In June 2019, Humanities Texas partnered with The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts to hold a professional development institute for Texas teachers on teaching literature at the secondary level. Fifty-one teachers from thirty-three Texas school districts participated in the program.
The institute focused on topics and skills central to the state's high school ELA curriculum. Faculty presentations provided resources and strategies for helping students to become better readers of fiction, poetry, drama, and expository prose, while also addressing the critical reading and media literacy skills necessary for success at the post-secondary level. The program also included presentations on incorporating art and film in ELA courses and on teaching with the Close Reading Interpretive Tool developed by faculty at UT Austin. On an excursion to the Harry Ransom Center, participants viewed and learned about highlights of Center’s literary holdings.
Like all Humanities Texas teacher programs, the institute emphasized close interaction with scholars and writers and the development of effective pedagogical strategies and engaging assignments and activities.
Robert Dale Parker, James M. Benson Professor in English at the University of Illinois, delivered the keynote presentation on "Teaching Literature Beyond What Teachers Already Know," which drew upon his widely used textbook How to Interpret Literature: Critical Theory for Literary and Cultural Studies.
The program faculty also included Chitra Divakaruni (University of Houston), Stacy Fuller, Jules Law (Northwestern University), Emmy Pérez (The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), Maryse Jayasuriya and Brian Yothers of The University of Texas at El Paso, and Evan Carton, Coleman Hutchison, David Kornhaber, Donna Kornhaber, and Susan Schorn of The University of Texas at Austin. Poet Naomi Shihab Nye read from and discussed her newest collection of poems, The Tiny Journalist, with participants.
The institute took place at UT's Thompson Conference Center from June 10–13, 2019. For more information, view the program schedule here.
The institute was made possible with major funding from the State of Texas, with ongoing support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. In addition, the Harry Ransom Center offered participants the unique opportunity to view highlights of the Center's remarkable holdings in literature.