Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight:Allison Schachter
Each month, the CFT Newsletter highlights the work of our Junior Faculty Teaching Fellows. This month, Allison Schachter, Assistant Professor, Department of English and Program in Jewish Studies, talks about her teaching philosophy and interests.
My most exciting moments as a teacher come when I watch students discover the depth and difficulty of a literary text. As they excitedly debate among themselves the meaning behind a particular sentence or event in a novel or short story, I watch them discover the intellectual and aesthetic pleasures of critical reading, acquiring a skill that will take them through their lives. Whether students discover how a modernist literary work raises questions about the continuity of the self at a moment of historical crisis or how a work of Jewish American fiction negotiates the complex relationship between language and identity, it as these moments when the classroom becomes a space of intellectual inquiry and discovery.
“I see my role as teaching students to think critically and historically about both world events and their own lives. I prepare them to be critical thinkers and engaged citizens in all contexts that they might encounter, whatever their pursuits.”
In classes ranging from undergraduate writing courses to graduate seminars, I introduce students to the rich history of modern Jewish and world literary cultures, the aesthetic pleasures and difficulties of modernism, and the rewarding practice of close literary analysis. I see my role as teaching students to think critically and historically about both world events and their own lives. When I teach students the skills of close reading and critical textual analysis, I also show them how to apply these skills to other media, including television, film, and the internet. I prepare them to be critical thinkers and engaged citizens in all contexts that they might encounter, whatever their pursuits.
My teaching reflects what I see as one of the central goals of literary studies, exposing to students to a range of literary traditions by asking both historical and formal literary questions about how literature works in different contexts and how it interacts with different media. Whether I am teaching courses on Jewish literature or modernism, my courses address works written in multiple languages and in different social and historical contexts. I approach this material from both a formal and historical perspective. Students leave my courses with the ability to thoughtfully read and think about the relationship between literature and historical transformation and to engage with cultures that are different from their own.