“A guilty pleasure of the best kind—one that can be justified as intellectual work while having real-world impacts on teaching practice.”
—Jeanne Marie Rose, Pennsylvania State University, Berks
“Harris helps us think carefully about the work that we do with students in writing classrooms—and about the way in which others see that work. This is a highly readable volume that will inspire readers to do what Harris says the best teachers in fiction, film, and drama do: ‘to connect, work together on a text, to imagine new possibilities for writing.’”
—Margaret Debelius, Georgetown University
Film and literature can illuminate the experience of teaching and learning writing in ways that academic books and articles often miss. In particular, popular books and movies about teaching reveal the crucial importance of taking students seriously as writers and intellectuals. In this book, Joseph Harris explores how the work of teaching writing has been depicted in novels, films, and plays to reveal what teachers can learn from studying not just theories of discourse, rhetoric, and pedagogy but also accounts of the lived experience of teaching writing.
Each chapter examines a fictional representation of writing classes—as portrayed in Dead Poets Society, Up the Down Staircase, Educating Rita, Push, and more—and shifts the conversation from how these works portray teachers to how they dramatize the actual work of teaching. Harris considers scenes of instruction from different stages of the writing process and depictions of students and teachers at work together to highlight the everyday aspects of teaching writing.
In the writing classroom the ideas of teachers come to life in the work of their students. The Work of Teaching Writing shows what fiction, film, and drama can convey about the moment of exchange between teacher and student as they work together to create new insights into writing. It will interest both high school and undergraduate English teachers, as well as graduate students and scholars in composition and rhetoric, literary studies, and film studies.