion, and he offers pedagogical advice that spans disciplines. He shows us that discussion is particularly successful in engaging students and fostering their learning.

So my answer to why I do what I do, in part: I use discussion as a technique to track what my students know but also to make them active collaborators in the making of meaning and knowledge, specifically in connection with literary interpretation. I strive to establish and maintain an engaged community of learners who feel empowered and safe to contribute to each class discussion. Because literature represents worldviews, I maintain that it is necessary to equip students with the abilities and skills required to interpret and discuss texts in order to successfully navigate in the real world. Perhaps it’s even more important to read texts by (modernist) women when those are the texts that our students would be less likely to encounter or study in the classroom (or outside of it) without us prioritizing and privileging women writers and their work.

Resource: Communal Modernisms

It is with pleasure that I bring to the attention of the #teachingmodwomen audience a recent edited collection on—what else?—teaching modernist women’s writing.  Although the title of the 2013 Communal Modernisms:  Teaching Twentieth-Century Literature and Culture in the Twenty-First Century Classroom does not explicitly mention women writers, nor does it foreground the authors’ and editors’ explicitly feminist take, the introduction and essays make that stance, and its stakes, abundantly clear.  The editors Laurel Harris, Emily M. Hinnov, and Lauren Rosenblum make urgent claims for a 51AH4lH2PYL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_feminist pedagogy put into practice via the teaching of modernist women’s writing in terms of community.  By focusing on the ways modernist women engage the idea of community in their texts, we in the classroom can ourselves create a community of teachers and learners, one that might offer the potential for constructive intervention into a higher education climate hostile to the goals of humanities education and characterized by racism, sexism, classism, and prejudice.

Geneviève Brassard, herself a #teachingmodwomen contributor, has reviewed Communal Modernisms for the journal of intermodernist studies The Space Between: Literature and Culture 1914–1945; you can read that review here.  What I’d like to highlight here about this collection are two points.  The first is the clearly discernible influence of the late Jane Marcus.  (I wrote about the 2015 MSA seminar dedicated to Marcus’s work here.)  One of the contributors, Robin Hackett, is a former student of Marcus’s, and one of the editors, Emily Hinnov, is herself a student of Hackett’s.  (Hinnov will also, happily, be contributing to #teachingmodwomen.)  Marcus contributed the afterword to Communal Modernisms, in which she lays out the implications for teachers and scholars working in feminist modernist studies.  This work is essential because it speaks truth to power, it is a form of much-needed resistance, and its politicization of the pedagogical enterprise is what is required to combat patriarchal and economic repression.  For Marcus, the emphasis on community in Hinnov’s, Harris’s, and Rosenblum’s modernisms is a turn the field needs to take in order to respond to pressing public problems.

The second point I’d like to make is:  I would love to know how students responded to the texts and teaching strategies described throughout the collection.  Each essay concludes with a sample lesson plan, including goals, sequencing of content, and suggested assignments.  It describes what the author/instructor has the students do.  What seems to be missing is the student voice.  (This is a point Brassard makes in her review as well.)  What got said during class discussion?  What got written about?  How were the students themselves part of that community of teaching and learning?  One of the suggestions made to several #teachingmodwomen contributors over the course of revising proposals for the prospectus was:  give me a window into your classroom.  I’m pleased to note that several proposals even include undergraduate co-authors.  If a feminist pedagogy involves a decentering of power in the classroom, then maybe that decentering can make more room for the presence of the student, and that can inform how we write about creating communities of teaching and learning.

Reflection on Teaching: Teaching Women Who Refuse to be Teachable

So this week I’m waiting for some contributors to send in revisions to their proposals.  I’ve really enjoyed working with prospective authors and seeing some already strong abstracts get even better.  The next step:  putting the prospectus together.  I’m hoping to send that document along to the authors for feedback by mid-March.

As I’ve been reading the abstracts again, in addition to doing my own writing and editing and teaching, I’ve been struck by how some of the writers and texts we know, love, and teach elude our best efforts at criticism.  To my mind, the best criticism — and probably the best teaching — models new ways of thinking and reading.  You show your reader (or your students) how to read differently, and thus how to see differently.  To adapt lines from W. H. Auden, it’s the crack in the tea-cup that opens a lane to somewhere else.  You crack open the text, and it takes you somewhere new.

But there a few texts and writers that leave me shrugging my shoulders in front a class, saying, “I don’t know.  I just think it’s awesome.  What do you guys think?”  Jean Rhys is one of them.  Stevie Smith.  Muriel Spark.  Complicated, knotty women I return to again and again because they push back against my readings ever so slightly with their slightly prickly ways.

Fortunately, I have over two dozen incredibly talented teachers and critics to provide (hopefully) me — and you — with approaches to teaching these writers who refuse to be completely “teachable.”  Which authors and texts do you find a challenge to teach, to write about?

Approaching Modernist Women Writers: Courses and Canons

From contributor Julie Goodspeed-Chadwick:  Julie invites posts and comments in response to her provocation — 

I wonder how many of us teach modernist women writers in a course dedicated to women writers solely and how many of teach women writers alongside of their male counterparts in a survey or seminar format. I teach a course on modernist women writers (and contemporary women writers) and feminist theory every year–I feel fortunate that there’s a demand from the students, and our various majors and minors support such a class. But I also teach modernist women writers with the modernist men in a survey course that is formatted like a seminar, and this class is particularly fascinating to me in that the course is designed to promote dialogue about the men and women of modernism among the students. We purposely consider the dynamics inherent in canoncity, and we consider concepts from women’s studies in our framing of the authors and their works. Specifically, we think about “intersectionality,” “positionality,” and feminist “recovery” work in relation to how we approach, understand, and value texts by modernist men and women. I’ve been reworking this approach over the years, thanks to the influence of New Modernist Studies. In short, I’m curious about *how* we approach women writers in fairly traditional course offerings, as well as how students are introduced to them to begin with on different campuses.

MSA 17: Teaching Modernist Women and Thinking Back through Our Mothers

This year’s MSA annual meeting in Boston was a rejuvenating experience.  I got to have many exciting conversations with scholars and teachers interested in TMWWE, and I learned more about what readers might be hoping for from the volume.  I was really humbled by the brilliant ideas suggested at sessions and during coffee breaks by those teaching modernist women’s writing.

One high point was attending a seminar held in honor of the life and work of Jane Marcus.  In the seminar “Thinking Back Through Our Mothers,” led by Ashley Foster and Linda Camarasana, I got helpful feedback on a draft introduction for this prospectus, as well as some new ideas on the work that the introduction might do.  I felt really fortunate to be in a room with former students of Jane’s, because they shared insights, remembrances, and reflections on her teaching and mentoring.  This was a hospitable place in which to consider pedagogy, and the place of modernist women’s writing in the classroom.

Some questions and thoughts from participants:

  • why this book, and why now?
  • has feminism altered our understanding of modernism, and how?
  • what are the implications of feminist pedagogy for our practice?
  • is this really all about canon, or are the stakes higher?
  • how can teaching modernist women’s writing help us mentor, and help us stage interventions into some of the pressing issues facing our world vis a vis sexism, racism, homophobia, hatred, violence?

I’ll be thinking about these questions as I work on the prospectus after the December 1 deadline — and I’d welcome any thoughts in the comments.

LIVE Broadcast on #teachingmodwomen

So…not live anymore — but I did do an Ask Me Anything on Periscope, chatting for about 10 minutes about TMWWE, its inspiration, the kinds of queries I’ve been receiving, tips on teaching and feminist pedagogy, and things I’m thinking about as I turn the prospectus over in my mind.

You can still watch!  Click here.

If you’d like to chat in person, find me at MSA — I’ve submitted my seminar paper to “Thinking Back Through Our Mothers:  Feminist Revolutions in Modernism,” a draft version of the introductory essay to TMWWE.