Teaching in Times of Crisis : Applying Comparative Literature in the Classroom book cover
1st Edition

Teaching in Times of Crisis
Applying Comparative Literature in the Classroom

ISBN 9780367626754
Published January 21, 2021 by Routledge
140 Pages 3 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Teaching in Times of Crisis explores how comparative methods, which are instrumental in reading and teaching works of literature from around the world, also provide us with tools to dissect and engage the moments of crises that permeate our contemporary political realities.

The book is written in the form of a series of classroom reflections—or memos—capturing the political environment preceding and proceeding the 2016 US presidential election. It examines the ways in which the ethics involved in reading comparatively can be employed by teachers and students alike to map and foster "lifelines for cultural sustainability" (to borrow the term from Djelal Kadir’s Memos from the Besieged City) that are essential for creating and maintaining a healthy multicultural society.

Nyawalo achieves this through comparative readings of postcolonial films, LGBTQ texts, French slam poetry, as well as episodes from Star Trek: The Next Generation, among other materials. The classroom reflections captured in each memo are shaped by the Appalachian setting in which the discussions and lessons took place. Inspired by this setting, the author develops pedagogic ethics of comparison—a method of reading comparatively—which privileges the local educational spaces in which students find themselves by mapping the contested cultural politics of Appalachian realities onto a world literature curriculum.

Table of Contents


Memo I—The Deliverance or Domestication of Others: Memos from Comparative Literature Classes in Appalachia

Memo II—Syllabusing: Mapping Appalachian Texts onto a World Literature Curriculum

Memo III—Pedagogies of Cultural Translation: Debating Polygamy, War, and Patriotism in Comparative Literature Classes

Memo IV—Syllabusing: Mapping Appalachian Queer Texts onto a Comparative Literature Curriculum

Memo V—Monstrous Encounters in Outer Space: A Pedagogic Analysis of Star Trek’s Racial Politics from a Comparative Perspective

Memo VI—Comparative Feminism and Social Justice: Instrumentalizing the Poetics of Assia Djebar’s "The Woman in Pieces" in Experiential Learning Courses


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Mich Yonah Nyawalo is an Associate Professor of Critical Ethnic, Black/Race Studies at Xavier University, Cincinnati, Ohio. His areas of specialization are globalization studies, postcolonial criticism, African literatures (including audio and visual cultures from the continent), media studies, critical pedagogy, and service learning. The years he has spent living and studying in Kenya, Uganda, France, Sweden, and the United States have highly defined his academic projects, which appropriate a mixture of critical tools and scholarly texts derived from the fields of African, African diaspora, and African-American studies. Some of the classes he teaches include World Literature, Black Transnationalism, Comparative Feminist Literature, Comparative Queer Theory and Literature, Introduction to Media and Culture, Graphic Novels and Animation, as well as Video Games and Virtual Worlds.