#HEAdayC21, or, A wonderful sharing of ideas

I mentioned in my last post for this blog that I’d attended some Higher Education Academy workshops in order to develop my teaching practice. I’d like to share a little about my most recent outing, Teaching Post-Millennial Literature (University of Brighton, 2nd July 2012) [http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/events/detail/2012/seminars/disciplines/DW238].

Attending this one-day symposium was thoroughly invigorating. The presentations ranged from provocations on the organisation of English studies to practical suggestions that were firmly rooted in the realities of the classroom.

In keeping with the twenty-first-century focus, I decided to engage with the symposium using new technology. Along with a few other delegates, I gave live commentary on the day’s proceedings via the social media website, Twitter, using the hash-tag #HEAdayC21. You can see the full collaborative Twitter commentary on the symposium here [https://www.martineve.com/2012/07/03/teaching-post-millenial-fiction-conference-archive/].

The relationship between creative writing and critical practice was a hot topic. Presentations by Helen Pleasance and Mark Slater convincingly challenged the separation – and hierarchisation – of the two:

This conversation is timely, as AQA introduce Creative Writing as an A-Level option from September 2013. Hopefully this cohort will find a cross-fertilisation of creative and critical practice when they arrive at University. In fact, the Department of English Language and Literature here at Reading is already well ahead on this, with rigorous Creative Writing options at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

The symposium showcased a number of new kinds of text, such as gaming narratives, technotexts, and graphic novels.

It’s curious that this digital age should produce literatures as profoundly material as graphic novels. Such physical fictions can be hard to access, and so difficult to teach. Zara Dinnen offered some thoughtful solutions:

In the final session, Nicole King reminded delegates to make connections across disciplines, be it through guest lectures or the informal sharing of solutions to pedagogical problems.

Using Twitter throughout enabled me to test the possibility of using new media as a pedagogical tool. It has real potential to encourage students to engage critically and dialogically with their lectures. After this workshop I’m newly excited about harnessing the technological skills of the digitally native generation, through strategies such as e-Learning. I’ve seen that the post-millennial isn’t just a textual object of contemporary English studies: a category of literature. Instead, it’s an interactive way of relating to the world that has the potential to shape the very methods of teaching and learning.

Nicola Abram

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