Teaching With Tension & The Illusion of Postracialism with Philathia Bolton, Cassander Smith, & Lee Bebout


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A new episode of The American Vandal Podcast features the co-editors of Teaching With Tension: Race, Resistance, & Reality in The Classrooom (Northwestern, 2019). In their introduction to this collection, they write that the book “advances pedagogical scholarship by examining the discourse of race in a particular cultural moment when the idea of postraciality and color-blind logics make many people, students especially, resistant to discussing race in all its nuances.”

This emphasis on “a particular cultural moment” suggest why the host of the The American Vandal, Matt Seybold, chose these guests for a discussion about the peculiar challenges facing teachers at all levels, who often find themselves besieged by parents, politicians, and pundits, as well as students.

In the episode, they discuss why they frame the 2008 presidential election as a “flash point” for U.S. education, pedagogical strategies for the contemporary classroom, the current moral panic about Critical Race Theory, and the resilient appeal of Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn for them and their students.

Philathia Bolton is Associate Professor of English at The University of Akron. Her work focuses on African American Literature and particularly Black Women Writers like Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, & Paule Marshall. Recent writing can be found in College Literature.

Cassander Smith is Associate Professor of English at The University of Alabama, where she is also part of the Hudson Strode Program in Renaissance Studies, the Department of Gender & Race Studies, & The Summersell Center for the Study of the South. She is the author of Black Africans in the British Imagination: English Narratives of the Early Atlantic World (LSU UP, 2016) and co-editor of Early Modern Black Diaspora Studies: A Critical Anthology (Palgrave, 2018). She has also written an excellent essay on Twain’s Huckleberry Finn for Papers on Languages & Literature.

Lee Bebout is Associate Professor of English at Arizona State University, where he specializes in Latino Literature and Chicano Studies. He is author of Whiteness on The Border: Mapping the U.S. Racial Imagination in Brown & White (NYU, 2016) and Mythohistorical Interventions: The Chicano Movement & Its Legacies (U. Minnesota, 2011).

This is the first of two episodes about teaching in anticipation of our Summer Teachers Institute, which will be held virtually on July 13-14, 2021. For more information about this year’s STI and registration, follow this link!


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