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The Literature Workshop

Teaching Texts and Their Readers

By Sheridan Blau

Sheridan introduces the literature workshop as the most effective approach to solving many of the classic instructional problems that perplex beginning and veteran teachers of literature, proving that a workshop model can help students read more difficult texts than they think they can.

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    Sheridan Blau is among the small number of writers who have really original things to say about teaching and learning.
    —Gerald Graff
    Sheridan Blau is a gem in the English teaching profession: a teacher-researcher and an innovative teacher who blows the lid off of traditional forms of literary instruction.
    —Jeff Wilhelm
    I can’t think of a more helpful book about teaching literature. It’s sophisticated, subtle, and responsive to complex theory—yet practical and accessible.
    —Peter Elbow

In this groundbreaking book, Sheridan Blau introduces the literature workshop as the most effective approach to solving many of the classic instructional problems that perplex beginning and veteran teachers of literature. Through lively re-creations of actual workshops that he regularly conducts for students and teachers, Blau invites his readers to become active participants in workshops on such topics as:

  • helping students read more difficult texts than they think they can read
  • where interpretations come from
  • the problem of background knowledge in teaching classic texts
  • how to deal with competing and contradictory interpretations
  • what's worth saying about a literary text
  • balancing respect for readers with respect for texts and intellectual authority
  • ensuring that literary discussions are lively and productive
  • how to develop valuable and engaging writing assignments.
Each workshop includes reflections on what transpired and a discussion of the workshop's rationale and outcomes in the larger context of an original and practice-based theory of literary competence and instruction.

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