The secondary school English teacher invites young people to read creatively, to write with intelligence and imagination, and to grapple with the essential questions that literature asks. It follows that an English teacher should have read widely and should know the texts and contexts that have shaped the development of literature in English and of literary studies generally. By that same token, English teachers should be skilled at reading closely-at analyzing literary and critical texts with an awareness of the diverse models of close reading that literary theory has generated. In their work with adolescents, they should be particularly aware of what affects reading comprehension and of the kinds of instruction that foster it. Finally, English teachers should be writers who has insight into how composition facilitates understanding and encourages complex thinking.
Applicants for the M.A.T. degree in literature should hold a B.A. in English or a related field (such as language study, gender studies, or comparative literature) in which critical analysis of literature was a significant component. Ideally, the undergraduate course work includes survey courses that address a broad range of texts from a particular culture or period, and seminars that engage students in intensive study of an author or issue. Applicants who did not major in a field of literary study are encouraged to contact the MAT Program to discuss their undergraduate course work and its applicability to the MAT literature degree.
The MAT English Curriculum offers the integrated study of literature, literary criticism, and literacy pedagogy. MAT students take three core courses—Major Authors, Studies in American Literature, and Topics in World Literature—and complete an independent study culminating in a research paper and annotated bibliography responsive to current scholarship in the field.
The purpose of this course is to focus in depth on one or more authors and related literary criticism and scholarship. By becoming familiar with the author's major and minor works, knowledgeable about biographical and historical contexts, and proficient in talking and writing about the author, students engage in a process that not only gives them command of a significant writer and her milieu, but also models a way of studying literature that they could replicate at the secondary level. Course goals include investigating the author's mastery of a particular genre and participation in a specific literary movement. Choice of author(s) is up to the discretion of the instructor; recent versions of the course have focused on Jane Austen and Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry James, William Shakespeare, and Jamaica Kincaid. 3 credits.
Literature 513: Teaching Literature: The Learner as Individual, A Field ExperienceVIEW MORE >>
Students spend one morning per week in a local summer school program. This introduction to the public schools provides MAT students with opportunities to work with students one-on-one or in small groups in a tutorial mode. As a first experience with the public schools, graduate students are involved with diagnostic approaches to teaching, focusing on individuals with various kinds of recognized academic needs. These experiences provide real contexts for inquiry and study in the summer teaching strand. Required noncredit course.
Courses under this heading address the complex relationship between literature and national identity by focusing on a specific period or issue in literary study---such as the American Renaissance, Realist aesthetics, or ideas about gender and domesticity---and considering it in light of such historically informed practices as reception study, textual bibliography, the “new” historicism and cultural materialism. Emphasis is placed on the ways that archival work and historical contextualization can be incorporated productively into the classroom. Readings include a balance of theory, criticism, and primary literature. Recent courses have included “American Realisms,” “Gender and Domesticity in 19th Century America,” “American Gothic 1790-1990,” and Literature of New York City. 3 credits.
This independent study course requires students to become teacher-researchers, examining the effects of particular practices or designs on student learning in the context of their particular field of study. Review of the pertinent literature, research design and implementation, analysis of data, and conclusions leading to further iterations build a practice of inquiry and reflection that are essential to developing best practices in education. Typically, research questions investigate real questions about student learning in the context of authentic practices in the academic discipline. MAT faculty act as advisers to these projects, providing support over three quarters, from the initial development of research questions and literature reviews in the summer quarter until the final "publication" of the research document at the end of the spring quarter. 6 credits.
With Anglophone literatures (e.g., Indian, African, and Caribbean texts written in English) and literature in translation as its primary texts, this seminar focuses on the cultural, historical, and theoretical issues around studying and teaching "world literature" in the English class. Recent topics in the seminar have included "The Empire Writes Back," with emphasis on revisions of standard English literary texts by postcolonial writers from Africa and the Caribbean; "Orientalism," a course inspired by the seminal work of Edward Said; and "The Poet in the 20th-Century World," a study of international poetry and poetics. 3 credits.
Literature 532:Academic Research Project: LiteratureVIEW MORE >>
An essential component of the MAT literature student’s graduate work is a scholarly project of research and writing. Work on this project begins in the fall literature course, is carried forward during the winter quarter, and culminates in a research paper and an annotated bibliography. Students present their ARPs to the MAT community in a spring conference on the eve of graduation. Students choose the topic of their projects from a range of options within the framework of the fall literature course. Past examples include projects on Toni Morrison and slave narrative, a comparative study of Shakespeare and Kurosawa, and an analysis of illness in Victorian fiction. 9 credits.
MAT students work as apprentices with one of their mentor-teacher partners in the fall quarter for a ten-week cycle. Students act as full-time apprentices and research partners, assuming increasing responsibility for instruction and collecting and analyzing data with their mentor teachers. In a radical departure from conventional student-teaching models, apprentices work closely with their mentors, moving gradually from participant observer to teaching assistant to co-teacher and, finally, assuming primary responsibility for classroom instruction in all its dimensions. The mentor teacher and the graduate adviser observe regularly and provide ongoing formative evaluations in close collaboration with the student. Students also meet with their MAT peers throughout the student-teaching cycle to support each other through shared writing, reflection, and discussion. 7 credits.
The MAT student completes the apprenticeship cycle with a second mentor teacher for an eleven-week period that ends in mid-May. The field experience is structured to provide the MAT student with ongoing guidance and feedback from the graduate adviser and the mentor teacher. An apprenticeship model that emphasizes the guided acquisition of teaching competencies, carefully monitored by mentor and adviser, insures that student learning in the public school classroom is not compromised and that the apprentice is held to standards in teaching that reflect program concerns for authentic learning in the disciplines. MAT students continue to meet weekly as a group to share and reflect upon their experiences. 10 credits.
Bard Master of Arts in Teaching Bard College, 7401 South Broadway, Red Hook, NY 12571