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Developing subject knowledge and disciplinary resilience of English Literature

Developing subject knowledge and disciplinary resilience of English Literature

The 2014 curriculum reforms of GCSE and A level English Literature created a need for new subject knowledge and new understanding of the discipline itself.

Driving disciplinary resilience

Royal Holloway’s English Department has informed perceptions of the discipline at a time of upheaval through sustained engagement with the pedagogic priorities of GCSE and A level teachers of English Literature.

Forward-thinking research is made available by the Department’s TeacherHub>English, a resource-base which provides teachers with new approaches to literature. From here, CPD and resources for teachers are delivered, and collaborations are developed with Subject Associations, educational publishers, the English and Media Centre, British Library and Prince’s Teaching Institute. As a result, Royal Holloway’s research in English has reached thousands of teachers and their students.

Professor Eaglestone’s book, Literature: Why it Matters, has shaped new ways of thinking about English as a discipline. He has mobilised ideas about the future of English by uniting leading subject associations with the National Association of Teachers of English (NATE) to become a major voice in defending and inspiring the teaching of English in schools. He instigated the ‘English: Shared Futures’ conference, which has become a festival of English, with its own website, app, twitter, virtual publication, and fringe events.

Developing subject knowledge

Royal Holloway’s research in literature has strengthened teachers’ subject knowledge and informed their classroom teaching. It has led to inclusive approaches to Shakespeare’s canonical works, informed teaching of poetry by women, and redressed declining knowledge of American literature.

Professor Ryan’s socially inclusive interpretation of Shakespearian tragedy has revitalised and updated teaching of Shakespeare in GSCE English. He was commissioned to produce five articles on Shakespearian Tragedy by Discovering Literature at the British Library, a resource recommended by the AQA on their GCSE English webpage.

Teachers of A Level English have benefitted from Professor Varty’s research on World War 1 Poetry by women. The under-researched anthology, Scars Upon My Heart, was set as a new core text for the reformed AQA A Level. Varty’s resources, published by NATE, have enhanced teachers’ knowledge of how this poetry coincided with the suffrage campaign.

Declining knowledge of American literature in schools has been addressed by Dr McGettigan who was funded by the American Embassy to lead CPD for teachers via TeacherHub>English. Feedback from McGettigan’s resources demonstrate a high level of impact with over 98% reporting a high increase in confidence in teaching American literature.


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