Future of the Book: Pedagogical Tool for English Literature Students

Grant program: Teaching and Learning Development Grant (TLDG)

Grant recipient: Margaret Linley, Department of English

Project team: Katrina Anderson and Lindsey Seatter, research assistants, Michael Joyce, technical consultant

Timeframe: January 2014 to January 2016

Fudning: $10,000  

Course addressed: ENGL 434 – Topics in the Victorian Period (“The Future of the Victorian Book”)

Final report: View Margaret Linley's project final report (PDF)

Description: This two-part project explores the problem of how digital technology and digital literacy can be used to facilitate student learning in the English literature classroom. My project derives from several sources: my Small SSHRC funded digital research project based in SFU Library’s Lake District collection of rare books; my experience running the SFU Print Culture MA programme, where I teach book and media history as well as digital humanities; and an urgency amongst English scholars that the humanities, literary studies included, be recognized as having a vital role to play in preparing students for the challenges of today’s digital environment (see for example the 4Humanities Advocacy Group).

Literary Studies is traditionally a text-based discipline. While students learn the critical approach of close reading, it is not always easy for them to understand the connections between literature and the technologies we use to negotiate our daily lives or to grasp the new methodologies emerging with the online imperatives driving institutional practices of the humanities today. This project seeks to explore ways of bridging the gap between traditional English learning methods and the implementation of knowledge in an information and media-based work environment, and thereby to engage students in practical, hands-on learning processes that will enable an expanded application of the knowledge and skills acquired in the English classroom in preparation for a professional future in a brave new digital world. My goal is to find ways of teaching students to apply English literary critical thinking and research methods in using and assessing digital tools, while exploring ways electronic technology can help facilitate, broaden, or transform their critical capacities, modes of literacies, knowledge, and skills. In order to achieve this goal, I will create and instruct a course with the idea of developing a pedagogical tool based on the knowledge and practice gained in this classroom experiment. The project will conclude with a pilot test and assessment of the pedagogical tool.

Questions addressed:

  • What digital technologies can be used to facilitate teaching and learning in the English classroom?
  • How can the knowledge gained in Phase 1 support the development of a stand-alone pedagogical tool that can be used by other English (and ideally humanities) instructors?
  • How effective is this tool in a pilot test? What revisions can be made based on the pilot test?

Knowledge sharing: Findings will be shared with interested colleagues in the English department and other units. The pedagogical tool will be freely available online for use by others within SFU and beyond.

Linley, M. (2016). Lake District Online: Studies in Book Ecology and Digital Migration. Victorian Studies, 58(2):258-271

Linley, M. (2015, July). Lake district online. Paper presentation at North American Victorian Studies Association Conference (NAVSA), July 9-12, 2015, Hawaii.