Race: it’s not just about representation

Velda Elliott VConference Room

This session will explore questions of race, representation and interpretation as they relate to secondary English teaching, and connected subjects. The papers draw on empirical data, experience of interdisciplinary PGCE teaching, and analyses of curriculum texts. Three twenty minute papers will explore different aspects of the topic, followed by (hopefully) vigorous discussion.

We need to talk to each other more: Interdisciplinary approaches to race and representation in the humanities curriculum (Lesley Nelson-Addy)

PGCE Tutor and DPhil candidate, University of Oxford Department of Education

Historically, departments within schools tend to operate as independent clusters – engaging with and disseminating their curriculum content in departmental isolation. Following the changes in the GCSE curriculum, I noticed a shift in the way departments began to communicate with one another in order to interpret and approach the new curriculum content and objectives. As an English teacher, these discussions were useful; relatively accessible for the teachers involved, since the GCSE ‘changes’ in Language and Literature continued to engage with similar Anglocentric texts to those taught in typical undergraduate degrees, but these discussions tend to be largely operational. As I continue my reflections on the need to diversify the English curriculum, this paper will explore how members of departments within the schools and PGCE departments in universities can use each other to establish and employ richer, diverse knowledge that is well contextualised.

London Kills Me: embodying the Gothic in a KS5 London classroom (Tabitha Mcintosh)

PhD Candidate Birkbeck College, University of London and Teacher of English, Nower Hill School, London

This presentation is a multimedia on the colonising functions of the curriculum, comprised of teacher-researcher led analysis and 6th form student-created and curated queer, Asian, East Asian, Black, autistic, twin, synaesthetic, anxious, ADHD, and dyslexic subjectivity experienced and expressed through the OCR A Level Literature unit on the Gothic. Using photography and analytic commentary, students explore the architectural, institutional and cultural boundaries of set texts (Dracula and The Bloody Chamber) and the OCR Subject Delivery Guidelines. In the process, they challenge the ways in which their identities and embodied subjectivities are perpetually removed from the core curriculum and rendered fetishised, alien and Other.

Framing race in English teaching: disrupting the norm of whiteness (Velda Elliott)

Associate Professor of English and Literacy Education, University of Oxford Department of Education

This paper will consider the framing of race and ethnicity within texts set for examination in England, and other texts commonly taught in the curriculum. It will draw on the two distinct framings of race in curriculum: as absence or as victim, with a view to Adrienne Rich’s “moment of psychic disequilibrium, as if you looked in the mirror and saw nothing” and Jesmyn Ward’s concept of the markedness of the black body which “would never be gifted with escape” in typical encounters with race in the classroom. It will discuss the new ‘racially diverse’ novels added by Edexcel to its GCSE curriculum and the responses to their perceived framing of race as ‘difficulty’ within the selection. It will end with a consideration of the potential offered by NEA (coursework) at A level to move beyond a norm of whiteness in the English classroom.

Sat 12:45 pm - 2:00 pm