Teaching in Times of Crisis
Applying Comparative Literature in the Classroom
Teaching in Times of Crisis: Applying Comparative Literature in the Classroom (Routledge, 2021) 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.
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.
Victoria Oana Lupașcu is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies at University of Montréal. Her areas of interest include medical humanities, visual art, 20th and 21st Chinese literature and Global South studies.