For our Autumn 2016 Reading Group, the British Association of Nineteenth-Century Americanists (BrANCA) will address the role and representation of pedagogy in nineteenth-century American literature. The students who arrive at university do so after years of training in what were once called schoolrooms by people who were once known as schoolmasters. This set of readings takes up the question of how and why the nineteenth-century American schoolroom and its attendant schoolmasters reshaped notions of reading, personhood, and the relation of the school to the state, the domestic sphere, and religion. These readings also encourage a historical view of the origins of current humanities pedagogy, from early childhood through tertiary education, at a moment when institutional pressures have incited a defence of said pedagogy at all costs.
One question to take up then is whether the schoolroom in its various current incarnations—lecture hall, small group, tutorial, seminar—is worth defending. A second set of questions: What sort of practices of reading and textual analysis did the nineteenth-century American schoolroom encourage? Do those practices persist in the contemporary US academy? Do they have corollaries in other national traditions or are they nationally specific? A final, historical question: how did the pedagogue’s role come to be understood in the nineteenth century, a period formative for American thinking on the practice and the institutions of humanities education?
· Jacques Rancière, The Ignorant Schoolmaster (1991) (Lessons 1-3): http://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=3009
· Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Record of a School (1835):
· Patricia Crain, Reading Children: Literacy, Property, and the Dilemmas of Childhood in Nineteenth-Century America (2016) (Introduction and Ch. 1):