Thinking with Difficulty: Outreach and Collaboration

Michael CollinsMCRm

Thinking with difficulty: inside and outside the classroom
The idea of difficulty is central to the study of English Literature, serving as both a marker of apparent value and a perceived barrier to access. These two linked roundtable sessions will approach the question of difficulty from a number of perspectives. Contributions will consider the teaching of ‘difficult’ texts (particularly those drawn from early and pre-modern periods) and the ways in which difficulty functions in those texts. We will also examine other difficulties the discipline faces: recruiting students, particularly male and first-generation students, and the difficulties inherent in attempts to work with colleagues outside the university. Participants will explore methods - practical, administrative and critical - that might reframe these questions and reflect on their own experiences inside and outside the classroom in order to open a broader discussion.

Difficulty I: Outreach and Collaboration
Drawing on the expertise of English teachers, Session 1 will reflect on the difficulties of teaching English at school and preparing students for further study of the subject at university. Panellists will each give a short talk about ‘difficult’ texts they teach or particular difficulties they have encountered in the university classroom. We will also discuss recent developments in curricula (A-level, GCSE, and earlier), our experiences in encouraging students to apply to university to read English, and on the particular challenges facing students from widening participation backgrounds.
Participants: Lidia Kuhivchak (Beauchamp College), teachers from King’s College London widening participation network, Sarah Knight (Leicester), Hannah Crawforth, Daniel Smith (King’s College, London).

Sat 9:15 am - 10:30 am