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First Year at UWEC

| Dr. Matt Seymour

Worldwide pandemic notwithstanding, I ended up having a positive first year here at University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. My colleagues in the English department have proved to be friendly and supportive, and they helped me feel welcome. I look forward to seeing them more in person in the fall and getting to know them better.  

I have worked as an English educator for over a decade and have taught pre-service teachers for about half a decade. One of the first things I tell new teachers is that things in classroom will go wrong in ways they could never imagine. Covid-19 took this to another level (I never imagined I would be teaching wearing a mask and not be able to get within 6 feet of a student). I also tell new teachers that they are teaching more than literature and writing. Educators are also teaching students how to respond to problems, how to deal with adversity, and how to react when life doesn’t go the way we expect. So, I tried to make problem solving and resilience central to my curriculum and instruction this year, and it seemed that students here at UWEC responded well to that ethos and demonstrated a lot of grit and growth themselves. 

My current research focuses on theorizing new approaches for teaching literature and writing that engage high school students in conversations and action that might bring about a more equitable, inclusive, and socially just world. My article, “Rethinking Argumentative Writing: Moving Beyond Teaching Structure to Engage Students in Critical Conversations,” soon to be published by the CEA Critic of John Hopkins University Press, describes how teachers can change their approach to writing instruction so that it engages students in writing about social issues that matter to them. I am also currently working on scholarship on the teaching of literature, specifically how our discussions of literary figures in the past impact how we treat and understand different people in the present. This fall, I have received a grant to conduct research on how English educators can use writing about literature to address issues of racism and injustice in their classrooms and beyond.