MSA 17: Teaching Modernist Women and Thinking Back Through Our Mothers

(I don’t usually do this, but I’m cross-posting between my blog and the MLA Commons site that’s currently the hub for developing “Options for Teaching Modernist Women’s Writing in English.”  I wanted to do a reflection on MSA anyway, and I’m glad to share it here for any readers interested in possibly sending a submission for the volume.)

This year’s MSA annual meeting in Boston was a rejuvenating experience.  I got to have many exciting conversations with scholars and teachers interested in TMWWE, and I learned more about what readers might be hoping for from the volume.  I was really humbled by the brilliant ideas suggested at sessions and during coffee breaks by those teaching modernist women’s writing.

One high point was attending a seminar held in honor of the life and work of Jane Marcus.  In the seminar “Thinking Back Through Our Mothers,” led by Ashley Foster and Linda Camarasana, I got helpful feedback on a draft introduction for this prospectus, as well as some new ideas on the work that the introduction might do.  I felt really fortunate to be in a room with former students of Jane’s, because they shared insights, remembrances, and reflections on her teaching and mentoring.  This was a hospitable place in which to consider pedagogy, and the place of modernist women’s writing in the classroom.

Some questions and thoughts from participants:

  • why this book, and why now?
  • has feminism altered our understanding of modernism, and how?
  • what are the implications of feminist pedagogy for our practice?
  • is this really all about canon, or are the stakes higher?
  • how can teaching modernist women’s writing help us mentor, and help us stage interventions into some of the pressing issues facing our world vis a vis sexism, racism, homophobia, hatred, violence?

I’ll be thinking about these questions as I work on the prospectus after the December 1 deadline — and I’d welcome any thoughts in the comments.