Outside the classroom walls: alternative pedagogies in American literature and culture, 1868-1910 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Bruder, Anne Lindsey
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • This study examines women's innovative extra-institutional methods and spaces of learning in American Literature and Culture between 1868 and 1910. Outside the Classroom Walls argues that we can discover a genealogy of unconventional and progressive models of instruction not in that era's schoolhouse curricula or in the writings of well-known pedagogues, but in its imaginative literature, in the unpublished letters of the first American correspondence school, and in the live exhibits of a labor museum. In Louisa May Alcott's domestic novels for adolescents, Anna Eliot Ticknor's epistolary Society to Encourage Studies at Home, and Jane Addams's Labor Museum and autobiography, Twenty Years at Hull-House, we find various manifestations of a radically egalitarian strain of education that existed in opposition to traditional learning environments that were often inhospitable to individual needs. These educational experiments, both real and unreal, were refuges and their students and teachers exiles from the nation’s female academies, public grammar and high schools, and newly-opened women’s colleges. The unintended result of this exile was that the era’s most exciting and significant educational innovations initially happened outside of the conventional classroom, but were then disseminated throughout it. The hallmark of these pioneering pedagogues was their cultivation of a shared imaginative space between teacher and student in which traditional hierarchies of class, race, gender, and age were attenuated. In the process of working beyond the classroom walls, these writers transformed the meaning of education in America, bridging the gap between antebellum domestic instruction and the public and political initiatives most commonly associated with the Progressive Era.
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  • In Copyright
  • Richards, Eliza
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Open access

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