Teaching with Tension

Teaching with Tension

Race, Resistance, and Reality in the Classroom
Edited by Philathia Bolton, Cassander L. Smith, and Lee Bebout

Teaching with Tension is a collection of seventeen original essays that address the extent to which attitudes about race, impacted by the current political moment in the United States, have produced pedagogical challenges for professors in the humanities. As a flashpoint, this current political moment is defined by the visibility of the country's first black president, the election of his successor, whose presidency has been associated with an increased visibility of the alt-right, and the emergence of the neoliberal university. Together these social currents shape the tensions with which we teach.

Drawing together personal reflection, pedagogical strategies, and critical theory, Teaching with Tension offers concrete examinations that will foster student learning. The essays are organized into three thematic sections: "Teaching in Times and Places of Struggle" examines the dynamics of teaching race during the current moment, marked by neoconservative politics and twenty-first century freedom struggles. "Teaching in the Neoliberal University" focuses on how pressures and exigencies of neoliberalism (such as individualism, customer-service models of education, and online courses) impact the way in which race is taught and conceptualized in college classes. The final section, "Teaching How to Read Race and (Counter)Narratives," homes in on direct strategies used to historicize race in classrooms comprised of millennials who grapple with race neutral ideologies. Taken together, these sections and their constitutive essays offer rich and fruitful insight into the complex dynamics of contemporary race and ethnic studies education.
About the Author

PHILATHIA BOLTON is an assistant professor of English at the University of Akron.

CASSANDER L. SMITH is an associate professor of English at the University of Alabama and the author of Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World.

LEE BEBOUT is an associate professor of English at Arizona State University and the author of Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement and Its Legacies and Whiteness on the Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown and White.

"Teaching with Tension should be required reading for all university professors. Writing from diverse perspectives and positions, these teachers and scholars analyze the promises and the perils of teaching race as an academic subject to varied sets of students in our current movement. Whether you are a beginning graduate assistant or a seasoned veteran professor, you will find something to improve your pedagogy around issues of race and racism." —Katy Chiles, author of Transformable Race: Surprising Metamorphoses in the Literatures of Early America