Penn Arts & Sciences Logo

Teaching Literature in the Community

ENGL 381.401
M 2-5:00

"Teaching Literature in Community" comprises two parts: the study of an African or African-American text and strategies for teaching it and a six-to-eight week assignment teaching the text at one of a few community sites, including Project H.O.M.E., Local 1199C Adult Education Center, Simon Gratz or William Penn High School or a church-based reading group. The common text this year will be "A Soldier's Play" by Pulitzer-prize winning playwright Charles Fuller.

Mr. Fuller, whose work will also be studied in English 285, the Kelly Writers House Fellows Seminar, is scheduled to appear at Art Sanctuary, an African-American lecture and performance series designed to bring the creators of contemporary black arts and letters to the Church of the Advocate in North Philadelphia. In April, at the end of their semesters, the scattered-site classes will meet together at Art Sanctuary for Mr. Fuller's lecture, which is also co-sponsored by the Philadelphia Board of Education's "Voices and Dialogues Series" for teachers and Temple' s Institute for Literature, Literacy and Culture. Students also get to sit in on the English 285 discussion with Mr. Fuller at the Writers House. In this way, the community classes help students (and student-teachers) become active builders of a bridge to join local arts and letters with the larger, professional, nationally recognized arts community.

The course is designed to accomplish these goals for its many students: (1) Penn students will learn from each other and from their practical experience how to teach in a non-university setting a sophisticated text or excerpt of texts. (2) Non-university scattered site students will learn literacy and textual analysis skills in a familiar setting. (3) The mixture of Penn students and students highly motivated to improve their literacy should provide everyone involved with a challenging intellectual atmosphere in which to study the work. (5) All students will have an opportunity to meet and talk with the author.

Note, re: Penn Students: It is likely that this class will require four hours of classroom work during the teaching phase of the course, but homework during that time will not be burdensome. In addition, student will have to travel on their own, individually or in groups, to the community sites. Written requirements will include a syllabus, lesson plans, class reports, a teaching journal, and a case statement.